Improve Retention with Montessori Marketing
The path to running Montessori programs that are full, profitable, and successful begins with focusing on your retention rates. The higher your retention rates are, the less time and effort you'll need to spend trying to attract new families. There are many ways a school can begin improving retention rates, and it all starts with effective marketing and parent education.
When it comes to retention in the Montessori space, lack of involvement and understanding are your biggest enemies. When families are not passionate about your mission, your philosophy, or the work you are doing... they are much more likely to walk away, especially during key years such as the Kindergarten year. It is really important that your school communicates the value you are offering. This is where effective marketing can help!
Retention Starts With Effective Marketing
Your school should set a goal to communicate early in the admissions process just how important it is for students to remain in their Montessori program. You want families who will commit to your vision and mission and who will live and breathe Montessori. Set these expectations early:
When a family joins your community, they are joining a parent-school partnership that requires them to learn, trust, and commit. This is in the best interest of their child because they will fully benefit from the Montessori programs you offer.
This is where great content marketing can be a huge game changer. Here's how...
Your website content should be educating and nurturing families. This is your opportunity to break the ice and introduce Montessori to families on their school search journey. A great school website is the key to educating families. Here's how you can start:
Break down the benefits
You should simplify and list out the benefits of your programs throughout your website. Pictured above, you can see how we broke down the value of Montessori in many points. This helps families understand why they should go with Montessori and highlights what they won't find elsewhere. We have this right on the homepage. You can elaborate on the benefits in your program information and on your "what is Montessori" and "why Montessori" pages. It's important to include facts, research, and success stories.
Explain why parents should choose Montessori
The first step to getting parents to live your mission is to encourage them to see why it's worth it to do so. The content on this page should outline all of the short and long term benefits that a Montessori education provides. To help with retention, you can include information about the significance of the 3-year cycle. Take the opportunity to discuss the wide range of benefits Montessori can offer:
- Montessori follows the child
- Teachers are highly trained
- Montessori is a community
- Parenting support and benefits
- Montessori is more than just academics
- Montessori children excel academically, and there's data to prove it!
- Montessori gives the child the opportunity to become classroom leaders
Don't hold back. Provide examples of how your school has helped children thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. It's important that parents feel curious and passionate about what your school is doing from the first time they read through your website!
Social proof is really important if you want families to make a big commitment. Parents want to see how other families benefited from your Montessori programs, so having testimonials throughout your website is very helpful. Include a few testimonials from parents who experienced that key final year within the 3-year cycle and ask them how they witnessed everything come together. If prospective and current families can see how beneficial it is to remain dedicated to these programs, they will be more likely to trust in your process and remain in your community.
Set expectations about program durations
It's okay to be blunt! Let parents know from early on how long your programs last and how long you expect the families to remain at your school. In your program description, you should include information that outlines why families should stay in your programs for a full three-year cycle. You can state that their child will benefit far more if they complete a program, and continue to thrive if they decide to remain in Montessori for future programs.
Blogs & Resources
If you want parents to really understand what your school is offering, then it's important to provide resources and content that allow parents to learn directly from you. This not only helps establish you as a thought leader and build trust amongst current and prospective families, it also allows families to understand what goes on in the classroom and just how beneficial it is for their child. You can include blogs that outline the specific benefits of remaining in a specific program through its entirety.
Ultimately, your school website should include many learning opportunities for prospective and current families. Great content marketing can lead to more families understanding your mission and goals.
Effective marketing is really all about great communication. There are a few ways that a school can consistently communicate the values of Montessori to new and current families. You can:
- Utilize email nurtures: Email marketing is a free and effective way to market to highly interested leads. You can deliver messages about how the unique benefits of Montessori and encourage prospective families to join you for a tour. You can also use email nurtures to inform parents about the importance of retention during those key years.
- Newsletters: Newsletters can be a great way for you to keep families in the loop about what is going on at your school as well as a space to showcase your wins. Focus on school highlights and success stories. You can also share parenting blogs and resources that will help you keep your families informed about the unique benefits of Montessori.
- Utilize social media platforms: Many parents are active on social media. This is a win for your school because social media platforms are free spaces where you can share valuable information about your school. Post your blogs, testimonials, success stories, resources, and events across your social profiles to keep families engaged and learning.
Nothing sells families on Montessori like coming in for a tour. This is a step forward in the admissions process and will ultimately help them decide whether or not Montessori is right for their family. There are many things you can do here to help ensure retention and set expectations.
- Focus on the developmental benefits of Montessori, both short and long term.
- Explain that priority is given to families who are willing to commit to the duration of a program (the full 3 years) and why it is important that families do this.
- Explain how Montessori is different from other childcare options. Children in Montessori are there to learn and develop. Every year is an important learning opportunity for children.
- Talk about the benefits your school community offers families, including courses and resources.
- Let parents know that joining your school means joining a partnership.
Community & Parenting Support
It's important to bring parents in, encourage engagement, and make them feel like they are a big part of your school community. By doing this, they will feel so much more connected to your school, other families, and feel aligned with your mission. When you invest in your community, you will nurture a bond that is harder for families to sever and walk away from when it comes to those key retention years and transitions. Here are some ways your school can nurture community and support parents:
Offering courses is really a win-win. Parents benefit by connecting with your school and taking away practical knowledge that will help them with parenting challenges. Your school will benefit by having families who are more committed to your overall mission and will see first-hand the benefits of Montessori in their parenting. Schools can offer a variety of parenting courses, and it's easy to make them accessible by having a Zoom or recording option for families to access. Here are some examples of courses your school can give each year to current and prospective families:
- Planes of development: allows parents to see how their child develops through time and gives them insights on how they can meet their child's needs. This course can also give some insight on how the Montessori classroom environment and guide are prepared to meet the child where they are.
- Positive Discipline: this term is now much more well known amongst families. This course can give families some practical skills on how to approach challenges with their children at home. It also gives them insights on how issues are approached in the Montessori classroom. It's important to offer concrete examples.
- Tantrums: every parent wants advice for handling tantrums. This is a course that offers great solutions and advice to a problem every parent has experienced and is a great way for you to offer value.
- Program Specific: It's great to offer program and age specific parenting courses that allow families to prepare for what their child needs then and there. You can answer their questions and provide information on how parents can maximize on their child's overall Montessori experience at home.
- Home environment: This course can walk families through how they can create a space in their home that will encourage independence. It will also allow them to understand just how special the Montessori classroom environment is.
There are endless courses you can offer. Parenting courses are a great way to offer families value and build a stronger community.
Every school has parents who want to be more involved in the community. When parents have formal roles in your school, they become more engaged and will encourage other families to live your mission too. Your school can offer a variety of different positions and volunteer opportunities for parents who are willing. This will also help you nurture school ambassadors who will tell other families about your school and community and become lifelong Montessori advocates.
A great way to build a stronger sense of community is to plan events purely for socializing and connection. These events create a unique opportunity for Montessori parents to come together and get to know one another. The all have one thing in common: they want the best for their children. You can host a variety of fun events that will help to invoke a stronger and friendlier community:
- New parent meet up
- Coffee dates
- Book clubs
- School fairs and festivals
- Movie of speaker nights
- Community volunteering days (gardening, charity, etc.)
- Silent auctions and dinners
When parents in your community feel more connected to one another, it reinforces that they belong to a strong and united community that shares a major common goal. This makes it harder for them to walk away and more likely to stay at your school for longer.
Retention Nights & Commitment Agreements
If your aim is to really ensure that families stay for the long run, then considering a commitment agreement might be the right choice for you. If you have a waitlist, this can be a great way to prioritize the right families. As part of the admissions process, you can have families sign an agreement stating they understand what is expected of them when joining a school-parent partnership and that they do intend to stay for a programs full duration. This will help you enroll families who feel passionate about the work you do.
You can also host retention information nights that will help parents understand the full value of staying at your school from program to program. During these nights, you can inform parents about the unique benefits their child will experience during those key 3rd years in each program, as well as those transitional years when it's time to move up a program. You can even invite parent and student ambassadors to help answer questions so families can see how others have benefited from staying in your program. This can serve as a great way to help make parents feel at ease about staying in your community as well as allowing them to see what your programs offer that their child could miss out on at other schools.
While not every family will stay in your community, it's important to make continuous efforts to keep a hold of your current families. Through great marketing, setting expectations, building community, and investing in resources for your families, you can help families live your mission and stay in your community longer!
Need resources? We've got you covered!
If you need great content, a great school website, or parent education and communication resources, we are here to help.
For a school website and Montessori content, check out our Montessori marketing services and schedule a free Montessori Marketing consultation with us today!
If you need parent education resources such as course content, live parenting webinars, retention agreements, and school leadership support, join our school leadership member site, Montessori Thrive!