Why a competitive analysis matters

Why a competitive analysis mattersA competitive analysis takes time. Here’s why it’s time well spent for not only your marketing department, but also for your admissions and program teams.

In general, it’s a good practice to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing year-round. But a full competitive analysis every 2-3 years can help you dig deep to compare marketing tactics and program adjustments and enhancements so you don’t miss something major and accidentally lose prospects to competitors that are innovating and changing the game.

Competitors to examine:

You can often begin by breaking down your competitive landscape into three areas:

  • Aspirational competitors: Schools that don’t draw from the same prospect pool as you, but are seen as best in class and that your prospects will compare you to when gathering data.
  • Regional competitors: Schools that may not seem like direct competitors due to program type, quality, or cost, but can end up pulling students away from you due to proximity.
  • Real competitors: This is the set of competitors that your prospects are currently considering and may select over your program.

For marketing and admissions

For marketing and admissions, a competitive analysis can help examine:

  • Best practices: How are your competitors advertising? What does their website convey and how does their user experience compare to yours?
  • Event types: What do recruiting events look like now — are they in-person, virtual, short meet and greets, luncheons, etc.
  • New marketing platforms and tactics: Are your competitors trying new social platforms, employing advertising on higher ed sites, or partnering to sponsor local events?
  • Admissions requirements: Who’s requiring admissions tests, employment history, GPA, etc.

For program directors

Examining how programs are changing and shifting to meet the demands of the market is invaluable. Although it is not likely that your program will make an immediate shift based on something a competitor is doing, it’s important to keep tabs on them so you can answer your prospects’ questions and position your school uniquely in the market.

You’ll want to examine metrics such as:

  • What specializations are being added
  • Student experiences like international trips, clubs
  • Professional development
  • Career counseling
  • Faculty shifts

If you need help in defining your competitors, what areas to examine, and what metrics to track, GPRS can help. We have worked with over 60 schools and have insights into program enhancements, program branding, and how competitive schools are using digital advertising to position themselves in the market. Contact us today to start the conversation.