Student Acquisition 102
Generating awareness and initial student prospect leads.
Building awareness for your training organisation
In the Student Acquisition 101, I mentioned why strategically approaching your marketing is so important and I showed you the high level structure that your marketing should be following to generate the best student leads for your student advisors.
If you haven’t yet read that article, I suggest you go read it over here before reading through this one.
Now onto the first step of the student acquisition process and the one you’ll be most familiar with – awareness.
Awareness simply means knowledge that something exists.
Without awareness everything else you do in your marketing, your sales team or student advisors, is irrelevant.
Because without awareness, prospective students won’t even be aware that you’re an option.
This is by far the part of student acquisition that most organisations are doing, even if you think you’re not really doing much.
Because if you’re in business and have students, they know about you somehow.
For education and training providers, I put awareness (and ultimate initial ‘lead generation’) into 2 categories.
- The stuff within your control.
- And the stuff outside your control.
Let’s discuss those in reverse order.
Generating students from sources outside your control
These are things that generate student enrolments from people or activities that you ultimately have little control over.
Similar to how many businesses rely on referrals from past customers/clients.
And as a training provider referrals are always good leads. Because they come with a recommendation, overcome substantial resistance to ‘buying’ and trust the source of the recommendation.
Yet still, you can’t really rely on referrals to grow your training organisation in the same way that I could, as a consultant, because the number of clients I can work with at any one time is limited.
So referrals are just ‘easy conversions’. And you SHOULD definitely have thought about how to create evangelists out of your existing students to leverage as many referrals as possible.
But they aren’t something you can predict and therefore can’t rely on to sustainably grow your student numbers.
Treat them as a bonus.
The other highly used source of enrolments is 3rd party agents.
Either international or local agents that help international students, or job agencies that are up-skilling locals into employment.
And many, many organisations rely on agents to drive a bulk of their student enrolments. Because it only ‘costs’ you, via commissions, when they actually pay and enrol.
So it seems like a win-win. They get paid, you get a new student.
But is it REALLY a reliable, predictable way to grow? What allegiance does an agent have to your organisation outside the commission you’re offering (unless you have a personal relationship). Very little.
So while they can be beneficial, if a single agent supplies a bulk of your new students, if they suddenly stopped working, or decided another organisation was offering more commission, you’d be dead in the water.
Getting students from sources within your control.
This is harder work then relying on referrals and agents. But you also have near complete control on how effective it will be.
But you need to invest in it. You need to take control and ownership of your own marketing.
And that can be daunting. Because there’s just so much to do.
At it’s simplest level this is all about understanding who you need to be in front of and then going to those places and getting in front of them.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? And it’s really not that complicated.
There’s an educational trade show being held, you’ll already be thinking about having a stand – locally or internationally.
But those are infrequent and costly to attend – although can be effective. So here’s some other ideas.
- Google: people are searching for courses to study in Australia – when you have your SEO (search engine optimisation) and Adwords planned out you can ensure you’re one of the first listings on the search results.
- Facebook: is the 3rd most used website in the world and has over 2 billion users. The ability to use demographic and intent based filters to target your ideal prospective student is unrivaled. While you rightly feel simply posting on your Facebook page is futile (to attract new students), using Facebook’s ad platform to generate awareness and leads is a different thing all together.
- YouTube: is the 2nd most used website, beating Facebook. Creating engaging video content consistently is hard, but you only need a single well formulated video to use as an ad to place in front of other people’s video content and you can target specific channels, topics or demographics so your video ad is targeted.
- Blog posting: this goes back to helping Google show your site to people searching for answers. You can determine the types of problems people have with finding education in Australia (for example), create content around that topic, post it to your site, and in time Google will send traffic to it. This is also a great way to build awareness via paid ads (Facebook etc) without ‘selling’ your courses straight up.
- Other social media (Instagram/ Snapchat/ Pinterest/ Twitter): Depending on the courses you offer one of these social media channels might be a good bet for audience building and advertising in addition to the main ones above.
I’m obviously not discussing or including offline marketing channels, simply because I don’t believe they have the same ROI that digital has, for the audience that most training organisations would be after.
That’s not to say they wouldn’t work, but with the dependence of information ‘on demand’ and the ease at which searching, social media and videos are literally at our finger tips, advertising where people spend upwards of 1-2 hours a day makes the most sense – from a targeting, tracking and return on investment perspective.
In tomorrow’s email we’ll move to the next important step – generating interest.
What you need to take a prospective student from simply knowing about you to wanting to find out more.