As summer winds down and families shift their focus from summer vacations to back-to-school shopping, community organizations are also shifting attention from summer to fall programs.
Fall programs can be tricky to fill. Between sports, music, academics, and other after-school to-dos, many of today’s youth are fully scheduled and have little time to add new activities to their rosters during the school year.
If you want to fill your fall programs, you need to show that your programs are worth fitting into their schedules. That’s the secondary challenge of your messaging. But first, you need potential participants to find you!
3 ways to get in front of potential participants
1. Get creative with Facebook Ads
We’re sure you already have a Facebook page for your community center or YMCA. And that’s great, but it’s getting harder and harder to get posts seen by the right people.
The REAL power of Facebook is through advertising.
Facebook offers unparalleled targeting capabilities that ensure your messaging is seen only by the people most likely to sign up for your programs: families in your community.
Not only can you target parents in your community, you can get even more specific to ensure your ads highlight the programs most likely to connect with those parents. Have a program on recycling? Create an audience targeting “green” parents. Need to fill a parent and child cooking class? Target parents who identify as food lovers to maximize your ad’s impact.
The ability to deliver highly targeted ads to your community will help you get the message out about your programs to the people most likely to sign up.
2. Try retarketing ads
You know when you’re browsing a website and look at a pair of shoes, and then a day or two later you’re on another website unrelated to shoes … only to see an ad for that same pair of shoes?
That’s called retargeting, and it’s one of the most powerful digital marketing strategies out there. Luckily for you, retargeting isn’t limited to shoes. You can also retarget families who have shown at least an initial interest in your programming by visiting your website.
Both Google AdWords and Facebook advertising allow you to remarket to people who visit your website but don’t complete your desired action, simply by adding a small piece of code to your website. For example, you might add the retargeting code to your programming registration page and retarget families who visit the page but don’t sign up for a program. That way, you can stay top-of-mind with families who are on the fence about registering and drive them right back to your website.
Only about 2% of website traffic converts on the first visit. With retargeting, you can continue to engage the other 98% in a low-touch way to increase the odds that your programs stay top-of-mind.
3. Bridge partnerships with schools – now!
Arguably the best local way to connect with families and fill your fall programming is to connect with the schools in your community.
Schools offer the most direct link between you and students. Reach out to the principals or administrators of your local schools and see if they would be willing to share your course catalog or programming information in their back-to-school packets. Or see if they’d be open to you or a colleague presenting to parents at orientation or back-to-school night to share information about your programming and why it’s a great fit for their kids.
If you can get the schools to work with you, it will become significantly easier to drive students from those schools into your fall programming. This is especially valuable if schools are losing PE or Arts funding. (If this is happening, use it as your selling point.)
Don’t wait! Now is the time to investigate these one or more of these three strategies.