In response to the crisis created by Coronavirus/COVID-19 for Higher Education institutions, our experts have compiled 12 actionable marketing and admissions initiatives. We shared them in our webinar (recording accessible here) and below—feel free to share!
Is your inbox getting hit with subject lines something like these?
- The Hard Choices Presidents Will Have to Make
- Will Coronavirus Close Your School For Good?
- The Great Recession Was Bad for Higher Education; Coronavirus Could Be Worse
More advice along these same lines:
- Provide tuition refunds
- Provide room and board refunds
- Draw down endowment principle
- Implement furloughs
- Lay off staff
- Cut benefits
Leaders of enrollment teams and higher education institutions across the US are asking themselves:
Do we entrench, hunker down, retreat a bit and try to conserve cash? Do we mark time, ride out the storm and wait to get through it? Or do we step out boldly, advance and even grow during tough times like these?
We advocate stepping out boldly and considering moves that will grow an institution, rather than just considering moves to cut and shrink. While some of the advice above will obviously have to be considered during any tough time, they all have one thing in common: they all deal with the Middle Line.
At Value Based, we advocate making changes that impact the Top Line—to revenue. Here's the 12 initiatives we advocate to impact the Top Line revenues:
# 1: Don’t Cut Your Marketing Budget
Don’t lose momentum, but DO get more bang for your buck:
- Now is the time to re-visit contracts to ask for discounts and package or bundled services/deals.
- Market shifts and fluctuations always present an opportunity to grow at a discounted price since the competition is less fierce.
# 2: Don’t Cut Your Professional Development Budget
Don’t “cut off your nose to spite your face”, but DO:
- Empower and equip your front-line personnel with innovative strategies and skills.
- Galvanize your team with morale-boosting, confidence-building competencies.
# 3: Don't Devalue Your Product
Don’t rush to discounting (devaluing) your product, but DO:
- Assess your price points, degree programs, and offerings compared to cross-app schools to confirm and establish confidence in your institution’s value proposition.
- Create new value-based messaging for all that your school offers so you can communicate and substantiate (with confidence) your school’s value.
# 4: Depth Over Breadth
Don’t rush to roll-out new services/offerings, but DO:
- Give a fresh look at a existing programs that are consistently bringing in students and consider investing deeper in them.
- Also, don’t rush to eliminate programs that might actually feed into or compliment other programs.
# 5: Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
Don’t focus on “butts in seats”, but DO:
- Spend your available (and valuable) time, money and resources more efficiently on attracting, contacting and matriculating more of the right-fit students.
- Spend quality time in your Moves Management Fulfillment: knowing precise questions to ask, strategically qualifying inquiries-to-completed apps, then turn-up the relational side from accepted-to-enrolled!
# 6: Retention Is Admission’s Best Friend
Don’t hand off new students, but DO develop lasting relationships:
- Equip your admissions team members to be liaisons with other departments that serve retention (to prevent having to make up the attrition rate each year).
- Empower your admissions team members to be available, present, and involved in other departments to inform Admissions Department to enable better messaging and connection with prospective students.
# 7: Retain & Upgrade Your Admissions Staff
Don’t abdicate leadership responsibilities, but DO:
- Make/take time to discover team member needs, wants, desires, and strengths for their job and professional growth. Seek to enhance, empower, and develop them accordingly.
- Convey their value to you, the team, and the institution.
- Know when to part with team-chemistry busters.
# 8: Invest in Digital Marketing Initiatives & Campaigns
Don’t slash and burn, but DO:
- Take advantage of this time: Others will cut their budget, so competition drops drastically. Keywords that cost you $$$ previously will be much less expensive.
- In the sudden quiet, SEO-focused budgets, “snippets,” and social media campaigns will stand out more.
# 9: Invest In High Tech
Don’t ignore your department’s technology, but DO:
- Update and upgrade your mission-critical software, systems and services
- Invest in an integrated CRM and Marketing Automation platform
# 10: Invest In High Touch
Don’t incur expensive turnover, but DO:
- Create ideal employee candidate profiles to assist in finding, selecting and retaining the right people for the right positions.
- Increase employee retention by recognizing, rewarding and incentivizing your front-line Admissions Counselors and your Marketing staff.
# 11: Consider New or Enhanced Marketing Messaging
Don’t recycle content, but DO:
- Articulate your institution’s differentiators and develop value-based messaging knowledge-bases of feature, benefit and value statements for your degree programs and campus-wide service offerings.
- Personalize your message by associating your value statements and propositions to the “value-needs” of your buyer and their temperament.
# 12: Develop a Long-term Transformational Agenda
Don’t waste a crisis, but DO:
Use this crisis to create a culture that not only accepts and embraces change but drives change-initiatives that will be necessary for your school to succeed in the future.
Investigate and adopt appropriate Transformational and Transactional leadership attributes.
A strong Marketing strategy and an equipped Admissions staff, in spite of an economic downturn, will ensure an institution performs well and recovers quickly. There are plenty of things for colleges and universities to worry about when rumors of a recession surface, but investing in their revenue-producing departments is not one of them.
Market fluctuations always present an opportunity. Higher Ed Marketing and Admissions leaders should look at them as opportunities to innovate, take market-share, and grow at a discounted price. Transformational leadership can turn an ominous recession into a “win” for an institution.
“The least expensive and fastest way to increase enrollment
is to invest in sales training for your Admissions team.”
- Rob Westervelt, Chief Strategy Officer, GFU
The Team at Value Based