Independent private schools know the best way to get qualified mission-appropriate applicants is primarily through referrals from current or former families, students, friends, and from the local community and alumni.
As a former director of admissions and marketing, as well as in my work with clients, here are some tips I have learned over many years.
Audience Based Referral Suggestions:
For families, consider tuition and/or bookstore credits, summer program discounts, or other incentives. Some private schools may frown upon incentives for referrals, but think of this as a way to give thanks and offer financial support to families.
For alumni, a branded gift (cap, mug or other) from the bookstore might be best unless they are sending a family member. In this case, if you do not have one in place, offer an alumni discount for children or grandchildren if they are the fiscally responsible party.
For students, consider using contests, gift cards or bookstore gifts. For example, you could run a contest or offer a student incentive for applications, but then only offer the tuition or bookstore credit to the fiscally responsible party for the verified enrollments.
Financial Aid & Discounts: Remember, credits function differently than discounts, so ensure you indicate whether families can combine referral credits with financial aid and other discounts (e.g. sibling, alumni discounts). Although not recommended, indicate if you place any limits on the number of referrals a family may submit.
Begin with a few key sentences and then edit the copy for each marketing initiative.
Repurpose content, but ensure you rotate headers and test your calls to action.
Add details and enhance the copy with your key messaging.
Include How to Submit and Verification details on each post as suggested.
1. Bring a Friend! (or best friend, neighbor, teammate) to (name of your school). Does your son/daughter have a friend to bring along next year to (name of school)?
2. We want more students like your (son or daughter)! Share your stories far and wide with your friends, neighbors, and community. In appreciation, we offer ________________________.
3. Pay it Forward! Know someone who could benefit from an education at (name of school)? We appreciate the stories you share with others. To extend our thanks, we offer ___________. 4. Give the Gift of a Private Education! Thank you for telling your personal stories to friends and neighbors. We want more students like your _____ next year. To show our gratitude, we offer ________________. 5. Change a Life! As you witness changes in your (daughter/son), share and celebrate her/his success by telling others your personal success stories. As a thank you for making a difference in the education of a student, we offer ________________________________________. 6. Make a Difference in a Teenager's Life! How did your (daughter/son) do this year academically, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically? Thank you for sharing your personal stories with friends, family, and neighbors. To give thanks, we would like to offer you_______.
7. Students Rock at (name of school)! Who knows us better than you do? We appreciate you. Tell others about (name of school) and receive ____________________________________________.
Add Key Clauses to Every Post:
How to Submit: "Simply send an email or call the Office of Admission to provide your name, the name of the prospective family, student name, day or boarding, entering grade, and their email and/or phone."
Verification: "To show our appreciation, after the enrollment is verified (cite the method), the credit will be posted to your account after ___________. " Note: Choose what works best to verify enrollments, such as: after registration, after first semester, or a specific timeframe.
Where to Post Referral Promotions:
Website - Place the information under financial resources or assistance.
Email Newsletters - Include this information on a consistent basis at the bottom.
Social Media Sites - Run ads to expand reach and segment your audiences.
Campus Displays - Post displays around campus during events and main hubs.
Video Testimonials - Add copy to the end or a call out in the video.
Magazines and Publications - Include the promo on the inside or back cover.
Event Programs - List families who submitted referrals and promo details.
Need to Create a Referral Plan and Program?
If you need support in creating a referral program, please feel free to reach out.
Aperture Advisory Associates offers affordable fees and rates for schools and nonprofits.
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