March 5, 2013

3 Ways to Outshine the Competition

Mar. 5, 2013 at 09:15 AM | By Erin Brown | Comment Count

The competitive landscape for admissions and enrollment professionals today is fierce, with nearly 90% of institutions competing for less than half of the prospective student population. What’s more, students are applying to and visiting more schools than ever before – a fact that continues to trouble admissions offices that may struggle to capture student attention and meet enrollment goals.Higher Education Marketing

In this increasingly competitive environment, here are a few things you can do to help distinguish your institution from the competition, bolster inquiries and website visits, and ultimately, move more students toward enrollment.

Be where the students are

Are you present where students are searching for and researching your school? In today’s digital world, this doesn’t just mean traditional college fairs, radio spots, billboards, and print brochures. According to the Pew Research Center, 93% of students search for college information online (using either a computer, smartphone or tablet), so maximize your presence in this space. Start by researching where students are connecting with your school, like popular college information/discussion websites and high school career readiness platforms. Then, seek out advertising and targeting opportunities as appropriate.

Bring your value proposition to life

Your value proposition can be brought to life through your brand. This means a renewed focus on what your brand means to you and your constituents. But rebuilding your brand is not an easy process that happens overnight. According to Roger Dooley, College Confidential cofounder and author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing, there are two branding objectives that are crucial in making this shift:

  • Branding the in-person experience and differentiating it from competing institutions.
  • Building an identity that transcends the physical campus.


So how can institutions integrate these objectives into their brand strategies? They need to identify what makes their school unique from the nearly 4,000 other institutions in the U.S. and then live their brand.

Ask the right questions.

Why do students choose our school? Is it because we have smaller class sizes with award-winning faculty, a unique geographic location, an extensive alumni network, or perhaps internationally renown research facilities? How can we leverage these unique differentiators to separate ourselves from other schools? What processes, messaging, events, campaigns, and training are necessary to ensure our brand comes to life on campus?

*Tip: Have you thought about reinventing your web presence with personalized microsites? Microsites are a creative way to personalize and tell your brand story. See how these schools have incorporated microsites in their student recruitment strategies to convey their value proposition.


Use an integrated mix of outbound, personalized communications

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for student recruitment. Recent research has shown that prospective students don’t have a clear preferred method of communication. To meet the needs of today’s student, diversify your message by leveraging print, e-mail, social media, mobile-friendly applications, on-campus events, and paid search.

Want to see what others are doing well? Register to attend a webinar on March 28th at 2 p.m. and get an inside look into other communication strategies.

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