What do you do when your school’s online reputation is at stake?

For every four parents that drop a review about your school, 96 parents have gone past without saying a word. Such parents deserve ‘accolades’ for stopping by.

Ruby Newell-Legner in her book, “Understanding Customers”, indicates that 96% of customers do not make complaints and out of those, 91% will not visit your business again

Let me start this piece on a controversial note – The truth is that people are too busy minding their businesses, people don’t care about your business, yes your school. For every four parents that drop a review about your  school, 96 parents have gone past without saying a word. Such parents deserve ‘accolades’ for stopping by.

What is being said about your school is a different kettle of fish. If the review is a 5 star one, it is a testimony that you have done well and such parent is pleased with your educational services. All you need to do is just to keep up the good work. However, if such review is damaging and hurtful, the natural response is to frantically look for ‘delete’ button. This is a very bad approach – resist the urge!

Rather, consider the following  truths about negative reviews

  1. The parent (reviewer) still cares about your business: Even if you have reasons to believe the review is written out of prejudice (maybe from a competitor). For him/her to leave his/her business and mind yours, be generous enough to thank such parent in your heart of hearts for minding your business.
  2. It is not about you but your business. It is a good practice to always separate yourself from your business – don’t take it personally. Parents spreading the news about your school is great marketing only if you know what to do with it.
  3. It is assessment time: As an educator, you know (and tell your students) that having ‘F’ grade does not mean the student is doomed and can not make ‘A’ in subsequent assessments. If this philosophy is good for your students/pupils, then it is also applicable to you (sorry, your school)
  4. Bad Reviews are not bad business:  Accept the fact that your school cannot be suitable for every parent and it is not a bad thing. Most genuine negative reviews are as a result mismatched expectations on the part of the reviewers, in this case, parents.
  5. Bad reviews make good reviews look authentic and build credibility: In my article 5 ways to avoid ‘avoidable bad reviews for your school, I mentioned that prospective parents look out for negative things about your school to see if they are things they relatively consider ‘normal’. And if they find none, it could be a ‘red flag. Negative reviews are good for your brand because they show that all of your reviews are real.

Turn Lemons to Lemonade now that your school is on parents’ radars.

If you find your school a victim of a bad review, just know that more eyeballs are on your school as it is in the spotlight. (Read my article, importance of online reviews to your enrollment strategy for more on this). Take this as an opportunity to further market your school to prospective parents who want to read the ‘bad’ about your school for free. And how do you achieve this? Look for a cold drink (not beer), sit back, and take the following 5 actions:

  • Pause and evaluate the review: For the fact that you are aware of the review and you respond proactively, you can still salvage the situation.  Study the review to determine what to do-  Is it an isolated case or it affects other parents? Gauge the level of damage this could potentially cause- use your best judgement but do not exaggerate it.                                                                                                                                                                           Your findings will determine your next line of action. In some instances, you just keep your responses short, thank the parent, and move on. In some extreme cases, you explain your side of the story with facts and figures in a polite but non-defensive way
  • Respond publicly if you have to: Public replies provide an opportunity to show other parents reading the reviews that you care enough to try and remedy the situation. It shows you respect parents and you have nothing to hide from anybody. Apologize publicly and offer incentives if you need to, we all make mistakes. In drafting your response, follow these best practices;
    1. Call the reviewer by the first name with appropriate title eg Dear Chief Alex if you know it.
    2. Even with the worst of reviews, thank the reviewer for deeming it fit to express herself
    3. Don’t lash out. Even if you’re right, it won’t end in your favour
    4. Use the same logic you would apply if she walks in to your office to express same reservations
    5. Don’t respond while you’re angry. It won’t end well
    6. Present your case – make it as short as possible but without loosing the key info
    7. Address legitimate concerns only- don’t digress
    8. Don’t get personal.
    9. Be nice and keep things professional

     

  • Gather more positive review to neutralize the negative ones: With this, you are simply saying the obvious and reality that it is impossible to please everyone and this is an isolated case. Get help in doing this by reading 11 ways to gather online reviews for your school
  • Remove the review if it is absolutely necessary but resist the temptation of pressing charges: In most cases, there is no need to remove this because negative reviews give authority to positive ones. A sprinkle of them is good for your brand. Parents are your direct market, dragging them to courts is likely to incur other parents’ grievances in solidarity. There is almost no justification for that – Even if you win the case, public opinion may not favour your school.
  • Check yourself and make adjustments: Few days after Dana Air license was restored after the crash in 2012, I intentionally flew it. Guess what? I got the best air treatment and felt safer than ever before!  Do you know that Queen’s college got a brand new water treatment after the cholera outbreak incident of last year and the chances of it happening again are slimmer than where it never happened? There is no smoke without fire. It is probably time for self-assessment.

Lastly, after you’ve addressed a problem and the parent is once again satisfied, you can ask for an update to the review to reflect your efforts. She might update it or take it down. Leave it up to her. If she does, wonderful! If not, at least your school is on record as having replied to the parent/reviewer.

Do you know about our ‘Stop Enrollment Leak’ Seminar coming up on 21/11/2018 in Lagos?  Do not miss it for anything.

Click here to register NOW!

 

 

5 ways to Avoid ‘Avoidable’ Bad Reviews for your School

Surprisingly, most prospective parents look out for negative things about your school to see if they are things they relatively consider ‘normal’. And if they find none, it could be a ‘red flag’.

 

According to invesp , The fact is, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. By implication,  88% of your prospective customers will not buy from you if they read a negative review of your products or services,.  This is NOT always the case!

Psychologically, since customers assume that nothing is perfect, a total lack of negative reviews means that companies are either burying the negative (not a good sign) or trying to claim perfection, which can actually be even worse. Brands with perfect reviews look inauthentic.

For schools, the truth is that every reasonable parent knows there are no perfect schools out there and yours is not an exemption.  A sprinkle of bad reviews within a few good ones can work in favour of your school. Just accept the reality that you cannot please everybody and your school cannot be suitable for everyone.

Surprisingly, most prospective parents look out for negative things about your school to see if they are things they relatively consider ‘normal’. And if they find none, it could be a ‘red flag’.

A trend discovered by SchoolsCompass is that parents hesitate to consider schools with no reviews or with too many negative reviews for their wards (for obvious reasons). In general, a school with no review (especially on schoolscompass) is worse than a school with a sprinkle of bad reviews in the midst of good ones.

Prevention is still better than cure

The fact that bad reviews still have good sides does not mean you should go out your way looking for avoidable bad reviews for your school. It is still best to strive to have none because some are so damaging and could cost you your entire business.

Here are 5 ways to avoid ‘avoidable’ bad reviews for your school:

  1. Avoid “Toxic” Parent

The early signs are obvious- from their very first visit, they complain about almost everything in your school. The more you try to convince them, the more faults they find- it’s probably time to let go.

Photo Credit: Quora

If they are not happy with your school on the first visit, the likelihood of them liking it in the long run after making payment is very slim.  At the end of the day, they feel trapped and result in throwing tantrums which could make them give your school a negative review at the slightest opportunity. You don’t want that. Do you?

  1. Operate Open Policy

As a school owner, it is a good practice to let your staff and parents know how you prefer to be contacted in the event of any complaints or grievances. Put suggestion boxes in strategic places of your school premises to make provisions for anonymous senders and make sure you check them often.

Photo credit: Standard Bearers Schools, Lekki

Bottled emotions are like the time-bomb in the hands of the terrorists looking for space to detonate. You can prevent it with effective open door policy.

Your channel of communication must be well defined and known to everyone

  1. Avoid Online Collaborative Meeting

For busy parents who don’t have time to attend your PTA meeting, virtual collaborative meeting on a platform like ‘group WhatsApp’ appears to be a very smart option. 95% of the time, down the line, it usually gets out of control. At that point, decorum is thrown out of the window mostly by toxic parents.

Photo credit: Cnet

Unverified damaging information from aggrieved parents in such platform can go beyond the platform itself and extend to social media or other third party review websites. That is definitely not the reason for such collaboration in the first place.

  1. Be Sensitive and Keep Ears to the Ground

If you observe any change of behaviour towards you by members of your staff or parents of your pupils/students, it may be a result of bottled emotion or perceived grievances towards you, the school owner or any member of your staff saddled with the responsibility of representing you in one capacity of the other.

Find out what it is, if is it about your school or your management style, do your best to address it (most likely to be an isolated case) before it gets out of hand and degenerates to the level of venting such anger on the internet.

  1. Communicate

The importance of communication in dispute resolution and prevention cannot be over flogged. Carrying every member of your school community along with your vision and new policies in order not to give room for speculations is an effective way of running schools.

 

Are you prepared for our next event – STOP ENROLLMENT LEAKS 21/10/18?

 

Click here to register

 

Supported by:

 

 

11 ways to gather online reviews for your school

This is  the second in the series of my posts on importance of  online reviews to your school enrollment strategy. I outlined some reasons why you may want to embrace online reviews in my last post.

 

Getting online reviews for your school is not a rocket science but you have to make conscious efforts to achieve real success in it. The alternative to it which most school owners do is to leave it and do nothing about it – the consequence is grave and the risk is high.

For those who want to give it a try, here are 11 tips for achieving it.

1. Ask, Ask, and Ask: The truth is that if you don’t ask, you are not likely to get it. Customers are more prone to writing negative reviews about products than writing negative reviews. When last did you go online to tell the world how great this dress you bought looks on you? It is just natural.

Cultivate the habit of asking parents to review your service. You’ll be surprised by their willingness to do so.

2. Make it simple and seamless: If you are requesting your parents to drop a review for your school, be sure that you don’t make it complex – send them an email or SMS and make sure the message contains a link to the exact place where to write the review with clear instructions. Avoid a situation where they have to navigate there themselves or figure out what to do.

 3. Tell them what to expect: Unfortunately, most review sites require users to log in before they can write reviews. This is to prevent ‘spamming’ or any other automated and unwanted inputs but most users detest it.

If users are required to login before reviews are made, let the users know beforehand so they expect it and psychologically prepare for it. It is OK to manage such expectation, otherwise, it could be a roadblock that could get them irritated and leave the sites without writing any.

Photo Credit: Treasure Chest Place, Ajah

Take advantage of happy their moments:  When they come to you telling you how their children have improved academically under your tutelage and singing praises of your school. Take advantage of that moment, ask them to prove it by writing a review for your school.

Photo Credit: Blooming Green, Yaba

4. Don’t ask for positive feedback/review, ask them for honest feedback/review: Asking parents directly for positive reviews has automatically defeated the purpose of asking in the first place. There is a huge difference between ‘Positive’ and ‘Honest’ feedbacks in the mind of your customers. ’ You don’t want to come across as being forcefully or telling them that, ‘I know I don’t merit it, but do it for me’. That alone is negative, be careful with your choice of words.

 

5. Send email reminders to willing parents ONLY: It is very possible that some busy parents genuinely forget to write the review as promised, take time to check online to see if they have not done so and sent them a gentle reminder or SMS to nudge them to do so. In order not to appear intrusive, make sure you send to only parents you have had a conversation with before.

 

6. Start with your circle of friends: A good place to start your request for online reviews is your good friends among the parents who are not likely to say NO. This is called ‘low hanging fruits’. With this, you know what works in your approach and also what does not work. Perfect your strategy of reaching out and then launch it to other parents.

Photo Credit: Rainbow College Boarding

7. Take advantage of special events: Get a series of internet-ready devices on your special event days like PTA, inter-house sports and all that and politely asking parents to OPTIONALLY drop a review the same way you ask them to register their arrival. You may not get all of them to oblige but remember that reviews are not a game of numbers. One or two positive reviews could be all you need.

You may also decide to go ‘manual’ and offline to achieve the same purpose if you don’t have the resources. ’

8. Create a memorable and newsworthy event or scintillating performance:  According to James Hadley Chase, Goldfish have no hiding place‘. Try to organize a newsworthy event that attracts the attention of everyone in the space- even the government. This would definitely trend and fetch your school some ‘Accolades’. ’

Imagine one of your pupils wins N1M on ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ programme or had A1 in all his/her external examination.

Naturally, every parent of your school would like to identify with it, they likely go online themselves telling the whole world that they also have children in your school that are doing great – This give credence to the fact the success has many families but failure is an orphan. Take a deliberate effort to be extra successful and innovative and watch the magic!

10. Introduce incentives: Many parents see an online review as stressful that they don’t want to go through or make time for. As a school owner, putting yourself in their shoes will also have the same feeling running through your mind.

Naturally, customers behave like children and creating a review and reward promo in any of the school events by offering incentives such as simple chocolates, sweet, biscuit, tickets to watch films etc to parents can ease that stressed feeling and make reviewing your school sound exciting and simple to parents.

11. Be honest with it: Let parents know that this is to your benefit and it is just a favour you are asking from them. Don’t package it as if they are also benefiting from reviews when they are not.

 

 

 

Importance of online reviews to your enrollment strategy (1)

A good word of mouth referral will tell 4-6 people about your product or services, online reviews can tell thousands of people overnight.

Your school’s reputation does not depend on what you say about it, but on what others (especially parents)  are saying about it. According to Chris Anderson, “Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what Google says it is.”  Your brand is what your school is all about. It’s who you are, and what you offer to families. And if your online reputation doesn’t match who you say you are, your school marketing efforts will largely fall flat and enrollment will suffer.

Online reviews are the digital form of ‘words of mouths’. In my post on brand, I mentioned that your brand is everything the current and prospective parents of your school think, feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect, and even hope about your school.

Online reviews could make or mar your brand and by extension, your enrollment. Organizations spend millions to naira on damage control when a dissatisfied client decided to go online to express his grievances about their products or services. Ironically, your customers are more generous with bad reviews than good ones. Bad news travels faster than good news especially in this social media world and viral age.

SOURCE: IMPERIAL GATE SCHOOL, LEKKI profile on SchoolsCompass.com.ng

A couple of years ago, if you conduct a ‘google’ ’search on one private school in Ajah, the first website that came up about that school was the Linda Ikeji’s story about a sad story of a child that died in the school from what the narrator termed as ‘school’s negligence’. This story trended online for a very long time. The last time I checked, it is no longer there but you don’t want to imagine the damage that story might have caused the school. As a third party, I am not privy to the school owner’s side of the story but that does not reduce the damage already done to the school’s brand.

I am sure the story about the prestigious Queens College last year is still fresh in our mind, search for anything about the school on google, you are more likely to be confronted with  this unpleasant news about the school than the good  things Queen’s college is known for over the years making it look as if Google is a conspirator, a promoter of bad news at the expense of the good ones.

IMAGE SOURCE: GOOGLE.COM

Apart from the effect on the brand and reputation of your school, online reviews also  help your school in the following ways:

  1. Increases your online visibility: If more people are talking and engage about your school online, technically speaking, it sends a signal to all major search engines about your school as more contents are being generated all centred about your school.
  2. Boosts your enrollment:  When prospective parents read what other parents are saying about your school, they feel more relaxed, connected, and confident about their choice of your school.

       3. Gives you the competitive advantage: If you ask many tech-savvy millennial about where learn more about a particular school, they are more likely to refer you to sites that generate reviews and ratings about schools like SchoolCompass and others

Action Point:

As a school owner, it’s time to embrace online review sites and use them to your advantage. How many reviews do you have on your SchoolsCompass profile?

 

NB: In the next 2 series, we shall be looking at different ways to gather online reviews for your school and what to do in the event of bad reviews that threaten your brand. You don’t want to miss any of them – watch this space!

Your Brand: How does it help Your School’s Marketing Strategy?

Your brand is everything the current and prospective parents of your school think, feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect, and even hope about your school.

Do you think parents really have time to visit and mentally compare every school and cross-reference the information they get from all these schools? How do they know when they have made the best rational decision about their choice of schools? A brand is a kind of tool for your customer to use when making a buying decision.

Every school has a brand. Contrary to popular belief, Your brand is not your logo, not about your tagline, not about your vision statements, It is not a subset of your advertising (more important than that). It is the sum total of all the meanings that all your possible audiences carry about you in their heads and in their hearts.

For example, there is a particular school in Abuja that has the reputation of producing the best results year in year out.  I can not identify her logo if I see it but that does not affect her brand. Again, I repeat, a brand is not about the logo, it is about perception.

In other words, your brand is everything the current and prospective parents of your school think, feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect, and even hope about your school.

Building your brand and sustaining IT is an endless process, it has no start and end time. You build it consciously and unconsciously. It is not part of your marketing strategy (in most cases). It is not what you consciously do to woo new families. It is part of your core value systems as a school. It may be strong/positive, strong/negative, weak/positive, or weak/positive.

Let’s examine these possible positions one after the other:

  1. Strong/Positive brand:

    This is the best place to be. All schools strive to be here but very few schools are here. It means that your school is known by almost every family and what these families carry in their heads and hearts about your school is good and mirror your vision of your school. Schools in this category often have a long waiting list every session- long enough to populate a school. They are probably leveraging on the fact that the brand gives stability, growth potential, loyalty, and longevity.

2. Strong/Negative brand:

This is not a pleasant place to be. Most schools in this category don’t set out to be here- they were most likely once in the Strong/Positive brand position before finding themselves here.           A lot of factors can be attributed to this fall – some of them are out of their control (like the natural disaster, government negligence, policy change, culture,  etc. ) while some are within (like examination malpractice, sexual assault etc ). When this happens, it always results in parents leaving the affected school in droves and depleted enrollments.                     It costs a lot of money and other resources to get out of this position and move to the previous one. It some instances, it may never happen!

3. Weak/Positive brand

A lot of schools are in this space. Not a bad place to be but there is always room for improvement.  It only means that few parents know about your school and the good things you do. If you are persistence and you maintain your class, it is just a matter of time, your weak may become strong. Your marketing strategy and PR  have a  role to play here, invest more in them.

4. Weak/Negative brand

 This is the worst place to be, if drastic action is not taken, you’ll soon be out of the school business. Any school in this category probably fell from the weak/positive position. The first step is to convert the negative to positive by addressing whatever caused it before thinking of moving from weak to strong. It takes almost eternity to achieve but it is possible with a strong will and in most cases under different management.  The good news is that because just a few people know about your school, it costs less to do damage control unlike schools in Strong/Negative brand position.

In conclusion, what is your school known for? Are you too pricey or cheap? Excellent academic performance, strong in extracurricular activities, strong adherence to spiritual and moral values, your curriculum and others?

What comes to mind when people see your logo, school bus, or hear the name of your school?  Engage your current parents to anonymously extract this information, process it and know where your school belongs from the four position stated above. Wherever you belong is a good place to start building your brand.

 

Good luck!

 

Increase your school enrollments through inbound marketing.

If you can get a prospective parent to visit your school, their likelihood of applying skyrockets as high as 80% (according to research). But you have to make them WANT to visit you in the first place. And therein lies your biggest school marketing challenge. This is where inbound marketing shines.

Image Source: Palmer Ad Agency

World’s leading marketing agency Hubspot defined inbound marketing as a marketing strategy focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer’s buying journey. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.

In context, Inbound marketing is an internet-based marketing strategy that involves creating relevant, engaging online content that draws potential families to your schools, establishes a relationship with them, and in so doing, convinces them to enroll.Have you noticed that most schools no longer print flyers to distribute (randomly ) to prospective parents and the number of newspaper (and other print media) adverts of schools are not what it used to be before?

Photo credit: Riverside College,

The idea that the traditional means of advertising are falling by the wayside with today’s audiences (i.e., parents of little ones) in favor of non-intrusive online engagement. Outbound marketing which is the traditional marketing is not only expensive, it is intrusive, not effective, time-consuming, energy-sapping, and non targeted.

In simpler terms, Inbound marketing is an online marketing strategy. We all engage in it every time. NO big deal! If your school has a facebook & Instagram page, SchoolsCompass page, Whatsapp group of prospects, blog page etc, you are already implementing inbound marketing.

The big deal is:

  • How well do you use it?
  • What type of contents are you churning out to who?
  • What medium are you using?

Your ability to answer these questions correctly determines how effective your inbound marketing strategy would be.

SchoolsCompass is a startup that specializes in carrying out inbound marketing strategies for schools, so we are understandably biased towards the decision to use ourselves as an example in this blog. But there is a reason we exist, and why we’re passionate about helping schools like yours achieve your enrollment goals and project their brand through inbound strategies: because to do it right on your own takes an immense amount of time and possibly costs more. And just as many schools are tight on money, we know that their staff is likewise pretty short on time to handle it in-house, too. In order to identify a good inbound marketing strategy for your schools, let us examine some of its characteristics

1. Targets parents through online platforms such as blogs, social media and search engines:

 

Any inbound platform that is not accessible through consistent blog posts, social media, and most importantly, search engines cannot be said to be very effective because these are places you can target parents genuinely looking for schools.

SchoolsCompass has all these in excess -arguably, it is the most visited school-related website in Nigeria and the most optimized website for school-related keywords

 

2. Attention is a Finite Resource:

Photo Credit: STARFIELD COLLEGE, ABUJA

 

According to a recent survey by Microsoft, the average human’s attention span has decreased from 12 seconds to eight seconds. Good inbound marketing strategy understands that attention span of online readers is very short- therefore it  pushes ONLY what is relevant in a non clustered form preferably in bullet points with the right spacing so that eyes can rest before reading the next points. Your school’s profile (if well done by you) on  schoolscompass understands this psychology

 

 

3. Earn parents’ interest  rather than buying it

Photo: SchoolsCompass.com.ng Homepage

Any marketing strategy that is not forceful in approach is considered to be the best. How well would you describe the SchoolsCompass tagline;  ‘we guide, you decide’?  It is not just in words, but in deeds whenever we are relating with parents.

 

4. It is permission-based, not interruption-based

Imagine a room filled with parents looking for schools and you are asked to come and pitch (not preach)  your school to them. Your chances of conversion is 750% higher than interruption-based marketing.

SchoolsCompass is one of the few places you could advertise your schools where prospective parents are actually looking for you and you aren’t interrupting them. Most social media campaigns are interruption-based. No wonder, SchoolsCompass routes a minimum of 25 families to different schools all over Nigeria via telephone calls and text message on a daily basis.

If you need an effective and non-intrusive, well researched inbound marketing strategy for your school to attract parents, SchoolsCompass is an option you can’t afford to ignore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 tips to increase your enrollment this September

According to a recent research conducted by SchoolsCompass, an average parent changes school once every three years. And most of these changes take place at the beginning of every session- September . Top on the list of their reasons or change is unsatisfactory academic performance, relocation and economic reality.

Photo credit: Blooming greens School

As your schools wind up for the session, the race for September admission gets more intense. Yes, a lot of prospective parents could find their way into your admission office for inquiry. Chances are that they are also considering other schools making the competition tougher.

 

If you’re just hanging on and doing everything the way you did it last year and the one before simply because of busyness – or maybe just because you don’t feel like anything needs changing – then you could be missing plenty of opportunities for reaching and enrolling new families.

 

Here are 5 things you should do to take advantage of this peak season:

1. Insist on initial commitment before any negotiation/consensus 

Photo credit: Naija Going Abroad

This is probably the litmus test to know how committed prospective parents are. Most of the times, it is masked in ‘Application Form’.  The idea behind this is not to force parents to enroll their wards but to extract a little commitment, avoid time wasters and enables you to focus all your strategies and energy on ‘Serious People ONLY’ for optimal performance.

2. Push the Panic Button 

Photo credit: First Things

Encourage parents who enroll in say less than say 15 days from the day of their first inquiry or visit.  Give a little discount say 5% of tuition fee to push the panic button could go a long way to sway a decision in your favor. You may end up spending more-  in time and other resources if you have to follow up on them just because it takes them a longer time to decide.

 

3. Help them complete the admission form

Photo credit: Albesta Academy

Where possible, go through and complete the application form with them to understand and address possible reservations and roadblocks in your questions. If they don’t have instant answers to these questions while completing it at home, it may cause other rounds of decision making which may or may not favor your school.

 

4. Give them something to remember about your school

Photo credit: Concordia Junior Academy, Yola

A simple branded pen or exercise book, when taken home after visiting your school could create a ‘top of the mind’ awareness about your school. When it is time to make a decision, the name of your school will always come to mind.  Call it a souvenir, you are on track.

 

5. Connect with them outside business

Photo credit: Rainbow College

Let prospective parents know that you also value the relationship with them beyond enrolling their ward in your school. Remember, they left their businesses to visit your business premises, show them you also care about their businesses as well. Take pictures with them and connect them on social media where necessary. With this, you are not just a prospective client, you are a friend and most people buy from friends.

 

 

The ACE of your ‘Admission Funnel’

September 2018 is just around the corner. This is probably the busiest period for your admission office this year. And  If you have a dedicated line for your prospective parents’ enquiry, you may have to invest in a ‘power bank’ so your phone does not go off.

As the list of prospects grows, you begin to figure out the percentage of these parents that will finally make it to the final line – the Enrollment. Typically, for an average school, it is 10% and could be far more or less in some schools.

In order to increase this number,  It is important to understand the various steps/stages parents go through in their journey to finally enrol their wards in your school.

 

The stages are called ACE: A for Awareness, C for Consideration, and E for Enrolment.

 

Awareness

This is the stage with the highest number of prospects. Depending on what works for you –  your advert budget, class of parents you are targeting, etc. there are different tools you can use to create awareness to more prospects. They include but not limited to

  1. Your website
  2. Social media – Facebook Instagram
  3. Dedicated sites for school marketing like schoolscompass and others
  4. Google AdWords
  5. Flyers and billboards
  6. End of year events that attract more families especially neighbours
  7. Branded schools bus
  8. Your brand and reputation as a school

 

Considerations

After the awareness, the next step is the consideration. Parents prefer to visit the school for a first-hand view. They can even go further to write your entrance examination depending on how they got to learn about your school and of course, their need.

Your goal here is to push them to the next and final stage and this is where the bulk of your job is. Truthfully, a lot of factors determine your success here- some are beyond your control, some are not.

Photo credit: Glowing Ages Academy, Abuja

Here are some of the tools you can also use (in no particular order) to increase your chances:

  1. Make sure you address their needs whenever they call for an enquiry or pay you a visit
  2. Have a well structured but personalized strategy for your prospects
  3. Let them know your strength as a school and try not to cover up where you are not good at. A lot of parents understand that you can not have it all
  4. Use 3rd party to speak about your school – this is called Multi-level marketing (MLM)

 

Enrollment

Photo credit: MakingMyDreamComesTrue

This is the finishing line where the holy books say ‘many are called, few are chosen’. If you get them to this stage, you sure deserve a cup of coffee.  Available data shows that less than 2% of those who start from awareness get to this point. The rule of thumb is not to attempt to increase this percentage, rather, strive  to increase the value of your 2% by increasing the number from the awareness stage and retaining some at the consideration stage using some of the tools highlighted plus the ones you know that already work for your school

 

For the purpose of illustration, let’s work with 2% conversion rate which means that if 100 parents know about your school, only 2 of them would eventually enrol their wards. The number reduces as they cascade through your ‘sales funnel’. I know the statistic is scary but that is the reality.

 

 

5 Common Negative Feedback Parents May NEVER Give You

Imagine this scenario…

I
Image Source: MyFFC.tv

You have nailed it, you put in your best – showed them some of your state-of-the-art facilities and it appeared they were very impressed. Two weeks later, you did not hear from them and you called to follow up. The wife ignored it but the husband summoned enough courage and reluctantly picked it your 3rd time of calling.“Hello sir, you said, I am calling to follow up with you. Ahhh sorry, we are no longer considering your school was the response.”

You may end up trying to figure out what went wrong. Could it be something with the pricing or location? I am sure you wish to get this feedback in order to improve strategy next time other parents come knocking at your admission office door. As a third party who is not “emotionally”  attached to your school, parents feel more obliged to give us this feedback. 

Because our platform  helps parents find the right school, we get tons of feedback on a daily basis. Let’s share some of the feedback that the parents may not necessarily share directly with your school.

 

  1. ‘Not Enough’

    Image Source: Meme Generator

This is a very passive feedback as most of your prospective parents would not even wear it on their faces even if it is ringing on their heads. If you have the means of peeping into their minds, you will hear something like ‘your library is too small’, ‘classrooms are not spacious enough’, ‘I would prefer a bigger playground’.

Recently, a parent called our office twice to give us feedback on the school we referred her to. She said the school’s library is quite small and doesn’t see the school as a good fit for her.  It was later discovered that the school actually have a bigger library; out of oversight, the school did not tell her about it when she visited.

Helpful tip: It may be necessary to ask prospective parents what is important to them to establish their pain points before taking them round the school during inspection to ensure nothing is left out.

  1. Too much emphasis on Academic Excellence:

     More and more parents are fast facing the reality that academic performance alone is not the reason they should entrust their treasures into your custody. A parent once told me that ‘if it is just academic, then schools are not much different from each other’. To great extent, I believe this is true.  In this parent’s case, he was interested in any school that teaches self-defence. 

A good number of parents may not bother to  ask you during their visits to your school. If they don’t see evidence of what they are looking for, they simply assume it does not exist. To some, it could be a coding and robotic club or any other extracurricular activities.

 

3. The School is Fading   –   Cracked lawn and peeling paints

Image Source: Ishahayi Beach School Foundation

 Some parents are perfectionists – they expect everything in your school to be in perfect conditions, anything fall short of this is a turn off to them. If you have the privilege of playing host to this type of parents, then welcome to their world.  It is most likely they keep all these flaws into themselves thinking that telling you could embarrass you and may even make someone to lose his/her job. They just move on to the next school – no point crying over spilt milk.

Helpful tip: The good news is that you can actually satisfy them if you are also the type and pays attention to tiny details in your school.

  1. The School is still Early – When the Age of Your School is a Concern:

     

    Every school started at a point. Unfortunately, many parents don’t understand this. To them, the thought of making their children ‘a guinea pig’ (sic) to experiment and grow your school is scary.

Personally, as a parent, I do not think this is a major concern as long as the school can deliver her promise, but I can only speak for myself. Every parent is entitled to his/her feedback about your school.

Helpful tip: If your school is less than 5 years, letting parents know the combined experience of individual teachers is your school from their various places of employment, your (school owner) passion and experience as a parent and your background  as an educator could go a long way in helping them see more than the present in your school.

Another way is to take prospective parents around the state-of-the-art facilities their children can enjoy. This works most especially when they know such facilities cannot be found in most schools they consider ‘old enough’.

 

  1. Value has not been properly communicated:

    Photo Credit: IMAAD SCHOOLS LEKKI

    It is a good idea to communicate what your school stands for the very first time you meet prospective parents in order not to give room for speculations. Your value system should demonstrate your stand on religious belief as a school, curriculum, policies (anti-bully etc).

    Helpful tip: Every parent has his/her own expectations before visiting your school, alignment of values from the onset is very important to both parties to avert future clashes.

 

 

 

How does Parent Persona help your school?

When you speak in a language that is familiar to your prospects, you are instantly compensated with their attentions.

Just before you continue: This article is a continuation of last week’s blog where we introduced the concept of parent persona and how to create one for your school. It may be helpful to read it before this one if you miss it last week. 

Photo credit: belleafricana

When I was young, I used to excitedly follow my mum into the local markets to do some shopping. In the midst of thousands of people, any time she hears ‘Mama Yomi’ (meaning Yomi’s mum) or her name, ”come and buy this, buy that,” she is bound to turn her head and look the way of the caller. Dogmatically, I followed suit.

It is an undeniable fact that when you speak in a language that is familiar to your prospects, you are instantly compensated with their attention. Even if you have never met before.

Understanding your prospective and current parents through Parent Persona is an integral part of your marketing success and school growth. Failure to do so is subjecting yourself to be ‘fooled by randomness’ which cannot be sustained in the midst of a highly competitive private school market.

If you take a look at your Parent Persona, you will discover some interesting patterns you never thought of before now. For example, if a good number of your parents work in the banking sector, it is an indication that there are things you do in your school that attract bankers. Once this is established, this is a good place to start, just take these 3 steps:

  1. Look at individual parent persona in this category of bankers to find out what exactly it is.   You may find out that your after-school service fits in into their busy schedules.
  2. The next thing is to get your marketing team to craft messages that may be themed like this ‘We appreciate your busy schedule and help you keep your kids busy till you are ready to leave for the day’. You may even be generous enough to add ‘at no extra cost’ if you really mean it. This is called empathy in its simplest terms.
  3. Lastly, look out for where bankers hang out- it could be a group of bankers on Facebook or WhatsApp. You can even walk into banking halls to reach out to more of them with your message.

Depending on the peculiarity of your school,  you may discover  trends like most parents in your school are celebrities, politicians, IT gurus, entrepreneurs, civil servant, live in a particular location, are within certain age range, like to play  a particular game, are of same tribe or religion (if they are Christians, find out their churches Pentecostals, Protestants, Orthodox etc), marital status etc. If you need to call them or send a survey in order to probe further, please do!

It is important to note that these patterns can come in different shapes and sizes. It may even look as trivial as most of them play a chess game. If this is the case, STEM could be your own joker to woo prospective parents because chess is an analytical game.  As long as it works for you: it is legitimate and okay.

THE BELLS SCHOOLS ALUMNI, LUNCHING THE INDOOR SPORTS FACILITIES

You will observe a packet of patterns for you to work with if your parent persona is done thoroughly (guess game is not allowed). Once this is observed, just follow the steps listed above.

One a final note, I will share my personal experience of how parent persona worked for me. Just recently, I was invited to speak to parents of final year pupils of Standard Bearers Schools Lekki Lagos alongside with representatives of some top schools in Nigeria.

In order not to be seeing as competing with schools there present, I offered to be the last speaker. When it was my turn to speak, the first thing I did was to tell my audience that I am also a parent and I also have a 10 years old daughter looking to gain admission into secondary school. This provided a strong bond between us.

Photo credit: Standard Bearers School, LekkiS Musical Recitals

What is your ideal school?

The next thing I did was to ask them this simple question: ‘what is your ideal school?’  Out of all the inspiring answers, one of them particularly caught my attention most: she said her son likes music and she will like to support him to become a DJ in the future. Her ideal school is the school that shows a strong interest in music as part of its extracurricular activities. All the schools that spoke lost the chance to address this woman’s pain points even if they have such facility in place.

For questions and follow up or if you need help creating a parent personal for your school, send an email to yomi@schoolscompass.com.ng or drop a comment

 

 

Skip to toolbar