At a recent ISACS-sponsored full-day workshop in Chicago titled Exceeding Expectations in Enrollment Management, we covered a lot of ground. Among the topics discussed were the four elements critical to an educational value proposition, six statements that define a compelling brand for your school, every employee’s role in marketing and promotion, several approaches to market research that will create compelling messages and leads for full-pay families, and how to nurture those leads to the application stage and beyond.
It was an ambitious agenda for the time allotted, but I’d like reprise one critical lesson:
Teachers need to know how influential they can be with prospective families and donors.
Why is their involvement in enrollment management critical? Because without faculty support, most external promotional initiatives will fail. When a teacher talks about how good your school is, that matters. Teachers hold the credibility cards. Evidence of great teaching and learning is the primary motivator for enrollment and retention.
To help get them onboard, consider the following tips:
1. See the world through their lens.
Spend time with faculty at school events. Visit their classroom and meet with them at lunch, one on one and in small groups. Let them know you want to tell the world about what they do and why what they do matters. How you can best communicate their personal goals for the students they seek to educate? What do they want students to gain from having known them? What’s the most important life-long lesson a student will learn from that teacher? Why do they teach at your School? They need to see you as their most ardent supporter and cheerleader. And as the chief revenue generator for your school, you need them!
2. Encourage appropriate teachers to offer their perspective on educational, ethical, and character issues.
Encourage them to share their perspective on education in interviews or as opinion-editorial pieces to local papers, social media, education journals, talk shows, and podcasts. Encourage them to take a stand on hot educational issues at civic club meetings. Their sharing advances the public debate about education as it reinforces your school’s core values.
3. Make sure they understand that marketing does not mean “promise anything to get an enrollment” (leaving them holding the bag to make sure they deliver).
Explain that marketing is about always improving the product of your school: teaching and learning. Use terms like “relationship building” and “telling authentic stories” about what they do. Educate faculty to the fact that you can be true to your mission while also listening and responding to those you seek to serve – your market. Marketing objectives must support the mission and also be in line with the school’s values.
Having been a teacher myself, I can tell you they want to help ensure that your school thrives. They just need to know how they can be effective at it.
The headline above says it all: The Admission Office May Set the Table, But the Teachers Bring the Entrée! It came from an admission director I worked with a few years ago, Sarah McDonough at Wakefield School in Virginia.
Admission and enrollment management officers do set the table for prospective parents. But it’s the teachers and staff who bring the entrée. It’s as simple as that. Show your teachers how you support them, and how they can support your job to ensure they get the students they want to teach!