In a school environment, teamwork and collaboration are necessary at every step of the way when it comes to retention efforts and meeting enrollment goals. But far too often, jam-packed schedules and departmental silos can make a partnership difficult among colleagues.
However, true collaboration requires more than just a meeting or two—it’s about sharing responsibility and working to ensure that everyone is on the same page. No one can do it all alone—we can only exceed rising parent expectations by working together. According to one recent study, when employees collaborate, 73% do better work, 60% are more innovative, 56% feel more satisfied, and 15% work faster. When marketing and admission offices begin to communicate effectively, truly understand each other’s responsibilities, and feel comfortable working together, your families will notice the difference—and your enrollment numbers will too.
Here are the top tips for aligning marketing and admissions efforts at your school:
- Get in the Same Room
- Create a Common Goal
- Speak the Same Language
- Create a Single Family Journey
- Know Your Teammates
If your marketing and admission departments don’t meet regularly with specific agendas, that should change. Bringing people together in the same room (or Zoom) literally brings your goals together and focuses your mission. To ensure that your meetings are efficient and the best use of everyone’s time, aim to check all these boxes:
- Set up a recurring meeting that both teams can commit to
- Prioritize your meeting’s agenda
- Open the invite for each other’s department meetings and make sure key decision-makers are included
- Create a group chat or channel for quick collaboration (Slack, Zoom, Skype, or group texts)
- Share and align communication calendars to avoid overlapping or mixed messaging
Since your departments share goals, so why not share responsibilities? Everyone is tied to your enrollment experience, which affects everything from enrollment revenue and ROI, to operational budget and it can even trickle down to alumni giving. Start with building a better relationship between marketing and admission departments and make the offices accountable for the same goals.
Work with your colleagues to develop SMART goals (scalable, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) for important measurements and milestones, like the number of inquiries, open house registrants, or improved retention and conversion rates—statistics your team agrees are priorities. Whatever objectives your team agrees on, decide how you’ll reach those goals and what’s needed. How can you help one another? Knowing what resources are available to each department, including budgets, schedules, and staffing can help eliminate the guesswork, set realistic expectations, and identify what is possible.
Using the same words, phrasing, and tone helps create a cohesive brand for your school. If your prospective families hear one voice but have a contrasting experience on campus or during the enrollment process, the mixed messaging could erode their trust. Work with your colleagues to create a messaging handbook that covers key branding elements:
- What is your value proposition and mission?
- Who is your ideal family and what do they care about?
- How do you describe your faculty, campus, students, etc?
- What is your story?
- What images do you use?
- What is our voice and tone?
- Which words, slogans, and taglines do you use to describe your school?
- Are your social channels, ads, and website aligned with the same story?
- Why do families choose your school?
If both departments are consistently using the same language and talking points, your school’s values and brand will be much clearer. Develop a living guide for your co-workers to reference and circle back to this guide often to check for anything that needs updating, including fast facts, updated logos, or important changes to curriculum or programming.
4. Create a Single Family Journey
Every interaction across the entire student lifecycle is an opportunity to impress your families, so it’s important that your marketing and admission offices create a clear understanding of what happens throughout that journey. Beginning with a prospective family’s first visit to your website, your marketing and admissions office should be in agreement about how you attract, recruit, nurture, retain, and engage your families. Are you effectively using your school’s website and inbound marketing tools with your enrollment management software? Are you combining budgets and strategies for digital ads across Google and social media?
Work together to identify how you’ll reach and engage parents and students at each stage of the funnel and give every family the same consistent amazing experience. Develop a plan to identity:
- How are families introduced to your school?
- How are you using your website to promote your school’s value?
- Are you effectively using social media to reach target audiences?
- Are you effectively using paid advertising to reach new audiences?
- Is your website optimized for the right keywords?
- What are the inquiry, application, and enrollment processes like?
- How do you welcome new families to your schools?
- What are your retention efforts through the year?
- How do you celebrate graduates and welcome them to your alumni family?
5. Know Your Teammates
Building a better relationship between marketing and admission departments starts with knowing your colleagues more personally. It helps build trust, boosts job satisfaction, and makes going to work more fun. In fact, promoting effective team building and collaboration was ranked the highest aspect of a great workplace in one recent survey. Breaking down social silos allows us to better understand our different styles of thinking and learning, but it’s also a huge step in creating a support system amongst your team. We all have lives outside of our work—families, hobbies, fur babies, favorite trashy TV shows...(#BachelorNation). While we all share professional goals, you might find you have more in common with your colleagues than you think.
Mix things up and:
- Meet up for coffee before or after work
- Get off campus for lunch
- Start meetings with ice-breakers or fun facts
- Rotate who you eat lunch with more regularly
- Find ways to share ideas and collaborate outside of work like a book club, recipe swap, or volunteering with a local organization
If time is short these days or folks can’t make it in-person, offer an option for folks to attend virtually like a departmental trivia night or a game of work-lingo bingo. Check out more fun ideas here.
Collaboration across departments is about sharing a common vision regarding a common goal. It’s also about mutual respect, knowing each team member's role, and better understanding how we can help one another reach our objectives. Marketing and admission offices that align their strategies for effective messaging, communication, and teamwork will see that success translate to their family’s experiences and enrollment goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Web and Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, story-telling, coffee, and creating content that connects.