Evangelism is no longer confined to religion and sports team fanatics. Commonly known as “word-of-mouth marketing,” evangelism marketing is the exquisite result of very satisfied, vocal customers.
While you may not refer to your students as “customers,” your school has the same goal as businesses: to get as many people as possible to choose and benefit from your service (education). Although there is an enrollment office dedicated to helping students apply for and attend your school, enrollment is a campus-wide endeavor.
The idea behind evangelism marketing is to turn your customers, or students, into free, live advertisements. If you aren’t offering students excellent customer service, there isn’t a magic potion or incentive in the world that will convince them to share positively about you.[Tweet “Without great customer service, no magic potion or incentive will convince students to share positively about you.”]
As this slideshare puts it, “Another name for a customer evangelist is a really, really, really loyal customer.” So how do you get those?
Students Talk Online
Students talk. A lot. And the Millennial and Generation X students talk publicly and loudly.
Those who take to Twitter by the thousands to decry a brand are the same ones who could sing your praises on social media. Support and grow these efforts by running a responsive social media program. Implement a system, so when a question or request is directed at your school or a department, everyone knows who is responsible for responding. Try to have a 24-hour response time (or less!).
And when they’re not Tweeting at you, posting Instagram pics of how happy they are at your school or Snapchat-ing their college extracurriculars, they’re talking to their friends who are either still in high school, graduated but not enrolled in college, or unhappy at the college they chose. These are your golden opportunities to gain enrollments.
Though students’ happiness at your institution is obviously based on factors within and outside your control, you can survey students to understand what is and isn’t working. Brief surveys reveal the pain points for students during processes like admissions, financial aid and registration. By taking action when you can and letting students know why you’re taking action, you show students you care, even if you can’t fix every single issue.
Most colleges do a great job of staying connected with alumni, hoping for alumni endowments. These often well-executed programs can also be used for enrollment. Colleges and universities can encourage alumni to suggest the school to their children, nieces, nephews and anyone else considering attending.
A personal recommendation (filled with tales of the grand time that was had at your school) goes a lot farther than a brochure or website ever will. For example, when my sister was looking to attend community college, I advocated so strongly for the school I had attended that she moved out of her home state just to enroll. Though I had only attended two semesters at the school before transferring, their excellent customer service earned a graduate 10 years later, when my sister completed their program.
Customer Service is #1
While you can’t control how your current or former students deliver their “marketing” of your school, you can implement strategies to increase student satisfaction. Though the old adage reads “any press is good press,” we prefer this one:
“Take good care of your customers and they will take care of your business.” -Biju Paulose