36 Key Questions to Assess your School’s Enrollment Marketing Efforts
Let’s take your car as an example.
You drive your car all the time, most likely daily. You rely upon your car to provide dependable transportation to get you where you need to go.
Sometimes you can sense that your car may need service. The yellow warning light is often an indication that service is needed. However, sometimes you don’t know that a problem is lurking.
Obviously, it is critical to service your car to keep your vehicle running. For most of us, this requires taking your car to an automotive service center to provide a multi-point inspection. This is often preventative maintenance on your car – a qualified expert examines the key parts and functions of your car.
While it would be nice to be able to do this myself, I rely upon an experienced service technician at my car dealership.
You can apply this assessment to any industry, including your world in enrollment and marketing in a private, independent, or faith-based school.
Through my work with schools in my Enrollment Catalyst Program, I conduct a comprehensive assessment of admissions, retention, marketing, tuition and financial aid, and staffing. Not only do I review the questions below, my multi-point inspection reviews 100+ processes and strategies. This is step one in developing an enrollment marketing plan, and I believe it is critical to start here.
I believe that every school leader should assess your enrollment marketing processes and strategies every year. This will inform the development of your comprehensive plan for the next year.
The following are 36 key questions to get you started in your assessment (this is not an exhaustive list but simply some questions to help you begin your process):
- How do your admissions funnel results compare to previous years for inquiries, visits, applications, admits, deposits, and enrollees?
- What yield processes and strategies worked best? Where do you have gaps?
- Do you have a robust database system that works to provide easy access to reports and provide an effective CRM to manage a flow of contacts?
- Do you have an effective lead nurturing strategy that includes automated messages and personalized contact?
- Is your campus visit program generating the desired results to encourage parents to take the next step?
- How are you managing your application and wait pool processes?
- Do you have an onboarding strategy for new families?
- How do your retention stats overall and by grade level compare to the previous years? Where are your greatest needs to improve retention?
- Who is responsible for the retention strategy? What role does the head of school and divisional leaders play in this effort?
- What is the evaluation of your re-enrollment or continuous enrollment process? What’s working and what needs to be improved?
- Do you know why your families stay enrolled at your school?
- Do you know why your families leave your school?
- What retention strategies have you implemented? What do you need to implement to address any of your retention efforts?
- How are your faculty and staff involved in the retention strategy?
- Do you have an annual survey program in place to evaluate parent satisfaction? Are you measuring your Net Promoter Score and other key areas?
- What strategies did you implement to generate leads for admissions? What strategies were most effective? What do you need to change or implement?
- Do you have a word-of-mouth marketing plan in place to inspire parents to share more word-of-mouth in the community?
- What is your evaluation of your school’s website as your primary marketing tool?
- Are you utilizing strategies such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), paid search ads, downloadable content, and landing pages in your inbound marketing effort?
- How are you utilizing storytelling in your online Web and social media strategies? Are you effectively telling the story of your school?
- Does your school’s brand represent your school well to the audience you are trying to reach? Are you using your brand elements consistently?
- Do you have defined messaging that you are using in your marketing effort to reach prospective parents?
4—Tuition and Financial Aid
- Do you have an annual tuition pricing strategy?
- How effective is your enrollment contract and withdrawal policy for maximizing tuition?
- Are you utilizing financial aid as a strategy to meet need and maximize enrollment?
- Is your financial aid assessment tool the best product and solution in the market?
- How are you marketing your school to be affordable to prospective and current families?
- Do you have the appropriate staff positions in place for the enrollment and marketing effort?
- Do you have specific job descriptions for each position?
- What organizational structure are you utilizing? To whom does the admissions and marketing departments report?
- How involved is your head of school in the enrollment marketing effort? Does she or he meet regularly with the team?
- Does your enrollment marketing team meet weekly? Do you have other planning meetings in place?
While this list of starter questions is not meant to be exhaustive, these questions can help guide you in your assessment. There is much more to the process including research, review of reports and materials, and discussions with your team.
The assessment process can be condensed to four core questions that you should understand in admissions, retention, marketing, tuition and financial aid, and staffing:
- What did you do last year?
- What worked? What didn’t work?
- Are there any gaps or shortcomings that you need to address next year?
- What do you need to improve or change to achieve the results you desire?
By completing a comprehensive assessment, you will know exactly what you should include in your plan for next year. That’s why every plan must begin with this critical step whether your school’s enrollment is full, flat, or in decline.
Sometimes, when you are knee-deep in your own office and the day-to-day operations, it is challenging to complete the assessment process for yourself. You may overlook some areas or not ask the right questions. You may not notice some of the processes or strategies aren’t working.
This is why you often need an expert, someone that has worked with hundreds of schools, to conduct this assessment for you.
Let me know how I can help you and your school move forward next year by conducting a comprehensive assessment in the upcoming months.