It's a common occurrence here at Waybetter for us to have an introductory phone call with a VP of enrollment or marketing at a tuition-dependent institution who feels absolutely, existentially overwhelmed by the thought of having to reverse an enrollment trend that was decades in the making. Where are they even supposed to start? they ask.
It's a great question. And one great question deserves another. Well, three of them actually. They're questions meant to help folks think in a big-picture, zoomed out way about how to approach the very daunting task of enrolling more students.
1) Are your marketing efforts focused on the individual?
People pay attention to marketing that’s relevant and that matters to them. Prospective students are no different. So, are you giving every single one of your prospects information that’s about them and the huge life decision they're about to make? Or are your marketing efforts bogged down in generic brand-speak that’s about you.
Here’s a cold, hard truth about higher ed marketing: we have it easy. That's right, I'll say it again, in bold, caps, italics: WE HAVE IT EASY. Maybe it doesn't feel like it from where you're currently sitting, but think about it: As higher ed marketers, we can buy preposterously rich data about our prospects, and we know exactly when our prospects will be making the commitment we’re trying to get them to make (at least on the undergrad side).
Marketers in other industries would kill (literally kill, I'm not kidding) to have these advantages. So start using the data you have to initiate personal conversations with every single prospect in your pool.
2) Are you responsive in everything you do?
Question 1 is about getting attention. Question 2 is about what you do once you've got it. So, a few more questions...
If I went to your website right now and filled out your Get Info form, would I get a response right away? If I met one of your counselors on the road and filled out a form, how long to get a response then? What if I start your application and then abandon it—how long until I get a nudge to complete it?
When a prospective student has you on their mind, you better be ready to respond. It’s basic marketing (not to mention basic good manners).
3) Do you have a game plan that is focused, repeatable, and relevant?
Congrats! You got a bunch of people to come to your fall open house! But...now what? It's a long way to May 1. And, unfortunately, using your CRM to send one-off emails does not an enrollment marketing strategy make.
So, what processes do you have in place to ensure that your marketing materials are consistently and purposefully delivered to the people who care about them when they’re most likely to care about them, from the first point of contact up until the point of deposit? (Is everything you do intentionally focused on the goal of getting students to deposit? It should be.)
Start simple, but start somewhere. Good marketing results from good process.
Joel Anderson is Waybetter's VP of Marketing & Strategy. Higher ed. is all he knows.