BY Anthony Campisi | July 28th, 2022
Why a competitive analysis matters
A 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.
BY Anthony Campisi | July 19th, 2022
Doing more with less
As marketing and admissions professionals have adapted over the past few years, it has become evident that we are all being asked to do more with less. This means being held to the same (or even higher) admissions standards, being responsible for filling the funnel with more qualified leads and reporting on all budgetary spending with an eye toward ROI. All the while, many departments are often operating with less staff and lower or flat budgets.
So how can schools do more with less while attracting high-caliber students to fill classes? Below we offer a few opportunities to streamline and maximize your time and budget.
Paid media, ads, and social
There are many forms of digital advertising that can be efficient ways to place your school’s message in front of your target. As you are considering the digital marketing campaign that will perform best for your school, it’s important to choose the right platform. This starts with identifying your audience – often through personas and then exploring the type of media they are consuming.
It can seem overwhelming if you haven’t launched or planned a campaign in a while so choosing to work with a seasoned digital agency can help you put an optimized plan in place. When you have experts working with you to create a solid digital strategy, it takes the guesswork out of the process and allows you to make decisions about where and when to spend your money.
At GPRS, our team of professionals can recommend a marketing campaign that can be optimized before and during your campaign so you can be sure that your funds are being allocated properly. If something isn’t working, we can adjust. And we can do this by tracking all of your media through our proprietary system GP Insights™. This ROI tracker can determine who saw your ad, the copy, and mediums that are most effective, and who became seated students after interacting with your ads.
Unpaid content creation and enhancement
When you are thinking about ways to do more with less, you may want to do some things within your department or internally at your school. Below are a few options for creating new or enhancing existing content — with the only cost being your time.
- Blogs: Blogs are great tools to boost your website’s organic SEO and increase traffic based on key terms your students are searching for. Try enlisting an admissions director at your school, an eager faculty member, or even a student. Be sure they are trained on how to write optimized content and set them loose to post a cadence of blogs throughout the year.
- Podcasts: Using any of the experts listed above and some basic recording software, you can create and publish podcasts on searchable topics that your prospects will engage with.
- Website audit and optimization: While it is ideal to clean up your website before launching a digital campaign that drives prospects there, this is actually something your team can be doing year-round. You may also identify some ways to write keyword-rich content and optimize the user experience to make it easier to navigate.
- Social media: If your school doesn’t have a set of institutional social accounts, it may be worth the time to set them up. They are free to activate and simple to create. The goal then is to develop a posting cadence and strategy for how you will communicate about your school. Be sure to coordinate with internal stakeholders who are already posting so you’re not duplicating efforts.
If you need more tips on how to optimize your marketing spend, GPRS can help. Contact us today to start the conversation.