Marketing is a comprehensive plan that targets the right demo and caries them all the way through the process. Advertising is the first part of marketing – Advertising alone is not marketing. I make that distinction because too often, a school’s marketing plan basically stops at the point they book some ads and hope for phone calls. A successful school admissions department works with (and is often trained by) the marketing department. Everyone in the process should be aware of the entire process, including post-purchase satisfaction and what efforts are being done after graduation to get word of mouth referrals from graduates. If you don’t have a marketing plan that covers every step of the student lifecycle – including different branches based on progress and reaction – then you’re not putting enough effort into your planning.
The more you plan, the better you’re ability to target and reach potential students.
Education is a life-change product. As such, the education marketing plan needs to focus on – and exploit – the entire lifecycle, not just experimenting with new marketing channels and quirky PR ideas. If you have limited financial resource to spend on your advertising and outreach, then you need to pour what you have into the marketing channels that are most capable to reaching your highest-converting prospects.
Lead targeting within your education marketing plan:
I’ve seen this time and time again: people get really excited when they try a new ad placement that gets a lot of leads. That’s great, don’t get me wrong, but more leads doesn’t automatically mean more income. Just because a source gets a lot of new inquiries does not mean it will result in a linear increase of students. Don’t forget that processing leads also costs you money: admissions staff time, materials, etc. You don’t want to have your admissions team spending your money on leads that never turn into students: every bad lead is wasted money.
Two plans are below. You choose which you’re prefer:
- You spend $10,000 and get 700 leads that convert to 60 students; (or)
- You spend $10,000 and get 500 leads that convert to 60 students.
Which do you prefer? Ad cost is the same, so if we were doing long division, that cancels out. So what’s remaining? Students enrolled… that’s the same too, so null that as well. The only number remaining: 700 leads vs. 500 leads… our gut instinct is to think 700 is better… it’s not! What about the cost of your time? It takes a lot of time to work the 200 leads… but no revenue comes from it. If you have a collection of ad placements with a higher conversion rate like the 500 leads -> 60 students, then you can put more money there and know you’re not wasting as much money. It’s not just ad cost / student: never forget the time involved and that that time decreases the return on investment. Eventually, as you put more money in, the conversion rate will go down, and it’s your job to be able to identify that point, maintain it, and then explore additional lead sources from there.
The point is: don’t get excited about a lot of leads. That’s just as bad as getting exited about web traffic. Just because you get a lot of web traffic doesn’t mean they call your school.
You want to get excited about quality, not merely quantity. You wouldn’t spend money on, for example, a phone company if your calls never connected, so why spend money on sources that generate leads that never “connect” to a student enrollment for your school?
Never be afraid to spend more money on a lead generating source if it has a high conversion rate and hasn’t yet reached the downward turn where the more money you put in only decreases the conversion rate – always keep you eye open for that “conversion rate plateau”. Sometimes it’s a bit of a shock to pay $50+ on a lead, but if that advertising channel has a 15-20% conversion rate – compared to a $10 lead that has a conversion rate of 1% – , then it’s worth your time and money because your get more students. And that’s the whole point.