Mounds Park Academy

Mounds Park Academy
St. Paul, MN

A conversation with Natalie Waters Seum, Director of Communications and Marketing

Describe Mounds Park Academy’s enrollment and marketing situation before you hired Rick Newberry and Enrollment Catalyst.

Mounds Park Academy was in the process of rebounding from several years of declining enrollment during difficult economic years. We had made many changes in the areas of marketing and admission including branding, staffing, budget, strategic planning, and more. For the first time in many years, we were at a point where we were able to successfully measure our progress against clear goals. We were experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of inquiries (up 97% YOY), yet we were projecting a decrease in the number of newly- enrolled students for the coming year.

Why did you decide to partner with Rick Newberry and Enrollment Catalyst?

Despite much progress and good work, we were not attracting inquiries that were a fit for our school, and our conversion rates at multiple points in the funnel would not lead to the sustained enrollment growth we were planning for. We needed an outside perspective on what we were doing right and what needed to be changed. We made the decision to bring Rick in early in the spring, with the hope that he could help us make an impact on the coming year’s enrollment.

What were the results of working with Enrollment Catalyst?

Rick recognized and documented the many things that we were doing well. Our approach was sophisticated and robust. He helped us re-prioritize where we were spending our time. The following were the most important recommendations he made:

  • Develop a new website, which we did in three intensive weeks that spring
  • Implement a storytelling focus, which was wrapped into our new website
  • Implement a blog with high-quality content, which only grows stronger each year
  • Develop an emotionally-compelling video, which we now have five of, plus 25 social shorts
  • Consider the purchase of a more effective enrollment management database, which we’re implementing
  • Implement Continuous Enrollment, which we hope to do next year

Our greatest accomplishment was the development and launch of a new website with on-staff talent at no additional cost to the school. We immediately saw an increase in the number of inquiries who were a good fit for our school.

What did you like best about working with Rick Newberry?

We all appreciated Rick’s methodical approach, friendly demeanor, and approachable style. As a team, we were feeling somewhat poorly about our work at the time he came to campus. When he left, we felt re-energized, affirmed, yet equipped with a clear path forward. Looking back, it is quite amazing what he was able to help us accomplish in only two days.

What was the biggest surprise for your team when implementing recommendations from the Enrollment Catalyst Program?

How important the website is and how much of an impact a site design and structure update could have. We saw immediate results from his recommendations that couldn’t be disputed. Another surprise is how enduring his recommendations were—so much of what we do today is based upon his time at MPA several years ago.

Were there specific programs (Ambassadors, Variable Tuition, etc.) from the Enrollment Catalyst Program that generated the biggest impact for your marketing and enrollment efforts?

Again, we’d have to say that would be the website refresh. We receive complements from families constantly about how they were able to find the information they were looking for, that the website accurately represented our brand visually, and that it was a major factor in their decision to inquire.

What would you say to another school leader to recommend Rick Newberry to help them in their enrollment and marketing effort?

We couldn’t recommend Rick Newberry enough. His approach is thorough, approachable, and concrete—exactly what busy enrollment and marketing professionals need. And he’ll remain a trusted partner who you can turn to should you ever need him.