How The Prospective Parent Experience Can Increase Your Enrollment!
As a school leader, you work with parents daily. It is essential to understand their needs, speak their language, and know where and how to reach them. In the marketing world, we would call this understanding the parent experience. Great marketers obsess over this. Every detail is considered.
For prospective parents, searching for a school, researching options, touring, applying, and enrolling, are all part of a larger journey that will transform them from prospective parents into (hopefully) Montessori parents. It is essential for school leaders to dissect and evaluate every aspect of this journey to understand how it is impacting the prospective parent, and how it will ultimately help them reach a conclusion that they feel good about.
Here are our tips for creating a parent experience that is outstanding, unforgettable, and that will hopefully end with enrollment in your Montessori program.
1. Prioritize The Needs Of Prospective Parents
We understand that the day-to-day happenings at any school can get busy and overwhelming. There are so many things that school leaders need to consider to deliver a high quality Montessori program. However, it's important not to lose sight of the parent experience amid everything else that is happening, especially if you are looking to grow your enrollment.
Oftentimes, we find ourselves delivering messages in a way that is convenient for us. To take the parent-first approach, put yourself in the headspace of today's parents. Many of them are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. They appreciate options for touring your school (such as a virtual option, or an after working hours option). They might also appreciate educational resources that can help them make an informed decision. Ultimately, it is important to consider what current parents value. When a parent feels that they have been thoughtfully considered throughout their journey with you, they will feel more seen. This can have a large impact on your recruitment efforts as a school.
2. Make Your Tours And Open Houses Special
Tours and events are the best opportunities to form a lasting impression on prospective parents. This should be a focus area for your overall Montessori Marketing strategy. Your aim at any open house or tour should be to make parents feel connected with your school and your mission. Parents need to see that your Montessori school will value their child's unique developmental journey, gain confidence in their own abilities, and truly shine. So what will help parents see this is the case?
- Hearing passionate guides share their experiences in the classroom
- Seeing what Montessori has been able to do for other families
- Having their questions answered and feelings heard
- Understanding more about the Montessori Philosophy
- Seeing the classroom environment in action
- Understanding the clear differences that set your Montessori school apart from others
- Feeling connected to your school's mission
If you can find ways to do these things during your tours and open houses, you will leave a lasting impression on prospective parents that will lead to an application.
3. Be Consistent & Cohesive
Nothing is more frustrating than mixed messaging. If you want your school messaging to resonate with prospective parents, all staff members need to have a deep understanding of your mission and values. This prevents any mixed messaging or confusion throughout the enrollment journey. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, so when they see that your school is a community with a positive shared mission, it sets your school apart from the rest. If the messaging is mixed, a prospective parent could conclude that your school is not functioning well or dedicated, so spend the time to ensure that everyone is truly on board to help prospective parents understand your mission.
4. Understand A Prospective Parent’s Pain Points
If you want to create an parent journey that ends in enrollment, it is important to understand the reasons parents choose not to go with your school. Everything is a learning experience, so take notes constantly and ask parents "why didn't you decide to go with our school?". At what stage do you lose the most prospective parents? What are the leading reasons they choose to go elsewhere? When you understand these common objections, you can prepare in advance how to reassure families so that they don't turn away.
- Montessori is just too expensive for us: "We understand that Montessori can be more expensive than traditional childcare models. All our staff and guides are trained to understand the developmental needs of our students. This is a space where children will learn and build an educational foundation that they will carry throughout their life. We invest in our environments and in our staff so that the children receive the benefits of a high-quality program, so that is why it is more costly than other programs. We offer financial aid programs to help make Montessori more accessible for all families as we truly think all children are worth investing in".
- I just feel that I understand more about traditional school models: "We know that Montessori is not as well known as more traditional school models. We are happy to provide resources about Montessori philosophy and answer any questions you may have. We also have parent ambassadors that can help ease your concerns and answer your questions on a more personal level if you would prefer to speak to someone who was once in your shoes."
- We have decided to go with a nanny instead: "It is important for children to experience socialization as part of their development. In our mixed-aged classrooms, children will socialize with children within an appropriate age range. They will be able to learn from, work with, work alongside, and teach their peers. This helps them build confidence and social skills that they can carry with them throughout their life. We'd love for you to see our classroom during a school day so you can see for yourself that it is a peaceful environment where your child can work independently if they choose. They will have the freedom to work in a way that they are comfortable with."
Prepare a list of all the pain points you can think of, and have some answers, resources, and solutions ready to help!
5. Focus On Testimonials And Shared Experiences
Humans are social creatures... we want to know how others experienced something. This is why testimonials are such an important aspect of a parent-focused marketing strategy. Testimonials help prospective parents find reassurance during the decision-making process. Make sure you are actively encouraging parents in your community to share their experiences of your school. Utilize social media platforms, Google reviews, and other review websites to help you get the word out about your Montessori programs.
When prospective parents hear great things about your school, they have high expectations, so make sure to meet them! Keep the good word of mouth coming.
6. Make Your Website An Experience
More often than not, your school website is how parents will form their first impression of your school. If it's outdated, hard to navigate, and lacks ways to engage, parents may assume that your school is unprofessional. Don't allow prospective parents to make a false assumption of your school because your website is outdated... instead, invest in your school website. Focus on a modern design that works for your school, beautiful images, and content that adds value. View your website like an experience for new parents. What actions do you want them to take on your website? You want them to:
- Inquire about your tuition and programs
- Learn about your school's mission
- Schedule a tour
- Explore the benefits of Montessori through your blog
- Learn how other families experienced your school
- Feel excited and curious about Montessori
If you need help creating a website suited to the prospective parent experience, check out Nido Marketing's website service. You can also schedule a free consultation with a Montessori marketing expert today, no strings attached. Don't underestimate the power of a great website.
7. Be A Great Listener
Great marketers understand the value of feedback. As a school leader, this is something you should keep in mind as well. Feedback is a vital aspect to building a parent first enrollment strategy. Make sure to check in with prospective families about their experience with you. Listen to what they say, and figure out how you can implement their suggestions in the future. Businesses that listen to their audience are more likely to succeed. Listening to what parents need is going to help you recruit new families in the future.
No matter how many years of experience you have as an administrator, the world is constantly changing, as are the needs and expectations of prospective parents. There is always room for growth and improvement.
8. Welcome Families
Enrolling is the end of one journey and the start of another. Great schools have an onboarding process to welcome new families into their community. You know that your work as a school leader has only just begun on that family's first day of school. That first day, parents feel anxious and they are looking for your support to reassure them that they did indeed make the right decision. It's important to focus on communication and guidance throughout your partnership with families.
This is what can set your school apart in the long run. Here are some ways you can welcome families in a great way:
- Welcome packets: Offer detailed welcome packets that can help parents properly prepare for their Montessori experience
- Orientation meetings: Hold a meeting to go over expectations and concerns, and also allow parents to meet other new parents
- Social events: Allow parents the option to connect with your school community
- Open office hours: Have some accessible office hours so that parents can talk to you and raise questions and concerns as needed
Parents will need constant reassurance that they've made the right decision about their child's education. It's important to communicate and show them that they have made the correct choice by partnering with your Montessori school.