What do I mean by mass-personalize? Well, for companies like Amazon.com it’s about delivering a personalized experience for millions of people…. by gathering thousands of data points about you, they learn about you and make product suggestions that are targeted to your interests. They don’t know you, but it feels like they do! That’s “MASS-personalization.”
But How Does this Apply to Schools?
What Amazon and Pandora do is extremely sophisticated. They spend millions of dollars making this happen, and obviously that’s not in the average school Admissions department’s budget. However, Admissions Directors can learn lessons from what Amazon and Pandora are doing and can deliver a personalized admissions process to inquiries and applicants based their interests.
Let’s say you’re an Admissions Director and you meet a prospect that is interested in dance. During that conversation, you might invite the candidate to a recital or introduce him to a student dancer. What a wonderful and meaningful interaction that would be for the prospective student! And what a chance for that prospect to envision himself at your school!
There are so many ways that – if Admissions teams just knew something about the all of their inquiries and applicants – they could make their school feel like it was tailored just for them. But weren’t we just talking about mass-personalization?
How Can Admissions Teams Scale this Up to Reach a Large Number of Prospect Families Without Investing Millions like Amazon Does?
You need a plan… and probably school admissions software too. One strategy is to ask about a prospect’s interests on and online inquiry or application. Because that data would flow into an admissions database (or CRM) it becomes much easier to use it to build a targeted communication plan.
- A targeted communication plan is an organized plan to talk to High Value Groups specifically about the things they care about.
- High Value Groups are Groups of people that are important to the school, and to whom you have something compelling to offer.
I’ll share a useful exaggeration: “If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.”
So How Do you Coordinate a Communication Plan?
- Get in front of a whiteboard!
- Identify your High Value Groups
- Discuss what you have to offer to each group
- Map out a step-by-step plan for each
Let me give you an example of what you can orchestrate with a well-thought-out communication plan and the admissions software to make it feasible. It’s a real world inquiry response example from a school we talked with. Their old system was to send out an admissions packet to every inquiry they received and to try and schedule a visit to the school. Because admissions was busy and they were working off of spreadsheets, that’s really all they had time to do. Their hope was that it would be enough to drive those inquiries to apply.
They implemented a school admissions software solution that had capability to capture online inquires and applications, so they started to capture much more usable data than they ever had in the past. Their admissions software also gave them the ability to run searches based on that data and blast out personalized emails and letters in bulk. It also allowed them to log good detailed notes and assign tasks to one another.
So they had the software, here was the plan for one of their high value groups: Soccer Players:
What’s remarkable about this is that there SIX personal connections for this one inquiry. There are multiple people involved, but the coordination is easy, so their admissions process was three dimensional. And because of their new software, it was easy to orchestrate.
In an upcoming post, I’ll write about how to broaden your audience by connecting with more candidates through your website and social media.
In the meantime read about other ways Admissions teams can connect more personally with prospects.
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