Strategies for increasing student enrollment for classes & after school programs

Whether you are about to start a business teaching children or you have been running a children’s activity or education business for a while now, you likely know that increasing student enrollment is an important element of success. While maintaining a solid group of returning, loyal students is also beneficial, finding new families and continuing to grow your customer base is often more difficult, yet more impactful.

But, how do you do it? Growing enrollment requires knowledge of marketing, ideal customer profiles (ICPs), and where to find new families. Luckily, Sawyer works with children’s activity and education companies every day to find more families and boost revenue. In this article, we will review strategies for increasing student enrollment such as how to create a marketing plan to increase student enrollment as well as advice for marketing after school programs. For more information, download our free Guide to Growing Enrollment.

Strategies for increasing student enrollment

Marketing plan to increase student enrollment

One of the best ways to increase student enrollment for your children’s activity or education business is through marketing. There are a lot of different elements that go into marketing for small businesses. In order to stay organized and maximize impact, create a marketing plan to increase student enrollment. Follow these steps as you develop your plan.

Create your ideal customer profile (ICP)

Before you can begin marketing for growth, you need to know who you are trying to attract. If you have been running your business for some time, think about the attributes that your best customers have in common. Are they families with multiple children? How old are their children? Where do they live? What do the parents do? This knowledge will help you as you develop your marketing plan.

If you are just starting out, think about the type of customers with whom your classes and activities will resonate. For example, if you want to start a business teaching STEM classes, then children of parents who work in science or coding might be a good ICP. Or, you could try to market to parents who work in art or literature because they might not be able to teach their children STEM on their own.

Determine marketing strategies

There are a lot of different opportunities to increase student enrollment, but they might not all be right for your business. Depending on the types of classes you teach (in-person, online, or both), the ages of your students (large variety or small), and the location of your business (city, suburb, or elsewhere), some strategies will be more effective than others. Here are some marketing tactics to consider based on your business.

  • Post in parent Facebook groups or on This is great for smaller communities with active parent and neighborhood groups.
  • Run Facebook and Google ads. If you are in a big city or if you are running online classes, this is a good option. However, it requires some technical know how and a marketing budget.
  • Develop a social media presence. Showcase testimonials, high quality photos of your classes (use our guide for Smartphone photography tips!), and new offerings so that interested parents can learn about your business. This strategy is especially beneficial if you offer online classes.
  • Utilize local media. If you are in a smaller town, traditional print media and local online publications are a great way to get your name out there.
  • Join an online marketplace. Parents are looking online for classes and activities to book for their children. Joining an online marketplace like the Sawyer marketplace will get your classes in front of thousands of parents. This can be helpful for businesses who do online and in-person classes.

Gather user-generated content

Based on a survey done by TIME Magazine, there are more than 22 million millennial parents in the US today. Unlike older generations, millennial parents are digital natives and often utilize social media to give and get recommendations from peers, which is a type of user-generated content (UGC). According to Hootsuite, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust online consumer opinions.

We recommend gathering reviews from parents and students, holding photo contests, creating a hashtag for your business, and holding student or teacher takeovers as a way to generate more user-generated content. Then, showcase this content on your social media and website so interested families can see that others enjoy your classes. For more UGC examples, check out our full guide.

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Marketing after school programs

If you have just started an after school program or you are looking to find new families and grow enrollment in your program, you might want to consider a few different options than general enrichment and extracurricular classes. Marketing after school programs does not have to be different, but you can make even more of an impact if you utilize these tips.

Focus your audience

After school programs are great for parents who work as well as children with special interests. If you can tailor your marketing efforts to these audiences, you can market more efficiently. For example, you can create a Google ad campaign that specifically caters to working parents. Another option would be to create marketing based around the topics that are covered in your after school program to appeal to families with children who are interested in expanding their knowledge outside of school. If you run an after school art program, create marketing materials that highlight the differences between the art students will do in your program and the art that they do in school. Get parents, and children, excited for your classes!

Offer free trials

People like to try before making a considered purchase, like a semester of after school programming. Offering free trials is a great way to give parents and children the opportunity to see if your after school program is right for them. Not only are free trials great for the customer, but also they are great for business! In fact, after analyzing over 5 million bookings made last year with Sawyer providers, we found that at least 30% of free trial customers converted to a paid booking. Learn more about how to turn free trial customers into lifelong fans in our guide.

Connect to schools

After school programs can benefit from connections to local schools because it makes it easier on parents and caregivers who sign their children up for the programs. Try to connect to the local school board, PTA group, or administrators to see if they can help distribute fliers, give you access to the listserv, or create partnership opportunities. If you can meet face-to-face with local parents, you can build trust and increase enrollment numbers. Review our guide on how to promote activities and classes to schools for more information.

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With the above strategies for increasing student enrollment, you should feel prepared to create robust marketing plans and develop strategies to grow your business. If you are looking for more guidance on how to start a business teaching children or the administrative side of running a children’s activity or education business, Sawyer is the best class registration and management software for both in-person and online activities. 

With our suite of tools, like signup forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, various payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.

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