Member Insights: Marketing and Outreach Strategies for CDL Schools

Jun 19, 2024

Our members know that training students to succeed as commercial drivers is no easy task. However, that’s not the only task involved in running a successful CDL school. Members also have to market themselves and drive brand awareness to attract the right students for their school.

To enhance marketing, lead generation, and lead conversion for truck driving schools, a strategic approach is crucial. Several of our associate members have offered some tips that we hope will give you food for thought as you market your own commercial driving school. By using these ideas strategically, tailored to your school and your students, you can attract and enroll more students, while driving growth and success in this competitive market.

Build positive brand awareness for your school.

Brand awareness is simple, yet hard to quantify. It refers to whether the public are aware of your school and the programs you offer. Developing brand awareness is fundamental to attracting students.

To start building brand awareness, think about the value proposition you are offering students.

  • What sets you apart from other CDL schools?
  • Why should students choose you over your competitors?
  • Consider your advantages over other schools, whether that’s your instructors, your facilities, or anything else.

Once you have laid out your value proposition, you can link all of your marketing materials back to it.

Become active in your community.

Look for opportunities to participate in local festivals and events in your community. This will not only show your school in a positive light, but it will also build awareness of your school and make it more likely that students will think of you when choosing a driving school.

Update your marketing collateral—and put it where future students are likely to see it.

Marketing collateral like posters and brochures can be a powerful way to drive awareness of your school and provide information to students to help them choose the right CDL school.

Make sure your collateral is up to date with current information about your programs. In addition, double-check any statistics you’re using about driver pay or equipment. These details may have changed, and collateral is most compelling when it’s accurate.

It’s also important to think strategically about where future students will look to find information about programs like yours. Place your collateral where future students will be likely to see it, such as DMV offices or job boards.

Use digital marketing to help potential students learn about your school.

Digital marketing has become a powerful way for businesses to connect with their customers and general public, as well as helping driving schools reach their ideal students.

Digital marketing can come in several different forms:

  • Email: You can send out email newsletters to potential students who want to learn more about your school, as well as past students, to keep them up to date on what’s new at your driving school and in the transportation industry as whole.
  • Social media such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn: On these platforms, visual content often performs best. You can post short videos of your students talking about their time at your school, tours of your classrooms, or even brief interviews with your staff—just to name a few ideas. You can also create graphics to present statistics (such as truck driver pay) to showcase the benefits of a career in trucking, or share photos from recent events at your school.
  • Search engine marketing: You can run a search engine marketing campaign to show ads for your school to students who search for keywords or phrases related to truck driving or getting a CDL. Search engine marketing is very flexible and allows you to specify the keywords you want to target, how much you want to spend on ads per day, and where your target audience is located.

Encourage referrals from your current students.

Your students can be great ambassadors for your school. After all, they know firsthand how great the program is, and they can speak about their own experience. Encourage past and current students to refer their friends and family to your school. This is a free, effective way of building positive brand awareness and attracting students who have seen your school have a great impact on the lives of people they know.

Prepare recruiters to vet leads and address objections.

Recruiters have contact with students very early in their journey to choosing a CDL school, so they have a great opportunity to make sure each student is the right fit for your school. Prepare them to ask the right questions to vet students and confirm that they are a good fit for your program, but also make sure that they can also address common questions or hesitations that students have. This will make the rest of the recruitment process smoother.

Use referral codes to track which marketing and outreach methods are working.

Ask your incoming students how they learned about your school and track this data over time. This allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing and outreach efforts, so you can concentrate your time (and your budget) on the ones that are yielding the greatest results for you.

Diversify Your Marketing Efforts to Drive Enrollment

Marketing and brand awareness are powerful ways to create an image of your school in the minds of your community and your future students and encourage students to choose you when they’re ready to start a career in truck driving. Make sure you are using all the tools available to you to bring in the right students for your program and prepare them for successful driving careers.