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8 Ways to Stage a Low Enrollment Intervention

Nic Lyons

September 26, 2019

It’s an all-too-familiar story: you are offering a great class. The instructor is excellent. The material is solid, interesting, and useful. You’ve set it all up perfectly…but the class enrollment is still low. 

It doesn’t matter what you’re offering, whether welding or watercolors, and a low turnout can be a stressful experience for anyone running an education program. 

There are some tried-and-true ways to help maximize your outreach to get those classes full enough to run, and we’re sharing our own great eight with you. 

Here are a few ways to boost your class registrations so you can run that class!

1. Encourage early registration

Early registration opportunities give you more time to be creative if a class registration number isn’t meeting your goals. Send out email announcements letting prospects know that the classes are coming. Let students know as early as is reasonable so they can fill classes earlier. With online registration, you can start opening your catalog as soon as your classes are released, helping them fill more quickly.

2. Expand your marketing channels

Have the right people heard about the class? Try a different marketing strategy if it seems like it’s not filling. Ask the folks who have registered what they read, what their social media hangouts are, and how you can reach other people like them. If you’re running a professional development class or workshop, make sure you post it to LinkedIn. Art classes can get a boost on Instagram. General interest classes are perfect for Facebook and Twitter. Remember —if you’re not sharing the message, someone’s missing the message!

3. Shake up your marketing media

With a profusion of online resources to make compelling graphics for online use, you can create all kinds of motivating images and even videos to market your class. Maybe it’s one that’s hard to describe in the brochure text. A short live video or demonstration could capture the interest of your audience. Consider different approaches like a quick interview with the instructor or a live testimonial from a past participant.

4. Ask students and staff to recruit

Your students want to take the class, and your staff wants the class to run! Help them help you get some more registrations. Ask them to share the class on their social media accounts. (Make it easy for them by having an online catalog that is easy to share!) Have them work the FOMO factor (that’s “fear of missing out”) to give the class a can’t-miss appeal. A “Bring a Friend” campaign could bring in a new lifelong learner!

5. Reach out to past attendees

Give people who enjoyed the class in the past the chance to recommend it to others. Give those who have experienced the class before an easy way to share the class with their networks. Ask the instructor to reach out to those who attended past classes and let them know about this one.

You might incentivize it with a promo code or coupon, or offer a little referral gift if they recruit a new student. You could also provide a “refresher discount” to those who might want to retake the class.

6. Send notices when a class is in danger of cancellation

People won’t know if you don’t tell them! An email sent program-wide with a class highlight could be enough to motivate those late-movers to follow through with their registration plans. An email to the instructor and class members (which CourseStorm can do automatically) encourages those most invested to become classroom heroes.

7. “If you can’t fix it, feature it.”

This ageless adage is one to remember. Rather than being a class that’s not full, put on your best public relations hat and spin it. Transform the marketing of the course into something else to make the smaller size a selling point. An intimate experience. An exclusive opportunity. A focused cohort. Push the positive aspects to make the class run, without stressing to filling every single seat. (Bonus: This can also be healthy for your perspective as well if you’re feeling discouraged.)

8. Check the price

Is the class appropriately priced for your audience? Check that the cost of your class isn’t holding it back and adjust it if it is. You could adjust the price by offering a special offer or coupon. And if you’re not offering a payment plan, this could be the right time to try it. The average order size of a small business that offers customer financing can increase as much as 120%!

Sometimes even if you’ve thrown everything you have at something it still won’t fill. As difficult as it may feel, It’s ok to cancel a class. (We’ve even written about that, here.) You’ll have a lot of data to use when considering how to improve your marketing or whether the class should change in some way.

No matter what approach you take, you’ll come out of the process knowing more than you did going in and really, that’s what the education process is all about!

Nic Lyons

Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.

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