This is part 2 of a series, read part 1 here.
With a complete go-to-market plan, an institution should have a comprehensive understanding of the market, competition and target audience as well as the various marketing channels that will be used to reach prospective students. Now it’s time for marketing teams to activate the go-to-market plan with specific tactics and campaigns.
Key activities during the execution phase of the go-to-market plan include:
Program Details Outline:
This is an operational document that, when complete, will contain the key program information needed to update any related webpages while informing key internal stakeholders of program specifics. This is not a full curriculum map or academic document, but rather a helpful guide that serves as a primary resource for program information. (In some cases, this could also include course catalog information.)
Creative Program Marketing Kickoff:
This is the point where the creative team is provided with insights about the target audience and key program value propositions. The go-to-market plan outlines the key assets that need to be developed for each channel and provides a roadmap of the key activities needed to support the marketing launch.
Setting clear timelines for the review of each marketing asset is important. Bringing in the academic subject matter experts before things are finalized ensures alignment early in the process.
As key stakeholders in the launch process, Admissions teams must be kept informed and involved. Marketing assets can be used for early training on key messages with Admissions. Further, Admissions teams benefit from additional training that prepares them to answer the more detailed and personal questions asked by prospective students.
During the execution of the go-to-market plan is also the time to meet cross-functionally with the operational teams. Focus areas for these meetings should include inputs needed for tracking new students (within the CRM system) and reporting.
Another factor that must be considered for any program launch, or relaunch, is lead time. Three years is a general time-in-market guideline for achieving program success and a positive return on investment. A minimum of six months is needed for any campaign to ramp up before reviewing initial results and trending.
It is important to consider that some programs may benefit from being launched as part of a well-known suite of offerings in order to tap into organic interest. Other programs may have fewer synergies with existing programs (or even with the school) and may require significant investment to generate awareness and interest. These nuances should have been identified earlier within the program strategy development.
Monitoring and Evaluating the Plan
A program launch recap is a helpful and necessary activity for understanding performance. We recommend reviewing both at 45 days post-launch and then again at 90 days post-launch. Both recaps should address the following:
- Did the campaign meet objectives?
- Are there channels where this program is performing well and spending should continue (or grow)?
- Are there channels where this program is not performing well and spending should cease (or be trimmed)?
- What needs to be done in order to continue to support this program as it matures?
- Are there areas where Admissions needs additional information to be successful?
- Are there any themes identified by Admissions that provide insights for adjusting or enhancing messaging?
Marketing and enrollment performance recaps should be shared across teams. Cross-collaboration between marketing, academics and operations focused will make it possible to:
- Reach qualified student prospects
- Create a cohesive prospect experience across all marketing and enrollment touchpoints
- Create opportunities for personalized experiences
- Efficiently allocate marketing funds
- Support strong working relationships across the teams
Meet with internal teams and stakeholders to discuss the results and, if necessary, pivot toward more favorable opportunities. A purposeful commitment to continually fine-tuning your go-to-market strategy will ensure it is as effective and efficient as possible.
Additionally, it’s essential to not only evaluate the performance of the plan, but also conduct ongoing portfolio assessments and optimizations. To compete effectively in an increasingly crowded market, ensure programs remain relevant and are best positioned to drive enrollment growth. Collegis can help. We offer both program and marketing assessments, which reveal optimization recommendations and opportunities.