Itinerary. Check. Tickets. Check. Hotel confirmations. Check. Passport. Check. Seems like you're all ready for your fall international student recruitment travel. But are you? What is your strategy for building and maintaining connections with the prospective students and parents you meet on the road? What's the point of traveling, the financial and time commitment, if you aren't going to effectively leverage your contacts?
You're going to travel without doing what?!
If you learn one thing, and one thing only from us, we want you to understand the critical importance of follow-up with students and parents. While it seems like a moronically simple solution to international student recruitment, you would be amazed by the number of institutions that are simply too busy to consider this vital step. Institutions send recruiters to travel the world, meet students, engage with parents, and "sell" the institution and then at the critical juncture of follow-up and timely sustained contact, many institutions fall flat. We want you, our dedicated and loyal readers, to find success where others fail. We want you to be the first to follow-up with students after you meet them on the road.
I can hear the big questions-- How do I do this? And what's it going to cost? There are ways you can spend a significant amount of money to implement a sophisticated CRM system. (If you have extra money lying around and want to do that, let us know. We'll be happy to help you out with that!) But if you're looking to do this relatively easily with a minimal investment, you should look at the variety of online services available. We've been very happy using Mailchimp with several of our clients but there are other services you can consider as well. (Disclaimer: We are not paid by Mailchimp nor are we specifically endorsing their services.) The bottom line is that the service provider you select is not nearly as important as your dedication to promptly and effectively engaging students you meet during travel.
What all of these systems allow you to do is create email campaigns in advance of your travel. (Pre-travel campaigns are equally important but are not the focus of today's post.) Draft an "it-was-so-nice-to-meet-you-on-the-road" email prior to your travel. As you collect student names and email addresses, add them into your system. There might be time between appointments or in the evening to do so. Then, with the click of a button, you can fortify the relationship you are trying to build with the prospective students. Fast follow-up and showing your genuine interest in the students you meet will go a long way towards important relationship building.
Your goal of travel isn't simply to meet lots and lots of students on the road. That's a big part of it, but more importantly, you need to take these names, these leads, and convert them from prospects to applicants to admitted students to enrolling students. You need to move the students through the funnel. Thoughtful planning prior to travel can help you to increase the odds of a student being simply that nice person you met on the road, to the future leader on your campus.
If you have questions about any of this please feel free to contact us. We're always happy to offer ideas and suggestions. It's what we do best.