Let’s back up from the typical ways prospects tell you they heard about you – Google, Facebook, their friends, etc. Though important, those are the ways they heard enough about you to incent them to inquire. Some of these inquiries end up not being qualified to enroll in your school, thereby potentially becoming a drain on your time and resources. However, to generate really qualified inquiries – and lots of them – you need to think about the four steps your prospects go through in the investigation and consideration phases of the preschool search. The control you have over in every one of these steps makes all the difference.
Step 1 – Awareness. In marketing lingo, this is brand awareness, or merely communicating the fact that you exist. To generate awareness requires creativity, or separating your center from other prospects might be considering. Your brand is your story, so you can generate awareness through mascots, a memorable logo, and tagline, very distinctive colors, a unique program, the image of private school versus traditional preschool, etc.
Step 2 – Recognition. Qualified prospects must recognize your school or company anywhere they see it, in print or digitally. Generating recognition requires consistency in your image EVERYWHERE it appears. Use the same logo, font, colors, tagline, and any other brand imagery. If you see a distinctive white checkmark anywhere, you know it’s Nike. If you see tall yellow arches anywhere, you know it’s McDonald’s. That’s brand recognition.
Step 3- Retention. People forget fast. To drive your brand and its niche in the marketplace, you need to assure that your qualified prospects and referral sources remember it when they are ready to inquire. This requires repetition of your image and message in multiple venues where your most qualified prospects go to investigate and develop a shortlist of centers to contact. Know where your target market goes for information and be there with your recognizable brand story and image. One way to determine the best venues is to always ask your prospects, “What are the ways you learned about us?” If they answer, “Google,” ask what words they searched, or whether or not they saw your ad.
Step 4 – Inquiry. To convert these requires nurturing. When you get an enrollment inquiry, qualify it very soon in the conversation. If it is a potential customer, do everything to move it to conversion. That means responding quickly, personalize and convert to a center tour that day. The 2020 ChildcareCRM Benchmark Report cited a higher rate of enrollment conversion from qualified prospects who tour the same day or at least the next day after inquiry. Follow up diligently with undecided prospects to help them through the decision-making process. If the initial inquiry is not qualified, professionally refer the prospect to other helpful resources, thus maintaining your image and perhaps generating a good referral source.
Strategically moving through these four steps can help you better manage your enrollment inquiries and subsequent conversions to tours and registrations.