At the EFMD Annual Conference, Andrew Crisp, Director of CarringtonCrisp and Tracey Horn, Head of Communications and Marketing at Cambridge Judge Business School, gave an excellent session on the various opportunities that digital marketing can offer to the promotion of business schools. Andrew began his talk stating that digital marketing gives school the chance to do more personal marketing. Just one advertisement can have hundreds of variations and be tweaked according to the response. It’s a completely different mind-set from having a single advert in one newspaper for one day. With personalisation also comes the need to differentiate, as well as to say something different from all the other business schools vying for a student’s attention and attendance.
He began with an example of 6 Canadian universities grouped together to try and make themselves more attractive for international students. Their logic was that, alone they would be unable to have the same resources and capabilities to achieve their goals. Together they would be able to have a bigger reach and impact. Furthermore another incentive that Canada has is that almost all student who finish their studies receive a 3 year work visa upon graduation.
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Mr. Crisp asserted that the tools of the trade are changing. For this generation, social media is the key to reaching them. The students of today have grown up with these tools and means of communication, and now they now touch every part of their everyday lives. He mentioned a study at Queens University where the average amount of digital devices they owned was 19. This shows just how connected this generation is.
Marketing is increasingly becoming about what can an individual access on a smart phone. In fact last year, for the first time 50% of all searches were conducted on smartphones. Four years ago less than 10% of students in the CarringtonCrisp Generation Web survey accessed the web through their smartphones, in the 2014 data; this had rocketed to 36%. In fact, you need to have the school sites compatible for mobile devices. If you don’t he says, you are at risk of seeming behind the times and also you make it harder for prospective students to your university and get valuable information about you.
Speaking about University websites, he says how it’s important for them to have good navigation, with the main information such as costs, future careers after the course and the experience you get from being there being easily accessible. Many websites are the same with the same general motto. They need to try to catch out the viewer with maybe an image they would not expect to see on a university site. Broaching onto the topic of social media, the links to the universities profiles on them should be accessible at the bottom of the university page.
However, he mentions that now it’s possible to also compete with the bigger universities by exploiting the media and making yourself better known than them. Just use publicity that appeals to the students and grasps them.
Yet one must be careful he says, as messages are easily misinterpreted online as everything is constantly flowing. Using the example of a university that had rumours that things would change and the dean fired, because of problems with their chamber of commerce. So, a petition was set up online and the hash tag was misinterpreted as at the time there were problems with the Labour party leader Ed Milliband, coincidentally the dean was also called Ed and so people got mixed between the two.
Touching on Differentiation, he says you can have one app and it will have hundreds of variations. On sites most ads on universities are mostly corny and cheap, as well as being corny, and also not focusing enough on women. With 1 in 27 having a woman as the main focus of their advert banner, you need to be more intelligent than that, you are not reaching 50& of the population with that kind of advertising.
Talking about video Mr. Crisp mentions that if you aren’t using video as a tool on your school website and in other places, you’re missing out on an important mode of communication. Although there are good ways and bad ways of doing video, so naturally the quality of the video is what really matters. He finished by showing the audience one excellent example of St. Gallen University breaking away from its very reputation of being very formal with the following short video. It makes you want to be 20 again!
Director, CarringtonCrisp, UK
Andrew Crisp is a co-founder and Director of CarringtonCrisp, a research-led marketing consultancy working with business schools and universities. Andrew has previously worked as a journalist and as a senior consultant in a corporate communications agency where projects included rebranding London Business School and developing advertising campaigns for Andersen Consulting. Andrew’s research experience includes studies of business school branding (The Business of Branding), the use of and best practice on business school websites (GenerationWeb), the views of prospective MBAs (Tomorrow’s MBA) and the future of the Executive Education marketplace (Executive Education Futures). Andrew writes about research findings and business school issues on the CarringtonCrisp blog (www.carringtoncrisp.com/blog). Andrew has also spoken widely at industry events organised by The Economist, The Design Council, NAFSA, EAIE, AMBA, ABS and EFMD.
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