3 Simple Steps to Improve Word-of-Mouth Marketing at Your School
Here are three easy ways to create some good “word of mouth” about your school.
The best marketing for a school is having happy parents actively telling their friends and colleagues about your wonderful learning environment.
Word-of-mouth marketing works because of personal connections and is generally the largest source of new students at your school.
This concept of “social proof” is a key driver in how people — including your school’s parents — make choices. People want to purchase from (in your case, enroll with) a company (or school) they’ve been told is good by people they trust.
There’s a reason why so many companies use celebrity spokespeople to promote their products.
So how does word-of-mouth marketing at schools work?
Word-of-mouth marketing takes effort. You can’t sit back and hope people are accurately describing your school to their circle of friends.
So here are three simple steps to improve your school’s word-of-mouth marketing.
1. Make Sure Parents Know the Totality of the Experiences at Your School
Your parents’ experiences will be shaped by what their child experiences. This is great (especially if the child is happy), but it tells only a small picture of your school.
You really want parents to understand everything your school can offer in multiple grade levels and for children with different interests.
Parents should know the breadth of classes as well as different activities that your school offers, even if their child does not participate in them.
- If you are a high school, every parent should know where your graduates go and the number of scholarship dollars awarded to your students.
- For K-8, tell them how various high school counselors feel about the quality of kids coming from your school.
2. Use Online Reviews to Increase Your Reach and “Social Proof”
Your parents are probably telling their friends about your school — but what about parents in your community who don’t have a previous connection to your school? How are they hearing about your school?
I covered how schools should employ online reviews in a previous blog post, which I encourage you to read for more information about review sites.
Simply put, don’t discount the power of online reviews of your school!
According to Search Engine Journal, 91% of people in the 18–34 age group trust reviews online just as much as a personal recommendation (say, from a friend or colleague).
When I work with client schools, I always look at what their parents and staff are saying in online reviews. It gives an interesting picture of how their school is perceived in its community.
3. Employ Testimonials to Deepen Engagement and Connection
You need to have testimonials from satisfied parents and students as part of your marketing materials. These need to be present on your website and in all of your print materials.
Using video testimonials for your website is a great way to provide maximum impact. They’re easy to do, and it can be as simple as using the video feature on a smartphone to produce them (or ask a parent — or even a student — with a video production background to help).
Bonus: once you have these testimonial videos created (shoot for 30–60 seconds), they can then be integrated into social media and other places where you’re trying to build more content about your school.
A Case Study
Before I end this blog, I’m going to practice what I preach and share a testimonial from a school I once worked with.
Washington Catholic is a consolidated (elementary and high school) Catholic school system in Washington, Indiana, that wanted to boost their enrollment.
We did a “secret shopper” analysis that looked only at their enrollment process. This is a quick, relatively inexpensive service that gives a school a lot of actionable steps they can implement to improve enrollment.
Here is what Teresa Joyce, Director of Development with Washington Catholic, had to say about her experience:
As a small Catholic school, we understood the importance of marketing to attract new families but were hesitant to spend our limited budget without knowing where the money would be best spent.
When we found Nick, he quickly jumped into action and began working with our school to identify the strengths we should promote and the gaps and weaknesses that needed to be addressed.
His report solidified many things we already knew but had not yet quantified and brought to light other areas for improvement we weren’t fully aware existed. It was powerful to see these observations in writing.
Nick was thorough, professional, and a pleasure to work with. He energized our pastor, principals, and marketing committee (mostly volunteers) and gave us confidence to act.
Throughout our implementation process, we did not hesitate to reach out with questions, and Nick was always open to providing support. It is evident that Nick and his team truly care about their work with schools.
Perhaps most valuable was that most of the recommendations cost us little to no money to implement. The . . . advice was easy to follow and execute, even by those of us who don’t normally play in the marketing arena.
Director of Development
Perhaps most valuable to us was that most of the recommendations cost us little to no money to implement. The clear and concise advice was easy to follow and execute, even by those of us who don’t normally play in the marketing arena.
We are pleased to recommend Nick as a friendly source of reliable and invaluable information around school marketing.
Interested in a secret-shopper analysis for your own school?
Regardless of the type of school you are, my team and I can provide you with a personalized secret-shopper engagement and report of your current enrollment experience for families.
Click the image to get in touch directly, or click here to learn more about the services our consultants offer schools.
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