Friday, April 19, 2019

Starting out slow is one key to enrollment success

Everyone wants instant results. That's why people check their smart phones 30+ times a day, or drive 10 miles/hour (or more) over the speed limit, or get frustrated when getting a Latte and they have to wait for an extra 4 minutes for the person in front of them to get their custom order. I would say that it's time to slow down. Why? When waiting for a Latte, or driving fast may get you results more quickly, you are also not committing to getting a degree that will take years, and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

So, what can you do? I would propose that there are three basic types of people out there. The first are ready to move forward, They have made the decision to complete their degree, or get an advanced degree and it's all a matter of picking the best school for them! Second, are those that have flirted with the idea of going back to school but haven't decided on committing the time and energy needed to get a degree. This is a harder sell and is filled with people with MANY reasons not to go back to school. Third are those prospects who have NO interest in going back to school. The time, effort and money don't seem to meet their needs.

So, what can you do about group two? My guess is that there are two approaches to this group. The first is to mail them, email them, see if you can give them a reason to go back to school through the long process of beating down their defenses until they block you, or register. The second, and I think the best way, is to offer an incremental step for them to get back to school. Beyond the cost of getting a degree, you will have family, job responsibilities, lifestyle/recreation conflicts. Until most of these are analyzed and resolved, the prospect will have a great deal of difficulty in returning to school.

So, how do we do an incremental prospecting program? Start small, offer a low cost entry level class for them to take so they get used to being on campus. Make it easy for them to return to school, make the credits apply to their ultimate degree and see what happens. Think about this for a minute. You're a retailer looking to attract new customers and you sell $2,000 televisions. Do you push the $2,000 system up front? Maybe you do one time, but the best way is to offer a smaller item first, maybe a $75 pair of ear buds. then the next sale is a $250 clock/radio/alarm. From there you increase the offers to something in the $1,000 range and finally their prospect is ready to buy the $2,000 TV.

The point is, you get them used to the fact of buying, going to school. And over time, up sell them to getting their degree. Instead of them committing to a $40,000 degree program, they are committing to a $1,500 class that can lead to the full degree. Quit thinking about what the institution needs (I know, that's hard to do), but rather, think about what your prospect is thinking and what their needs are.

Start small, one step at a time, and ultimately you will have full classrooms. In the mean time, you will have new students to "sell" on the idea of coming back and completing their degree.

For more information or to visit our website go to or write

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What medium works best for different Adult Prospects?

I find this an interesting topic. When I started Market Mapping plus back in 1990, one of my mantras over all these years has been "Track response". Why? If you don't track where your prospects and students are coming from, how do you know where to allocate resources?

Yes, 26 years later I keep asking clients "what gives you the best response?" and they have no idea. The opportunities for spending your marketing dollars are expanding significantly. In the past, you had direct mail (postal) as one of the only and primary methods of advertising. Since then the market has expanded to include Billboards, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, the CAS Devices (like the Amazon Echo) which are new technologies that dilute your marketing budget. But how do you decide which method to fund?

I had a client many years ago who hired me to evaluate their Adult Student marketing program. I evaluated all of the methods of advertising, told them to start keycoding ads/direct mail pieces to identify where a lead came from. After the first quarter of testing this new coding system I had a meeting with the VP of Enrollment Management and asked him which methods were the most effective? He gave me his top 3. Of his top 3, there were zero leads from the top two. The #1 method of advertising was direct mail postal postcards. Marriage mail and newspaper insert programs generated nothing in terms of response. So they reallocated their budget to become more effective in their marketing efforts.

The ultimate question is "How do we track all of these marketing programs?". The key is integrating some method of knowing where a lead came from. For printed marketing materials a user code to identify the source of the lead, and in some cases, the source of the name. Where did it come from? What list? For Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter use a unique code to identify where a lead got motivated to contact you and enroll.

There is an easier way to track campaign success. For every Adult Student who enrolls, give them a short survey. Ask them what got them to enroll to get their degree. This is the best and easiest method of finding out what's working.

If you need help setting up a quality tracking program give me a call. David Fant, Market Mapping plus Inc. at 616-956-7129, or write me at

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Don't call us, We'll call you.

I saw a promotion for the above titled webinar. I looked back at the direct marketing field and started thinking about what response looked like in the past. Thirty years ago people got a mailing for a product or service, (postal only by the way) and either went to the store to make their purchase OR, made a phone call if it was for a catalog. Then, email became a household method of communication. Although visiting a store and calling a call center continued to be key, people got used to seeing an email, clicking on the link and ordering their product or service.

Life got easier, more streamlined, but as with all new methods of marketing it too had it's problems. People would load their cart, then abandon them. They would respond to an email, click through and discover that what they thought they wanted, wasn't really what they expected. Forms asked for too much information so people just left, or they found that there are many more interesting things to click on than fill out a form or order.

Fast forward to the current environment and phones are as complex as a home computer. Everything that used to require a printed catalog and call center are now in our hand, accessible 24/7. I believe we have become overwhelmed with information. Everyone wanting a part of our time, a piece of our life. To the point where people no longer want to give their information to companies without a compelling reason to do so. Why? They know that the followup inundation of mail, phone calls or email will be more than they wanted. Which, brings me to the title of this blog.

People have developed the attitude of "If I want what you're offering, I will call you". I admit, I do this a lot. I get more advertisements (mostly email) from list managers pushing their latest and greatest list. Are these valuable to me? Not really. It's just more junk to delete and not particularly relevant. There are two sources that list every direct marketing list on the market. SRDS and NextMark and primary search engines for direct mail/email/telemarketing lists. Why keep or respond to an email for a new, updated list, when I can type in a few keywords and get a complete list of all lists on the market? It turns out, I have been using the Don't call us, we'll call you approach for years! I just didn't realize it.

What else does this new attitude toward our marketing message mean? Tracking sales is more critical than ever. Where did an order come from? If you do an email campaign, get an order but not from on line, where did that customer get the information they needed to order or attend your school? I guarantee you that if you have been doing billboards, broadcast ads, direct mail and email campaigns you likely have NO idea where your leads are actually coming from.

I had a client who spent hundreds of dollars on inserts in coupon packets. I did an analysis (at their request) of performance, added a user code, tracked it for 3 months and discovered that what they thought was a fabulous lead generation tool, generated zero response. NO ONE used their coupons to call and attend their school. Instead, their direct mail program generated over 50,000 leads over a period of years. Enough for them to call and follow up to attract new students.

The key to all of these changes in customer response is to build a system to track where your customers are actually coming from. Ask them. If you're a school in Higher Education, go to your Adult Students and ask "What brought you to our school?" It's simple, Ask and you will find out so much about your prospects and how to reach them. BUT, remember they are likely calling YOU, not responding in a way that you expect or anticipate.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Baseball has 3 outs, how many outs do you have?

I am constantly being asked to review email creatives and landing pages for my clients. What surprises me is the number of clients who fail to understand what their ultimate goal is. Let's look at this from the end result to the beginning.

First, the goal of any campaign is new students. So, consider your landing page. What should it contain? A list of benefits! A matching message from the email that they got. A form for them to fill out to indicate interest. A phone number in case they want to call. That's it! NOTHING ELSE.

Why nothing else. The reason is simple, if you give them any other options such as links to Facebook, LinkedIn, your website, even a program related portion of your website they are gone. They leave your landing page, never fill out the information, you never hear from them again UNLESS they decide to contact you in some other way other than the landing page. I constantly see reports where people click through to the landing page and then disappear in to the outs that you gave them. Why give them ANY choice but to fill out the form, or call you? It's self defeating and it dooms any campaign to the failure category. This is a sample email I sent in 2014, Notice that even I didn't know the best practices back then. Now, there are key Call to Action (CTA's) through out the email and NO outs other than to the relevant landing page.

Next, let's move backwards to the email. You craft a perfect message, benefit laden for a prospective student to want to attend your school. The CTA button is below the fold. Will they find it? Very possibly not. Above the fold? Yes, they will click on it if they are motivated. BUT, included in your email are OUTS. Why would you give a prospect the option to leave your email and go anywhere other than your landing page? You need their information. You have peaked their interest. Yet, you let them get away to YouTube, Facebook, or anywhere else.

2014 Email with over 14 outs

2017 Email with zero outs

I recently had a client who had a landing page with 18 outs. And they wondered why no one clicked through. Well, they did, they clicked everywhere but to their landing page to fill out the form! Understand the purpose of your campaign and then design ALL elements to focus on that goal.

Outs are never good. They distract from the purpose of the campaign and offer the prospect a way to go places that you don't want them to go. As an example, say you want to show a video. Most people will put a link to the video, the prospect clicks on it and goes to YouTube. Guess what? You just lost them. They go there, see other opportunities to click on or think about that new video that's out from Beyonce and poof, they are no longer thinking education, but are instead being entertained. The solution? All videos should be put in a shadow box. Click on the link, it opens a box over the landing page or email, runs and then stops, closes and they are back to where they started, your email or landing page. No interruption in thought process and they AREN'T watching a music video!

Keep all of these thoughts in mind,

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Innovation in direct marketing list acquisition!

Innovation in Direct Marketing comes slow. MMP List Management Inc. is on the cutting edge of innovation by dealing with multiple issues that affect direct marketers. What is it that companies want?

  • ·         Deliverable postal addresses.
  • ·         Customers who WANT to hear from you.
  • ·         Emails that don’t bounce.
  • ·         Phones that actually connect.

So, what is the solution? MMP List Management Inc. has solved all of these issues. Instead of updating our files every quarter or every month, we update our files when ordered! We survey our database of over 140 million consumers asking if they are interested in hearing from your company….Your products or services. Those who say yes, get added to your prospect database. The results?

  • ·         Prospects who WANT to hear from you.
  • ·         Postal addresses are up to date and deliverable.
  • ·         Emails with less than 5% hard bounce rates.
  • ·         Phone that are current, cleaned through the Do Not Call system and will connect.

PLUS! You can take delivery of postal, email and phones to contact on your own. While under license, your prospect list will be updated monthly, allowing your file to stay fresh, deliverable and up to date.

Join an Innovative Company and let us give you a quote for our prospect mailing lists. We offer a Customer Satisfaction Policy that guarantees email delivery exceeding 95%. Don’t rely on surveys that were done a month ago, six months ago and are generic in nature. Get a prospect list that contains people who WANT to hear from YOU!

Call David Fant, President 616-914-0537, or write

A new approach to target marketing. Be on the cutting edge of targeting. Call us today.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Increase response by creating an emotional appeal

It’s interesting to work with so many different institutions of higher education. Each one looks at their programs from a unique perspective and feel that they have the best degree programs in their area. I am not qualified to determine if that is true or not, but I do know that finding adult degree completion prospects is a never ending fight for every institution.
What makes my job difficult is that everyone creates marketing plans that focus on the institution and on some of the roadblocks that people have for returning to school to complete their degree. They talk about: 

·         Flexible classes
·         Fast degree programs
·         Convenient location
·         Some mention daycare
·         Low cost is referred to by most 

Yet, the one thing that most marketing campaigns miss is EMOTION. People frequently make decisions based not only on facts, but on their emotional feelings toward a given subject. Take a quick look at Harley Davison. What is it that they sell? In their ads, in their stores? Motorcycles? Not exactly. If you ask Harley Davison that question they will tell you they are selling a lifestyle. A way of living that INCLUDES a motorcycle. 

So, the question is, what is YOUR emotional message?  

US News and World Report recently published an article that referenced the fact that college graduates will earn an average of $20,000 per year more than not having a degree. My question is, what could someone do with $20,000 per year? Strike an emotional note with the following approach: 

Life is filled with ups and downs. What is it that you would like to do in your life that you can’t afford to do today? Maybe you are looking to: 

·         Take that historical trip to Machu Picchu.
·         Buy that one car that you’ve always wanted.
·         Invest in a house for you and your family.
·         Visit every baseball stadium in the country.
·         What is YOUR dream activity if you had the money? 

No matter what your dream is, a degree will allow you to earn as much as $20,000 more per year compared to not having a degree. Attend Xyz College and let us help you attain YOUR dreams. 

Emotion, draws them into thinking about what they can do with a degree and increased income. Benefits, not features. Focus on what they will get out of their degree and how you will help them achieve all that they want to do.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What makes a strong offer?

The first questions is, what is an offer? We all know the answer to that so I won't go to the Dictionary to give you the formal definition of an offer. Yes, is the word "offer" the right word? The offer states what you would like someone to do. Whether you are selling toothpaste, a car, a college education the offer creates the groundwork for a prospective student to decide to move forward and actually buy.

Remember the offer is the first step in the sales process. Your goal is to get people to buy, not browse and "kick the tires" so to speak. So the offer has to have some serious incentive to get someone to move forward. Let's look at a couple of examples.

You are selling a tube of toothpaste for $2.95/tube but the offer is $.50 off the retail price. The savings is 17%. Not an insignificant savings.

You are going to buy a car, It's retail value is $15,000, you offer a $1,500 discount plus a trade-in guarantee of $1,000 for a total savings of $2,500. The savings for this offer is 16.6%.

Now, you send out a mailer, offering a student a degree completion offer with a total projected cost of $20,000 and you offer to waive the application fee (estimated at $75). The total savings for this offer is .37%. Pretty pathetic when you compare your offer to offers people see every day in the overall marketplace.

People have come to expect something for their investment. Whether it's toothpaste, a car, or an education. I find, that most Higher Education institutions don't recognize the fact that to attract more students (note, I did not say prospects) they have to give them something that they consider valuable! And keep in mind, that doesn't have to be money. Meeting the needs of a busy family, a tiring job, a busy work schedule and around hobbies and other areas that conflict with them completing their degree can be more valuable than a cash outlay. However, it's YOUR job to translate the intangible benefits of your institution into a strong offer.

One negative example comes to mind. I have a good friend, single mother, child under the age of 10, who was working on completing her degree. She registered for a class, started taking it, and due to a work/child scheduling problem missed two classes. When she returned to class after her mini crisis she was told by the professor, she had been dropped. She knew, going in, that she was only allowed one absence/semester. Now, this may have been a totally unreasonable professor (by the way, it was a required class) yet, had the institution had a resource to help her work through that issue this could have been a huge offer to make. We have an office to help you with a flexible schedule. Had this institution done that she would have remained in school or that class she would have felt wonderful. As it was, she finished her other class, dropped out and completed her degree at another local institution.

On the other hand, a positive example. A Midwest University wanted to increase enrollment to their degree completion program. After three email deployments, 75,000 each they ended with 112 new REGISTERED students. How? They offered each of them a $1,000 scholarship, no strings attached. It's the offer and how you communicate the offer to your client that makes the difference.

My recommendation is, don't think institutionally, think like a prospective student. What do they want and from there, create the best offer possible. The offer is what get's them to buy.