Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Match Making in Edu

Can we redesign a match-making service for education?

In "Fiddler on the Roof" Hodel sings about match-making:

Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
Make me a match,
Find me a find,
catch me a catch
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Look through your book, 
and make me a perfect match. 

In some ways lead generation vendors in the education space think they're a modern day Yenta (the match maker in Fiddler) by offering site visitors a matching service.  With a few exceptions this is pretty much a smoke screen and gimmick.  If anyone has looked at the form that prospects fill out it is pretty easy to see that there isn't much to go on.  Contact information and year of graduation just isn't very good to pick an institution.  How'd you like to be served up a list of cars to choose from based on the same information?  

To make matters worse for the prospect, many options run with caps so when a school hits a budget goal for the month the spigot is turned off.  What other high-consideration industry turns away potential customers just because the quota is full?

There are a couple of additional issues relevant in this day and age.
  1. Where is the personality, values and brand connection?
  2. Where is the ability to compare and contrast? 
  3. Just what do the myriad of degrees and specialties actually mean?
The match maker's book Hodel referred to contained all the attributes, characteristics, and family history of individuals.   It was meant to provide introductions that would lead to a true and lasting marriage.  So, if Yenta were to enter the edu lead generation space today what dimensions would her match making service be based on?  Here's my top three:
  1. Compatibility is based on alignment.  If the key values of an institution don't match with a prospect's the outcome is predictable - "it was not a good fit".  These values are often best communicated by the deans of various Schools or Colleges whose vision and passion creates a connection.
  2. Satisfaction is based on fulfillment.  With the rapid proliferation of degrees, specialties and courses it is increasingly difficult for prospects to understand which option is appropriate.   "What will I learn?" and "How can I use it?" remain questions. 
  3. Success is based on the delivery of a benefit.  Whether the goal is an introduction to Fortune 20 CEOs or reinforcing the belief that "I can change things, even if I'm not in charge" an institution must understand what the metrics of success are.  (Hint: it is not really a career or better job.)
If dimensions of compatibility sounds a bit like eHarmony, that is intentional.   We're currently working with their former CTO Marcus Trevisani of Semantic Systems to create a better 'matching' experience for education prospects.  

Just need to find a better word than 'match'; that's been abused.