This is the full transcript of Podcast #47 “How to Test your way into impressive conversion breakthroughs in your enrollment management process” hosted by Gregg Meiklejohn, Shane Sparks, and Tom King.
Gregg M.: 00:00 Welcome, everybody. Today, we’re going to share some interesting process improvement tips. I’m Gregg Meiklejohn. I’m co-founder of Enrollment Resources, and on the call today, Shane Sparks, my business partner and co-founder of Enrollment Resources, and Tom King, one of our C-level people in the company who’s been with us for a number of years, who has a focus on our suite of software. Welcome today. We’re going to get right down to it. Folks, we’re going to talk about little process improvements that you can use to improve revenues within your school system without having to buy advertising or hire people. How to increase revenue without spending money or time to do so. You might say, “That’s too good to be true,” but no. In fact, it’s not. It’s based on the process of what’s called lean management that our company has taken.
Gregg M.: 01:02 We’ve reworked it for enrollment management. What was made popular in the manufacturing sector over the last 50 years, we’ve gone and done some innovation in that regard. Let’s get started. Today, we’re going to be sharing some process improvement tips in four or five areas within the enrollment management funnel. You can take some notes, you guys, and I hope you find it interesting. Shane, any words before we begin?
Shane Sparks: 01:35 No. I’m excited to share what we have to share.
Gregg M.: 01:39 Good answer, good answer. Tom, how about yourself? Anything you’d like to say?
Tom King: 01:44 No. I’ve got my pen and paper ready. I’m ready to learn something as well.
Gregg M.: 01:48 Oh my gosh. Okay, let’s get going. We’re going to lean a little bit on Shane in this section here. This is about creating buzz. Now, this is not about Legion, per se, but it’s about creating an environment to go and create buzz. Here’s just a couple tips we’re going to share. First tip number one. Treat education fairs as the legitimate lead generators they are. Most schools will go to education fairs or job fairs, and they just stand there, and they smile and they look at you and blink. What Shane and I had did, a number of years ago, is we mystery shopped education fairs to see how many schools actually try to engage with you to collect a lead. It was only 38% of the schools, and just four percent in another second test we did actually took the time to go and try to bring you in to create a lead. Shane, what do you think about it? That’s a waste of money, huh?
Shane Sparks: 03:01 Oh, it’s such a waste of money. It’s so frustrating. Yes … I think there’s two parts to this one. One is accountability. The … Whoever is attending these things need to be held accountable to a result. The result would be lead forms. Tom, I know in your previous life, you guys did a lot of these things and had heavy emphasis on coming back with inquiry cards, or lead cards.
Tom King: 03:34 Right, right.
Shane Sparks: 03:35 That’s the first thing. The second one is having a hook. What do we, why would somebody come and talk to you? This is, trade shows are … It’s like, I don’t know. Turf warfare, right? We’re there against the competitors, and we’ve got a chance to shine above and beyond them, so how do you do it?
Gregg M.: 03:55 Great question. How do you do it?
Shane Sparks: 03:59 Well, if you have some kind of a hook, that would help.
Gregg M.: 04:02 I have a story about a hook.
Shane Sparks: 04:06 Let’s hear it.
Gregg M.: 04:06 When we were working at University of Phoenix, we did exactly this. We tested trade shows, and all kinds of different shows. The demographic was two-thirds female who were upset about the glass ceiling, and we tried women’s shows, various shows, health shows. The one show where they would display, which had tremendous results in terms of conversion rate and volume, was home improvement shows. Yeah. The hook was earn while you learn. They invented that phrase that a number of schools have taken on now, and we would typically see 35 to 45 inquiry cards requesting to come to an info session per day. That monetized very well, and they typically would carry a conversion rate from that info card to a student of around 10%. Very interesting. Folks, if you are out there doing that kind of thing, there you go. I think-
Shane Sparks: 05:26 Well, so, Gregg, can I jump in? Because you said during home improvement shows, and targeting women, specifically, who are not the primary attendees of home improvement shows, correct?
Gregg M.: 05:40 Yeah. I guess-
Shane Sparks: 05:42 Why is it that you guys think that that worked? Or, how come that worked?
Gregg M.: 05:47 I don’t, I don’t know. I think that’s the beauty of testing, you guys, is many of the tests that we undertake for our clients, we’re working on a hypothesis. We don’t really fully know if it’s going to work or not.
Shane Sparks: 06:05 I have a theory. I have a theory, and it’s a contrarian theory.
Gregg M.: 06:08 Fire away.
Shane Sparks: 06:11 If I’m, okay, let’s say I’m at a, I don’t know, health and wellness show, which is not my core interest, with my lady, right? I’m wandering around. I’m a bit bored, and I’m hanging in there, because I’m trying to be a good partner, but I’m kind of bored. Right? Then, there’s a booth that speaks to something I am interested in. I don’t know, there’s [crosstalk 00:06:33] thing, or something, Guitars.
Shane Sparks: 06:34 Or, I don’t know, something. Right? Then, I’m going to gravitate to that sucker, and I’m going to give it more attention than normal, because I’m not that interested in the lotions, and the whatever. Aroma therapy stuff. The inverse would be true, as well. At a home improvement show, the ladies are there handing in with their fellas. Not super wildly interested in tools and whatnot. Then, something that speaks to their interest is going to disproportionately grab them, and be more important than it maybe normally would be.
Gregg M.: 07:09 Yeah, I think you’re right. I guess the first tip to everybody on this call would be to do that. Try that out, and you’d be amazed at the number of really high quality leads you’ll generate by simply asking people if they would like to leave some information to get invited to an info session at a future date. Okay, tip number two. We’ve often asked this question, Tom, of people. Who is more important to a school? The students or the employers of the graduates. The vast majority of people will say students, but we have a contrarian argument that says the employers of the graduates are at least as important. Do you care to clarify on that?
Tom King: 08:08 Yeah, no, great, great, great question. Yeah, you would think that, I would say, if you asked that question of most people on this call, it would be 99.9% would say the students. I like to have the saying that hey, when I had a school, and was there, that we’d have two customers. One is you, the student, and one is our employers. We owe the student a great education. Hopefully, build a great future. But we owe those employers great graduates that are well trained, so that they will come back and want more of those graduates. I think many times, we just look at employers as just an end, just a means to an end, that, “Hey, we just need them to hire our students.” I don’t think we nurture the employers or put the emphasis on them as much as we should.
Tom King: 09:05 They are almost as equally as important, because if they don’t hire, and hire more and want more and more, you’re going to have a tough time keeping your placement rates up. Number two, they are a fantastic source of referrals. If you can pare down your employers, or take some of your top 10, top 25 employers, and really make it a great partnership, not a vendor relationship, but a partnership with them, that you can help them improve their business by giving them great students, and in return, anyone that they know that could be a great candidate, but just needs some training, if they would start to feed you prospects, boy, you have something great going, at that point.
Gregg M.: 09:53 An example would be some kind of bigger examples. Well, one was when I was at University of Phoenix, many years ago. I brokered a deal between the school and the Canadian Navy. That generated a lot of master’s degree programs for the Navy personnel and their families. Another one that comes to mind is Arizona State University. I brokered a deal with Starbucks. If you’re with Starbucks for a year, you get a $250 education credit for every course taken at ASU. If you’re there four years, it’s a free ride. You get your education paid for free. Stire, I believe, created a fantastic deal with Chrysler. Chrysler Daimler. All their employees have a back channel, super cheap, education program by way of Stire. Shane, that’s pretty, that’s innovative marketing, isn’t it?
Shane Sparks: 10:59 Well, of course it is, yeah. If you can direct … Basically, it gives you a direct sales channel, right? With the business we’re in, we’re heavily reliant on leads coming in. It’s this constant demand. It’s hard to have targets you can go after, and sort of actively sell to. If you can build some kind of program for employers in your market, it gives you a different type of sales channel, which is huge. I’m also thinking of the example with, and Tom, you’ve used this one before with the old school you were with, where you guys basically sold sponsorship to classrooms to different employers, right? The classroom was branded with the employer name, which is hugely credible to the students and can kind of create [inaudible 00:11:53] tie-ins with those brands.
Tom King: 11:56 Yeah. Employers, marketing, the way I kind of look at it, three types of marketing you need in the school business, real quick. Lead gen, lead nurturing, and branding, and employers can help you with all three of those. They can help provide leads to you by sponsoring classrooms, scholarships, especially if they can, if they’ll donate some money for scholarships, and do career fairs, that helps with lead nurturing. If they’ll sponsor your classrooms, and you can use their name, and we used to have Betelbrock and BMW and Lincoln Eclectic. I had sponsorships with McDonald’s. I had sponsorships with all kinds of major companies where we would plaster their name everywhere, and it helped our branding, it helped lead nurturing, and again, some of those employers helped with lead gen as well. All of this on top of hiring our students. They serve a tremendous, a wide array of purposes.
Gregg M.: 12:55 When you’re branding, I would say to you it’s actually, the term is brand riding. Folks, if you have a school, it’s a local school, and well, the beauty school do a tremendous job of this, where Brian, I think you’re on the call, Aveda, there’s a tie-in with Aveda, which has a great brand, or Tivot Point, or what have you. I think brand riding is a tremendous way to, it’s like you’re kind of a mediocre kid in high school, and you get in with a cool crowd.
Gregg M.: 13:34 Therefore, you become a cool kid. It’s, not to say anyone on this call is mediocre. Brand riding is tremendous. I think what we want to do here, folks on the call, is pick the 100 largest employers of your graduates’ program, and create a marketing campaign. A proper marketing campaign to go and reach thee people. In other words, weaponize your career services department. Make it a business unit, and create a marketing team inside of the career services side of your business.
Shane Sparks: 14:12 Can I [crosstalk 00:14:14] one more thing? I know [crosstalk 00:14:16]. Okay. When we were at the, what was it, the CQCO Summit, I think that’s where it was, and there was, at the end of that, there was a Best Practices panel. Right? This isn’t just us talking. This is a panel of the schools of the year. I forget. There were five of them, I believe, and they were talking about what they done, over the year, to build their business.
Shane Sparks: 14:39 They all had been very successful schools from across the country. What struck me, and I remember Gregg, you and I had a conversation about this after, is that every single one of them had focused a lot on both product as we define it, which is the what they’re doing to value the students, and relationships with employers, which admittedly wasn’t a direct line to more enrollments. But created such impact through branding. Branding is sort of, you can define that as influence. Right? Or, awareness and influence with people you want to know you, that it had a huge impact, financial impact, on their businesses. It was the theme for every school that was notable, that had notable growth over the previous 12 months. It’s a fundamental activity to grow your business.
Gregg M.: 15:33 Yeah, and to that point, there’s one other idea that a couple of our clients have used, where you … This is also very valuable with retention. How you build retention is you have people, you reignite the vision of graduation and where it’s going to take people, post-graduation, by bringing in people from industry on a consistent level as in every two weeks to do a little half an hour summary of what they’re doing. Say, it’s an IT school in the Midwest, and in comes a guy from Cargill who is the head IT director of Cargill or Monsanto, or what have you. They talk about Monsanto.
Gregg M.: 16:21 They talk about … They Q&A, so what they do is they reignite the interest of students, as to where they can potentially go, once they graduate. Every two weeks, you bring in a different industry player just to have a word with the students, and that is worth testing with an eye to increasing retention 10 to 15% overall. That’s another little tip. Okay, you two, I’m going to have you sit back and roll your eyes. I’m going to give a weirdo hippie tip, okay? Bear with me. Folks on the call, you go and you do a, Shane has done this in workshops I’ve seen before, it’s very effective where he asks everybody to write down reasons why their school is amazing, and how it intersects with students and then players in the community, and typically, people will come up with three to five ideas. Then, he combines everybody, and builds a list of 20.
Gregg M.: 17:28 Then, that gets written down, then, that list of 20 sits there as kind of like a bunch of arrows in the quiver. In other words, in sales, when you have muscle memory around all the ways you could potentially help a student, and instead of it being four, it’s 20, it improves your opportunity to help students along to the right decision. Now, the new age weirdo thing is you focus on what you focus on. I buy a new red Prius. I see red Priuses all over town. Isn’t that weird? You take the list of 20, and as a leader, you paste it onto the desk of all your client facing or student facing employees. You ask them to look at it every day, and if they do this, your overall revenue, the test is will your overall revenue increase 10% by just having them focus on the gratitude related to their school? Tom, is that weird?
Tom King: 18:39 No, anything that’s top of mind, and can continue to motivate people. Messaging is great. I think you should have a variety of things that you change out or remind your staff to do, because I don’t want to get too off this subject, but you want to, you have to take your staff sometimes out of their day to day mindset, when they come there, so that they can focus on the job at hand, and what they’re supposed to be doing. Because people bring a lot of baggage to work. Their cat got run over, or someone’s sick. Money problems. Whatever … When they get there, to refocus them on what it is they’re there for, and what they could be doing, and how they can be doing it and why they are doing it, that’s great.
Gregg M.: 19:28 Cool. Okay.
Shane Sparks: 19:29 Gregg, can I share a testimony, or not a testimony, a letter we got yesterday from a client that’s sort of related to this? Okay. ER guys, so this is verbatim. Following your advice, we’ve obtained 10 enrollments this month from virtual advisor, all in the last half of the month following your assistance. The key was convincing the reps that your leads are good, essential leads that need to be worked immediately. Also, your advice on various techniques was very helpful. We appreciate the knowledgeable suggestions. Cost of enrollment, $250.
Shane Sparks: 20:04 I’ll do that all day long. What, essentially what happened with this client, they were a new virtual advisor client piloting it first half of the month, getting middling results. Got in, engaged the staff. Hey, this is good stuff. You’ve got to work it. It’s value. These people want to talk to you. Be excited, and Tom, you did training with them. Here’s some things to do to help you better engage. Here’s how to feel excited about it. Engagement, engagement. Get the staff excited about it, and all of a sudden, they’re willing to enroll 10 people in half a month, right? If that continues, that’s going to be 20 enrollments a month, 240 a year times whatever they charge. That’s what, probably three, four million dollars. The only difference between the beginning of the month and the second half of the month was the amount the staff was engaged.
Gregg M.: 20:57 Interesting. Interesting.
Tom King: 20:57 It is very interesting, yeah. Yeah, That school’s really bought in. They, now, they’re very active on our admissions huddle. They took the training to heart. They jump on the client’s webinars. They’re taking advantage of everything to try to improve what they’re doing, and I can’t say enough about the fact that they’re working to try to do it. That’s great.
Shane Sparks: 21:19 Yeah, and those 10 enrollments, that’s just off one lead source, right? Just the software. There’s other, and that effort, and that enthusiasm’s going to translate to all their other lead sources, too. When we talk about this exercise round here’s the value we offer, and writing it down, and getting people to see it and understand it and kind of meditate on it and believe it, that has real impact on the attitude, and the kind of the version of the … Person that’s showing up to work every day. Yeah, I defy anyone on this call to say, “Oh, we don’t want an extra 10 or 20 enrollments a month” … Everyone wants that.
Gregg M.: 22:11 That’s why everyone’s here together, having a get together to talk about this stuff, yes. Okay, new tip. Social media, okay. Lots of buzz about social media, and there’s all kinds of marketing companies that are charging whatever. A couple thousand bucks a month to improve your social media profile, and so much of it is crap … Social media, they have two points of value and really, that’s it. They’re a force multiplier, in terms of street cred, and they are a force multiplier in terms of you trust who you like, so if there are prospective students that are checking you out on Facebook or Instagram or what have you, and you’re presenting as a decent, nice human being, that will translate into trust, which will help the reps, in turn, improve the call backs when they’re reaching out.
Gregg M.: 23:16 In other words, social media should really be not so much a corporate thing as a thing that the reps embrace. Then, tom, you have a tremendous singular social media must-do tactic, which is basically you take a grab, you take a photo of their smiling face, you write down a little short paragraph of how much fun they’re having in their new job after graduation, and then, you repeat it once a week forever. You want to expand on that one?
Tom King: 23:52 Yeah. I think the way I phrase it is your website tells people what you do, but your social media or Facebook shows people you do what you said you were going to do. It’s really that social proof that shows potential graduates, potential enrollees, or potential starts what it’s like, what it’s like to be a student there. What it feels like to be a student. If you can make sure before graduation, you get your, get the photos of somebody before graduation, not their first day or school photo, but in their shot before they graduate, get their photo so as career services verifies placement, I used to have career services every Friday. They would send me all the verifications for the week so I knew exactly where people were hired and what they were making, and all of that.
Tom King: 24:43 Then, I would hand it over to the social media coordinator, or the digital marketing person, and they would do exactly what you said. They would take that picture, drop our logo on it, state exactly where that person was working, give a little shout out to that employer, so we’re giving a little benefit back to that employer, giving them some branding as well, and just letting people know that look, day after day, week after week, look at all these graduates, and look where they’re going. Look at the companies hiring them. Look what they’re doing.
Tom King: 25:16 Really, it really shows people you do what you said you were going to do. The same thing applies to certifications, fun activities, licensing, alumni spotlight, and anything else that you do is great on social media. In fact, you can even start it as early as the tour, and have those people that are touring, we used to have these little footprints that we posted on the floor in certain areas. We called them selfie spots, and the prospect could stand in that spot, take a selfie of themselves, post it on social media, hashtag us, and of course, in the background was always our logo, because they were strategically placed footsteps. It’s a great way to get people excited, and see what you have to offer and what they’re going to be in for when they join up and enroll at your school.
Gregg M.: 26:11 Another idea that Scott Spitolnick, who’s on the call, our VP of Strategic Services Scott shared that, at Allied Health Schools, you get the prospective student to pop on the scrub shirt and stethoscope, or some phlebotomy needles, or something, and do selfies with the ref. Then, they post it to their own social media, and they’re wearing the scrubs, they’ve got the stethoscope, and they’ve got the big needle. It’s fun, right?
Gregg M.: 26:45 … But it creates a manifest destiny, if you will, around what they could potentially become. Yeah. Moving on, gents, we’re going to, there’s a whole bunch of tips related to capturing interest, and creating a lead. We can do a whole hour on that alone, but we’re halfway through, and there’s other things to cover … I’m going to talk about one tip, and then, I’m going to leave it to Shane to talk freelance for a bit. Okay, so this is a quote from a fellow named Claude Hopkins. Everybody write this book down. It’s called Scientific Advertising.
Gregg M.: 27:31 It was published in 1923, almost 100 years ago, and every single marketing book is a derivative of this 54 page book. You can get it for free on the Gutenberg Press. Basically, the gist is this. If you have an admissions rep, would you dress them up as a clown? Would you make them look like an idiot? Would you have them telling stupid, banal types of jokes? Well, of course not. You want your admissions reps to be button down and professional and nurturing. Your advertising is just a written and visual version of your admissions rep, the job of the advertising and lead generation. If you wouldn’t dress your admissions reps up like clowns, and have them act like idiots, why do people create advertising that is idiotic and attempt at stupid humor, and silly graphics? We see it everywhere, Shane. Is that a stupid analogy I just shared?
Shane Sparks: 28:41 [crosstalk 00:28:41]. I saw one this morning on the drive to work. On the back of a bus, for our local community college here. It had a big headline, and the headline said, “The world is changing,” and there was a photo, and I happened to get close enough to the bus, because I was right behind it to see that it said, “Grad 2029” in some program, I can’t remember, that was made up. Their point was, I guess, that the world, tomorrow, is different than the world, today.
Shane Sparks: 29:13 Something I was thinking about it, as I was looking at this bus, thinking, “Okay, somebody, somewhere thought this was a good idea.” Right? Some person in a meeting somewhere, some ad agency person came and said, “Yeah, hey, the world is changing,” and that’s somehow going to grab people and want them to enroll at this school. The problem with it is that it’s obtuse. Right? It’s vague, and it’s unclear, and if you’re not right behind the bus, you don’t get the joke, right, if you can’t see the small print underneath the person saying, “Grad 2029” in whatever the program was. You don’t get it. It’s just some generic nothing headline. It’s terrible advertising. It’s useless. It’s done by unserious, unaccountable, fraudulent marketers. Right? People that really don’t have any interest in actually enrolling students. They just want to, I don’t know-
Gregg M.: 30:12 Puff themselves up.
Shane Sparks: 30:13 Get their jollies on creative endeavors. Whoever the ad agency was should be ashamed of themselves. Whoever’s the marketing director at that school should be ashamed of him or herself, because it’s just bad advertising. It’s a waste of money. [crosstalk 00:30:30].
Gregg M.: 30:29 It’s obtuse, self-aggrandizing crap.
Shane Sparks: 30:32 Yeah. The litmus test for a headline, right, or a sales proposition, right, or whatever the message, the litmus test for the message is this. What do you mean by that, and can you be more specific? If I, if the world is changing, right, well, duh. For one, and what do you mean by that? If I don’t know what that means, then I’m going to tune it out. I’m not going to, it’s not going to make an impact on me. Right?
Gregg M.: 31:00 Shane, if I may, what you’re suggesting to the people on the call is if they run that exercise, they pick a headline of a landing page, and then, they’ll ask the question what do you mean by that, more detail, please, and if you go down two, three, four layers, and keep repeating the process, the odds are very high that you’ll come up with a much more mature and persuasive headline … Is that kind of where you’re heading?
Shane Sparks: 31:26 That’s right. That’s exactly right. If somebody would ask that question, through the courage to say, “Well, hmm, that seems vague to me, what do you mean by that,” [inaudible 00:31:35], it means you’ll be more competitive in a changing world. Oh, that’s a better headline, right?
Gregg M.: 31:41 It’s a much better headline. Yeah.
Shane Sparks: 31:42 Or, hey, get the skills to be more competitive in a changing work marketplace, in a workplace. Okay, good. That’s a better, that’s more clear. Right? If I look at that headline, I don’t need the stupid little grad 2029 to get it. If I’m far away, and I see this, I can say okay. The logo was tiny, was the other thing on this [inaudible 00:32:08]. A tiny little aesthetically pleasing logo. Even if they had the better headline, get the skills to be more competitive in a changing marketplace, a bigger logo and a phone number would have been nice. Or a website URL. Right?
Gregg M.: 32:26 Got it. Don’t dress your-
Shane Sparks: 32:30 Don’t be obtuse.
Gregg M.: 32:31 Yeah. Don’t dress your advertising up like a clown.
Shane Sparks: 32:33 Yeah, don’t be a clown. Yeah.
Gregg M.: 32:36 Yeah, because people are scared of clowns. Although they won’t admit it. I’m afraid of clowns. Yeah. Yeah, clowns, yeah.
Shane Sparks: 32:47 Well, I’m afraid of wasting money on stupid stuff just because I don’t know, it seems corporate or official or it seems, like there’s this, I don’t know where it comes from. This idea that things need to seem institutional to have legitimacy. It’s the source of so much wasted money, it’s amazing to me.
Gregg M.: 33:13 The other piece I think that we should, as marketers, be afraid of succumbing to that, just because when those ads fail, and they do fail, the client tends to get amnesia, and you get hung for it. You’ve got to have the courage to not dress your advertising up like clowns, you guys on the call. Okay, so, go ahead.
Shane Sparks: 33:44 … This is one of the greatest advantages. Most of the schools on this call have over, say, community colleges or public sector kind of schools. Because they’re run by kind of corporate marketing, communication-type people. That’s their context. Perception, and, “Oh, no, what would people say?” kind of thinking is what guides them. They, it tends to be a race to the bottom in their kind of marketing, usually. That’s the advantage we have over them. God help us all if we squander that advantage.
Gregg M.: 34:20 Yeah, solution providers helping people get a better career. That’s it. Yeah. Okay. Next, we’re going to, the people on this call are approximately split between marketing types and senior admissions types. Now, we’re going to talk about where there’s the intersection point, where marketing ends, and when admissions begins, and why there’s potential arguments in the bar after hours between these two types of people. That is the first point of contact. The marketing people go, “Oh, those admissions people are screwing up our leads,” then the admissions people say, “Oh, those marketers are just delivering us garbage.” Neither are right, actually. We’re going to go and explore that with a couple of tips. Okay. There’s a recent study on online buyer expectations by Zogby Analytics. A lead is 490% more likely to enroll within the first 60 seconds of their online inquiry than at any other time. There’s a five fold chance of … A five fold improvement on the lead to sit ratio if you can connect with them within a minute, as if it’s a phone call on hold. Tom, you want to speak to that?
Tom King: 35:59 Yeah … It’s a big part of appointment setting, and especially with any types of leads. Website leads, paperclip leads, virtual advisor leads. You have to have, in order to do appointment settings directly, you have to have the technology, not just the want, but the technology to do it properly. You’ve got to have some sort of a speak to leads set up ,or something set up so that your admissions people, or appointment setter, or some kind of an outsource appointment setting company can access that lead immediately while that prospect is by their computer, by their phone, and in the highest state of motivation that they’re going to be in at that point in time. Most schools don’t.
Tom King: 36:54 Many schools, they’re still relying on the email comes in, and then, we’ll input the email, and we’ll make the call, or they’re busy doing something else. No one’s making the call when the lead comes in, because the admissions rep, or the single rep, or two reps, or the Campus Director is doing admissions. Admission is serious business, and appointment setting is the number one part of admissions, bar none. It’s the most important thing that has to happen. If you can get a hold of those prospects within that first 60 seconds, you’ve got a phenomenal chance, like you said, a … Five fold chance of actually getting a hold of them so that you can set an appointment.
Gregg M.: 37:37 The human part of it is, really, the best that a human-powered first point of contact process can offer is a one to two hour lag time. If your humans are lagging one to two hours, they’re doing a fantastic job. Sadly, the conversion rate, at that point, is the equivalent of a stale lead that’s six months old. To Tom’s point, folks, you need to have the technology to turn that asynchronous database lead into a phone call on hold. Okay, so-
Tom King: 38:15 It’s not an expensive technology. It can be had, out there. We know companies that do that sort of thing. It’s not expensive. What’s expensive is spending marketing money, and then, not having a process in place to take full advantage of those leads.
Shane Sparks: 38:33 [inaudible 00:38:33], can I make a, further drive home his point? Our, we have colleagues, I don’t know, unnamed appointment setting service colleagues that we work with frequently who do a great job. Their connection rate is what, Tom, three or four times higher than most schools?
Tom King: 38:56 It’s [inaudible 00:38:57] higher, yes.
Shane Sparks: 38:58 Yeah. It’s not that they’re, I don’t know, they somehow have better people. Maybe, they have slightly better people. I don’t know. It’s not that they’re magic. It’s not that there’s some secret turn of phrase that somehow gets everyone excited to book an appointment. They just have systems measured, and well thought out systems to get to a lead right away, have a good script, have a good follow-up system, make a good value proposition. All they are is more organized than most of the schools that hire them. That’s the only difference. But the result is they can connect with three to four times more of those prospects, and book three to four times more appointments with those leads because they’re organized. That’s it.
Tom King: 39:52 Because it’s their sole focus to get that prospect on the phone and set an appointment. They’re not off running and doing paperwork, and turning in reports, and giving tours, and following up on someone who didn’t show up to their financial aid appointment. They’ve separated out, and we’ve talked about this too, Shane, on your, with our clients, as well, that it’s absolutely my firm opinion now, over these last couple of years, that if you don’t separate appointment setting from the rest of admissions, you’re harming your chances of being successful, and severely stumping the potential growth of your school. You’ve got to separate those two functions.
Gregg M.: 40:33 You give your appointment setter a fantastic title. Director of First Impressions, because that’s who they are. They are the first impression of your school, and the director of first impressions. It’s an important job. Now, by extension, let’s give people some really good juice here about timing. I’m just going to share some information here based, this is Deep Dish Research. High sample sizes. But the optimum, write this down, everybody, the optimum cadence for reaching out to a prospective student is six phone attempts, followed by five emails, and within those six phone attempts, two voicemails, and that’s over 21 days. The six calls are actually over 13 days, two on the first day, then day three, then day six, and so on. Ending at 13 days. Then, email supporting those phone calls. A couple of voicemails worked in over the 21 days.
Gregg M.: 41:43 Then, at that point, it becomes marketing’s job to turn that into a nurturing campaign. Then, the timing for optimum connection is seven to eight PM in the evening, and afternoons on Saturday and Sunday. I guess, and what’s interesting is people are going, “Ooh, ah, phoning them in the evening, bad.” But what they learned was that the average phone call was 34 minutes, and we know there’s a correlation. The longer the initial first point of contact phone call, the higher the lead to start ratio is. There you go. My question is to both you guys is if we know this to be true, and a lot of schools do know this, why not hire admissions reps to work from seven to eight PM and noon until six on the weekends? I guess it’s an inconvenient time for many, but this is what gets results. What the heck? Any thoughts, gentlemen?
Tom King: 42:51 Yeah, I’ll just jump into that. It’s not admissions reps. It’s appointment setters. You, this is when you’re actually trying to get a hold of the people, so again, it makes sense to absolutely have someone who is not tied, necessarily, to the hours of your school. Many times, we’ve talked with clients, and, “Hey, we’re out at 4:30. We’re out at 5:00.” “Well, who stays late?” “Well, nobody. We close the doors. They can’t stay any later.” We’re doing what’s convenient for us, not what’s convenient for the prospect. If you want the highest success rates, you’ve got to be where your people are at the times they want. One of the, I think one of the unsung pieces of virtual advisor is the question we ask them.
Tom King: 43:39 “When are you available?” Or, “When are you most available?” If you could utilize that tool alone, I guarantee you’re going to drop 25% missed calls with your prospects, because if you call them at the times they said they were available, which is afternoon, morning, or evening, as opposed to, “Oh, I’ve just got to keep throwing a dart at different times of the day, trying to figure out when this prospect may be available,” use the tool. Figure out when they’re most available. Adjust your hours to what the aggregate times are, and then adjust your individual attempts to what your prospect says. Call them when it’s convenient for them, not when it’s convenient for you.
Gregg M.: 44:21 You’re really advocating for empathy, eh, and not being selfish?
Tom King: 44:27 [crosstalk 00:44:27]. Absolutely.
Gregg M.: 44:29 Like we know from who’s calling, they tell us that approximately two-thirds of prospective students who are met with voice mail will hang up and kill the call. What a horrible waste of marketing dollars. It’s that synchronous exchange with humans. The other waste is we know Shane through our mystery shopping we’ve done over the years that the average is 37% of admissions rep, at this point, who are on the call with the prospective student do not ask them to come in for a visit. It’s, that’s silly.
Shane Sparks: 45:15 Yeah, well, it is silly, and I think I understand why it happens. There’s, if you’re, let’s say you’re really busy. You’ve got a lot of different responsibilities. You’re just trying to cope. Right? You’ve got appointments, and you’re in a rush, and hey, okay, yeah, I’m trying to deal with this, and I’ve got somebody waiting for me, and there’s too many things going on. I know for me, personally, if I have too many things going on at once, standards slide, right? That could be a reason, and it could be a, “Hey, I don’t want to, gosh, I, I don’t want to waste valuable time on stuff that’s not going to go anywhere.”
Shane Sparks: 45:57 [inaudible 00:45:57] said when those roles are not separated, right, when there’s not clear accountabilities, then of course, things are going to slide. They have to, just to, due to overwhelm. It’s nothing else. Right? As much as we can [inaudible 00:46:10] about, “Hey, take advantage of every opportunity,” and the continuous improvement, people max out in their ability to cope. All of us do. I do. I’m sure you do, too. Tom, I’m sure you do as well. When there’s too man things to do, stuff starts sliding. As a result, opportunity is missed. I would suggest that this is a systems and a management problem, more than a people problem, usually.
Gregg M.: 46:39 When I have too much to do, I forget to feed the cats. Yeah.
Shane Sparks: 46:43 Yeah. [crosstalk 00:46:44] feed my kids. I forget to go grocery shopping, and then they fuss. There’s no food in the house. Or, yeah.
Gregg M.: 46:48 That’s right. You forget to tell your spouse that you love her. It can get really bad. Yeah. How’s that? Well, I have to say something. Oh, I’m so sad, you guys. There’s 35 tips here, and how, we’ve gotten through, I don’t know, a dozen or so. I think what we can do is if anybody on the call wants to have a sit down with any of us, and we can go through the, some more of these, and just give you some more insights, we’re pleased to do so. But I need to be respectful of the clock here. For those on the call, you can either, probably the best way to do this is to just text. (250) 391-9494. That’s (250) 391-9494. Just say you’re interested in having a sit down. We won’t bug you or anything to buy anything.
Gregg M.: 47:52 You’ll want to buy from us, is typically what happens. You can do that, you guys. Now, we have time or a question or two, if anyone wants to have the courage to press star six. Then, after that, I’ll get Tom and Shane to have a final word, and then, we’ll pack in the call. Does anyone want to press star six and jump in on the call with Tom and Shane and I? We’ll just give it a few seconds. Boop. No? No?
Candice: 48:24 Hi, I had a question.
Gregg M.: 48:26 Oh, hi. Hi.
Candice: 48:28 Hi, this is Candice. I was wondering if it was possible to send anything that you have regarding the best hours of admissions being the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday, as well as seven to eight PM on the weekdays? I found that stat to be really interesting. We’ve never tried the Saturday and Sunday afternoon shift before. We’ve tried the Saturday morning shift before. But they didn’t prove to be profitable, so I was just curious to see research on that.
Gregg M.: 49:05 Sure. What we’ll just pop your phone number and your name in the text message to us, and then, we’ll just get on the phone for 15 minutes and get you some info, and get you something to read.
Candice: 49:21 Okay, cool, yeah. Thank you so much.
Tom King: 49:22 Yeah, yes, there’s a white paper that was put out a couple of years ago by, shoot, who was it by? [crosstalk 00:49:29].
Gregg M.: 49:28 Philosophy hired a research company, and [crosstalk 00:49:32].
Candice: 49:31 I like Philosophy. Yeah. I’ve seen their research.
Tom King: 49:35 Yeah, yeah. It was, well, I believe, Philosophy research on evenings and Sundays, specifically. We can share that.
Gregg M.: 49:44 I think we have a little white paper in our archive we can get to you. Cool.
Candice: 49:49 Do I star six myself now again to meet with you guys?
Gregg M.: 49:53 No, you can stay on. Hang out. Who, anybody else want to press star six and jump in? No? Okay. Tom, and then Shane, you guys just say a couple words, and then, we’ll say farewell to everybody and hope they can make some money with what we shared. Just go ahead, Tom.
Manish: 50:13 Hello, hi, this is Manish.
Gregg M.: 50:14 Oh, hi, Manish.
Manish: 50:16 Hi. How are you?
Gregg M.: 50:17 Hi. Good, good.
Manish: 50:17 Hey, listen. Can you repeat your mobile number again?
Gregg M.: 50:23 (250) 391-9494.
Manish: 50:26 Okay, okay. Nine. Thank you so much.
Gregg M.: 50:32 Yeah, you’re welcome. Tom, last words.
Tom King: 50:37 Yeah. What I want to, when you get a lot of tips like this, and they’re all really great tips, I think it’s just really important that you take a look at the list, the stuff you’ve written down, and really try to pick one that you can focus on and implement right away, because if you have a list of five, 10, 15, 20 things, sometimes, it gets to be overwhelming, and you don’t implement any of them.
Tom King: 51:03 My suggestion today is on these takeaways, focus on one that you can implement right away, or fairly easily, to start getting some additional improved results, and improve your conversion rates. Take them one at a time. Don’t try to implement 10 at once. Pick one thing, do it well, get it implemented, and then kind of move down the list as, on the low-hanging fruit that you have, and I think you’ll find some great success that way.
Gregg M.: 51:33 Yeah, that’s very good advice. The law of focus. Yeah. Good. Shane, final words?
Shane Sparks: 51:41 I just want to say Gregg, thank you to you and Tom for your wisdom, and your sharing of interesting things to us all. I learned something today, too, and I appreciate everyone being on the call, and I don’t know. It’s a beautiful day here, so I’m feeling benevolent and happy.
Gregg M.: 52:04 Thanks everybody for spending some time with us, and if you want clarification or follow-up, just reach out, and we’re very happy, we’re generous with our advice, so have a great day everybody.
Candice: 52:16 Thank you.
Manish: 52:18 Thank you.