Stories of Recruitment Success During the Pandemic

During times of crisis, it might feel safer to pull back on marketing and go silent rather than risk saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But as COVID-19 started sending families home from school (and work), it became clear they wanted more communication, not less. Parents who had never considered private schools started exploring their options and shopping for schools online. Private schools needed to pivot quickly to help families gather information and make decisions.

Marketing and enrollment professionals across the country worked relentlessly to help with internal communications, as their schools went virtual, and still managed to find the time to rethink their recruitment strategies. The question they wrestled with? 

How do we attract and engage with families who are interested in exploring private schools when they can’t come on-campus?

We made this question our sole focus in the spring of 2020. The North Star Marketing team got to work and developed campaigns that would help many independent schools right-size their recruiting during COVID-19.

Transformational insights driving qualified leads.

We started by focusing on what families were experiencing — confusion, disorientation, frustration. They were looking for answers outside of their current experience. Grounded in this reality, NSM created two turn-key campaigns that were easy for schools to customize, but more importantly, were valuable to families considering alternatives to their current school. The themed campaigns focused on two key questions:

  1. How do I find the right school for my child when I can’t visit campuses in-person? 
  2. What is school going to look like in Fall 2020? 

The answer to Question 1 was ReSearch, a turn-key marketing campaign strategically designed to guide parents through the process of searching for schools from home (and making a decision with confidence).

During the summer of 2020, we focused on Question 2 and launched Back-to-School, a cohesive, promotional campaign to support schools as they communicated reopening plans and procedures to keep students safe during the pandemic.

The North Star Marketing team managed the campaigns, which ran from April to October, and included a mix of e-book assets, landing pages, Google and social ads, call-to-action graphics, and more. Materials were branded with school logos and personalized messages from admissions professionals and spoke directly to challenges families were facing when considering their schooling options. The final product equipped independent schools with the strategy and themed tools needed to build confidence in their brand and effectively communicate with prospective families. Additionally, the campaigns helped clients go to market faster with less investment, saving thousands of dollars in the production of custom e-books, video, landing pages, and supporting content by producing a turn-key campaign that was both effective and affordable.

Together, ReSearch and Back-to-School generated 1,152 qualified leads in 2020. That number sounds great, but what does that look like at the individual school level? Here are a few examples:

“We were uncertain what enrollment would look like for Fall 2020, due to COVID-19 and the many concerns of parents, but the two campaigns we ran provided an abundance of leads. Our enrollment numbers are still increasing!”
Lindsay Lockett
Gaston Christian School

Clients shared additional success stories:

• 90 Back-to-School leads
• 10 enrollments

• 63 Back-to-School leads 
• 10 enrollments

• 82 Back-to-School leads 
• 20 enrollments 

• 52 ReSearch and Back-to-School leads 
• 10 enrollments 

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