Are You Listening Carefully? Asking the Right Questions?
Sep 15, 2017
Something for you to think about - especially when wondering how you are going to achieve next term's adult enrollment goals with the same resources.
Are you listening to your audience? Are you asking them the right questions?
Or are you too busy pushing out the same copy about "world-class faculty" and "staff that really care" and "curriculum designed to help you succeed in a global economy" and "click here to learn more about financial aids, grants and more"
Have you turned a stone deaf ear to your audience? Have you stopped hearing what they have to say?
You Cannot Succeed Without Your Audience
I teach undergraduate and graduate marketing classes and it's amazing how quickly students of all experience levels will make critical decisions based on their gut. (Happens outside the class too - but let's just focus on those trying to learn.)
The students get an idea, make an assumption or two based on limited experience or personal preference, then become the World's Leading Optimist by declaring the "Opportunity" to "sell millions of dollars of products".
And when I ask who their audience is, they have no clue. When I ask what the need and demand for the product is in the market, they have no clue. They have ignored those they serve and gone chasing things that might not exist.
So, What's a College or University to do?
When you realize that 80-percent of your promotional efforts are failing to produce the results you projected for them, and you realize that the bulk of your limited resources are invested in bringing those efforts to market - step back, stop investing in what isn't working and redirect your efforts on to what is working and understanding why so that you can replicate that success.
Talk to your audience. What do they want? Need? Perceive about you...and your competition. Expect from you...and your competition. What is their criteria for selecting a college and degree program? Why? How do they feel you stack up? Why
Take a good hard look at what your competition is doing and what works for them. Talk to their students and faculty and staff whenever you can - ask them about their experiences. perceptions, expectations, selection criteria.
Heck, sit down with key members of other departments within your institution and ask them what's working. What isn't working. What they are hearing from the target audience.
When you have that type of insight, you can make better decisions regarding what messages and offers are appropriate at each stage of the decision-making process. You can make better decisions regarding what media/communications channels to use at each stage of the decision-making process. And you can make better decisions regarding what frequency you should be reaching out to your target audience in each stage of the decision-making process.
Listen. Ask. Listen Some More. Restate What You Think You Heard. Listen.
We tend to talk too much. We tend to assume to often. We need to listen. Make certain we understand. And then take data-driven steps forward.
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.