This article is written by our friends at Emmet Consulting, an independent strategy consultancy based in Melbourne, Australia.
Did you know that aligning the planning and day to day activity of your Marketing and Admissions teams is one of the easiest ways you can increase new student applications and boost enrolment numbers? What’s more, it doesn’t even necessarily need to cost a thing! So, why are so many Marketing and Admissions teams still working in silos, and what simple steps can help drive alignment and performance? Keep reading to find out.
Before we get into how to achieve alignment, let’s start with the why. A quick online search will turn up dozens of articles on the benefits of aligning Sales and Marketing across organisations of all shapes and sizes. In fact, according to research giant Forrester, organisations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams achieved growth at a rate that was nearly 25% higher than their competitors.
Schools are no exception!
A well-aligned Marketing and Admissions team is almost guaranteed to deliver more leads, increased enrolment applications, and drive higher conversions. If that’s not enough, another key benefit of working in close harmony is that these teams are also likely to become more efficient. That’s right! Growth in applications and student numbers, for less work.
So, how does it work? First, let’s consider the role of marketing.
School marketers typically perform a myriad of tasks, including student, parent and community communication. However, in juggling multiple responsibilities, what often gets lost is the primary role of a school’s marketing department: to attract and engage the next generation of students and their families. In marketing terms, we call this ‘acquisition marketing.’ It’s the lifeblood of any successful marketing department and a critical skill to look for when adding to your team.
With a qualified lead engaged, Marketing will pass the torch to Admissions. This is another team that’s required to wear multiple hats. One of the team’s most important tasks is building relationships with prospective families and nurturing them through each stage of your school’s enrolment pipeline. Your Admissions team engages families at every touchpoint, from the initial enquiry, through to a student’s first day of school. Through these two roles — marketing generating new leads and Admissions converting them into enrolments — we can see the importance of team alignment.
Now that the benefits of alignment and complementary roles of Marketing and Admissions are easy to see, we turn our attention to planning and executing strategy as one team. Here’s the good news: there are many relatively simple ways to improve team alignment.
Let’s dive into four of the most effective ways below.
We have to say, there’s little that aligns teams more effectively than shared targets. We recommend starting by considering targets for applications, tours, and enrolments. Of course, this isn’t to say that Marketing and Admissions can’t also have individual goals, but that enrolment-related targets will be prioritised, clear, and aligned.
Journey mapping is a great way to ensure that your teams are on the same page when it comes to the process a new family goes through at your school. It’s easy to get stuck in the details, but try to perform this workshop concisely and efficiently. You might like to include key colleagues from other departments to map out the major milestones in your school’s customer journey. Above all else, remember that your goal is to create a document that’ll enable you to identify improvements to your Marketing and Admissions tactics in the planning stage that will follow.
With aligned goals and a shared view of the customer journey, it’s time to start planning performance improvements as one team. This is an area where there’s significant potential for teams to go a little off track. For example, teams might generate more ideas than can be implemented, some of which are hard to implement or limited in their benefits. So, keep it simple! What are the easiest, most beneficial steps you can take to boosting application and admissions performance?
Next, it’s time to prioritise! It’s almost always better to be highly focused and implement just one or two changes at a time. This approach also gives you the benefit of seeing which changes are effective and which might need a little tweaking.
With the planning done and initiatives implemented, the last step is to put a system in place that regularly brings the teams together to review. It’s important to measure performance and agree to any changes needed to help fine-tune initiatives. We recommend setting up a consistent meeting with a clear agenda to use the time effectively. Be sure to take quality notes and actions with agreed-upon timelines and allocated team members. Then, issue them within 24 hours of the meeting and follow up on those actions as your first agenda item at the next meeting. It can be a little painful, but it is very effective!
While there are many other steps you might consider in boosting the alignment and performance of your Marketing and Admissions teams, these relatively simple changes can go a long way in driving improved outcomes. If you’d like to learn more about how these steps can be implemented at your school or other ways to boost application and enrolment performance, get in touch with the team at Emmet Consulting.