I recently consulted with a small, one-campus beauty school. Their main marketing pain point was their budget. They felt like they were spending a lot of money and getting almost nothing in return. This isn’t unique. In my 8-years of working with career schools, I have found that the budget is almost always a constraint, no matter how big or small the institute.
So what can be done to fix this?
The obvious answer is to reduce unnecessary costs. So, that’s what I tried here as well.
I had them list out all of the areas where they were spending money – to see what was vital and what could be cut.
What I discovered was that they were spending money on a bunch of platforms instead of investing half that cost into one really great CRM.
Following things were driving up their costs unnecessarily. I have included the better alternatives to replace their current processes:
1. A cell phone plan solely for texting.
As school marketers, we all know the importance of text messages to connect with prospective students. However, with disconnected devices being used for this, the conversations weren’t recorded in the lead management system, which was a waste. They were spending 120$/month/rep on cell phone plans for texting, and these conversations weren’t even getting recorded, which was a sheer waste.
A great school CRM has texting built directly into the core platform so that the admission reps can text back and forth with a lead, having the entire conversation saved into the contact’s record.
2. A mass emailing platform
Emails are a great way to communicate with leads about your school. Whether it’s individual or mass emails, campaigns and auto-response emails should be part of your marketing plan. However, an emailing platform separate from your CRM means switching back-and-forth between different systems, and once again, no information about the leads’ engagement with your campaigns in your CRM. The school in question was spending almost 90$/month for their email marketing platform.
Advanced school CRMs include beautiful email templates with easy drag-and-drop options, as most admissions reps aren’t HTML pros. They allow you to customize how the email appears on mobile devices and desktops, all the while tracking which emails were opened and what links were clicked by the leads.
3. Website developer fees for creating landing pages
It’s common knowledge that your ads should direct prospects to landing pages with a lead form, separate from your home page. This is the number one way all career schools get leads. However, if you employ developers to create different landing pages for every single campaign, you’ll end up spending a bomb just getting the pages in place, when you have the actual ad costs to consider as well.
My client was spending almost $1500 to $2000/month developing their landing pages, which is a cost that’s completely unnecessary if you have an advanced school marketing + CRM platform.
Investing in a CRM that allows you to create your own landing pages will save you loads of money because you won’t need to pay your website developers to create unique landing pages for all of your campaigns. Do not underestimate the value of good landing pages, as it’s the number one way to decrease your cost per lead.
4. A basic CRM with hardly any features
If your CRM pretty much just “houses” your leads and doesn’t give you a lot of extras, it’s not worth the monthly cost. Your admission reps’ time is so valuable, and you need to give them a CRM that acts like a rock-star assistant, not increase their work.
Find a CRM that allows you to customize the journey of a lead and to automate the admission processes you put in place. This means your reps shouldn’t have to follow up with every single lead until they enroll. An ideal system should be able to automate some level of follow-ups, in addition to helping your reps prioritize their tasks.
If your admissions and lead flow are steady or decreasing, yet your costs continue to grow, you’re likely spending your money in all the wrong places. Investing in a great CRM to manage your leads and keep your reps on task is the first place I tell my clients to start.
Once you have good processes and tracking in place, then you can delve into other areas of your marketing budget to determine your best ROI.