Enrollment Management Leads – Concentric Circles

Enrollment Management Leads – Concentric Circles for Covid-19

Shifting Enrollment Management Strategy

Enrollment leaders and their teams have done a great job adjusting enrollment management strategy during the last six months.  In-person visit experiences shifted to virtual, virtual tours became even better, digital lead generation strategies rose in prominence, and leading a team remotely created new opportunities for learning about a different approach to accountability and collaboration.  With the cancellation of spring standardized tests and other Covid-related changes, some standard sources of enrollment management leads have been greatly diminihed.

And now October starts, typically a prime travel month, and yet in many regions travel is limited and restricted.  In addition, the absence of summer camps on campus and other summer lead generation events have left gaps at the top of the funnel for many.  So how do you generate enough of the right enrollment management leads to meet your new student goals?

Two Types of Concentric Circles

How should you fill this gap with quality leads when some of the normal means are not available?  Consider this addition to your enrollment management strategy, based on Jesus’ words to his disciples in Acts 1:8 where he instructed them to be his witnesses in “Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.”  He was talking about concentric circles from a geographical perspective, ranging from right next door to far away.  I think this principle applies to enrollment management strategy geographically, where it is important to own your immediate neighborhood and next concentric circle or two before you try to crack open the uttermost parts of the earth.

In a time where travel is restricted, though, think of concentric circles relationally instead of geographically as your refine your enrollment management strategy.  From a relational perspective, your Jerusalem circle includes:

  • Current students
  • Alumni
  • Parents of current students (and recent alumni)
  • Faculty and staff
  • The board of trustees

A sixth group, those who influence potential students, probably sits on the border between Jerusalem and Judaea relationally.  Depending on your context, think about pastors, youth pastors, community leaders, college counselors at feeder institutions, and the human resources managers at local companies who have directed post-traditional students your way.

Turning Concept into Enrollment Management Strategy

Chances are members of all six of these groups are telling others about you from time to time; through a specific, campaign-like addition to your enrollment management strategy, could you turn these random acts of lead development into something more intentional?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Prioritize – you may not have capacity to engage all six groups right away, so consider which ones could have the most impact and start there. Build success and then expand to the other groups.  If it were up to me I would always include the board, though, since it engages them in another valuable way.
  • Ask them! Consider the calendar for each group and create a plan for the best time to ask them for leads.  Make it easy with a link to a web form or some other means. Asking current students for referrals during exam week probably is not a good idea, for example, but right before Thanksgiving break in a normal year might work well.
  • Engage the right others in asking them – who is the best person to ask other board members for referrals? It might be the board member who is already making frequent referrals of their own, bringing potential students to campus, and introducing parents to local alumni.  What if faculty or student life professionals made the ask of current students?
  • Think about what motivates them – for alumni, would class versus class or a competition among majors or schools work best? For current students, is it by major, residence hall, or class?  For board members, perhaps this is a chance to turn the accountability table with them to own a piece of the new student enrollment goal.
  • Measure the impact – while this is a low cost, potentially high impact enrollment management strategy, you want to measure how it works to generate leads as well as the funnel metrics for those leads. The goal of this is enrollment, not just top of the funnel numbers, so make that the ultimate metric.
  • Set goals – make them modest at first, then adjust as you determine what works and what doesn’t.
  • Close the loop – these are your partners, and good partnerships need communication, affirmation, and regular reminders of how the partnership is working. I was talking with an enrollment leader the other day who mentioned their board has more than 40 members at present; imagine if you could count on 10 new students a year who came directly from board member leads.  One way to get this kind of momentum is a campaign-like reporting on numbers as they progress through the funnel and celebration when a goal is achieved.
  • Make it systematic – these groups ought to be part of your regular enrollment management strategy for generating leads, so ground these campaigns firmly in your strategic enrollment plan.

One last advantage to this concentric circle strategy is the primary cost is your time, but the benefits are many and go beyond the leads generated as members of these groups become even more connected into the life of the college and the development of effective enrollment management strategy.

Want to talk about enrollment management strategy?  Contact me at Fuller Higher Ed Solutions