…then I think you’re making student recruitment harder than it needs to be.
Throughout the year we’re constantly reviewing comm. flow plans and individual pieces for clients and non-clients alike. When Mackenzie Mulligan (TCS Communications Director) and I compare notes, there are usually two consistent themes – the emails and letters inform but don’t encourage engagement (outside of apply or visit), and there’s an overall lack of continuity.
One of the follow up questions I ask the admissions and/or marketing and communications leadership is, “What do you want a letter or email that you send to a prospective student to do”?
The answers I get most often sound something like:
- “We want to give them information about our school”
- “We want it to help them move to that next step”
Both answers are good and make sense, but I think there’s an even better strategy that you should employ. It’s a simple, yet highly effective approach that we help our clients execute on a weekly basis.
When we create our clients’ personalized recruiting plans and messages, we always aim to get them a response to the email or letter, and to have that communication set up the next message.
Here’s why both of those strategies are vital to any effective recruiting campaign:
- Generate a reply. The point of an email or letter shouldn’t just be to inform and convince a prospect to choose your school based on what’s written in that one communication. That’s not realistic. It’s also unrealistic to expect a prospective student to take a big step like apply or visit campus without having some consistent interaction with you or someone in your admissions office first, during which a comfort level is created. That’s why the focus of each of your written communications should be to generate a response from your prospect, be it via email, text, or a phone call. I would even encourage you to specify the response you want. Without that response, you can’t expect to truly understand your prospect’s overall mindset or their opinion (positive or negative) on the information that you just sent them.
- Set up the next message. One of the biggest findings that resulted from our research study on how today’s prospective students make their final decision was the importance of the prospect knowing what to do next throughout the process. When you send an inquiry, a prospect, or an admitted student an email or a letter, make sure that you let them know what’s coming next. In other words, a message that goes out next week should set up an expectation that another communication is following in the coming days. Your recruit should be expecting the next step, not wondering when it will come. And as I mentioned at the very beginning, your recruitment emails and letters need to connect with each other and provide a continual flow.
It’s imperative to establish this system as early in the recruitment process as possible.
Now I’m going to ask you to do something small for me that will actually benefit you. Take 15 minutes over Thanksgiving break and review some of your most recent emails and letters. As you’re looking them over, I want you to ask yourself:
- Are they too formal?
- Are they just a bunch of facts, figures, and fluff?
- Is there one big idea in them and not three or four?
- Are they prompting the right kind of engagement from recruits (and parents)?
- Is there a continuous flow in what’s being sent?
I promise you the answers to those questions will tell you whether or not you currently have a high probability of keeping your recruit’s attention, and successfully recruiting them.
If you’d like an outside perspective on your comm. flow plan or some feedback on a few of your individual emails and letters, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m here to help.
Enjoy the rest of your week!