Harnessing Word-of-Mouth in Private School Marketing

As a consultant and advocate for effective private school marketing strategies, I always focus on innovative approaches to enhance word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. With the ever-changing landscape of school marketing, word-of-mouth remains the primary way a parent discovers your school.

While word-of-mouth will occur naturally and organically, I believe that your role is to inspire more of it in your community. This requires intentionality on your part as you lead your school’s enrollment and marketing efforts. The following strategies should be part of your word-of-mouth marketing plan:

Ambassador “FAN” Program

Implementing a parent ambassador program can be a game-changer. This involves identifying and empowering parents who are vocal advocates for your school that go beyond traditional programs that focus on open house events and parent contacts. An effective ambassador program can help generate excitement and positive word-of-mouth among other parents and the broader community, ultimately enhancing enrollment and community engagement. Through my online School Ambassador Training Program, you can launch this effective strategy for your school.

Discovering your Promoters

Utilizing customer relationship management (CRM) tools can greatly aid in tracking and analyzing the sources of your enrollment leads. By identifying key evangelists and promoters in your community, you can acknowledge their contributions and encourage continued advocacy, thus reinforcing the WOM efforts. You should be able to identify your promoters by asking every prospective parent to share who referred your school to them. In addition, through a Net Promoter Score Survey, you can identify your promoters by asking them to reveal themselves.

Showcasing Stories

Highlighting the stories of students, parents, alumni, and faculty can be a powerful tool. Sharing these stories through various channels, including newsletters, social media, and your school’s website, can inspire your community to share and promote these online and in person. The authenticity through stories of real people who are part of your community will connect with prospective parents and students. Stories should be the foundation of your word-of-mouth marketing effort that will lead to your school’s success.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Encourage your school community to create and share content that reflects their positive experiences. This could be through social media posts, videos, or images, using a school-specific hashtag. UGC acts as a form of social proof, providing an authentic glimpse into life at your school. You could post an Instagram reel or story that showcases a day in the life of a student or faculty member.

Social Media Engagement

Encourage your community to share their experiences on social media. Giving your parents a post to share or encouraging them to post why they love your school, can increase the organic reach of your school. Many of the schools I have coached are implementing a campaign to share why faculty, parents, students, and alumni love their school. You have the opportunity to drive social media engagement through the content you share.

Online Reviews

Encourage your community to share their experiences on online review platforms. A review is simply the parent’s response to what they like best and the reason why they enrolled their child at your school. You should regularly ask your parents and ambassadors to write and post reviews on one of the key directory sites.

On-Campus Events

Your word-of-mouth marketing strategy should include hosting events to attract families to your campus. Whether you launch a Friend Day for current students to invite their friends to spend the day with them or host a soft-sell event to attract the community, the goal should be to attract families to visit your school.

Community Engagement

Establish a strong presence in your local community by participating in events, partnerships, and local initiatives. This builds trust and encourages positive WOM through a visible commitment to community values.

These strategies for WOM marketing in your school focus on creating a strong community presence, leveraging digital tools for storytelling and engagement, and fostering a sense of ownership and pride in your school community. By implementing these strategies, you can effectively amplify positive word-of-mouth and continue to attract new students in a dynamic and competitive educational landscape.