Marketing & Outreach
Trying to reach more students or certain types of students? Are your faculty expecting you to fill their programs?
A study abroad team at a small, private, liberal arts college had grown student participation rates for the past 5 years, but then began experiencing a plateau in enrollment. Specifically, faculty led programs missed their target enrollments and faculty leaders began blaming their office for low enrollments.
To respond, the study abroad team tried to do more. The staff began making more fliers, hosting more info-sessions, creating more presentations, but nothing was working. Why?
After a call with the consulting services team, we came to campus to better understand their frustrations and concerns. We listened during meetings with faculty leaders as they attempted to cut program costs (assuming cost was the reason it didn’t fill). We heard faculty frustration regarding poor attendance at info sessions. Ultimately, this led us to review their marketing materials and overall messaging to students.
Even with beautiful posters around campus, their message clearly didn’t resonate with the customer (students). They hadn’t considered the internal response a student might have when looking at those materials. For example, a student may be thinking:
- I could never afford that.
- I’m a Nursing major, there’s no way that would work for me.
- I need to graduate on-time, I don’t have time to go overseas.
- I’m way too scared to go that far away.
Marketing and outreach need to bust the myths that students have about studying abroad. A poster provides one chance to answer their questions, then drive them to an info session where students can get “hooked” on the experience.
So the team did just that. We worked with staff to create new posters and sent out new emails addressing those myths. We held an info session the next day. A faculty who could never get anyone to her sessions quickly found herself with a dozen students in the room.
After implementing new marketing strategies, the program filled that year. The faculty became a stronger ally for the office and modified her marketing efforts in future years. An entire marketing strategy and handbook was also created for their office.
The secret to successful programming is creating a marketing and outreach strategy, then identifying who is responsible for carrying out each phase of that plan. In most cases (as with this campus), clients very quickly find that faculty are the main drivers of student interest on programs.
For this campus we identified the overall strategy, got buy-in from the faculty and education abroad staff by showcasing strong data points, and went to work as a team. The result: Faculty-led enrollment grew that next year by 61%.