The challenge of marketing university education

With the university funding cap that started this year, the challenging job of marketing university education got a bit harder. The size of the pie is effectively fixed, making the competition for each slice more intense. Market leaders, beat their chests to cement their position, and challenger brands fight to create something new and different in a changing world.

But what this means is also an opportunity, to focus marketing on the effective communication of identity and value, that supports students choose wisely, and stick with you, for your mutual benefit. There are many ways that universities can differentiate themselves, and become a choice that stands out for the real differences in experience and value they offer. Among the primary elements of a university value proposition, we consider:

  • Reputation and prestige (including that considered among peer group)
  • Course differentiation (subject matter specialisation)
  • Delivery modes (digital infrastructure)
  • Flexibility (such as the ability to accelerate course load or take time out, including offering trimesters and exchanges)
  • Links to industry and secure career paths ( relative chance of getting a job upon finishing courses)
  • Fee levels
  • Campus, facilities and experience on offer
  • Alumni and professional networks
  • International rankings and research credentials

So, the questions are, what to prioritise for which student audience, where and when? Broadly, target audience groups include school leavers, mature-aged students, and post-graduates at various career stages; and then there’s domestic and international cohorts in each of these categories.

The opportunity lies in defining the real value on offer for targetted sub-segments with content and solutions that are hyper-relevant. In understanding who the university is, and how its identity can overlap and enhance that of its prospective students, younger or older, near or far.

As we approach the August open day season, now is the time investigate and quickly act. To make the right decisions, spotlight competitive advantages, define unique value propositions and bring brand differentiation alive through creative concepts, activated online and at street level.

Our education team works with tertiary education providers to map contexts, develop strategies, and execute creative campaigns that resonate – often in short timeframes and within tight budgets. We know the space well, understand the student mindset, and can think deeply, but quickly, to create nimbly and effectively.

Consultants use a set of facilitation techniques and strategy models to:

  • Assess competitive context and map insights
  • Map the student decision-making journey and build personas
  • Co-design or test concepts with potential students
  • Formulate powerful brand identities for institutions, faculties, courses or campuses
  • Create above and below the line student recruitment campaigns
  • Deliver content that builds brand awareness, trust and engagement
  • Create of evaluation frameworks to measure social and economic impacts

Talk to us.