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!

 

 

50 Parents Explained Why They Changed the Schools their Wards were Enrolled and WELFARE topped the list

Parents on FabMumNG were asked why they changed the schools their wards were enrolled and they had a lot to say. After more than  100 comments were broken down into categories, we found out that the welfare of the wards is the strongest reason parents change schools followed by teacher competency, school management structure and many others. See parents comments below.

 

 WEAK MANAGEMENT
newlookconcept Poor management, 3 different teachers can teach a class for a session. So bad so many parents left.
ogoz_etc@newlookconcept same reason I’m about to change my child’s school. I can’t have 3 teachers in a session teach a 3 years old. I doubt it’s the best for the child.
jaybae Changing my child because of frequent change of staffs and some bad reasons I can’t mention here and also frequent increment
kemigbengaReligious purposes, my first son was already getting deep into another religion cos the owner of the school was Of that particular religion
wineup95The school was trying to teach them about being lesbian gay bi-sexual transgender and my son was only 6!!! Please tell me why does a 6 yr old need to know about that at that age??? Or maybe im just wrong !?!?!?!?!?! 
lollies_lieuI changed my daughters creche because I discovered that they don’t pray and lacked spiritual (Christian) content. Also because at the end of the term they gave a one year old typed examination, answered, marked and score with a result sheet! Who does that!!!!!? Plus her snacks was always missing, so I went early to pick her and saw where the care giver emptied all the kids snacks on the table
I changed my daughter’s school because of the way the proprietress handles issues. If the proprietress of a sch can shout at a parent, imagine what she’ll be doing to her staff. A school where the staff is not treated well, tell me where they’ll carry out their frustration. Children don’t just throw unnecessary tantrums, Parent should always watch their children attitude while taking their child to a new school. If your child cries once you’re approaching the school and always anxious to go immediately you get to that school. Mummy watch it there’s a problem.
 
CHILD’S WELFARE
Image Source: Chrisland Predegree College
panache_stitchesI changed my daughter’s creche after three months stay there, she doesn’t eat at home and they were assuring me that she eats in the creche. I knew they were lying to me when at her next immunization her weight has dropped. I was really sad and I changed the creche immediately. Where she is now, she is eating well and always happy whenever I drop and pick her 
nmasinachi1When my little daughter was in crèche,she always have cough & catarrh. She’s kinda being on antibiotics almost every month which I don’t like. I kept complaining and asked them if they have children with constant cold they said none. I went to pick her early one day and saw children with catarrh dropping down from their noses, saw one that another child is even playing with the mucus I shivered. I went to the office of the headmistress and call her to the class, she was like eehhh it was not like that maybe it just came out. I left the remaining money and that was my last their. I can’t even recommend there. It’s not cheap either cos it belongs to one church like that,. 

enniskidzzI changed my Son’s crèche back then. He was always down with a cold. I dropped him off one that and I called their attention to it and told them to please reduce the speed of the fan which they did. I got back in the evening to pick him up and the fan was on the highest speed with him directly under the fan. 

yewybinitieOh I changed my 2 yo son’s school after he came home one day with scratches on his face and neck no one at school could explain. Clearly, they were mixed with older children or something bit then d issue was not the injury…it was the fact that no one knew how or when it happened. 
bashhouseofdenimHe was having infection almost every month, he was always crying at the gate and he did that for 6months, I thought it was normal until I changed his school, the cry stoppedembrace.the.mess.you.areI had my sons in daycare for 3 weeks and the both of them would cry for 6 hours straight. I just had a feeling it was the childcare. I changed they cried for one week and its 3 years later and they are happy as can bebibbyscakes@oliveskovski it’s lack of hygiene
leesa_usifo@yewybinitie This happened to us.Cuts,a bump on her forehead.And nobody knew how!!!in short they were suggesting it happened in my house.Still so pissed.
i.am.odewunmi@fabmumng having this challenge currently.. Infection. Everything else is fantastic but this frequent bacteria infection.. My fear is, if I change to another creche, what’s the probability it won’t reoccur? Is there a way to prevent?
u4mabinoneYes!!! When my son said “mummy let’s not sleep so morning won’t come and you will take me to school”
agada_eneMy daughter came down with mumps, I took her to the hospital and met her classmate mum there, who told me her child was just recovering from it as well, I decided to go to the school, and I saw a child with his cheeks swollen obviously suffering from mumps, sitting in class with other healthy children. I was so angry and I called the Proprietress, She told me there was nothing she could do, because the child’s parents had gone to work and she can’t send him home.

 

STAFF COMPETENCY

Fort Yard

buitidanielI am changing my child’s school because her teacher has an accent and I don’t want it rubbing on my child imaging how she pronounces the letters of the eng alphabet. I can go On but then I know the foundation is key

gnepherCaregiver’s english was pathetic…we had to run🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️

verychiHe was in nursery 1. The elderly caregiver though nice and very maternal was too igbotic.

myorganiclivingI changed from the so called best school, because his teacher always complain about his inability to talk fast….He was a slow talker,she just couldn’t understand him, always make me feel bad each time I pick him by comparing him with other kids,I changed a yr ago, and he received award for the most improved during the recent graduation party at his new school, you need to hear how fast he talks now.

joan_la.belle.vieI was at the verge of changing the school when the teacher was kicked out. She would beat my 2yr9mths old just because he could not write. Oh if I remember the day I saw marks on his butt 3 hrs after he returned from school, I still weep. His crime was he cried for his mummy when he was supposed to be writing an exam. My son grew to hate school and the teacher so much so that when he heard that his little sister was soon to join him in school, he wept uncontrollably. Each time I remember I feel like a terrible mom. Thankfully, He is now comfortable with the school and tops his class.

ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Photo Credit: Starfield College
candykidsngI am changing her school this September because of bad grammar
wigserviceI changed school because I wasn’t impressed with his performance. His teachers kept saying he was doing excellently well, but when I assess him at home it is the opposite! After spending so much on fees. His new school is by far better, they advice he repeated his class which i was in full support of. Foundation is key. He is doing extremely well, speaks well he even coaches his younger brother. I don’t regret it at all.
verychiI changed my son’s when I noticed he had developed igbo accent. He knocked at the door saying “kpai kpai here”.
littleangelsngYes. I changed my child’s school because the school was not truthful with my child’s actual performance. I found out they were always escalating her scores and padding the pupil’s scores for reasons beyond me🤷‍♀️
kidsgadgetsnpartiesThinking of changing cos of the grammar I see in her daily report
aism.aismTeacher never gave me feedback and no replies to my email she wasn’t welcoming. Also many students were failing I found out
littleangelsng@sparklinsatini How can my child’s lowest score in any subject be 98/100? Even in Yoruba language that she didn’t understand?

ABSENCE OF CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Photo Credit: The Bells Comprehensive College
justadorablezWe changed because it was all about the book. The school didn’t really have extracurricular activities. We are in a better school now
smartbookeducationalservicesI changed my child’s school because he wasn’t exposed to extra curricular activities.
importeddiapers_ng I changed schools because my work schedule changed and the school didn’t have school bus facility. I was really pained. He joined another school in the second term and these one are just about book only. No soft skill whatsoever. I miss our former school.
camilla4rilWish I cud change mine. Academics is 90 percent n morals 10 percent. I don’t know why d believe that academics over rules morals by that high percentage. 😓😓😓😓
 

FEE INCREMENT

maliyalovesecrets I will be changing their school for the first time this September. They don’t just fumigate! I treat the kids for malaria every term…they return from school with mosquito bites. Secondly, school fee was increased by 25,000 without any explanation. They did the same last year but this time I can’t take it. I don’t know if changing their school will affect them psychologically.

aderonkefameso Hubby is thinking of changing my children school because of increment which am not comfortable with bcus am satisfied with the school they don’t change teachers any how and my child is ok. Still thinking really.

RELOCATION

comfymama.ngI changed because of distance. I wanted somewhere closer to home for security and safety reasons
debbiekunmiI changed due to location , and still happy she cope much better than I expected
onostephanie Changed my son from a very good school when we moved houses. We enrolled him in one of the so-called good schools in the area. It turned out to be our biggest mistake. I was practically his teacher. We couldn’t wait for the session to be over to pull him out. He’s doing very well in his new school now and am so proud.
partypops09Changed when I moved House , her other school was good never has issues with them 
lagoswholesalesI changed my children’s school because we moved houses and I prefer the new school much more, it is not about only book but many more extracurricular activity and the focus given per child. They don’t all have the same home work, it is based on the level the child is at the moment
wonderchildforkidsAm about to change school due to location changes, please if you know any good school around Ketu kindly recommend one to me
Oh yeah. Changed when I moved houses. I was so sad.
Photo: SchoolsCompass.com.ng Homepage

Are there other reasons you would want us to know about, kindly comment below.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

How important is Parent Persona to your school’s marketing strategy?

All successful marketing starts with buyer personas – Author Anonymous

Photo Credit: Kinkomando

Yeah, you’ve got that smashing billboard yelling to motorists and pedestrians about great things about your school and telling them why they should consider your school. You also have all sorts of beautifully designed (by a designer who is probably not a parent or not the type you expect in your school) flyers garnished with your marketing messages (also put together by a copywriter who is as guilty as your graphic designer).

No matter how impressive your marketing messages and materials are, your marketing strategy will fall flat if it doesn’t speak directly to the heart of mission-appropriate families who are most likely to benefit from your school community. A good school marketing strategy starts with a firm handle on your Parent Personas

What is Parent Persona?

A Parent persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal parent based on market research and real data about your existing parents. The good thing about parent persona is that it works for you, independent of how low or high your marketing budget is.

Now that we have established the importance of parent persona to our enrollment,  the next thing is ‘How do we go about this?’

 

To create parent personas, get the list of all parents/families who have spent at least two sessions in your school (based on the assumption that they have paid for your services at least 6 terms ). You may create a spreadsheet for this. Find out the following information about them and populate your spreadsheet.

  1. Name: Bring it to live, give it a real name – Mr Ojo, Mrs Yusuf, Ms Uche etc. It helps you to connect and make a realistic guess where it requires
  2. Demographic Details Include information such as such as age, income level, education, employment details, marital status, gender etc
  3. Interests and desires. Do they enjoy travelling, clubbing, etc?  What is their level of internet savviness?
  4. Pain Points: Identify why they choose your school over others, why do they leave their previous school?
  5. Customers’ journey: How do they find out about your school when they first visited?

These points are inexhaustible and not one-size-fits-all, you can tweak them to suit your specific purposes.  At the end of this exercise, you will have something like this for each record of parents:

After understanding your parents and where they hang out, you’ll get a better sense of the channels that will work best in advertising to them.

 

 

5 HIGHLY EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES TO BOOST ENROLLMENT RATES IN YOUR SCHOOL

The Nigerian private school sector is highly saturated and as such, it is becoming increasingly difficult for school owners to grow student enrollment consistently. Parent, guardians and decision makers are becoming more sophisticated and selective as they look to settle down with an institution which caters to the immediate educational needs of their wards and most importantly sets them on the right path to a successful career and future.

While there are many uncontrollable factors that affect the growth of enrollment rates, here are some of the most effective hands-on strategies that help your school leverage its strengths to stand out in a fully saturated market and boost enrollment rates for your private school in Nigeria.

Create and Communicate a Strong Brand

Source: Chrisland High School, VGC

In order to establish your school in your community and successfully market it far and wide, it is important to create a remarkable brand. So much more than just a catchy logo and great graphics, your school’s brand is that defining factor that differentiates you from the crowd. It describes your story, your unique advantage and communicates why your school is the top choice amongst the rest.
To craft a strong brand that sets your school apart from the other private schools in Nigeria, find out what it is that makes your school special; what influenced parents in selecting your school as final choice for their wards; do you have programs that help struggling learners; are there counseling opportunities; what special extracurricular activities to your offer enrollees. Responses garnered from this come together to define your school’s unique selling point(s) which helps you form a solid brand identity and as a result boost enrollment rates.

Build a User-friendly Informative Website

Your school’s website is one of the most important marketing and communication tool at your disposal. Parents will look to the web to research every school online before settling on their final choice. An easy to navigate website must be populated with all relevant information regarding the school, a parent needs to make a decision. Your website should communicate your brand effectively, display school programs, show testimonials and present enrollment information. Most importantly, for your website to help drive enrollment rates for your school it must reflect your brand as well as your unique approach to learning and guidance for students at all stages of their life.

Launch a Parent Ambassador Program

Source: Rainbow College

Word of mouth is by far the most effective strategy leveraged by Nigerian schools to boost enrollment rates. Take advantage of your existing pool of highly satisfied parents and access their networks by recruiting them as Parent Ambassadors for your school. These parents boost your grassroots marketing efforts by reaching out to other parents in their family network, church network, neighborhoods, and workplace.
The ideal Parent Ambassador is selected as a result of their visible passion for the school, their reputation and credibility within their network, relevant connections in the community and most importantly their willingness to join the program. To support this program, an active forum should be created – preferably online with a Facebook Group – where important information is shared and the Parent Ambassadors are constantly inspired to be active. Incentives for the Parent Ambassadors may be decided upon based on your discretion.

Financial Aid

Source: UNC-Tv

Every parent desires the best education for their child; however, most are unable to meet up with the financial implications of enrolling their child in a top performing school. Offering financial aid to such parents is a great way to attract and retain more students in your school. Financial aid can come in the form of flexible fee payment, access to school loans, and access to grants and scholarships.
For schools using services such as School Credit*, their parents are granted access to collateral-free loans to meet their tuition needs at an affordable interest rate. These loans are processed with minimal documentation and disbursed within 24 hours of approval. Financially savvy parents will naturally gravitate towards these schools, and as result enrollment rates begin to grow. The added advantage of this service is it also allows schools to take out loans to invest in the infrastructural development of their schools which in turn also delivers a positive effect on enrollment rates.

Online Marketing   

Increasingly, schools are taking advantage of the internet and social media to create a wider reach in the market. Your first step should be to create a social media account, most importantly Facebook and Twitter, and share special events, stories, accomplishments, and announcements with the general public; if setting this up is too tedious to add to your overwhelmingly full to-do list,  AllPro Tech can handle this process at no cost. Encourage students, teachers, and parents to get involved on these platforms. Parent Ambassadors should be encouraged to leave positive and educative reviews on the school’s social media pages.
Online and social media adverts must be well designed, direct and engaging. With the use of social media platforms advertising tools, schools are able to hyper-target their adverts, thereby delivering tailored promotional messages to a specific audience. This is a great and cost-effective way to boost enrolment rates.

Conclusion

Generating and consistently growing enrollment rates is arguably one of the most daunting tasks faced by the school administrator in Nigeria, adopting the right strategies and implementing them in a timely and effective manner is the difference between a constantly struggling school and a highly sort after top performing school. Feel free to try out the strategies listed in this article and leave a comment on your progress below.

First published by Allprotech.

 

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