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Research + Press = New Program Success 2012 GMAC Leadership Conference
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Research + Press = New Program Success 2012 GMAC Leadership Conference



How to employ market research and public relations for successfully launching new graduate business programs.

How to employ market research and public relations for successfully launching new graduate business programs.



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  • Build it and they won't come necessarilyYou must gather facts and opinions in an orderly, objective way to find out what people want to buy (stakeholder needs), not just what you want to sell them. Changing environment creates new demands and needsFocus on markets or product categories consistent with the institution’s objectives, resources, capabilities, and strengths
  • Cue Kent
  • In many situations, the decision maker is only aware of 10% of the true picture. Real issues are submerged below the waterline of observationIf submerged portions of the situation are omitted from the research design, decisions based on the research will be less than optimal
  • Des Moines, Iowa-based school The D+ is meant to be shorthand for the magic that occurs when Drake plus a student get together. To many, though, it seems to position Drake as a school whose standards barely exceed total failureThe tagline for the promo campaign: "Your passion + our experience.”Officials said the school tested the concept on 921 high school students, and more than 75 percent said the logo was either a little or very attention-grabbing.Dropped logo in Sept 2010As many Drake faculty, students and alumni have pointed out, D+ is universally synonymous with sub-par academic performance.Campaign was designed to catch the attention of high school students who are bombarded with college and university materials to the point that they are often in information overload and unable to differentiate among the many institutions that have contacted them.
  • Attributes: Type, Lockstep, Credit Hr Requirements, Meeting Frequency, Intake Characteristics, Prerequisites, Tuition CostPeers: Geo + Matching format
  • AffiliatedCurrent StudentsAlumniFacultyProspective studentsNon-AffiliatedProspective studentsEmployers
  • Involve faculty
  • 2009 market study – launched in 2011a new online master’s degree focused on interactive media, the Internet, digital economics and other issues reshaping journalism and mass communication in the 21st century.The master of arts in technology and communication is the only fully online master’s degree in journalism and mass communication offered in the UNC system – and the only curriculum of its kind among the school’s peer programs nationwide.interviews confirmed extraordinarily high interest in the proposed degree. Over 50% of 1200 respondents
  • Product, Pricing, Place, Promotion, Package, Positioning, & People

Research + Press = New Program Success 2012 GMAC Leadership Conference Research + Press = New Program Success 2012 GMAC Leadership Conference Presentation Transcript

  • Research + Press = New Program SuccessBrian Mahoney, Percept ResearchKent Holland, Plesser Holland
  • Brian Mahoney Managing Partnerbrian.mahoney@perceptresearch.com http://www.mbalifecycle.com
  • Build it and they will come?
  • Overview• Why conduct market research in new program development?• What types of research should you consider?• Avoiding failure• Key considerations in developing a research plan• How to measure market opportunity• Optimizing for success
  • Leadership PollHow does your school assess the demand for a newprogram? A. Faculty member influence / anecdotal B. Internal research C. External research
  • Why Conduct Market Research in New ProgramDevelopment?• Test the waters to reduce your investment risk• Better informed decisions made earlier in the process• Improve accuracy of decisions based on understanding market conditions• Define target audiences, market size, competition, and other marketplace dynamics• Identify competitive advantages
  • Why Conduct Market Research in New Program Development?"[T]here are known knowns;there are things we know weknow. We also know thereare known unknowns; that isto say we know there aresome things we do not know.But there are also unknownunknowns – the ones wedont know we dont know. ”— Former United StatesSecretary of Defense DonaldRumsfeld
  • The Iceberg Principle
  • What types of research should you consider?Primary research is original information gathered for aspecific purpose.  Qualitative  QuantitativeSecondary research is information that already existssomewhere.  Environmental scan  Census  Area economics  Competitor scan  Website  Marketing materials
  • Types of Research - Qualitative focus groups, 1-on-1 interviews• Typically exploratory research• Open-ended, semi-structured questions• Discovery, identification, preliminary insights• In-depth probing• Small sample sizes typically not generalizable• Data analyzed using subjective and content analyses
  • Types of Research - Quantitative phone, web surveys• Descriptive and causal research• Mostly structured questions  Heavy emphasis on pre-determined response options• Validation of facts, relationships, predictions• Large sample sizes with high degree of generalizability• Data analyzed primarily using statistical procedures
  • Avoiding FailureTop Reasons for Failed Program Launches• No plan / poor research• No differentiation – another “me too” program• Insufficient market demand• Limited marketing or recruitment budget• Insufficient marketing communication effort• Bad timing
  • Avoiding Failure
  • Key Considerations in Developing a Research Plan Audience DemandCompetition Opportunity
  • Key Factors in Developing a Research PlanAudience• Who are the ideal students?• What are their characteristics?• Where are they located?• What are their motivations?
  • Key Factors in Developing a Research PlanDemand• What do students desire as program outcomes?• What do their employers need as program outcomes?• What is the price sensitivity of the market?
  • Key Factors in Developing a Research PlanCompetition• How many other institutions offer a similar program?• Are their programs successful? Growing?• Will this program cannibalize your school’s current portfolio?
  • Key Factors in Developing a Research PlanOpportunity• What is not being offered that is desired by your target market? How will this program be distinct?• Does this program align with the school brand?• What resources are available? What needs to be developed?
  • How to Measure Market Opportunity Program Launch Market Testing Prototype Development Concept Testing Opportunity Scan
  • Opportunity ScanCompetitor secondary analysis• Identify defining attributes• Identify peers• Define geographic reach  80% rule• Create ideal student profile  Age  Years work experience  Years management experience  GMAT range  Other – specific to new program recruitment
  • Concept TestingInternal and external exploratory focus groups• Affiliated and non-affiliated audiences  Current Students, Alumni, Employers, Prospective Students• Distill new program prototype concepts  Attributes of importance• Know strong points of competition• Anticipate market resistance• Discover unfulfilled needs• Identify key promotional messages
  • Prototype DevelopmentDesign 2-3 prototype concepts• Value proposition• Admission requirements• Delivery model• Curriculum• Fee structure• Program length• Location• Career services
  • Market TestingTest prototypes and gauge image/awareness• Define target market  Purchase non-affiliated sample (cost consideration)• Gauge competitor and school image  Determine brand positioning and strategy• Assess market needs• Assess new program strengths and weaknesses  Test prototypes• Identify optimal communication channels
  • Measuring for SuccessUNC JOMC MATC
  • Optimizing for Success• A survey is a marketing event in itself – build awareness• Identify leads from respondents – prime the pipeline• Identify champions• Intra-institutional cooperation – faculty buy-in• Mission alignment• Reduce potential duplication/overlap• Refine clear value proposition• Segment communication channels
  • Optimizing for SuccessListen First, Talk Second…
  • Kent Holland Partner kholland@plesser.comhttp://www.plesserholland.com
  • Research + Press = New Program Success• What do you want to say? (and be able to explain it in less than 30 seconds)• Who do you want to say it to? (the audience: stakeholders, alumni, donors, future students)• What do you want them to do? (people often forget this part)
  • What’s the Pressure, and the Buy in?• New Dean or Associate Dean wants to launch a pet project?• Falling revenue, or overall student dropoff?• What are the channels of communication besides paid media?• What are the expectations for press? Full profile on the Dean? Local press to generate interest in a new EMBA program? National press to increase overall student applications?
  • The Chronicle of Higher EducationBusiness Schools Are Hiring a New Kind of DeanBy Katherine ManganFaced with stagnant enrollment, pressure to expandoverseas, and the demands of recruiters for more-relevant training, business schools today are searchingfor a new kind of dean: one who has broad leadershipskills rather than narrow expertise in areas likeeconomics or finance, according to a new report.
  • The Wall Street JournalA New Course for TepperThe Tepper School of Business at Carnegie MellonUniversity has built its reputation on teachingquantitative skills. Now, its broadening its approach.The school will roll out a new curriculum next fall toincorporate more training in leadership andwriting, and to teach core subject areas such as financeand operations before recruiters arrive on campus—which now happens in September, just weeks after thestart of the school year.
  • Bloomberg BusinessWeekWharton RevampUniversity of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, forexample, is revamping its curriculum and willimplement the changes in 2012. With increased focuson ethical and legal responsibility, oral and writtencommunication, and self-analysis, the school is alsogoing to provide recent graduates with ongoingexecutive education to encourage lifelong learning. Theintent is to make sure the future is bright for individualstudents and business as a whole.
  • National Catholic ReporterVillanova takes church management courses on roadAbout 130 Hawaiian Catholic priests spent a good part of their five-day annual Priests’Convocation this May attending courses on church management by Philadelphia’s VillanovaUniversity -- in a resort town about 30 miles from Honolulu.“It’s much more cost-effective for us to go to them than for them to come to us,” said Villanova’sCharles Zech, who led the program.Instead of sending more than 80 percent of its diocesan and religious clergy across the Pacific toPennsylvania for a week, the diocese brought Villanova to Hawaii.It asked Pennsylvania’s oldest Catholic university, run by the Augustinians, to bring in teachersfrom the Center for the Study of Church Management to lead a series of 90-minute to three-hourmodules during the yearly diocesan clergy gathering May 2-6 in Kahuku, a beach resort town nearHonolulu.Among sessions were three-hour courses on how pastors should deal with parish financial issuesand with human resources -- the hiring, firing, promotion and development of the people, mainlylaity, who play an increasing role in the dynamics of today’s Catholic parishes.
  • It’s the Students, Stupid: Any New Program Hasto Prove a Better Outcome for Students• Local, national and global press want to know about how a program improves outcomes for students i.e., will it help them get a job?• Will a current student talk to the press about the program?• Do you have a recruiter at a local/national company talk about the relevance of the program for their new hires?
  • Your Dean• Have they been practitioners in industry before?• Do they have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish for the school?• Will they put their own “skin in the game” for the new program launch by actively promoting it to the press?
  • Your School and National & Local Companies: Howto Sell the Relevance of Your New Program• Does your school have relationships with local businesses?• Do they support the school financially in any way?• Do they employ any of your students?• Do they send executives to teach classes at the school?• Will they talk to the press about their relationship with your school?
  • National and Local Press Need DATA!• Can you provide the press data on current class size and goals for expected class size for the new program? If you can’t give exact numbers, you can give percentage increases.• Can you provide research/data on the uniqueness of the program? Or is this frankly a “me-to” program (nothing wrong with “me-to” with the press in a hot or trendy subject matter).• Can you provide research/data on how your program compares to programs from competitor schools?
  • Realistic Press Goals:Under-Promise and Over-Deliver• What press outlets are you going after? National, local, or both?• Is there really a stand-alone feature story about how your program is cutting edge, or is it really a part of a biz ed trend to be included in a trend story.• Is there an op-ed piece there for your Dean on the value of your program in an ever-changing world?
  • Value of Press Coverage?It helps with the following: – Applications go up – Alumni are impressed – Donors are impressed (another arrow in the quiver for your development people for outreach) – Faculty are impressed (as much as they can be)
  • Exercise in Self Discovery for Your NewProgram: Build a “Message House”• Write down your school’s elevator pitch, mission or vision statement – that’s the roof.• Underneath the roof are the four pillars that support that mission statement.• Pick four of the most important aspects of your new program: new pedagogy, new faculty, partnering with national/local companies, new geographic location, new funding -- that will be the four pillars to hold the roof.
  • What Stakeholder Groups Are You Trying toReach?• New students• Alumni• Potential donors• Local/national companies for executive education, funding and recruiting graduates
  • Separate Stakeholders• To reach prospective students, highlighting the success of your students is important.• To reach alumni and potential donors, the importance of your faculty and the vision of your Dean are important: where does the new program fit into that?
  • Discussion / Questions Kent Holland kholland@plesser.com http://www.plesserholland.com Brian Mahoneybrian.mahoney@perceptresearch.com http://www.mbalifecycle.com