5 Steps to Develop Your School’s Enrollment Marketing Plan

The right plan can make all the difference in your recruitment and retention efforts.

But the reality is most independent and faith-based schools simply don’t have a plan. They move from project to project without a clear strategy. And they’re leaving opportunities on the table.

Whether your school’s enrollment is full, nearly full, or in decline, a strategic plan will provide the direction your admissions and marketing team needs to get traction.

With summer only a few weeks away, now is the ideal time to begin developing your Enrollment Marketing Plan for the 2023-24 school year.

When I named my company, Enrollment Catalyst, I intentionally selected this name to be a catalyst for enrollment. Throughout my career I have been an enrollment catalyst in my both higher and K-12 educational institutions.

This is exactly what I do as I have coached hundreds and hundreds of schools.

As part of my partnership with each school, I will take their team through the five-step process to develop their enrollment and marketing plan for growth. This is a five-step plan for growth that you can apply at your school:

Step #1: Conduct an Assessment and Research

As you begin your planning process, it is critical to conduct an assessment of your enrollment and marketing processes and strategies. You will want to understand what is working and what is not working at your school. This process should include an assessment of your processes and strategies in admissions, retention, marketing, and tuition/financial aid.

In addition, you should conduct research through focus groups and surveys. The research required will depend on the problem you are trying to solve. For example, I have recently worked with a school to provide research to address retention issues from 8th to 9th grade. Through a customized approach with surveys and focus groups, you will know the direction you need to take.

I recommend that you implement five surveys throughout the year. I have made all five of my surveys available in my comprehensive School Survey Solutions package. By conducting this research and assessment, you will better understand your current situation as well as what needs to be improved.

Step #2: Identify Your Problems and Establish Your Goals

This assessment and research will inform you for step #2. It will be important to identify your problems. In other words, what problems did you identify in your assessment that you need to overcome? Do you need to turnaround an enrollment decline? Are you struggling to fill your Kindergarten classes? Has retention dropped below the desired rate of 90%?

As you identify your problems, you will then be able to establish your goals. These goals should include a total enrollment goal as well as current student retention and new student recruitment goals. Keep in mind that projections are not goals. Goals must be developed to drive your plan. Projections give you a realistic picture of what is happening throughout the year.

Step #3: Develop Your Strategies and Written Plan

This step is likely the most challenging and will require some heavy lifting. This is where you must determine the strategies you will put in place to achieve your goals. I like to align a plan with a series of strategic initiatives. Each of these strategic initiatives then have specific tactics.

In this key step, you will determine what you are going to implement to achieve your goals. Ideally, your plan should be recorded in a document that can be shared, viewed, and revised often. If you simply follow this 5-step outline, you can write your plan.

Step #4: Operationalize Your Plan (Resources & Calendar)

After you develop the specific strategic initiatives and tactics in your plan, you will then need to take the next step to operationalize the plan in a calendar. This is where many school leaders get hung up. It’s less about a tool and more about the need to put your priorities in a spreadsheet, table, or some other format.

Step #5: Monitor, Review and Adjust Your Plan

Finally, Step #5 is more of a continuous process than an actual step. Your team will need to continue to monitor, review and adjust your plan. The reality is that our world is always changing, and you must be flexible to adjust. For example, none of us had a COVID-19 plan in place before the pandemic hit. However, because of this crisis, school leaders had to adjust and revise their plans and strategies.

Have you gone through this five-step process?

Do you have an enrollment marketing plan for your school?

That’s where the Enrollment Catalyst Program comes in.

Through my Enrollment Catalyst Program, school leaders can work with me through a custom, on-site program or through my virtual format. Either way, school leaders will have a guide to help them develop and implement a plan for school growth.

What’s the first step? A free, no-obligation conversation. That’s it. And if we have a match, we map out a plan that fits your timeline and budget. Click now to learn more.