Sarasota Christian School

Sarasota Christian School
Sarasota, FL

A Conversation with Elizabeth DiMartino, Director of Enrollment and Marketing

Enrollment Catalyst began working with Sarasota Christian School’s leadership team in late 2017. Thought the Enrollment Catalyst Program, the goal was to put a plan in place to grow the school’s enrollment. As a result of this partnership, the 2018-19 student body of 445 students is the largest number enrolled on campus since 2008. In addition, the class of 2022 is their biggest group of incoming freshmen in eleven years. Sarasota Christian was able to experience this growth through the dedicated work of their team.

Describe your school’s enrollment and marketing situation before you hired Rick Newberry and Enrollment Catalyst:

SCS was in a position of stagnant growth for several years. Our school is located in a very competitive market, with excellent public, charter, homeschool co-op, and private school options for families. Although this area is one of tremendous population growth, SCS was losing current students to other options and we were struggling to attract new families.

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

We felt that it was important to bring in an outside perspective to help us look realistically at our position in the market, re-prioritize our marketing efforts, and identify ways to reach new families using our limited resources. I had heard Rick speak at a RenWeb conference and found his approach to school marketing compelling.

What were the results of working with Enrollment Catalyst? What were your greatest accomplishments?

We started implementing many of the initiatives Rick recommended in the spring of 2018. We saw some immediate gains in the fall of 2018, including our largest freshman class in 10 years and a growth of 2.5%. As we have continued to implement our marketing strategies over the past twelve months, we have continued to see the results of this work. Our K-12 applications were up 24% over last year, and we grew another 5% this year. We have 3 classrooms at capacity and are already receiving calls for next year!

What did you like best about working with Rick Newberry?

We greatly benefited from the survey work that Rick did with our various constituents. It was the most in-depth survey we had done in many years, including new and returning parents, staff/faculty, board, etc. This really helped us understand better our strengths and areas of opportunity. Rick’s coaching after the report also was particularly helpful to me as we had some internal re-organizing occurring around the same time. I stepped into a broader role encompassing all of marketing and enrollment, and Rick was there with me throughout that transition, helping me to set priorities and offering valuable insights and advice along the way.

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

We have been pleasantly surprised at how our families have rallied around our efforts to increase our word-of-mouth marketing. We have intentionally asked them to write reviews, share our social media posts, and connect with new families. They have taken this initiative to heart and become a valuable component of our marketing efforts.

Were there specific programs from the Enrollment Catalyst Program that generated the biggest impact for your marketing and enrollment efforts?

Our ambassador program (we call then Fanbassadors) has been a valuable edition to our community. The connections our Fanbassadors make with our new families is critical to the successful integration of new students, and has helped us reach far more families than we could with just traditional advertising. We also implemented variable tuition, and for us this was an excellent tool for “marketing” the way we already approached tuition. Finally, we have invested more in video (and in a new website – another of Rick’s suggestions!) and are excited about the responses we have had to our videos. Our senior stroll video alone generated over 5,000 views – not bad for a $500 investment!

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

I would highly recommend Rick, and not just for schools that are in an enrollment decline. He keeps up-to-date with the latest trends in school marketing and has a wealth of experience to draw from. He was able to provide us with contacts and resources that were critical to our success.

How can we help?