Innovation during an uncertain time

Innovation during an uncertain timeThe past year has been marked by rapid and forced transformation. In some ways, it may seem that education has taken 100 steps forward as opposed to the typical slow-moving approach to change that is a hallmark of the industry. Admissions and marketing staff have cut through the red tape of bureaucracy to find innovative ways of recruiting students and adapted at lightning speed to promote new or altered programs.

Regardless of whether your program has recently seen a slowdown or explosive growth in applicants, you may have a cautious optimism as you develop your recruiting strategy for next year. With limited resources, should you stick with what worked last year or continue to evolve your marketing?

Let’s examine a couple strategies for innovation and how you can weave them into your school’s plan.

Enhancing or improving what has worked

You may have heard the saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” And to some degree this is true. If something has worked in the past, repeating it just makes sense — especially when resources are limited and you need a measurable ROI. But this past year has taught many that change is constant. Even if you repeat tried-and-true methods, there’s a chance that you’ll yield different results in a different landscape. Examining your metrics and successes through the lens of the current market can help you develop a plan that’s based on consumer insights and grounded in data.

For example, last year when many people shifted to working from home, your prospects became more available online. If you increased your digital marketing and social media spend there’s a chance that you saw increased engagement. But before you lock on the same budget and tactics for the upcoming year, evaluate the percentage of your prospects that are still working virtually. The same goes for events. If you had fantastic results by shifting your events to an online format, is the appetite still there for virtual engagement, or would a hybrid approach work better?

Disrupting the status quo

While the operating models in your school are undergoing massive fundamental shifts, marketing and recruiting have a key seat at the table to drive change. No one knows your students or prospects better, so don’t be afraid to suggest things that are new and different based on what you are hearing and seeing.

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t rush. Use your consumer insights to inform future decisions while also staying true to your brand.
  • Set measurable goals. Determine if your activities aim to generate awareness, increase engagement or drive applications.
  • Maintain your tracking dashboard. Use your benchmark data and remain agile so you can adjust and optimize plans as needed.
  • Find ways to be a leader. Adopting a trend is one thing, but creating a trend is another.
  • Do the unexpected. Find ways to create buzz.
  • Stay relevant. Develop experiences that resonate with your audience, meet their needs and answer their questions.

The pandemic has accelerated your need to re-examine resource allocation, find new ways of communicating and remain agile while adapting to the current market situation. It has provided many with the needed push to make change happen. Armed with this new confidence, you can take a more structured approach to improving your existing strategies and creating new disruptive ones that will allow you to adjust with the market.

GPRS is your innovation partner

Working with a firm that has a deep understanding of the educational landscape can help you determine what types of innovation are right for your school. GPRS tracks industry benchmarks and has a long history of helping schools develop disruptive enrollment strategies that get results. Start the conversation today.

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