Understanding the Advocacy Phase of the Family Journey
Advocacy is the final phase of the Family Journey. And, I believe it is the most important one for your school.
This is when your parents will share stories from their child’s educational experiences and will refer their friends to consider your school.
The more positive the experience, the more powerful the word-of-mouth and the referral.
This phase works to build awareness in the community, which you will remember is the foundational phase of the Family Journey. As parents become advocates for your school, this helps to generate more awareness in the community.
Over the years, I have written many blog posts on this topic and have presented many webinars and workshops at conferences. I wrote an e-book on the 9 Drivers of Word-of-Mouth. If you can focus on the drivers, then you can work on increasing the positive word-of-mouth from your advocates in the community.
There are five key strategies for increasing advocacy in this phase of the Family Journey.
1—Measure Your School’s Net Promoter Score – The Net Promoter Score is a measurement of your school’s word-of-mouth based on the question, “How likely are you to recommend your school to a friend or colleague?” Based on this score, I can always identify the health of the school, and the strength of the parent’s word-of-mouth. If you haven’t measured your school’s NPS, you should include this in your advocacy strategy. Learn more about the NPS survey and how Enrollment Catalyst can conduct this at your school.
2—Conduct an Annual Survey Program – I typically recommend that the school’s leadership team should include five key surveys in its annual plan:
- New Parent Survey (August/September)
- Net Promoter Score Survey (Fall)
- Parent Satisfaction Survey (Spring)
- Employee Satisfaction Survey (Spring)
- Exit Survey for Non-Returning Parents (June)
I can conduct all five of these surveys for $750 each. By purchasing the five-survey set, you can save $850 for a total cost of $2,950. Learn more about Enrollment Catalyst’s School Survey Solutions.
3—Implement a FAN Program – Your advocates are your fan’s. While word-of-mouth will occur naturally, it is important for you to implement a strategy for your fan’s to be more intentional about being an advocate for your school. This approach is different from most ambassador programs, as these initiatives are usually focused on admissions events and mentor relationships. I have designed a 13-lesson online course to guide you and your team to successfully implement this program. Learn more about this online course and how you can implement a FAN program at your school.
4—Gather and Publish Stories – Storytelling should be the focus of your advocacy strategy. Your advocates have a story to tell about their experiences at your school. Stories draw in prospective families as they look for others just like themselves. All you need to do is to collect their story and publish it on your website and in social media. One of the school’s I partnered with several years ago, Ben Lippen School, leads the way on the implementation of this strategy. Check out their story section on their website.
5—Post Online Reviews – Another way that an advocate can share their story is by writing and posting an online review. Prospective parents continue to share with me in focus groups that they read online reviews. When was the last time you checked out your reviews online? Have any been posted recently? Do you have a strategy in place to inspire your advocates to write and post reviews? You should.
While there are many other strategies such as social media campaigns, student ambassadors, blitz campaigns, videos and more that can help your families be advocates for your school, this list will get you started.
Remember, it is what happens in this phase that relates back to the foundational phase of awareness. Your advocates generate awareness in the community through positive word-of-mouth.