Following 2012’s dip in university applications, it will be interesting to see how this year pans out given that the big hike in tuition fees should prove to be a one-off factor. Whatever the outcome in crude application numbers, the fact remains that demand for places remains buoyant. The only real problem for the marketing teams at further education establishments is how to make sure that the maximum number of offers is converted into acceptances.
As usual, it will be those institutions that promote their courses in the best light which will come up trumps at the end of the day. Many prospective students will refer to the Key Information Sets (KIS) data to help them decide so, if you think that there are valid explanations for a particular showing, make sure that these are conveyed to your target audience.
Education marketers also need to remember that their institution is a brand just like a soap powder or a make of car. It’s therefore not enough to concentrate merely on the academic offering.
Close attention must also be paid to other things that are important to a school-leaver:
- The institution’s reputation amongst the student community.
- What cultural, social and sporting facilities are available.
- How successful are graduates in finding employment.
While it is factors such as these that go to make up the university’s overall brand image, the problem remains of how to effectively get one’s message across to the target and steadily build up the brand.
In 2013, more than ever before, it is Social Media that is proving vital in any self-respecting education marketing campaign. The reason for this is obvious. Whereas graduates above a certain age would have selected their preferred campus with the help of prospectuses and Open Days, the graduates of tomorrow will in all probability have formed their decision through digital channels.
The problem of course is that the Social Media revolution is still in its infancy and people who know how to exploit it properly for branding purposes are as rare as hen’s teeth. Most of the better ones have already been snaffled up by specialist education marketing agencies.
The challenge for marketers regardless of whether they have in-house SM expertise or not is to make sure that maximum use is made of alumni and existing undergraduates to act as advocates and ambassadors on forums such as the Twittersphere.
About the Author: These emerging trends in education marketing were provided by 360 Education a specialist education marketing agency who are dedicated to helping educational institutions.