Over the last decade, it has become increasingly challenging for universities to convert prospective students to enrolled students.
First, the affordability remains important. In light of these financial concerns, questions about ROI and measurement of outcomes have become increasingly important. This is especially important because major decision making process on undergraduate education still rely on the parents themselves, as they are most likely to choose a school that will give a meaningful values for their investment.
Second, the rise of social and digital media means prospective students can tap into peer opinions and student reviews versus relying solely on traditional sources of school information, such as prospectus, flyers, brochures, and rankings.
Third, beyond cost, advancements in IT has created increased competition, especially among business schools focused on skill-based and technology-based businesses. The rise of start-ups have becoming a huge interest for prospective student to choose a course that enables them to acquire skills and knowledges to build their own business or start-ups.
This situation is exactly what my almamater faces now. They are challenged to deal with a low student intake numbers, which has been decreasing or remain low, since i graduated from there. And yet, they still have to compete with other universities or business schools who are relatively new, but they are seem more compelling and interesting for the students.
Despite the long reputation of one of the best accredited university and business school in Indonesia, and the strategic location right at the heart of the city of Jakarta, and competitive tuition fees, they still struggle in finding and implementing the marketing best practices to reach more students.
Looking at the situation they face, I have found that they lack of brand story. They clearly have no stories, the compelling and influencing ones, to tell and/or share. They still rely on the same old story that is clearly not compelling enough to drive prospective students. While the other schools around the world, particularly in Indonesia, have built a different stories everyday to establish themselves as or should be a number 1 choice for the prospective student.
They are also unable to build a good positioning or value propositions to offer to the prospective students and/or businesses - the propositions that is distinctive from the competitors, desirable by students, and deliverable by the school itself. To help them rethink their strategy, there are important questions to answer:
a) What are the key influencers in the higher education decision process?
b) What types of best practices are prospects most interested in at each stage of the decision journey?
c) How can school better connect with prospects using relevant messages that resonate with their key motivations?