The Country School
The Country School, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Easton, Md., was faced with the unique challenge of attracting families from a largely rural and widespread population. Despite its long history of academic excellence, the school needed a proactive strategy to reverse declining enrollments, engage new full-pay families, and refresh its brand.
The Country School partnered with Kalix Marketing to create a new brand identity and design a measurable admissions engagement campaign. The goal was to bring in 10 new full-pay families.
The process began with a comprehensive marketing research study. We conducted both qualitative and quantitative research, beginning with three in-market focus groups and an online survey and concluding with individual phone surveys. Results showed that The Country School was viewed as an institution that provided a great foundation academically but had little recognition outside the Easton area. Its biggest competition was the local public schools. Many parents felt it wasn’t necessary to invest in independent school tuition for the primary and middle school years because the public schools were adequate.
After reviewing the research and market conditions, Kalix proposed an advertising and social media campaign to communicate a distinct positioning: “You only get one chance to raise your child, and The Country School offers the best education and preparation for life.” We also proposed a multimedia advertising campaign focused on the theme “Start Right Here.” The campaign included print and radio advertising, new admissions materials, a new website, an online video, and a social media strategy. We also coached the school’s marketing manager and launched an ambassador campaign made up of core parent volunteers.
Midway through the school year, our marketing efforts began to gain traction with increased admissions inquiries, according to the school’s director of admissions.
The advertising awareness and social media campaigns drove 39 new families to open house events, for an increase in attendance of 387 percent over previous years.
Community Growth Online
The school’s Facebook community increased by 104 percent in the first year. A combination of the social media tactics, advertising and the ambassador campaign boosted the school’s awareness and sparked online engagement, increasing it by 2,009 percent over two years and four campaigns.
Within two years, the declining enrollment was successfully reversed, and the school has had a net gain of 20 new students. The head of school was pleased with the overall return on investment; three years later, the school had a full enrollment of 288 students.