A tip of the beret to the French firm, Noir sur Blanc Production, who created this piece for EM Strasbourg Business School. Notice the product placement for the SteelCase chairs. Apparently the school partnered with SteelCase who picked up most of the tab for the production. Something to think about for our next Higher Ed production.
This is an easy one that many schools miss. When a prospective student goes out of his or her way to ask for interaction (by info form, phone call, email, postcard, carrier pigeon, smoke signals, you get the point – they want to talk with you), GET BACK TO THEM. It sounds so simple, but so many institutions take a day, a week, or longer to respond to inquiries. We secret shop around ten schools every month, and at least six out of ten won’t get back to us within 48 hours. That is a BIG mistake. According to a new study by lead management firm, Leads360, “Calling a prospect within 60 seconds of inquiry increases chances of conversion by 391%.” The more you respect a prospective student like a prospective customer, the better off you’ll be.
2) Relevance and Quality
When you do promptly contact the prospect, have a plan in place. Based on their answers to your info form, the content of their email, or the context of your phone call, develop meaningful, relevant information for this person’s needs. If someone contacts you about a grad management program, don’t send them the entire brochure detailing all 20 degrees and certificates you offer. And for goodness sake, never ever send a course catalog again. Registration is most likely done online, and your prospect will only use that catalog as a paper weight, a booster seat, or to prop up a table. Save yourself the printing and postage and send a strong marketing piece with detailed next steps.
3) Next Steps
Don’t forget this is a sales process. Don’t just answer a prospect’s inquiry with a brochure and leave it at that. Or worse, send the brochure and then periodically spam the prospect until they can’t stand the site of your letterhead. Instead try sending good, detailed information that is relevant to the prospect’s inquiry. Along with that information suggest a next step – a phone conversation, visit to campus, upcoming webinar on financial aid, work/life balance, the jobs prospects can expect using this specific degree. Give the prospect a reason to continue interaction with you. This will build trust and lead to an enrollment.
As with all marketing – tracking, tracking, tracking. When you get an inquiry, you should know what media they came from, what they are interested in from you, and how you can best get in touch with them. Next you can track what pages of your web site that prospect has been to. What emails from you they open, and how long they read them. Did this prospect attend a webinar or an info session? Have they spoken with an admissions representative yet? What were the results of those conversations? Tracking all of this data helps you have a better conversation with a prospective student.
None of these steps will work if you don’t have a capable and well trained staff. Most higher education admissions staffs have all the talent you need (friendly/easy with people, good phone skills, can handle widely used technology). What they generally need is a well thought out plan. Your staff should know their closing ratios, they should know what they want to accomplish with a call or email before they dial a number or punch a key, they ought to know what is generally more successful (a webinar or an info session). Your staff should be on board with your marketing plan, because they are a part of your marketing/sales operation. It will make you a better team to train on these points monthly, to distribute internal marketing pieces, hold contests, etc. Make it fun.