If you need to generate more enrollment inquiries for your private school then this clip from the Montessori Administrator Accreditation program from the Center For Guided Montessori Studies should be of much value to you.
Please note that while this lecture was produced for Montessori administrators, it applies to all private school scenarios.
The video above features a lecture from the Hubbli founder, Jono Landon, which covers the following topics:
- Info packets and how to use them properly with enrollment inquiries.
- Responding to enrollment inquiries in a way that is aligned with where parents are at psychologically in this decision-making process.
- How to convert more enrollment inquiries into tours by not trying to sell the school too early.
If you prefer to read, here is a transcript from the video above:
Now we’re getting into module two. The topic of this module is traffic, or you could think of it as growing awareness about your school in your community, the larger community, the region that you live in. So there are three main lessons in this module. Number one, talking about information packs, their importance, and how they should be used, how they should be used properly in your enrollment strategy. Then we’re also going to talk about the word of mouth marketing, what it actually is, and how you engender more word of mouth marketing. And then while there are many different ways that are at your disposal to actually market the school, as far as marketing tactics, we’re going to talk about using Facebook. We’re going to focus on Facebook. And in that lesson, we’ll talk about why Facebook is the focus that we think you should have. And enjoy the module.
Okay. So this is lesson one of module two. The topic is how to create and use information packs in regard to your enrollment strategy. So first of all, I want to talk about the media that you decide to use. Information packs are not something new to Montessori schools, but something that I find when I’m talking to Montessori schools, and when I’m helping them and consulting them, is that how it should be used and created, either what format, the content, the focus of the content, and also the actual distribution of it, is definitely different. Meaning what they should be doing today, how you should be using this tactic and this tool today is different than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Very different.
So again, this relates to the average age demographics of Montessori school leaders and the average age of the parents that are entering your school. Very different. It’s a generation gap. And as technology and communication expectations have been changing, you want to do the same thing. You want to use information packs. They’re very useful, but you want to make sure that you’re applying this in the most relevant way for the demographics of young parents today.
So essentially, you want to stay away from using paper. This information should not be distributed by paper. It’s something that is of no interest to parents. They don’t want paper. Everyone today is digesting information digitally. They want to be able to see it in an instant. They don’t want to have to add something else to their briefcase or their bag while they’re running around. Even as far as … The demographic, let’s say the average 28-year-old is trying to have a clutter-free home. And adding to that clutter is not helping you. So you want to focus on making a PDF document.
There are two benefits to this. Number one, it’s very easy to share. With technology, there are many different ways you can distribute this to prospective parents, and it also makes it incredibly easy for other people or sources to share that information as well, whether we’ll get into word of mouth as well, but it just makes it so easy to get the information to your prospective parents. Number two, it’s way cheaper. Think about the cost of all that paper and the printing. Printing is very expensive. And then if you’re not spending your money on print and postage, you’re also able to pay a professional to design it.
Something that there’s an opportunity here at this stage, I’ll talk a lot about this throughout the modules, but at the stage that a parent is showing interest in the school and asking to learn more about the school, this is when you want to put an incredibly professional foot forward. This is not the time to show your own artistic passions, and it’s not the time to show … It’s ideal at this stage, what parents really need at the stage when they’re inquiring about your school, what they’re looking for is professionalism, consistency. They want to see an organized, timely communication process. They need to get the information they’re looking for. So number one, go PDF. Number two, make sure that you get a professional to design this. Don’t rely on a parent volunteer. Hire a professional, and take the money that you’d spend on printing and put it into a really great design.
And you also want to work with a professional copywriter. And the reason being is because, and this ties into the next part of this, which is that the type of content you want, you want to, you want to be sharing. So at the stage of a prospective parent just maybe stumbling upon your website or driving by, or maybe getting a referral from another parent, or maybe seeing an ad, or whatever it is, the job of your ads, and your marketing website, and your information pack, which is also a marketing asset, is not, and this might sound counterintuitive, but this is so critical. It’s not the job at that point. It’s not your job at all, or anyone’s job, to sell a prospective parent on the school. That’s the biggest mistake I see across the board. I see websites that are designed and written to sell the school and to sell the Montessori method. I see ads that are trying to sell the Montessori method and sell the school.
At this stage of your relationship with the prospective parent, all of your communication needs to be focused on getting that parent into the school for a tour. That’s when the school sells itself. That’s when you’ve got a 70% to 80% probability of enrolling that family, as long as you want them. But before then, before they’re in the school, you have to sell them on coming into the school, whether it’s a tour or an open house. So that strategic goal heavily informs what you put on, what information you put in the ads, and the website, and the emails, and the information pack. All of that communication is top of the funnel. And top of the funnel is meant to get parents to the middle of the funnel. It’s not to get parents to enroll.
So psychologically speaking, when you look at the cognitive model of how people make decisions, you need to, when you apply that information in that model to a sales process, the best way to get parents into the school is to communicate the information that they need at that stage, that gives them the information that they need and entices them or persuades them that the best way for them to get the next part of the information that they need is to come in in person. Because the reality is, is that this is a big decision, right? Where I’m going to enroll my child is not only, especially when we’re talking about private schools and Montessori, it’s not only a high price tag. It’s a costly decision. “Where am I going to put this average $10,000 to $12,000 a year?” But it’s also got massive implications on their children’s future. So it’s really, really crucial.
And I ask Montessori school leaders all the time, “Has anybody ever enrolled their child in your school without first coming in for a tour?” Very rarely does somebody say yes, and that’s only when it’s an international family and they’re coming in for work, and they can’t fly in from China just to do a tour at your school, so maybe they do a web tour or something like that. But they’re in a position where they have to make a decision. Only when parents have to make a decision before they come in for a tour, they won’t. And it’s not the best way for the school to decide on who’s going to come in and for the parents to decide anyways. So it’s not ideal. So the ideal situation is really that they’re in the school and they’re seeing it firsthand, and they’re feeling it. They’re hearing what’s going on. They’re observing a room. That’s what you need. And obviously meeting you, and meeting your passion, and hearing about how in love you are with what you guys are doing, and the magic that happens at your school.
So all the content that you are sharing with a parent in all formats needs to only give them the information they need. And here’s the key. If you give people information that’s geared towards an actual decision, then they are less likely to engage your process. So in a way, it’s kind of like kissing on the first date too soon, right? It’s like, you don’t want to get in front of the process, but this happens a lot. And this is why so many Montessori schools have a hard time getting families in the door. It’s because of how they’re communicating and the information that they’re giving. So not only does it need to be a PDF document for an info pack, it also has to look the right way, and it has to say the right things, and that’s very important.
So let’s talk about that content a little bit. The reason why Montessori schools today are having such a hard time, there’s a couple of reasons why, why enrollment is becoming more and more challenging. Number one, the market has grown by 25% in the last 25 years, the private school sector. So there are many, many more options for parents, for enrolling their children. Not just Montessori schools, but Montessori schools are competing with other Montessori’s, but then all the other preschool options and school options, and public school options, of course. And so the big market, the one that’s actually going to make it much easier if you focus on this market for filling up your school, and getting back to capacity, and having a long waiting list, is going to be focusing on the parents that want a Montessori school, but don’t actually know it’s a Montessori school.
So how do you figure that out? Well, you have to learn how to translate the values of the Montessori method into natural language that will resonate with the right prospective parents in your area, right? You want to focus on the values that come out of the Montessori method, the results that come out of it, and you just want to put it into regular, everyday language for folks in your neighbourhood. And that’s what I mean by not selling Montessori. The fact that usually, the word Montessori is in the name of the school is enough.
As a side point to this, the parents that know they want a Montessori school, they’re going to find you, right? Those are the parents that maybe have been in another Montessori school, or maybe they went to a Montessori school. You don’t have to pay to advertise. You don’t have to work hard to get those parents in for a tour. They’re going to find you. They’re going to schedule a tour. Unfortunately, though, what we’re seeing is that that that market of parents is the smaller market, and not sufficient for schools to keep themselves full and operating with enough revenue, without having a proper marketing strategy. So when we’re talking about getting traffic, you have to think about explaining or selling Montessori without talking about Montessori as much as possible.
And then let’s talk about what should be in this information packet. So again, every step of the process, whether they do a Google search, and they come to your website, or another landing page, which is just another kind of webpage, or they see an ad, or they get a referral from somebody, you only want to give them enough information that’s the right information for that step in the process, and it needs to give them the information of how to take the next step in the process, and just enough information about what’s coming next or why they should.
So one big mistake is, we see on websites, with homepages, with paragraphs about Maria Montessori and her philosophies. You don’t want that type of information. You can give a small nod to it. The information that’s in an information packet essentially doesn’t give everything away. And it’s not about protecting the information. It’s about promoting that prospective parent to want to learn more. And every step of your enrollment process, you have to have a clearly defined goal for how they get to the next step, and you have to write all the content and design it in a way so that it just gives parents a really clear path, and persuades them that they should take the next step. So think about every step in the process as a prospective parent, becoming warmer, and warmer, and warmer, and warmer. And so every time they get a little bit warmer in the next step, they need a little bit more information.
So if they see an ad that’s … Let’s say we work down the funnel from an ad to booking a tour. They see an ad that promotes a value that they’re looking for, and it gives them a path to learn more. They click on the ad, it takes them to a webpage. So that should be a custom-designed webpage that gives them a little bit more, lets them know they got to the right place, gives them a little bit more information, and shows them a path to get a little bit more information. And that would be the information packet. So they could maybe fill out an inquiry form to receive a packet in their email.
So that information packet, again, they still have not yet come into the tour, right? So they still need to book a tour. So that information packet needs to give them a little bit more information and essentially persuade them to book a tour. And that’s what that’s for. So it’s revealing a little bit more value, revealing a little bit more of this secret that you’ve got going on in your school, but making sure that they understand that if you really want to learn the secret of our school and what makes us so special, we want to show it to you, but that secret can only really be learned when you come into the school, right? So again, you don’t want to try to explain the full secret and sell everything and explain everything until they’re in school, because there are some things that just cannot be explained properly on paper.
And the experience of being in a Montessori school, I’ve been in so many, and I can’t even put it into words. I grew up in the public school system, and when I walk into a Montessori school, when I see one of my clients, and I go in, and I see what’s going on, I see how special it is, I can’t really define it. It’s tough. It’s emotional. When I go into my children’s school and I see what’s going on, it’s amazing. That stuff can’t be written down. I mean, you have to be some kind of amazing author to make somebody feel that feeling without coming in to experience it as a full-body experience.
So again, the information packet needs to be really easy for parents to get. It needs to be in a format that they prefer, which is PDF. The content has to be a little bit more information than they needed when they originally inquired, but just the right information and just enough information to persuade them that if they want to learn the secret magic of your school, they need to come in in person and see it, whether it’s in a tour or an open house.
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