Health Science Institute Marketing E Business Proposal


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Health Science Institute Marketing E Business Proposal

  1. 1. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 1 E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California John Simmons
  2. 2. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 2 E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California Health Science Institute of California is a for-profit technical vocational nursing school serving Southern California, primarily in the Riverside/San Bernardino County area. This is a recent start-up technical school focused on providing training for Certified Nurses Assistants and Home Health Aide job seekers. The school also provides certification for CPR and IV Therapy that practicing Licensed Vocational and Registered Nurses need to satisfy continuing education requirements associated with their nursing licenses. The school also offers review courses for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Because Health Sciences Institute of California is a recent start-up organization, they have limited funds for marketing and e-business activities. Subsequently their website is very basic and rudimentary by e-commerce standards. Their site includes a basic home page, an informational page regarding services offered, class schedules, and basic information regarding their contact information, as well as links to the California State Nursing Board and Unemployment Office. HSIC short-term business goals are to expand their student base through increased marketing efforts including; e-business presence and expansion, social media integration, and developing referral relationships with local schools that do not offer the same services, while continuing development of ties with the California Unemployment Development Departments Workforce County Development program. Their long-term business goals are to become a fully accredited technical school, expand their curriculum to include Licensed Vocational Nursing training, obtain approval for student loan financing through the federal government, expand their student base through multi-location campuses in the Southern California Area, as well as providing services for international students looking to relocate to the United States and obtain their nursing credentials. Viability of Products and Services Offered in an Online Environment Since 2007 the United States has been in a deep recession, some would say even a depression. From January, 2007 to May, 2011 the unemployment rate has ballooned from 4.60% to 9.10%, translating to over 13,914,000 people officially out of work. In California the situation is much more serious, with a statewide unemployment rate of 11.70% as of May, 2011, and within the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino an unemployment rate of a disturbing 13.20%. The news is not all bad though; with baby boomers aging and coming into retirement, there will be long-term need for qualified healthcare workers to care and assist this rapidly aging demographic. In California alone the healthcare industry is expected to add more than 219,000 new positions ranging from Personal and Home Care Aides to Registered Nurses, as well as create an additional 84,600 in replacement positions for retiring workers by 2018.
  3. 3. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 3 Health Sciences Institute of California was founded not only to assist the regional unemployed to update their skill-set or transition to a new career, but to provide young people a quick and affordable avenue into this growing job field. Because of the growing demand, HSIC is set to capitalize on these challenges and opportunities by structuring comprehensive instructional programs that ready students entering the Healthcare field, and meet the challenges of today’s market and future opportunities. Online expansion is a natural progression of Health Sciences Institute of California business model. The days of looking through the telephone book to find a technical school or training facility such as HSIC are of a bygone era. So too is spending excessive amounts of time looking through endless classified ads searching for a job; in our fast paced world the old way of doing things will leave you at the door of missed opportunities. All job searches and the application process are now done solely online. Research for furthering ones education, career transition training, or skillset updating is done quickly and efficiently online. Business, not even one such as HSIC, can be just a brick and mortar establishment with a welcome sign beckoning people to come in, buy, or learn. The demographic of potential students that will seek out the services of HISC, whether employed, unemployed or just out of high school, all are tech-savvy enough to research and choose a healthcare program and school that meets their career needs and goals. In order for HSIC to succeed it has to have a viable and strategic online presence that not only compliments more traditional marketing campaigns, but drive these potential students to them instead of their competitors. The services of Heath Sciences Institute of California are not driven solely by the regional and state economic conditions of California; they are also driven by entrepreneurial objectives and the personal qualities of the owners themselves. According to their mission statement, HSIC fulfills its educational mission of preparing competent allied health practitioners and nurses with the sensitivity to identify, interpret and analyze data, develop plan of care, and implement plan of care in a culturally diverse society. To empower the development of health care practitioners with critical thinking skills that respect human dignity, demonstrate accountability and compassion to serve with excellence. This entrepreneurial force is borne out of the owners many years of experience practicing and teaching in the healthcare field and the desire to impart knowledge that will have an impact on the market the school serves. Competitive Market Analysis The For-Profit Vocational School Industry exists to provide an alternative to Public Education on a number of levels. Due to the severe budget crisis in California there have been major cutbacks to Public Education including Higher Education. In the past, a displaced worker or unemployed individual could update their skillset or obtain career transition training easily, conveniently, and cost effectively at local community colleges or state universities. These school programs were large enough to accommodate most if not all individuals seeking to obtain any and all types of education experiences. Currently, due to the national recession and
  4. 4. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 4 more importantly the more severe state recession, public education programs have been cut, tuitions increased, and much lower limits have been placed on the student population causing there to be more people wanting to attend than there are available spots. Plus, many displaced workers do not meet the basic educational requirements of higher education, nor do these people typically have the luxury of time to obtain the training or degree they need to find work, or transition into a new career. This is where alternative schools such as Health Science Institute of California can provide a much needed service to these people and the community in and around the Riverside/San Bernardino California region. These schools can provide the much sought after healthcare training and certification in less time but at a premium price. This premium price is typically overcome by the attractiveness of quicker program completion, less or non-existent prerequisites and the ability to find employment in less time after graduating due to the higher demand for healthcare workers. The demographic that are mostly attracted to vocational schools, particularly in the healthcare field tend to be displaced workers looking for a quick career transition, as well as individuals within the 18 to 49 age range. The majority of this demographic tend to be female, Hispanic, followed by blacks, whites and other minority groups. Males tend to make up a small segment of the overall demographic group. Many cohorts in this group tend to lack high school diplomas, but most have a GED, so vocational schools tend to be an attractive way for this demographic to gain knowledge for employment the difficult Southern California job market. The market that Health Sciences Institute of California competes in within the Southern California region can be broken down into three main groups including; direct competitors such as Mission Career College with locations in Riverside and San Bernardino California, Regional Occupational Programs (ROP), which are programs typically administered by the counties they are located in, but with very limited program availability. Also, within this direct competition group is San Bernardino Adult School, which is run by the city of San Bernardino, and The Red Cross, both which also, tends to be limited in capacity. Secondary competitors tend to be the larger vocational schools such as American Career College; a Southern California based technical school, as well as national schools that include United Education Institute, and Concord Career College. The final subset competitor is Public Education including local community colleges of San Bernardino Valley College, Crafton College, and College of the Desert. If we apply a SWOT analysis approach to the direct competitors of Health Sciences Institute of California, what is revealed is HSIC being positioned rather well, and hold a slight edge in the niche market of Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA), Home Health Aide (HHA) and NCLEX review courses. The SWOT analysis between HSIC and the direct competition of Mission Career College, San Bernardino Adult School, ROP, and the Red Cross shows the following positive, negative, external and internal factors:
  5. 5. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 5 HSIC Strengths Competitors Weakness Classes readily available. Classes fill up quickly and typically have an extensive waiting list. Offers CNA/HHA & NCLEX review courses. Do not offer all courses, may offer some but not all. Higher NCLEX pass rate & better reputation for thoroughness. Lower NCLEX pass rates. More stringent requirements for its instructors. Typically lower instructor requirements. Costs of programs typically come in at the mid-level of total competition. Higher cost of some or all of courses offered. HSIC Weakness Competitors Strength Higher cost than some of competitors. Some programs are offered free or at reduced cost to low income individuals. Newer school not well recognized; no substantial web presence. More established and known programs with a longer presence on the web. Does not receive steady group of County Workforce Development paid clients. Receives more county paid students. HSIC Opportunities Competitor Threats Expand to multi-locations & e-commerce presence to increase enrollment, serve more students and gain a larger market share. Expand services that offer more lower cost options. Become an accredited technical school. Most schools already accredited and more established in local market. Bundle programs that offer lower cost, increased enrollment, market share, and higher revenue stream. Start bundling services at lower costs that effect HSIC ability to increase market share. What management of HSIC should gain from this analysis is a clear idea of its weaknesses, and areas of improvement to focus on, as well as some of the threats its direct competitors pose that need to be addressed in order to minimize or neutralize these competitor threats. A SWOT analysis between HSIC and their indirect competitors from the larger technical schools and public higher education is not an imperative now, but maybe needed in the future as HSIC
  6. 6. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 6 expands and starts to realize its long-term business goals. In the short-term HSIC occupies more of a niche market within the larger Riverside/San Bernardino County vocational school market primarily due to the larger schools not offering the CNA-HHA programs, instead focusing on higher cost nursing programs that they can market and satisfy needs of individual looking to enter the nursing field at a higher level that produce higher starting wages in comparison to what a typical entry level CNA or HHA worker would make. These schools also offer more diverse program selection for other positions within the healthcare field such as Surgical Technician, Pharmacy Technician, and Dental Technician programs. Other differences between HSIC and these competitors include; larger schools being fully accredited from industry recognized educational boards, they have sophisticated web presence and more substantial marketing campaigns. The downside to these schools is the higher cost they charge for their accelerated programs. Most LVN, Medical Assistant, and other nursing related programs start at $10,000.00 and go up to over $35,000.00. To overcome these higher costs, these larger schools hold Title IV status, and are able to obtain student loan financing. However, where HSIC can take advantage of this is by marketing their programs as a low cost entry point into the healthcare field that gives these individuals the opportunities to move up in the nursing field through continued education while working in the field. It is not uncommon for hospitals and larger clinics to pay tuition for their CNA’s and HHA’s that continue their education and obtain a LVN or RN License. For many, this can be an attractive lower cost long- term career alternative approach. Finally, when Health Sciences Institute of California is compared to community colleges and universities, they do typically hold distinct advantages, by offering nursing programs that are less costly, and viewed as reputable degree due to accreditation by national-regional higher education accreditation bodies. Because of the full accreditation these programs tend to be highly sought after, fill up quickly with long waiting lists, and have no guarantee of eventual acceptance. Plus, these programs tend to take the most time and effort due to lower level perquisite classes needed for graduation, which can take years to complete. This is where HSIC can capitalize in its niche market by utilizing marketing opportunities that drive students to their quicker alternative programs that offer faster employment and options for these students to continue their education while working at a hospital or clinic. Online Marketing Suggestions and Strategies Health Sciences Institute of California has the typical challenges that any small business faces with respect to building a client base from nothing, limited revenue due to being in the early stages of expanding their programs, and trying to consistently fill their program spots with a steady stream of new students, plus much of the upfront operating capital coming from the owners themselves, as opposed to receiving investor capital. This has challenged HSIC to put forth an effective and comprehensive marketing plan that seizes opportunities that could result in growth in the niche market segment they are trying to compete in. Their preliminary
  7. 7. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 7 marketing efforts include a basic website that lacks attractiveness to most users, and tends to be more utilitarian than an actual functional marketing tool. The site lacks most of the sophisticated tools to drive visitors to enroll as students, such as a school logo, inter-active pages that allow the user to explore, have their interest peaked, seek more information and ultimately enroll and pay the cost of the program. The site also lacks a chat feature popular with many of their competitor sites, which allows a potential client to interact with staff and ask questions while exploring information about the school. The site further lacks a blog that gives potential students relevant information on the owners experience, insight or even industry trends and news. It would also be helpful to have a page set up for current students to access their student data such as assignments, grades and test results. Finally, the site also lacks ability for potential students to enroll in programs, or pay for their services. HSIC website is a starting point, but to expand and grow, HSIC will have to do extensive updating to peak user interest, and convert visitors into enrolled paying students. HSIC has also taken basic traditional marketing steps to expand awareness. They currently are working hard to develop an extensive referral relationship with Riverside and San Bernardino County Workforce Development program to receive groups of qualified county paid students. This is critical to both their short and long-term business plan, since these students are pre-screen, and all tuition is paid by the county. This provides any school that is approved with them a reliable source of capital. This is also important for HSIC to expand their client database quickly to use in future marketing events. HSIC has also run advertisements on Craigslist with much success, another indication of the critical importance of online expansion, especially in the Social Media realm. They have also invested in formal print ad advertisements in a local community coupon magazine that is distributed to all cities that reside in the San Bernardino Valley. This is a good start, but much work is yet to be done to improve and expand the current market opportunities they find themselves interested in exploiting. In comparison, Health Sciences Institute of California’s direct competitors have been in business longer, are larger in size, and have higher brand awareness with the market segment that is actively seeking these services. Their websites are more esthetically pleasing, which should peak visitor interest, and convert a higher percentage of visitors to clients. These schools also invest more revenue in more traditional forms of marketing such as print ads including coupon magazines, PennySaver, local newspapers and radio advertisements. They also have longer established relationships with Riverside and San Bernardino County Workforce Development departments that result in increased student enrollment, and profits. Health Sciences Institute of California’s larger sub-competitors have a distinct advantage over them. Their large size, corporate structure, expansive program offering, and thousands of students make them regional market leaders. This enables them to invest large sums of capital in formalized marketing departments that have developed a sophisticated website and a well- known web presence. All their websites show up high on Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines. Their websites are very user friendly, offer options to chat with site representatives, have questions answered, request more in-depth information on programs, as well as complete enrollment processes, pay the program cost and apply for student loan financing. These schools also market heavily in traditional marketing avenues including; magazines, direct
  8. 8. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 8 mailing campaigns, radio ads, newspaper advertising, and local television advertising. Public Higher Education will always have an advantage over any vocational school by virtue of being a non-profit state sponsored institution, having a fully accreditation status, that automatically projects public trust and a greater reputation. As discussed in the previous section, the demographic for healthcare training programs similar to Health Sciences Institute of California tend to be between the ages of 18 to 49, female, mostly hold a minority classification, just out of high school looking for quick low cost training for a career in healthcare, possess a GED, unemployed, or recently laid off, and looking for a way to transition into another career. No matter what sub-set the individuals in this market segment identify with, they all share one similar quality, being computer literate. Because of this, HSIC management top priority should be updating their website to incorporate various strategies that drive visitors to become enrolled students. This can be done by making the site more visually interesting, incorporating their logo onto the site, formulating a more concise and powerful mission statement than what is currently being projected. It is also critical that they offer a chat function that allows visitors to interact with staff, ask questions, and get more detailed information. They should also expand the site to include a daily or weekly blog of industry related topics to project relevance and legitimacy, as well as, add a page that gives visitors industry news, relevant links and lastly but most importantly give the visitor a way to enroll in programs, pay fees and become a student. With respect to back end processes, it is important that management invest in software upgrades that allow for the capture of visitor e- mail that will enable HSIC to continue to expand their customer database to be used in a future integration of a customer relationship management system for continued follow up and marketing efforts. Health Sciences Institute of California operates in a niche market of the larger vocational school market. The larger market is dominated by a select mix of large national and regional vocational schools. HSIC primary marketing opportunities will lie in clients that are unable to afford, or are unwilling to pay the higher tuitions that the larger schools charge. Marketing opportunities also exist with individuals that would rather break into the healthcare field with slightly lower paying CNA/HHA certification, and work their way up into higher levels of nursing with the assistance of employer paid tuition options. To attract and expand this client base, HSIC must employ broader traditional marketing approaches that coincide with web marketing expansion efforts. First, HSIC must develop a customer value hierarchy by defining their core benefit of the services and programs all their potential client base will be really interested in. Second, HSIC will then need to turn this core benefit into basic products; a set of programs to officially offer and market to the wider market segment. Third, HSIC will then prepare an expected program set, define the set of attributes, and conditions the client will expect when buying such as a set program schedule, on time performance, on time testing, and graduation. Fourth, HSIC will then prepare an augmented program set that attempts to exceed the clients expectations, for example, provide students with extra items they will need to perform nursing duties such as scrubs, gloves, or masks. Finally, HSIC will define potential programs that encompass all possible augmentations and transformations these programs may undergo in the future such as an expanded program offering which eventually may include LVN training,
  9. 9. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 9 Medical Assistant and Surgical Tech training (Kotler & Kevin, 2010). Once the Customer Value Hierarchy is created, the next steps are communicating this to their target segment group by advertising on their website, increasing their web presence through search engine optimization with Google, Yahoo and Bing, to invest in higher search placement with pay per click options. Traditional marketing approaches should include increased investment in print media, more advertising in local newspapers, Penny Saver, and consider buying spots at job fairs, trade shows, and any other industry related networking events to gain valuable market intelligence on the competition. Other effective strategies Health Sciences Institute of California management must seriously consider is program bundling pricing such as offering both CNA and HHA classes together at a reduced price, or CPR and IV Therapy classes together at a reduced prices, and heavily market these options. Finally, in order to grow and eventually break into the larger vocational education market, HSIC should consider co-branding with one of their direct competitors or larger sub-competitor schools that may not offer the same programs. This can be done by joint-venture cobranding in which HSIC refers and markets that schools LVN or other nursing programs in exchange for that school’s marketing activities of HSIC’s CNA/HHA programs. This will help HSIC gain valuable market intelligence about these schools which can be used later to compete directly as HSIC grows larger and adds some of these same programs that their larger competitors offer. Search Engine Optimization An online website is like a brick and mortar store. If your store is run down, out of date, cluttered, difficult to navigate, and find things, it will not attract customers to come in, look around, and buy goods. If the store does no advertising, does not have a sign, or utilize any commonsense marketing techniques, customers will not find it, and eventually the business will close. A website and online expansion efforts are no different. An effective website that attracts many visitors drives sales, and produces profits are the ones that are user friendly, visually appealing, easy to navigate, informative, intuitive, and most importantly is easy to find while performing an online search through Google, Yahoo, Bing or any of the smaller search engines. Anybody that uses a computer and the internet will use a search engine to find what it is they are seeking; because of this search engine optimization is a critical component to any business online expansion strategy. Therefore, Health Sciences Institute of California’s number one priority is to update its website, and utilize search engine optimization techniques to increase search rankings that will help to increase and drive more traffic to its site. There are a couple of quick steps Health Sciences Institute of California can take to optimize its website that will help to increase its search rankings. To start with, HSIC can review its domain name to make sure it is relevant to the target segment it is trying to reach online. HSIC management should consider revising its domain name changing it to something other than their actual company name to something that is more reflective of search words and terms
  10. 10. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 10 people are likely to enter when performing a search. The main problem with their name as it stands now is that when you enter the company name in a search engine such as Yahoo, or Google what sometimes pops up is negative information regarding another company with a similar name, or links at the bottom of the page that indicate further information of negative reviews or scams. This poses a major problem for HSIC since visitors may not decide to go to HSIC’s website due to this negative information, and may quickly move onto to another school that does not have the perceived problems. The best solution is to change their domain name to something such as or, that is linked to their website and school, as well as add information in the online description that states they are not the same Health Sciences Institute with the negative reviews, that will hopefully alert a potential visitor to still go to their site and check them out. The second quick and relatively inexpensive solution HSIC can do right away to improve their search position is to update or add more relevant key words and phrases in their current source code that will increase the likelihood of their website showing up on a search through Yahoo, Google, Bing or the other smaller search engines. This will also increase the odds of being noticed by search engine spiders that constantly crawl the internet seeking out websites, reading their source codes and indexing the site on their respective companies search engine database, so HSIC’s site can begin to show up in searches and over time start to show higher in searches and ultimately increase traffic to their website. One thing HSIC wants to avoid is keyword stuffing or over using keywords and phrases not only in the source code but also in different parts of the website that will discourage indexing by spiders and being kept out of search engine databases due to this perceived infraction. Other things that Health Sciences Institute of California can do to increase visitor traffic to their website without increasing expenditures is being linked through other websites that help to increase relevancy in search engine index rankings through linking by a one way link. One way links help to increase search rankings for that website by employing such strategies as joining The Better Business Bureau, maintaining and excellent rating, and being linked from their site to HSIC site. This will increase traffic because many people use The BBB as a trusted research resource. Another way to increase their ranking is to join the area chamber of commerce, trade groups, or healthcare associations that HSIC can have their website linked from. This may not be a one way link, but will help drive traffic and increase ranking over time. Even if HSIC employs a broader strategy of establishing referral relationships with other companies and sites to link each other, it is important that they do so with organizations that have a high search ranking so that it helps increase their ranking when their site is indexed by search engine spiders. As Health Sciences Institute of California starts employing traditional marketing, online marketing strategies, and search engine optimization techniques, HSIC management should seriously consider not waiting for Yahoo, Google, Bing spiders to find them and index their site, but should approach these search engine sites and formally submit their site by signing up directly. This will help HSIC get into the search engine databases quickly, at which time they can start to employ techniques to climb up the ranking and increase traffic to their site. Another way to increase their search ranking is to consider utilizing pay per click marketing or to purchase banner advertising on other websites. In utilizing pay per click marketing, HSIC sets
  11. 11. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 11 up a daily budget, and should at the very least be done through Yahoo or Google, since they are the two most popular search engines. They pay a certain amount each time an individual clicks on the site link. This will instantly put HSIC website very high on search rankings and outcomes. Once the daily pay per click limit is reached then the site falls down in relevancy and rankings of searches performed until the next day when the process starts over again. The main advantage of this is more people will find their site, click into the site, be engaged by the updated site, and integrated marketing strategies employed, stay a while, and increase the likelihood of buying the schools services. This will eventually lead to an increase in conversion rates from visitor to student that will increase revenue, enable pay per click marketing to pay for itself, and ultimately generate profits, but will also allow HSIC to increase the daily pay per click budget and therefore increase the time HSIC website remains high in the search rankings, which will translate to a long-term increase in traffic to the website. Lastly, HSIC can take further steps to increase traffic and odds of showing up on searches by listing their site with online yellow and white pages. These various sites offer listing of business information such as address, telephone number, website address and also allows individuals to submit reviews. Having positive unsolicited reviews are like gold that will not only help HSIC with long-term website ranking in searches, but also adds legitimacy, increased trust, and an increase in company reputation over time. Social Media Social Media usage has grown in popularity in recent years, so much so that it has become a powerful market place where reviews can make or break a company, and where rules are driven by the social media user rather than a company’s marketing efforts. Just like having a sophisticated online presence with creative marketing strategies, techniques, and search engine optimization that are crucial for any business to survive, it is just as important to have an extensive social media presence that compliments and enhances online expansion efforts, which can allow a company to be on the cutting edge of online trends. For Health Sciences Institute of California to succeed in this arena it must make sure it utilizes as much of the most popular social media outlets that not only help to enhance its online presence, and search engine optimization efforts, but to drive more traffic to their website, and increase their long-term sales conversion ratios, that translates into revenue and profits. By far Facebook is the most popular social media website that is global in scale. HSIC does have a Facebook page, but it is basic and under-utilized. The page should contain extensive information about the school, owners, instructors, staff and most importantly the programs HSIC offers. The page should also have a link to their website, along with regular updates, whether daily or weekly, from the owner or management regarding program availability pass- rates, job placement services, success stories, and profiles of satisfied students that feature positive reviews of the school. The page must also have photos of the owners, staff, and students in a classroom setting. The HSIC staff should encourage all students to become a fan
  12. 12. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 12 or friend of HSIC, so all their Facebook friends are exposed to HSIC and its offerings. Finally, HSIC management could explore the placements of paid banner advertisements to help drive traffic to the school website and increase sales efforts. is another social media site that is geared towards professionals and professional networking. Within this site Health Sciences Institute of California could use this site as a way of projecting professionalism, trust and relevancy, by having an extensive profile of the owners, management, and instructor experience. They can become members of trade groups to keep abreast of industry trends and relate those trends to potential clients on the school website blog. HSIC could also create an alumni group that encourages former students who use to join and participate in discussion threads relating to the school, industry trends, or their day to day experiences in their new career. The idea of this site is to engage as many students, and future students that creates enough of a buzz to generate referrals. Twitter is a site that has grown quickly in popularity over the last couple of years. It is a site that is used by individuals and companies to give instant updates of their day to day activities, with the hope that people will re-tweet their information to many other followers. This avenue would be a good source of low cost marketing for Health Sciences Institute of California to build up a following base, constantly update information on programs, availability, job trends and other marketing activities that will peak user interest. The HSIC staff should encourage students to set up a twitter account, should they not have one, and post their activities about the school, let their friends know about any job placement success they have had with HSIC after graduating, and encourage satisfied students to tweet positive reviews and let their followers know they should explore the schools programs that may be of a benefit to them. Every activity on twitter should pique the interest of followers enough to have them visit the schools website, but in a way that is not in your face aggressive marketing that will cause user backlash and will cause a negative outcome. Finally, a growing and valuable tool that many people are starting to use is Yelp. Yelp is a product and service reviewer website that allows people to do basic research, and read what other users experiences have been for the service they are researching. Many positive reviews on Yelp can help increase traffic to Health Sciences Institute of California website, and will over time increase the likelihood of sales, bad reviews can have the opposite effect. To show up on this site HSIC should submit their company data, such as name, location, telephone number, website address, and any other information Yelp can use to establish a profile. From there HSIC should recommend all new students, current students, and former students post reviews of their experience with the school. HSIC should also encourage anyone they speak to that does not become a student to post reviews about their interactions with the school. This approach will definitely require a commitment to excellent customer service that is paramount to receiving positive ratings, and in traffic to the school website. Ultimately, incorporating social media marketing as a part of an overall approach to expanding its online presence is another tool to increase traffic to the school website that creates the goal of increased sales conversions, increased revenue and profit opportunities. It is important for Health Science Institute of California to understand to succeed in the social media realm there
  13. 13. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 13 must be a real commitment to providing excellent customer service on all levels of the organization at every interaction the school has with students, and potential students. This attention to excellent service is what is going to make social media marketing efforts successful over a long-term period. Online Customer Relationship Management The key to building a successful business model that involves online marketing strategies in conjunction with traditional marketing efforts is building customer value, satisfaction, and loyalty. With regard to Health Sciences Institute of California, as a vocational training school, most clients will typically be a one time student until HSIC can meet its long-term business expansion goals of accreditation, federal student loan approval, and program expansion to include higher level nursing programs such as a Licensed Vocational Nursing. Until then, the focus should be on providing exceptional client services in all levels of the organization, and at every interaction with all past, current, and potential students to be able to grow and market a referral base, and sales lead generation. To do this HSIC should adopt a Customer on Top business model. Vocational schools do suffer from an image problem and negative perception of being very expensive, not providing top perceived value for the money it takes to receive the training an individual is interested in, and not very focused on providing a high level of client satisfaction. This is where Health Sciences Institute of California can differentiate itself from their competition by building a reputation for providing exceptional client services that will bring long-term value to the school. A Customer on Top model would be a right fit for HSIC to implement and achieve. In a Customer on Top model the customer comes first, is at the top level of the organizational hierarchy, with frontline staff that facilitate client interaction, and are the primary drivers of sales and student enrollment. Management is at the next level of the hierarchy with the final lowest level being upper management and the school owners (Kotler & Keller, Creating Customer Value, Satisfaction, and Loyalty, 2010). The focus on client satisfaction occurs at all levels of this model with every interaction being seen as crucial to the schools success. By applying this approach and developing a client always mindset, HSIC will be able to effectively ask for and receive referral business from graduating students. This approach will also realize further benefits by increasing HSIC customer perceived value. As HSIC provides exceptional service to its current students, obtaining referrals from them, the referral will have already been communicated about the awesome experience the student has received, so the referral should be more receptive to the sales efforts of HSIC staff. This will then increase the prospective customer valuation of all the benefits HSIC has to offer, including program cost. This then increases the total customer benefit by exceeding what the potential student will receive by enrolling in one or more of the programs, and thus the referral now becomes a student, that the staff now continues to strive to exceed expectations by continuing to provide the exceptional service at all points of interactions. The goal then is to receive
  14. 14. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 14 referrals from this new student thus continuing the cycle of client expansion. The vision here is that each time a student’s expectations are exceeded becomes another opportunity to increase and ultimately meet enrollment expansion goals set by management. Each exceptional student interaction builds student loyalty, satisfaction, and opens up many avenues for future business generation, both online and through traditional marketing campaigns. In order to effectively manage an expanding client database Health Sciences Institute of California must employ a customer relationship management system. This system will help HSIC manage detailed information about all of its past and current students, as well as potential students that inquire online or by telephone. This system will also help manage an expanding referral base, and allow HSIC to market to them on a continuous basis. Since HSIC uses various Microsoft Office products it would be most cost effective for HSIC to incorporate Access customer relationship management database system into its current Microsoft product usage. This system allows for the collection of detailed information of past and current student, all online visitors to their school website who request program information, and detailed information on referral leads from exiting satisfied students. With this information HSIC receives, and continues to receive, they can use Access to customize marketing efforts based on client status, information received, and whether they are an online lead or student referral. With respect to past and current students Health Sciences Institute of California could use the customer relationship management system to send out updates about the school that may be of interest, holiday e-mails or cards that are designed to keep HSIC in the minds of past and current students, and birthday wishes that most people appreciate receiving, while further reinforcing exceptional service. The CRM system can also be used to ask for referrals. Referrals should be asked in person, on the last day of class, at the end of testing, or both. A sheet can be given to each student requesting the names, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses of at least five individuals they feel may benefit from the schools programs. At some point the CRM system should be used to send out surveys to recently graduated students asking them for program feedback, ratings on instructors, classrooms, materials, and overall ratings on the school that can be used by management to assess the success of the Customer on Top model. At the end of each survey there should be a section that again asks for contact information for at least five individuals. The beauty of this is many of the same students could be inclined to give five different people’s contact information each time they respond. The most effective way to send surveys is to set up the CRM to print them out for mailing as well as sending them in an email blast. This will increase the odds of the survey being read and filled out by the respondent. Any other regular correspondence that the CRM is set up to automatically email or send through the mail should always have a referral request form attached to it. The customer relationship management system can also be used to market to visitors of Health Sciences Institute of California’s website. As a visitor goes to the website and navigates through different sections of the site, there should be pop-ups and links on each page that encourages the visitor not only to chat live with a representative, but also request information be emailed or sent to them. It is also equally important that if the visitor chooses chat that they be required to provide an email address, or the representative chatting should get this information
  15. 15. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 15 during the course of the chat. Another strategy HSIC can employ is incorporating cookies into the website so that every person that enters the website can be tracked and information about them can be captured. This information can then be used to send marketing materials. Once information is requested by the website visitor, or contact info is received through chat, or captured by cookie data, it can be then imported to the Access CRM database and used to send out program materials, monthly e-mail blasts reminding them about HSIC, program updates, or any other marketing that will increase the chances of turning this group from visitors to enrolled paying students. Once this occurs then this client is moved from potential client data to student data where future marketing can continue. Surveys can also be sent to visitors to rate the website, ease of use, staff interaction, and also be used to request referrals of at least five people. Not only can the survey be a valuable referral generating tool, but also provide valuable feedback on the website and assist with future updating. Access Customer Relationship Management system will also be an important sales lead database. The CRM can be used to assist the staff in making timely solicitation calls, help keep track of each call, and whether contact was made, while providing valuable data on sales and marketing effectiveness. The CRM can also be used to send e-mail marketing information that help to reinforce sales call efforts. The critical role the CRM system will play in this marketing segment is to ensure everyone is called, emailed, and materials mailed in a timely manner. This is a part of The Customer on Top mindset that ensures every current or potential students’ needs are met. The Customer Relationship Management system is also an important tool for Health Sciences Institute of California to do marketing campaigns to the database as a whole. The CRM can be used to send everyone a monthly newsletter that features program descriptions, upcoming class schedules, and information regarding other services offered by HSIC such as job placement. The newsletter should also contain positive survey comments that speak to HSIC’s commitment to exceptional client service. The newsletter can also highlight student success stories by satisfied students that had a positive experience with the program of choice, utilized job placement services and obtained employment. The CRM can also be used to broadcast new programs, discount promotions or program bundling, as well as to incent students to provide referrals by tracking referral submittals, how many of these turn into enrolled students so that each paid enrollment can result in the student that submitted the referral being given a coupon for discounts on future services or gift cards for free nursing supply’s, coffee mugs or t-shirts with the school logo on them. Everything the CRM should be programed for is to increase the sales conversion ratio and profits, continued student loyalty, and increased likelihood of repeat business. E-Commerce Solutions Perception can be everything in the business world and the online environment. A business having a terrible reputation in the community, or having a sub-par website will soon find itself
  16. 16. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 16 with an out of business sign on the door. Health Sciences Institute of California is no different. HSIC needs to take a proactive approach to redesigning their website to not only differentiate themselves from their competition through innovation and creativity, but most importantly expand their online presence and school enrollment. Part of a complete redesign of Health Sciences Institute of California online presence includes a complete overhaul of their website that makes the site more user friendly, visually appealing, but to also increase its functionality by integrating a live chat feature, shopping cart that the customer relationship management system can work in conjunction with , and finally a storefront to sell nursing supplies such as scrubs, masks, nursing shoes, and anything else the students may need to start their career, or school logo branded products for a reasonable profit. Shop Factory Pro seems to be the best fit for Health Sciences Institute of California. This all-in- one software offers web design, hosting, technical support, a fully integrated shopping cart, and a fully functional storefront to sell products. There are two ways to obtain this software, by outright purchasing the software, or renting on a monthly basis. Renting would seem to be a more cost effective way for HSIC to obtain all these features at budget friendly prices. This full featured software suite propels HSIC to the front of the competition. By utilizing as much of the services the software has to offer HSIC will in a short period of time see a substantial return on investment and increase in student enrollment. This software has a myriad of features that meet all of HSIC web expansion needs. Shop Factory Pro software is very user friendly and with the pre-designed web templates will enable Health Sciences Institute of California to quickly and efficiently redesign the website look and function in a more cutting edge way. The software allows for automated search engine optimization that, along with submitting the website directly to Google, Yahoo, and Bing, will help to achieve quicker search placements results that will drive more traffic to the site and thus create more sales and marketing opportunities. The advanced shopping cart offers many functions designed to drive and increase sales. It is user friendly for both clients and staff. The client will easily be able to research and choose the programs they would like to enroll in, complete the enrollment process, and pay the program cost or choose payment plan options that may be available. The shopping cart offers HSIC many options to increase marketing efforts such as offering periodic program bundling promotions, and coupons for program fee discounts. HSIC can also use the shopping cart for gift certificates given to students for referral leads that can be used towards future program costs or nursing supplies sold through the online store. The shopping cart also offers integration solutions with the customer relationship management system that enable client data to be imported and used for future marketing efforts, and monthly newsletters. Finally, the shopping cart allows for sales analysis and tracking that enables HSIC to have the ability to receive student enrollment information through email, compile data on which nursing supplies are popular sales items in the online store, as well as products that do not sell well, and track client purchases for analysis of sales conversion goals.
  17. 17. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 17 Shop Factory also provides for a fully functional online store that Health Sciences Institute of California can use to sell nursing supplies at a reasonable profit and enable students to choose nursing supplies that are included in the program cost. HSIC could also sell marketing items such as coffee mugs, water bottles, t-shirts and key chains that are school logo branded, which can be an effective marketing technique to attract new students. Another cost effective and essential feature Health Sciences Institute of California should have is live chat. offers a onetime purchase, no license fee chat program that can be fully integrated with an existing website that offers the option for a visitor to HSIC website to chat live with school staff regarding questions about the programs the schools has to offer. By having this chat option pop up on certain pages the clients goes to will increase the opportunities for sales and enrollment. The program, besides offering live chat, also offers live web analysis, a click to call back option for clients that give personal information but may abandon the shopping cart before purchase completion, and a client detection to initiate chats. This is cutting edge technology that many companies are taking advantage of that overtime will pay for itself and ultimately generate revenue and profits. International Solutions Being a small school Heath Sciences Institute of California will not have many reasons or opportunities to establish a global reach, however there are a couple of areas that HSIC will have opportunities to serve foreign nationals or foreign born students. In Southern California, Hispanics make up over 50% of the regional population. Many of these people were born outside of The United States, making English a secondary language. Asians make up the second largest segment in Southern California; consequently there are many people in this region who feel more comfortable communicating in their native language. Due to this, HSIC has an opportunity to further differentiate itself from its competition by incorporating a feature into its website that allows the website visitor to choose their language preference in which to view the site in. This will enable the individual to navigate the website comfortably and have a full understanding of all the information given to them on each of the website’s pages without having to have someone with them to translate. Having the ability for the visitor to have information in their own language is another way HSIC can apply the Customer on Top Model that is crucial for their young schools success. This small and simple upgrade, even to their existing website will go a long way to establishing customer value, loyalty, and satisfaction, not to mention a long-term increase in school enrollment, repeat business and referrals from happy students. A final item Health Sciences Institute of California can do to assist potential foreign students is to offer NCLEX testing review courses to practicing nurses in other countries that want to immigrate to The United States. Once a foreign national comes to this country to work, if it is in the nursing field, they will need to be licensed in California to practice nursing, and because
  18. 18. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 18 HSIC has a high NCLEX pass rate and good reputation, this is another marketing opportunity for HSIC to exploit. Also, the owners of the school are foreign born and went to school outside of The United States. There is an opportunity as an alumnus of the foreign university that they could work towards establishing an affiliate relationship which offers graduating students or current alumni HSIC program services should they decide to immigrate to The United States. Website Development and Maintenance Website development and maintenance for large companies can be very expensive and run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars when you factor in staffing a fulltime IT Department that will handle everything from start to finish, as well as ongoing maintenance, future website enhancements, or upgrades. There are also equipment expenditures large companies have to account for. The stakes are high, the payoff can be great if everything is done right, or cause huge losses should the site not perform as projected. Similar schools such as Health Sciences Institute of California do not need to spend huge amounts of money to have an advanced website and features that rival large company websites. As discussed in the E-Commerce section, an all in one software suite such as Shop Factory Pro is a perfect solution for a small business such as HSIC, since it offers everything they will need to expand its web presence with cutting edge technology. This system offers website design that requires no need to pay a developer to build. It is user friendly, comes with pre- designed templates that a novice business owner can use to build a sophisticated looking site in very little time, with minimal effort. This system also offers a fully functional shopping cart with advanced features designed to increase marketing efforts and drive sales, as well as a store front to sell unlimited products. Along with these front end features comes backend full time hosting and technical support. The software can be bought outright for $500.00 or rented monthly for $40.00. Renting also provides additional features not offered in the purchase version, such as order management, PCI compliance, vouchers, and a customer reward system. This system gives small businesses like HSIC a flexible, upgradable, technically advanced software to quickly and efficiently expand its web presence that is very cost effective for budget conscience young companies. Another feature previously discussed in the E-Commerce section is a fully integrate-able live chat feature that will enable Health Sciences Institute of California representatives to monitor web visitors and answer questions in a live chat environment, thereby expanding marketing and sales opportunities. The company offers a purchase only version that ranges from $640.00 for a single user version to $1860.00 for a ten user version in their standard edition. There are more advanced versions for larger companies, however for HSIC the standard edition
  19. 19. E-Business Expansion Proposal for Health Science Institute of California 19 is more than adequate, that offers growth flexibility as their online web presence expands. Maintenance for this system is a separate cost of $256.00 per year with a signup incentive to get an additional year for $96.00. This feature is one that will make HSIC truly stand out from its competition. Finally, domain names do have a nominal cost associated with them that even a small business such as Health Sciences Institute of California will find very affordable. Domain name yearly registration fees generally run from $1.99 to as much as $10.00 depending on the company chosen, with the higher priced domain name cost coming from more reputable names like and Google. In conclusion, Health Sciences Institute of California while having a small web presence has much work to do to increase its presence that will work inter-relatedly with its traditional marketing efforts, long-term business model, and revenue goals. Being a small startup means having a disciplined budget, but not everything proposed in this paper requires a substantial monetary investment or even any expenditure at all, some of the suggestions herein only require creativity, and hard work. Either way in order for the school to make money, be successful, and expand, HSIC owners and management must find innovative approaches that balance creativity and hard work with strategic monetary investment that will take the school to the next level.