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Using the Power of Your PTO to Increase Student Enrollment

5 min read
Jun 18, 2024 8:00:00 AM

In the highly competitive realm of school enrollment, building a robust community support system is more crucial than ever.

And at SchoolMint, we see it all the time: schools with strong parental and community support simply do better when it comes to making sure local families know they are a great education option for their children.

But you’re only one person! How can you possibly spend MORE time away from your day-to-day job to build and foster those relationships within your community?

That’s where your school’s PTO/PTA comes in.

Although we often think of Parent–Teacher Organizations (PTOs) as support for fundraising, event planning, and volunteering, PTOs can also be vital partners in your school’s enrollment marketing strategies.

Below, discover how your PTO can positively impact enrollment and contribute to your growing school community. We’ve got two major strategies below and some ideas for how you can implement them in your school!

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Using Your School’s PTO for Enrollment Marketing

1. Harness Power of Word-of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth marketing remains the most reliable form of advertising today. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising.

In the context of schools, the experiences and testimonials of current parents and students can sway prospective families considerably.

By encouraging your PTO to actively share their positive experiences, you can extend your school’s reach and enhance its appeal.

2. Leverage the Influence of Reviews

In our digital era, online reviews are like your digital word-of-mouth marketing. A BrightLocal survey noted that 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020, with 94% saying positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.

Schools are no exception!

Encourage your PTO members to post honest, positive reviews on platforms:

  • Your school’s website (if possible)
  • Your social media pages
  • Educational directories (such as Niche, GreatSchools, PublicSchoolReview, etc.)

Such reviews can significantly boost your school’s visibility and attractiveness.

Protip: Use a QR code generator, and link it to your reviews site (Niche, GreatSchools, Facebook). Display the QR code prominently during PTO meetings to make it super easy for attendees to leave a review right from their smartphone.

Want to understand the state of your school's online reviews? Our free school marketing report card can show you how you measure up! Click to get yours.get your free digital marketing snapshot for your school

So how does involving your PTO in your school’s marketing look in practice?

1. Storytelling Sessions

Organize storytelling events where PTO members share their positive experiences and successes with prospective parents, either through casual coffee meets or during larger school open houses.

Want to create something a little more “lasting”? Get some selfie-style videos of parents talking about how great the school has been for their child, and post them with a unifying hashtag on social media! 

2. Social Media Takeovers

Periodically allow PTO members to manage your school’s social media accounts to highlight school events, student accomplishments, and community activities, fostering a genuine connection with potential families.

The benefit here is that, typically, your PTO is pretty plugged into what families in their area want to see on social as well as what content might be compelling to them.

For more advice on using social media effectively at your school, check out our previous article, 20 Tips for School Social Media.

Pro-tip: Another cool social takeover idea is to have a student, staff, sports team, or club week do it. Think about letting your drama club do a social takeover the week of the musical or your football coach during homecoming. It’s a great way to get some cool content and highlight your school more authentically!

3. Ask for Referrals

While you don’t want to get into the sticky, ethical quandary of incentivizing referrals with prizes, simply asking happy families to tell their neighbors and friends that your school is a great place to enroll is a great idea.

Asking for honest, positive referrals costs nothing other than the time to ask. Plus, people will often trust members of their community and other parents way before they would trust the same message coming from the school itself.

Your PTO members are the perfect people to do this as they’re already heavily involved in your school and want to see you succeed!

4. Content Creation

You probably have a wealth of experiences, career expertise, and more within your PTO that you haven’t quite captured. Invite PTO members to contribute to your school’s blog or newsletter, writing about events, projects, or volunteer opportunities, adding a personal and relatable touch.

Some cool things I’ve seen guest bloggers and writers do for schools range from a local realtor sharing the best local Christmas lights displays to a doctor sharing ways you can get your child back on a good sleep schedule after summer break.

All of these are great ways to share content and hopefully get more eyes on your school!

Don’t have a school blog? Here are some articles that’ll cover everything you need to know:

5. Community Engagement Events

You can’t be everywhere at once. Trust me — I’ve tried!

So empower your PTO to organize and promote events within their community. To be honest, this is always how I decided what events to attend to get the word out about my school.

Parents tend to spend time where other parents spend time, so ask your PTO which events you should set up a booth at, and have them help man it!

This is a great way to not only spread the word about your school but also demonstrate your commitment to the local community as well.

Ready to Take Enrollment to the Next Level?

PTOs are an asset in the toolkit of any successful school enrollment strategy.

By integrating PTO members into your school’s marketing efforts, you can use their authentic, trustworthy voices to resonate with prospective families — families who may not have been considering your school in the first place!

To optimize your enrollment marketing and the school shopping experience for families, consider leveraging SchoolMint’s school marketing consulting services!

Our School Secret Shopper program can provide invaluable insights into where your enrollment process might be losing traction, be it at initial researching online, during school tours, or in follow-up communications. We’ll then give you easy-to-implement ideas that help take your school from good to great!

Explore how SchoolMint can transform your enrollment process and make each family’s experience outstanding from the very first step.

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