By: Dearborn Real Estate Education

Strategies for Recruiting Students to Attend Your Real Estate School

Do you struggle with finding creative and effective ways to get the attention of potential students, and convincing them to start their real estate career at your school? You’re not alone. The research that went into the 2017–2018 Dearborn State of the Real Estate Education Industry report revealed that 83% of the real estate educators and school administrators we surveyed find recruiting to be challenging. In fact, 23% of respondents feel recruiting new students is the top challenge their school is facing.

So let’s begin with a question. Does your marketing messaging look something like this?

XYZ Real Estate School has been educating new and existing real estate professionals since 1984. We offer prelicensing, postlicensing, and continuing education courses led by licensed, expert instructors in our convenient downtown location.

We won’t make you raise your hand. But if that seems familiar, this article should help. Stay tuned later in the article for an example that puts what you’ll learn here into practice.  

Be Different in a Way that Matters

The first and most important thing that will help you recruit students is standing out in a crowded marketplace. Students expect that you will have great instructors and curriculum, and that your school will be convenient and conducive to learning. Those are the things everybody is marketing on, and they’re table stakes in real estate education. You need to figure out what makes you the better choice for your target audience. You really need to uncover how to be different in a way that meets a common need your students have.

The easiest way to identify a valuable differentiation point is to get to know your students. Talk to existing and past students to understand their life experience as someone preparing to start a real estate career. It’s not just their experience as a student of yours that matters, but how their experience as a student fits in with and shapes other aspects of their lives.

Through this process, you’ll uncover some valuable information and opportunities in the pain points of your students. You’ll identify what students actually want from a real estate school, and where you and your competitors are missing the mark.You might uncover competitive advantages you already have, but were too close to see. But most importantly, you’ll begin to notice gaps in the marketplace between student expectations and reality. By addressing those gaps, you have the opportunity to build a brand that stands out in the minds of future students.

Build a Brand Around Your Differences

The biggest branding and marketing mistake companies make is to play it safe. Fear drives this bad decision. It’s a fear that you’ll look too different—that people won’t take you seriously if you aren’t saying, acting, and looking like every other real estate school in town. Some people are even afraid, whether they admit it or not, of what their competitors will think of them if they dare to be different. Think about that for a second.

Your differences are your only true selling points. Let’s say that through talking with students, you’ve determined they feel it takes too long to earn a license. So you develop a fast-paced, intensive course option that can get students prepared to take the exam faster than anyone else in your marketplace. Your marketing messaging and branding should completely revolve around that valuable differentiator. Let’s say you’re the only school in your market that offers a free sales coaching lesson for all prelicensing students. Think about what that offering means to students (making sure they’re armed to be effective as agents) and build your brand around it. Whatever you do, resist all temptation to fit in.

Let’s put what we’ve covered above into practice for the fictitious XYZ Real Estate School from the beginning of the article. After getting to know their students, and understanding their pain points with licensing education, they might go to market with a bolder message:

XYZ Real Estate School puts you on the fast track to your new career. Our Quick Producer course package fulfills the state education requirement, and maximizes your understanding of the critical concepts covered on the {state} real estate exam in a value-packed 3-week window. It’s the fastest path to the licensing exam in {state}. At XYZ Real Estate School, your dreams don’t have to wait.   

Which school would you rather attend?

Live Up to Your Promise

The final piece of the branding puzzle is the part that makes your strategy sustainable. It’s living up to your brand. The only thing that will hurt your business more than not standing out in a crowded marketplace is not fulfilling the promise of what makes you different. You are aiming to be the first school people think of when they think of a specific characteristic, like career success or speed to licensure. That happens by building and committing to a student experience that reflects the brand messaging for the long haul.

In a perfect world, you could lay down a welcome mat and watch the students roll in. But in an increasingly competitive real estate education market, your long term ability to compete will come down to providing and promoting the type of educational experience that addresses students’ actual needs and exceeds their expectations.