Millennials are many things — informal, technology-oriented, the scapegoat for grandparents’ societal rants. However you perceive millennials, their sheer number (they are America’s largest, living adult generation) means they are a key marketing audience for your school. The millennial cohort includes adults aged 23-39 and comprise most parents of K-12 students today.
FACTS Senior Marketing Manager Jaclyn Day and FACTS SIS Product Manager Courtney Haindel shared their tips for engaging this generation on Rick Newberry’s Enrollment Catalyst Facebook Live show on May 21. Here are the top 10 best ways to attract more millennial families to your private school.
1) Know your audience
This rule is marketing 101. However, millennials span a diverse variety of cultural, socioeconomic, geographic, and educational backgrounds. Know the demographics of parents currently enrolled at your school and the makeup of its surrounding neighborhoods. Where are the areas of opportunity? Get a pulse of what parents near you value most and emphasize that in your messaging. For example, if your school is in a walkable location near housing developments or within close access to major highways, that can be a huge draw for parents.
2) Meet millennials where they’re at — online
The old adage “mother knows best” is transformed into “influencer knows best.” In 2016, Forbes reported 71% of millennials rank parenting websites, forums, and blogs as their first and second parental influence. Millennial parents rely more on strangers’ opinions about your school than their family and friends’ opinions. Spread positive word-of-mouth for your school online to draw parents in. Find parents willing to be brand ambassadors and recommend your school in posts in online community parents’ groups, on Facebook or elsewhere.
3) Lead with storytelling
Millennials want to picture their student thriving at your school. Paint a vivid reality by featuring impactful stories of current families at your school. Add videos, recent photos, and written stories to your website where they can be easily found.
4) Focus on family outcomes
Families want to see how joining your school will enhance their lives. Use talking points rooted in family benefits on your website. Here are a few examples:
- High quality education saves families money by leading to more scholarships in college.
- Parents save time and avoid confusion with your schools’ superior communication strategies.
- Parents gain peace of mind dropping off their children in a warm, welcoming classroom every day.
5) Stand out with certainty amid COVID-19
More families may change schools after COVID-related disruptions. Assure parents your school is well-equipped to deliver quality education regardless of circumstances. Add virtual tours of your school along with sample remote learning plans. Feature a testimonial from current families talking about your school’s successful transition to online learning.
6) Differentiate with relational experience
Don’t be fooled by millennials’ technology infatuation. They crave more relational experiences from start to finish. Make parents feel valued by building strong relationships with your head of school and teachers. Personal relationships differentiate your school from a public institution.
7) Automate admissions & enrollment
Prospective families search for information about your school online. They want that same convenience when submitting an inquiry for your school too. Admissions no longer begins with a phone call and school tour. Draw parents in through an inquiry form on your website, then reach out to them as soon as possible via a phone call or text.
8) Engage website visitors with a chat widget
“Given a choice between typing or picking up the phone, I’ll type every time,” said Courtney Haindel, FACTS SIS Product Manager and self-proclaimed Gen X-er. “It’s not a millennial thing, it’s a 2020 thing.”
When prospective families stumble across your website, they want more information. However, they want to easily access the information they need. Picking up the phone is a bigger time commitment. Provide more engagement options by installing a simple chat widget on your website.
9) Follow up with a text
After families submit an inquiry form on your website, engage them with text. Bypass email inbox clutter and direct-to-voicemail phone calls. Millennials engage more with text messages and it allows your communication to stay front-of-mind. Keep the messages help-oriented and soft in tone. Then prompt them to take another step in the admissions process. For example, you could ask if they would like to speak with your head of school or link directly to a helpful download, like a mobile-friendly virtual viewbook.
10) Spend your advertising budget wisely
It may seem prudent to invest a lot of time, energy, and resources into building out your school’s social media channels in case prospective families see it. But unless you’re boosting posts or spending money on paid advertising on those platforms, chances are those efforts will go unnoticed. Use your social media accounts and content calendar to galvanize your current community. When you want prospective parents to take notice, you’ll have to spend a little on paid advertising — ideally on Facebook and Instagram, two platforms where K-12 schools see some success in targeting local families with video and photo ads that feature timely or relevant messages.
While there’s no foolproof way to attract millennial parents, these tips are a simple start. Your school now has the opportunity to stand out among a sea of outdated websites and snail-paced inquiry processes. Meeting a parent’s experiential, relational, and technology needs will create fulfilling experiences not just for your students, but for the whole family — and achieve sustainability for your school in the process.