• Tausif Mulla

6 Marketing Strategies for Preschool and Schools that will bring more admissions

One of my favorite role model el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz aka Malcolm X once quoted

"Without education, you aren’t going anywhere"

For any nation to progress, the government of that country has to focus on two E’s – Economy and Education. In this post, I will talk about education and the strategies that preschool and higher schools can implement to reach their goals.

After spending a good amount of time in the education sector I have come up with some crazy ideas for preschool and schools (few are really crazy ones). If you are planning to start your own preschool or looking for a franchise you need to keep in mind the below points before starting your own venture.

  1. Pricing

  2. Quality of teaching

  3. Brand recognition

  4. Activity calendar

  5. Communication skills of teachers

  6. Location & transportation

  7. Facilities

  8. Hygiene standards

  9. School policies

  10. Support Staff

Note: These are the factors which I have learned by interacting with parents over the period of time.

In my previous role, I did a study with a sample size of 50 and these were the results.

From these results, it is evident that parents consider the quality of teaching, school brand, pricing and activities as the key parameters before selecting a preschool or high school.

Now that we know the key parameters while selecting a school so let’s learn about influencing factors that result in conversions i.e admissions.

As per my study, I witnessed that the most influencing factor while selecting a preschool and school are relatives. Most parents discuss their child’s performance with their relatives and friends which result in the selection of a school.

Now that we have learned the parameters and influencing factors that help parents to make their decision let’s discuss the strategy that you as the preschooler or high school can consider in your marketing plan. Before we get into the strategy we need to understand the difference between tactics and strategy. Tactics are the sum of ideas which are clubbed together to result in a long-term strategy/strategies.

5 tactics for preschool & school (short term)

  • Below the Line (BTL) activation: Your school can run BTL activities in the selected geography by way of events or activities. For example An event in a mall on a festive day. Remember your goal is to generate leads by brand awareness.

Pro Tip: Any event or activation implemented in a mall should be on a festive day or on a weekend.

  • Above the Line (ATL) activation: As ATL caters to masses, it will consume most of your marketing budget. If you are chain then you should try for Radio or newspaper ads but if you are startup then you should consider newspaper ads in a local newspaper, hoardings in areas of your TG.

Pro Tip: In your communication make sure you have a “call to action”. For example, Give us a missed call to be part of #FunLearning. This will help you measure your ROI.

  • Society Tie-Ups (Gated Community): This is one of the most successful ideas in marketing your school. Make a list of all the societies (aka gated communities) which you feel your TG resides. The next step is to get permission (which is the hardest) from these societies (communities) to conduct an activity that will be beneficial for children and parents. Remember your objective is to generate leads and brand awareness.

Pro Tip: Plan an activity which will connect parents. For example, “Breast Cancer awareness” or “Seminar for Expecting Mothers” or “Best out of waste for kids”.

  • A Mascot for school: If you haven’t got a mascot for your preschool or school, get it right away. Your mascot will be a crowd puller in places like gardens, societies (communities), parks, etc.

Pro Tip: Get a sky dancer Mascot and use it frequently in the evenings.

  • Flash promotion: This is the cheapest form of promotional activity that you can consider for your school. Promotional activities like newspaper inserts, pamphlet distribution, Do Not Disturb cards on doors with your school branding, Bookmarks, etc.

Pro Tip: If you are an established brand do not use this frequently as it will dilute your brand. On the flip side if you are a startup increase the frequency.

Now that we have covered tactics that can be used for reaching your short-term goals let’s look at strategies that can be part of your long-term goals.

6 Strategies for a preschool & higher school

Don’t SELL, Educate Parents

If you are thinking that you can sell to parents you are wrong. Gone are the days when the school used to be the dictator today the customer (parents) are dictators. Today’s parents are well informed and educated, so if you think you can sell the admission you will burn your hands. Parent’s need to be educated about education and its importance. As a school, you need to have a concern about the child’s education more than the parents only then parents will make the decision in your favor.

Example of sales call (Oooopss!!! I mean counseling call)

Example of a counseling call:

Counselor (C): Hello Ma’am, am I talking to Pooja’s mother?

Parent (P): Yes, you are speaking to Pooja’s mother. May I know who is calling?

C: Ma’am my name is Reema and I am calling from XYZ Kids Preschool. I wanted to talk about Pooja’s education. Is it a good time to talk? (The counselor has shown concern about the child’s future rather than talking about admission).

P: Sure, what it is?

C: Ma’am I believe Pooja is 3 years old, is that right?

P: Yes, that’s correct. But how did you know that and from where did you get my number?

C: Ma’am we do a lot of education awareness program in places like malls, parks, online. I assume that you must have come across to one of our promoters and provided your contact details as you too are a concerned mother. (Here the counselor is making an emotional connect).

P: Yes I remember, please go on.

C: Ma’am we are organizing a children activity in our preschool or higher school why don’t you come for this? We have arranged it on a Saturday (make sure you have planned the activity on a weekend) so parents can spend some quality time with their kids. (Here the counselor is subtly talking about child’s future and how quality time with children is important).

P: Ok, I will try to come.

C: Thank you, I will mail or message you the details. Looking forward to seeing you and Pooja having a great time in our school. And before I hang up, let me tell you that there will be a surprise gift for both of you. Have a good day.

(The surprise gift can be anything like a greeting card or a photo shoot for mother and daughter).

In the whole conversation, did you feel that the counselor was selling? The crux is to Educate the Parents.

Don’t fall into PRICING traps

One of the most common mistakes preschools and high schools do is, falling into pricing traps. If you are providing the high-quality education you can demand higher fees. In India, most schools do the opposite. We provide average quality and ask for higher fees. To support my point a report issued by Times Of India in 2012 mentioned: “India ranks 72 in global education survey out of 88 countries that participated in the survey”.

Focus on providing quality, streamline your process, improve your delivery, hire highly qualified teachers and interact with your parents very often. If you do all these and your customers (parents) are part of this, your school will never have a struggle in its profitability.

Awareness Program Initiatives

As part of your marketing strategy, your school should always be in the limelight for supporting some cause. For example, start a breast cancer awareness initiative and run campaigns around it. This initiative should be a part of all your communications (online & offline).

“If you don’t Stand up for something then you will fall for anything” - Malcolm X

The above saying perfectly goes in marketing as well. As a brand, you have to stand with a cause and concentrate your marketing activities around it.

Position your school as One Stop Solution in Education

If you are an established player in education you should definitely use this strategy. In my study, I realized that once parents take admission in preschool their concern is about admission to the higher school for grade 1.

If you are a chain of schools, make sure you are positioning your school as one stop for parents. Parents are concerned about donations, admissions procedures, interviews and so on. As a preschool, you can have a strategy wherein if the child takes admission in playgroup or nursery and continues with the preschool for Lower Kindergarten (LKG) and Upper Kindergarten (UKG) the child will get direct admission into the high school i.e the parent school.

If you are a startup preschool then you need to have tied up with an external school/schools. This will increase your conversions as parents will rest assured about the admissions for the higher grade.

Introduce an AFFILIATE program

Affiliate marketing is slightly different from Referral marketing. The key difference between them is a monetary benefit.

What is Affiliate Marketing? In affiliate, there is always an exchange of money and in referral marketing, it’s not mandatory to have a monetary exchange. For example, Dropbox started a referral scheme with 200mb of free space for referring to one new user

Both the concepts will be clear with examples

I learned that the key decision makers for a child’s education are the mothers. Keeping this thought in mind I tied up my preschool (for one specific location) with a couple of parlors. Why parlors? Probably the only place where women have plenty of time to chit chat and relax (pun intended: p). As a marketer, I found an opportunity to make use of this time and introduce my schools to the mothers via the parlor owners, in this case, the parlor owner is my affiliate.

Every qualified lead that is passed by the parlor owner will be entitled to X money. And if this lead gets converted into admission then the payout will be Y.

In your referral marketing, you can ask for references from your existing customers (parents). Your referral program needs to have a strong name to connect with parents. For example, “Littlebuds School Ambassadors”. Every time you get through reference make sure you get a picture clicked off that family and pin it on your board. This will also help the counselor in her counseling.

Engage with Parents

If Digital Marketing is not part of your current strategy you might lose your customers (parents) over a period of time. As per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the third level of the pyramid is the need for Love and Belonging

Your customers’ i.e parents have the need to be social and connect with one another. In today’s scenario where social media has become a part of our daily life; as a school, you cannot ignore the opportunity to connect with parents on these mediums.

Have a social media marketing strategy where your school is engaging with your customers on a daily basis, answering their queries and communicating with them. You can make your weekly post calendar and update it on all your channels starting from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs. For example, every Monday your social media will talk about Do’s and Don't.

As Seth Godin says “Make your product/service REMARKABLE”. In education, your customer is the parent and your consumer is the child so plan your strategy accordingly.

These are some of the strategies which you can include with your current strategy. If you have some more creative ideas please comment below. Subscribe to my blog ScroogeMarketer for more marketing ideas.

#Marketing #Education

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