Simplify your admissions process to increase enquirers..
According to a report*, consumers are willing to pay a premium for brands that provide simple communications and experiences. Most interestingly for independent schools, the report found that….
88% of consumers were more likely to recommend a brand because it makes their customer experience simple.
We know that parents find the process of choosing independent education stressful – so how much does your school do to help reduce this stress and make the customer experience simple?
Spend time to review your admissions process – what are the points that could be confusing to parents & give some thought as to how you could simplify them, for example the:
- the language you use:
(if you have a high percentage of first time buyers this is particulary important) Do parents know what a ‘Registrar’ is? Do you have unusual names for your year groups? What about your terms? Consider that not everyone has come across words such as ‘Michealmas’ before. And there is that old addage ‘if you have to ask you can’t afford it’: I’ve certainly come across parents who could afford independent education but simply felt alientated by it.
- timings you set:
Are your prospective parents absolutely clear what the process is to get into your school? Can they explain it to their friends? Do you, or could you produce a list that outlines the ‘5 steps to join your school’, which explains it and put dates next to the key events?
- information you provide (e.g. fees)
Making your fees difficult to find, hard to read or unhelpful to work out the actual TOTAL cost your education is just unfair and obstructive to parents. Again, lets go back to the old addage ‘if you have to ask you can’t afford it’. Well, if you take this attitude you are potentially missing out, not only on parents (or grandparents) who actually can afford the fees, but also on potentially brilliant bursary or scholarship pupils. Most parents who make the choice to invest in independent educuation do so with their fixed income i.e. their current salary. They need to understand what the monthly, termly or yearly cost will be, in order to budget for this outlay. How can they do this, when your school has helpfully separated everything out into different costs (e.g. lunch, exam costs) ?! I’ve spoken to parents who have invested a lot of time setting up spreadsheets working out the actually cost of education both now and in the future (modelling for various fee increases over time). At one school, I worked closely with the Bursar to reduce the number of ‘extra costs’ to provide clarity for our ‘first time buyer’ parents. Did it work? It’s obviously difficult to work out how much of an impact this specific activity had, but many parents did mention that they liked our ‘simple’ approach and our admissions enquiries and conversions went up year on year.
- forms needed to be completed (online & offline)
Quite simply: test your forms. Watch people fill them in and ask them to talk you through it. Do you leave enough space for them to complete them (very annoying if not)? Do you have separate forms that are tailored to different year groups so that parents don’t have to wade through questions they don’t need to answer?
- exam or entry processes
Prospective parents and pupils often worry about exams: so communicate, communicate, communicate! Tell them what will happen, explain to them, help them through it to avoid worry. And if your school does this better than your competitors, then might parents begin to think that perhaps your pastoral care is better too?!
So, if you can spend time on simplifying your admission, according to this survey, your School could increase the amount of recommendations it receives. This really is ‘free’ schools marketing - it only costs your time to work through and rewrite things and yet potentially has a good return. Great news for independent schools that have small marketing budgets!
Louise aka 134marketing provides pratical and tactical marketing advice to independent schools. If you want to find out a bit more about me visit my website, follow me on twitter or go mad and google+ me (I’m practicising on it at the mo - so there’s not much on it if I’m honest!!!