Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Building an integrated marketing program

So many institutions rely on a number of different methods of reaching new students. Although the list of media is extensive, many institutions have NO idea what is really working for them. I had a client who used the following media to attract prospective students:

1) Direct Mail

2) Marriage Mail Inserts

3) Radio Ads

4) Television Ads

5) Cable Ads

6) Newspaper Inserts

7) Billboards

8) School Visits for HS School Students

They were very efficient at tracking SOME of the responses, but the problem was that their data entry was inconsistant and the field for source code was virtually empty. When you are spending the amount of money that this school was spending on advertising and marketing, tracking performance is ESSENTIAL to understanding where your students are coming from. Not only from a cost efficiency point of view, but also, when analyzing prospects to actual students, the method of advertising can make the difference between having 1000 prospects and few enrolled students and fewer prospects but more enrolled students.

This was a client who I worked with before the internet became so popular and social media became so pervasive which is why there are none of those on the above list. But in today's world you can add the following:

1) Website Referrals

2) Social Media

3) Texting

4) E-mail

What is the goal of tracking performance? The most important reason is to make sure that the dollars you allocate to each form of media are being used effectively. In my client's case above, they swore by marriage mail. They said that marriage mail was a great source of leads, however, after focusing on tracking leads from marriage mail coupons, we discovered that they generated zero leads from this source over a six month period of time. Needless to say, they eliminated this form of advertising and shifted it to methods that were more effective in getting prospects to request more information.

The problem is, most schools focus on LEADS not STUDENTS! A lead is worthless unless you can convert them into registered students. So, tracking lead to student conversion rates are essential to determining the effectiveness of any marketing campaign. If you get 100 prospective leads and close 3 of them, your lead to sale ratio is only about 3%. It's time to investigate what is going on with your internal lead handling process and find out why more prospects aren't becoming registered students.

All of this does require time, and effort. If you don't have the staff or time to do this, hire someone to help (we can do that for you if you need us to). Learn what's working and what isn't. Test new methods of advertising that are focused on reaching your BEST prospects. Then, make sure your internal operations are designed to convert those prospects into students. At times, outside consultants can help you identify areas that need change or improvement, but you can also do this yourself. If you have any questions or want to discuss how to track performance give me a call and we can discuss it in greater detail.