This is part 1 of a series, read part 2 here.

Student needs, behaviors and demographics are constantly evolving. Taking a proactive approach to understanding marketing dynamics, and then aligning your degree program appropriately, will help ensure that when the program is launched, it is strongly positioned for growth — both now and in the future.

Successful program marketing elevates the ability to communicate with prospective students by leveraging and integrating insights across academics, marketing and operations. Taking this centralized, interactive approach can ensure your marketing campaign reaches qualified student prospects, has consistent direction and messaging across the campaign, personalizes experiences for meaningful engagement, creates budget efficiency and ROI, and supports strong working relationships across teams.

To achieve those outcomes, program marketing must be: 1) informed by a purposeful strategy; and 2) guided by a strong go-to-market plan that distills the program strategy into actionable timelines, budgets and promotional tactics.

Steps for Creating a Program Strategy

1. Build differentiation by determining key areas of market need for each degree program.

Aligning programs to employer demand provides competitive insights that can fine-tune program messaging. Sources for public market data include the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, state labor departments and local chambers of commerce. Additional sources, depending on the program, may include advisory boards, community employer outreach surveys or faculty and alumni networks.

2. Develop the programmatic value proposition(s) and supportive proof points.

Define what the program has to offer. Allow internal stakeholders to align on and articulate key points of value about the program being developed or refreshed. These points of value will be the basis for future marketing plans and determine how (and where) value proposition messages should be communicated.

3. Conduct a resource and risk assessment.

Enrollment targets and budget requirements are defined in this checks-and-balances exercise. Any roadblocks caused by internal business processes, resource constraints and/or mitigation plans should be outlined for consideration before developing the go-to-market plan.

Develop a Go-to-Market Plan

An effective, multichannel strategy should balance paid media, earned media and organic tactics to generate awareness, inquiries and post-inquiry conversions. Documenting the go-to-market plan provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to further align on the objectives for the prospective student journey and the strategies for achieving them — all prior to the implementation phase. Maintaining this level of open communication and collaboration across internal stakeholders is critical, as the go-to-market plan should be consistently and rigorously applied across institutional touchpoints.

A solid go-to-market plan will include the following:

  • Program background
  • Defined target audience
  • Value propositions and proof points
  • Objectives for program launch, as well as enrollment assumptions, cost projections and budget
  • Key performance indicators and how they will be measured
  • Risks and potential barriers to growth
  • A data-informed marketing strategy identifying audience, details by channel, execution activities and timing of campaign launch

The enrollment journey contains several different phases. At Collegis, we think about enrollment as a continuum of strategies and tactics across the entire student journey. By integrating data across all stages of an enrollment funnel, it is possible to reach right-fit students where they are in the buying journey and guide them to enrollment.

Author: Collegis Education staff

Collegis is passionate about education and driven by the technology that keeps institutions moving forward.