Monday, June 21, 2010

Separate Marketing of Master's Degrees from the Rest

Should we continue to market the vertical stack of degrees?

For any given month, they say there are 2 million leads and 100,000 people who will enroll - for a 5% conversion rate. 

The historic thinking for growth has been to increase the payout and buy more leads, this in turn funded the tactics used to grow the size of the pool.  The usual focus was on acquisition and taking one's fair share of the conversions.   But at some point, either the increasing cost per lead or a slower growth rate suggests that we need to think about converting more than our fair share.  

If we take the point of view that in a given month there are a fixed number of people who will enroll, then the question becomes: How do we differentiate ourselves in order to grow? Some suggestions.
  1. Brand - Be known for something - there is simply too much sameness across institutions making it difficult to break out the mold.
  2. Message - Move beyond 'ease, convenience, and cost' - there are segments of the market where more specific messages and benefits work well.
  3. Proof Points - Targeted content - augment the good strides in identifying specific niche groups of potential students with customized content for each program segment combination.
For Master's degrees these suggestion take on more importance for two reasons.  First, conversion rate is much lower than the 5% average cited above.   Second, this audience researches their options fairly heavily over a period of time.   This combination suggests a distinct approach and possibly a dedicated team to service this growing segment.

Like many other categories, fragmentation is coming to education - I think it is time to adapt our marketing accordingly. 

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