Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | July 31st, 2019

Marketing approaches: Key differences in marketing executive education vs. degree programs

Marketing approaches: Key differences in marketing executive education vs. degree programsCan you use the same marketing campaign, channels and budget to market your degree programs and executive education? You can, but you may not be thrilled with the results.

The truth is, although both leverage your brand and aim to educate students, these audiences differ quite a bit and so should your approach to communicating with them. Besides the demographics, here are a few key points of differentiation that are important to consider when crafting your marketing strategy for these unique groups.


Although this seems obvious, when you are asking someone to invest $2,000 in a program vs. $100,000, you can benefit from different messaging strategies. Here’s how you can address the cost difference:

  • Executive Education: focus on the immediate benefits like sharpened skills, applicable case studies, and resume boosters
  • Degree Programs: tout the long term benefits like network, strategic vision and upward mobility

Investment of Time

A 2-3 day program or online course takes less planning for than a 1-2 year commitment. Here’s how you can address the time investment difference:

  • Executive Education: make it easy for them to come to your program, give them enough notice so they can ask their manager for a couple of days to attend a training and emphasize immediate rewards
  • Degree Programs: address the barriers to their time commitment like family and career and assure them it will pay off in the long-run

Decision Cycle

Because of the cost and time investment, the decision-making process can either be quick or something they consider for up to 5 years. Here’s how you can stay integrated into their decision cycle:

  • Executive Education: stay top-of-mind, promote your calendar, and offer thought leadership and value-added content throughout the year so that when it’s time for them to act, you’re the first choice
  • Degree Programs: depending on the program, lead cycle time can vary greatly; be sure to stay in their consideration set with these tips


What motivates a working professional to attend a short program may be completely different from the goals of someone considering a degree program. Here’s how you can address different motivation sets.

  • Executive Education: focus on the immediate need to fill a skill gap and sell the return on investment for the employee and the organization (it is often the talent manager or supervisor helping make the decision)
  • Degree Programs: emphasize the long-term benefits, career trajectory, network and the return on investment

If you’re looking for more ways to hone in on your strategy for promoting a variety of programs at your school, GPRS can help. Leverage our long-term partnerships with universities in both the degree and executive education spaces to create a solid marketing plan that can address these unique audiences.