How do you pivot your branding and marketing when your programs have changed?
By now, it is likely that your school has a statement on its homepage following all of the changes COVID-19 has created in the higher education space. However, if the plan only goes so far as detailing what the overall university is doing, you may need to take it a step further to communicate how your individual programs will operate within your business school.
While you have made efforts to maintain your brand, even during a time of great adversity, functional elements of how you offer programs, what it feels like to be part of a cohort and the physical space where students are learning may be greatly altered. Communication is key to creating and maintaining your relationships with leads, prospects and applicants during this time and there are a few things you can do to encourage them to begin and follow through with the enrollment process.
So many changes
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing the cascade of questions that are currently facing programs:
- International travel – From an MBA that offers spring break immersions to a Global Executive MBA program that involves travel to multiple continents, the landscape will look different this year.
- Class delivery – Whether you’re offering in-person, virtual or hybrid approaches, the student experience will be altered.
- Internships and recruiting – With many large companies working from home and limiting travel, internships may be tricky to manage.
- Admissions events – Although in-person meetings, campus tours and preview days — all key components to recruiting — may be on hold, you may need to find creative ways to give prospects a view into campus life.
- Admissions testing – Stay consistent and explain your reasoning for any alteration in admissions testing requirements.
Although it is easy to get overwhelmed with the logistics, it’s important to remember that your prospects definitely have the same questions and may be intimidated to start the application process before they know all the details. Don’t let ambiguity be a barrier for your prospects.
Where you can make a difference
Plans are changing often — are your communications? Here are some ways to ensure students have the information they need to make key decisions. By implementing some of these tactics, you can maintain your relationships with your prospects. You may even have the opportunity to gain students from different geographic locations, demographics and backgrounds.
- Your website: Although you don’t need to alter your entire website (and this is not recommended due to the amount of time it would take), you can create banner statements on each program page that ensure your prospects that you have a plan. End with a call to action to schedule a casual conversation or attend a webinar.
- Your events: Host webinars or town hall-style virtual chats where your admissions staff can address questions. You don’t have to have all the answers — just showing transparency and a willingness to engage while you’re working through the details can go a long way. Podcasts can also be a good way to personally communicate with prospects where they are.
- Your digital ads: Don’t be afraid to address the elephant in the room. Try creating a digital campaign that offers details about altered course delivery, how you’ll maintain the student experience and ways you’re striving to keep everyone safe and healthy.
- Your mobile strategy: Find ways that you can optimize your marketing budget with cost-effective solutions that target your prospects directly on their mobile devices.
- Your keywords: Now’s a great time to write blogs that add keyword-rich and searchable content to your website. Employ admissions staff, student ambassadors and alumni to write about the changes that are happening. This organic content, especially as it is related to COVID-19, will boost your searchability that can lead to increased traffic.
It’s important to remember that you are currently marketing and recruiting in an ever-changing environment. The challenges the higher education market is facing are unprecedented. But quickly pivoting (and continuing to do so) will pay off as you seek to instill confidence in your prospects.
If you need help with website alterations, promoting virtual events, altering your advertising campaign or writing keyword-rich content that can increase your leads and enrollment, GPRS can offer solutions.