In a previous post, we discussed how to conduct an Admission Audit to ensure your admission process is in line with your schools’ mission statement to achieve Mission Harmony. That harmony is critical to attract and retain your school’s ideal families, but there are other steps you can take towards Mission Harmony as well. This is a two-part series in which we’ll walk you through the benefits, as well as the necessary steps to conduct a prospect family persona.
Marketers use customer personas in order to produce targeted messages that resonate with their ideal prospects. The same principle applies to independent schools. Building a Prospect Family Persona helps you focus on those families will be an ideal fit with your school.
The benefits of creating a Prospect Family Persona
The importance of recognizing the ideal student and family for your school’s community cannot be overemphasized. If you know and can objectively describe the traits and character of your ideal student, your admission strategy and recruiting activities will be focused and relevant.
A Prospect Family Persona will help you scale your review process and provide consistent feedback when evaluating students. For this reason, we suggest the persona include the students too. In elementary school, the family is the primary decision maker, but as children get older, they start to have a say in the decision-making process. Therefore, you may need to create multiple personas, depending on your market and target decision-makers.
Creating a Prospect Family Persona will help you to:
- Determine messaging that will engage future families who are an ideal fit with your school.
- Attract students that are going to be successful at your school.
- Improve the overall experience of the students and families at your school.
- Reduce churn, increase re-enrollment and relieve pressure on your Admission Office.
First steps to create a Prospect Family Persona
In order to build a Prospect Family Persona, start by defining exactly which types of families and students you want to attract to your school. You must know who they are before you can start creating the right message to interest them. You might have more than one type of ideal family or student. In that case, you may want to create more than one persona.
Next, compare your current student body to your ideal one. Look at your current and your projected enrollment: How does it differ from the ideal families and students you’ve just described? Doing this exercise will help you determine if you already have some degree of Mission Harmony or if you have a gap between your mission statement and your prospecting efforts.
However, doing so will also give you a starting point for building your personas. If you already have ideal students and or family at your school, you can create personas based on what you know about them. Delve into the following questions to really understand who they are:
- Where and how do they live their lives?
- What are their pain points?
- What drives these children and parents?
- Are they involved in school activities or the community at large?
- In what ways?
- What are the parents’ goals for their children?
- What are the demographic and socio-economic data points that best describe these children and families?
For more comprehensive data and to lighten your workload, involve others in your school in this research phase. This will help you develop deeper insights into your families than you can on your own. Also look to former students who fit your ideal profile. Poll your alumni and their families to understand what their needs and pain points were when they chose your school over other schools.
This is not an extensive project, although it might sound intimidating if you haven’t done anything like this before. It does not require a lot of time to do, only a willingness to do the research, and even that can be minimal and informal.
In Part 2, we’ll walk you through the steps to develop the personas.