In the last decade, India has witnessed a humongous growth in the education sector. This growth is led by first generation entrepreneurs attracted by the huge opportunity and market size of this sector. The sector has its own characteristics that one must consider while developing a long-term strategy. Before I share the strategies have a look at Planning to start a preschool or school? and 5 marketing tactics for preschool and school
6 Marketing Strategies for preschools and high schools:
Don’t SELL, Educate.
If you think that you can sell education to parents you are wrong. Gone are the days when schools used to be the dictators, today the customers (parents) are. They are well informed and educated, so if you think you can sell them admissions you will burn your hands. Parent’s need to be made aware of education and its importance. As a school you have to be concerned about the child’s academic future more than the parents, only then they will make the decision in your favor.
An example of a sales call. Oops sorry I meant, example of a counseling call:
Counselor (C): Hello Ma’am, Am I talking to Pooja’s mother?
Parent (P): Yes, you are speaking to Pooja’s mother. May I know who is calling?
C: Ma’am my name is Reema and I am calling from XYZ Preschool. I wanted to talk about Pooja’s education. Is it a good time to talk? (The counselor has shown concern about the child’s future rather than talking about admission)
P: Sure, what it is?
C: Ma’am I believe Pooja is 3 years old, is that right?
P: Yes, that’s correct. But how did you know that and from where did you get my number?
C: Ma’am we do a lot of education awareness program in places like malls, parks, online. I assume that you must have come across to one of our promoters and provided your contact details as you too are a concerned mother. (Here the counselor is making an emotional connect)
P: Yes I remember, please go on.
C: Ma’am we are organizing a children activity in our preschool or higher school why don’t you come for this? We have arranged it on a Saturday (make sure you have planned activity on a weekend) so parents can spend some quality time with their kids. (Here the counselor is subtly talking about child’s future and how quality time with children is important)
P: Ok, I will try to come.
C: Thank you, I will mail or message you the details. Looking forward to seeing you and Pooja having a great time in our school. And before I hang up, let me tell you that there will be a surprise gift for both of you. Have a good day.
(The surprise gift can be anything like a greeting card or a photo shoot for mother and daughter)
In the whole conversation, did you feel that the counselor was selling? The crux is Educate the Parents.
Don’t fall into PRICING traps
One of the most common mistakes preschools and high schools do is, falling into pricing traps. If you are providing the high quality education you can demand higher fees – SIMPLE. In India, most schools do the opposite. We provide average quality and ask for higher fees. To support my point a report issued by Times Of India in 2012 mentioned
“India ranks 72 in global education survey out of 88 countries that participated in the survey”.
Focus on providing quality, streamline your process, improve your delivery, hire highly qualified teachers and interact with your parents very often. If you do all these and your customers (parents) are a part of this, your school will never have to struggle in its profitability.
Awareness Program Initiatives
As part of your marketing strategy, your school should always be in the limelight for supporting some cause. For example, start a breast cancer awareness initiative and run campaigns around it. This initiative should be a part of all your communications (online & offline).
“If you don’t Stand up for something then you will fall for anything” – Malcolm X
The above saying perfectly goes in marketing as well. As a brand you have to stand with a cause and concentrate your marketing activities around it.
Position your school as One Stop Solution in Education
If you are an established player in education you should definitely use this strategy. In my study, I realized that once parents take admission in preschool their concern is about admission in a higher school for grade 1.
If you are a chain of schools, make sure you are positioning your school as a one stop for parents. Parents are concerned about donations, admissions procedures, interviews and so on. As a preschool, you can have a strategy wherein if the child takes an admission in playgroup or nursery and continues with the preschool for Lower Kindergarten (LKG) and Upper Kindergarten (UKG) the child will get direct admission into the high school i.e the parent school.
If you are a startup preschool then you need to tie up with an external school/schools. This will increase your conversions as parents will be rest assured about the admissions for the higher grade.
Introduce an AFFILIATE program
Affiliate marketing is slightly different from Referral marketing. The key difference between them is the monetary benefit. (Thanks to my guru Rahul Nair for introducing me to Affiliate Marketing)
In affiliate marketing, there is always an exchange of money and in referral marketing, it’s not mandatory to have a monetary exchange.
Both the concepts will be clear with examples
- I learned that the key decision makers for a child’s education are the mothers. Keeping this thought in mind I tied up my preschool (for one specific location) with a couple of parlors. Why parlors? Probably the only place where women have plenty of time to chit chat and relax (pun intended: p). As a marketer, I found an opportunity to make use of this time and introduce my schools to the mothers via the parlor owners, in this case, the parlor owner is my affiliate.
Every qualified lead that is passed by the parlor owner will be entitled to X money. And if this lead gets converted into admission then the payout will be Y.
[Pro Tip: Defined what Qualified Lead is to your affiliate. If you are looking to build an affiliate network or you are planning to implement one for your school, check out www.trackbox.com ]
This is how I was introduced to Affiliate Marketing
2. In you referral marketing you can ask for references from your existing customers (parents). Your referral program needs to have a strong name to connect with parents. For example, “XXXXXXX School Ambassadors”. Every time you get through reference make sure you get a picture clicked off that family and pin it on your board. This will also help the counselor in her counseling.
Engage with Parents
If Digital Marketing is not part of your current strategy you might lose your customers (parents) over a period of time. As per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs the third level in the pyramid is the need of Love and Belonging
Your customers’ i.e parents have this need to be social and connect with one another. In today’s scenario where social media has become a part of our daily life; as a school, you cannot ignore the opportunity to connect with parents on these mediums.
Have a social media marketing strategy where your school is engaging with your customers on daily basis, answering their queries and communicating with them. You can make a weekly post calendar and update it on all your channels starting from Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and blogs. For example, every Monday your social media will talk about Do’s and Dont’s
(Watch out this space for more in-depth Digital Marketing Strategy in my next post)
As Seth Godin says “Make your product/service REMARKABLE”. In education, your customer is the parent and your consumer is the child so plan your strategy accordingly.
These are some of the strategies which you can include with your current strategy. If you have some more creative ideas please comment below.
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