No Rest for the Weary

You’ve done it! 

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The school year has started, you’ve enrolled the last rush of stragglers, and hopefully you’ve found some time to relax and think about something other than recruitment for a week or two.  Back in the day, you used to have a few months to focus on other projects before ramping up your recruitment efforts, again.  But times have changed.  Student recruitment isn’t a season anymore, it’s a cycle.  Now that the last cycle has finished, it’s time to start ramping up for the next one.

Here’s an overview of what a strong recruitment cycle looks like.  Each school has to adapt it for their own enrollment calendar and lottery dates.  Your specific cycle may shift a few months one way or the other, but the major activities remain the same.

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September: Analysis and Reporting

  • Compare results with data from last 2-3 years
  • Which tactics worked and which didn’t (self-reported and conversion data)?
  • What was your conversion rate for each step of your process?
  • When did families start applying?
  • When did they finish the process?
  • What pages of your website are prospective families visiting most?
  • What percentage of new and returning students were no-shows?

October: Planning

  • Marketing plan
  • Community engagement plan
  • Budgets and timelines
  • Build your mailing list from previous applicants, public records requests, and responder ads
  • Community Outreach for introductions and to re-establish existing relationships

November - December: Messaging, Content, and Materials

  • Re-evaluate your core message and hierarchy (is it aligned to what families want?)
  • Refresh photos and videos (hang on to your best 3 from last year for A/B testing)
  • Current family surveys (a focus group helps, too)
  • Website upgrades
  • Create initial digital media
  • Develop print collateral
  • Community outreach - holiday cookies are a big hit!

January - March: Awareness-Building and Early Deciders

  • Messaging featuring academic results
  • Initial round of digital media
  • Initial Round of mailings and print media
  • Community outreach geared at establishing credibility

April - June: Core Audience

  • Messaging stressing natural transition grades
  • Adjust digital media based on early results and conversion rates
  • Ongoing mailings and print media
  • Early canvassing or canvass list building
  • Early environmental advertising, if using
  • Community outreach geared toward shared events

July-August: Late Deciders and Stragglers

  • Adjust messaging to stress urgency
  • Adjust digital media based on ongoing results and conversion rates
  • More aggressive mailings and print media, if needed
  • Canvassing
  • Community events
  • Community outreach geared toward connecting with hard-to-reach families
  • Mass media, if needed
  • Not Happy?” round of media for the first weeks of the school year

Like it or not, we don't have any down time, just slightly less busy times.  There's no more rest for the weary student recruiter, not even in Brooklyn.