Marketing communications - getting the best out of institution-agency relationship


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In this competitive age, just signing up an agent and hoping that results will follow is not enough. In this presentation from Chris Price, CEO & Principal Advisor of Adventus Education, he looks at working closely with your key agents by involving them in your marketing effort. If this is done well your agency partner can achieve the results you need.

Topics covered include:
- getting the relationship off to the right start;
- getting from A-Z as painlessly as possible;
- marketing communications and planning;
- marketing things that really really work;
- taking things forward.

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Marketing communications - getting the best out of institution-agency relationship

  1. 1. Chris Price- CEO & Principal Advisor Adventus Education Marketing communications- getting the best out of institution-agency the relationship ICEF Miami- December 2013   All materials copyright C.Price 2010
  2. 2. Presentation Outline 1.  A  quick  bit  about  agents  ‘in  context’     2.  The  idea  of    ‘levels  of  involvement’.     3.  It’s  about  managing,  mo@va@ng  and   communica@ng  with  your  agency  partners   and  making  it  all  work  out.   5.  Marke@ng  communica@ons  techniques  that   work…and  some  ideas  for  you   6.  Conclusions  and  Q&A  
  3. 3. The  global  market  for  interna@onal   students  is  increasingly  compe@@ve  –   and  agents  know  it!!   • A  very  crowded  market-­‐  More  interna@onal  providers   of  higher  educa@on,  voca@onal  training  and  ELT=    more   choice  and  inc.  complexity  of  the  offer   • More  agents  willing  to  work  with  an  interna@onal  and   varied  porTolio  of  clients.    Now  looking  beyond   tradi@onal  markets  and  are  increasingly  mul@   des@na@onal  in  focus   • Agents  are  looking  for  the  value  add  in  an  increasingly   compe@@ve  and  disrupted  market  and  are  brand   promiscuous   •   The  blurring  of  sending  and  receiving  markets    i.e.  UK   THIS    ALL  ADDS  UP  TO  YOU  HAVING  TO  INCREASINGLY   DIFFERENTIATE  YOURSELVES  AS  DESINATIONS  AND   INSTITUTIONS    
  4. 4. Agents  have  (somewhat)  of  an  unfair  reputa@on….   The  Agency  star  has  risen  but  it’s  a  complex  and  controversial  market  entry  and   development  partnership  arrangement.   However  it’s  tough  out  there  but  most  decent  agencies  are  there  to  help  you   achieve  your  aims  and  objec@ves!    But  treat  them  as  partners  or  at  the  very   least  as  a  member  of  your  team…  
  5. 5. You go to a lot of trouble to find good agents.. Agent  selec@on  –  how  to  find   agents  for  your  ins@tu@on   Agents  evalua@on  –  how  to   appoint  the  right  agents  for   your  ins@tu@on   Not  all  agents  are  the  same!  
  6. 6. • Have  a  promo@onal  plan  for  the  market  and  ensure  the  agent  can   contribute  to  this,   •   Align  your  aims  and  objec@ves  are  their  aims  and  objec@ves   •   Ensure  the  agent  is  a  part  of  your  plan,  they  can  then  buy  into  it  and  will  be   an  asset  and  not  a  hindrance.   BUT-­‐  How  many  of  you  involve,  or  would  consider  involving,   your  agents  in  your  markeNng  comms  and  promoNonal   planning?  
  7. 7. We come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.. • Ins@tu@on  representa@ves   • Interna@onal  offices   overseas   • Individuals   • Private  companies   • Government  bodies   • Alumni     So  how  much  you  involve  them  in  your  Marcomms  depends  on  the  type   and  style  of  agency  they  are  
  8. 8. Understand they are important in the student and sponsor decision making process
  9. 9. 2 But first lets take a look at the student and institutional thought/decision making process… ACQUISITION Institution critical path I want to study Aware Where’s best? Choose Help me compare Info search Can I get in? Enquiry Help me apply Apply Keep me informed Assess Offer Offer Help me decide Accept / decline Visa stress Enroll & pay Reassure me Close sale …. Arrive …. Attend RETENTION Marketing cycle Basically  we  don’t  spend  enough  @me  on  reten@on  post  ‘offer’  So  spending   more  @me  on  conversion  the  ‘new  normal’     Agents  act  in  support  of  your  prospect  genera@ng  as  well  as  conversion   ac@vi@es  as  well  as     student critical path
  10. 10. It’s  all  about  best  fit  with  your  and  their  operaNons   Direct  control  (minor  partners):   Dictate  ac@vity  and  event  plan   They  support  your  strategy,  and  you  visit  when  best  opera@onal  fit   Indirect  control  (major  partners):   Offer  the  agent  devolved  marke@ng  budget  (retainer)  and  give  them   opera@onal  freedom  –  but  make  clear  parameters,  targets,  and  deliverables   Remember,  you  will  always  have  closer  rela8onships  with  some  of  your  agents  than  with  most   of  the  others  
  11. 11. The best things you can do to make the partnership work And preferably; •  Treat the whole arrangement as a partnership and have a contract outlining everyone role and responsibilities (KPIs etc) •  Do joint promotional materials •  Let them do what they are best at (dealing with local students and converting them into enrolments) you help and support this process by providing up to date info, advice on what you need. Consider sending all of your enquires directly to the agency for screening •  Advise and involve them on your strategy and involve them in planning and actions, including your annual visit plan •  Have an allocated budget to support the relationship •  Have a decent financial model that works for both parties (motivate and incentivize !) •  Be quick and efficient (agree SLAs?) in responding to agents enquiries and applications! •  Invite them to visit you country/institution for familiarisation training (and be prepared to fund some or all of it). Even ask them to give presentations to key staff at the University. At  the  absolute  minimum/criNcal;   •  Provide  informa@on  and  news   •  Admissions  turnaround  @mes  and  keep  agents   informed-­‐  (SMS/  Dominos  model)   •  Train,  train  and  train  again   •  Send  materials  (hard  and  sof  copy)-­‐  that’s   compelling!   •  See  them  as  your  local  team  and  offer  training  on  your   ins@tu@on   •  Go  and  see  them  once  in  a  while-­‐  and/or  have  a   sustainable  and  frequent  contact  programme   •  Answer    ques@ons,  queries  and  especially  applica@ons   quickly   •  Take  their  advice  (esp.  on  local  condi@ons,  culture,   ins@tu@ons,  how  to  get  things  done  inc.  admissions   requirements  and     •  Tell  enquirers  you  work  with  them!   It’s  not  always  about  money-­‐     Involvement,  services  and  responsiveness  are  nearly   always  as  important  
  12. 12. Do  something  innova@ve  ….  Its  not  an  op@on  anymore…  and  get   your  key  agents  involved  
  13. 13. • Monash  University  in  Australia  use   their  website  effec@vely  to  manage   agent  rela@onships   • They  maximise  the  number  of   agency  partnerships   • They  support  them  with  training   manuals  and  toolkits   • Agents  can  order  marke@ng  material   on-­‐line   Best  PracNce:  Good  use  of  intranet  Monash  University  
  14. 14. Case  Study:  NoUngham  Trent  University-­‐  Making   agents  feel  special   • Luggage  tags  and  USB  pen  drives  to  all  students   coming  through  agents   • Compe@@ons  for  agents  with  prizes   •   Preferred  partner  agencies  get  beyond  normal   commission  arrangements  (frequent  flyer   models)   • Staff  development  –  get  agent’s  counsellors  to   work  in  your  office  or  opera@on   •   They  ofen  asked  agents  what  they  thought   was  needed    
  15. 15. Case  Study:  CBU-­‐Pak  -­‐  ConsorNa  approach  (its   ok  to  work  together)     • Working  in  partnership  with   your  compe@tors  can   some@mes  produce  excellent   results-­‐  agents  like  it  too!   • Combining  your  marke@ng   spend  and  working  closely  with   one  agency  fosters  loyalty   • You  can  leverage  your  agents   loyalty  if  you  invest  in  the   rela@onship   •   In  certain  markets  you  can   spread  your  risk!  
  16. 16. FamiliarisaNon  tours-­‐  Edu  Nova     •   working  in  partnership   with  govt  or  NGO  educaNon   promo  agencies  or  state   consorNa   • Combining  your  markeNng   spend  and  working  closely   with  key  agencies-­‐  fosters   loyalty   • Show  case  your  ‘product’   inc.  desNnaNon  and   insNtuNons   • Makes  it  ‘come  alive’  
  17. 17. Adver@sing  campaigns  –   Print.       Driving  enquiries  to  the   agent  for  screening  and   visa  applica@ons  
  18. 18. Be  market  rather  than  product  led  and  listen  to   your  Agents  where  you  trust  their  judgement   •   Listen  to  your  agents  as   they  can  provide  valuable   market  intelligence   • You  can  leverage  your   agents  loyalty  if  you  invest   in  the  rela@onship  
  19. 19. Making  agents  feel  special  –  How  technology  can  help  when  you  are   communica>ng  to  them  as  they  are  only  as  good  as  your  training   • Iden@fy  what  they  want  to  read  about   • Adjust  marke@ng  communica@ons       and  visit  plans   • Refine  your  value  proposi@on   • Define  benefits  and  communicate  compelling  info   • Use  compe@@ons  with  prizes!  
  20. 20. AdverNsing  campaign  –  billboards  (outdoor  is  important  in   some  markets….  
  21. 21. Use  social  media  and  communicaNons   technologies  to  best  effect  both  to  drive   prospects  to  your  key  agencies  and  to   communicate  be]er  with  your  agency  network  
  22. 22. 12 12
  23. 23. 18 18 Google  hangouts    
  24. 24. 13 Webinars   13
  25. 25. INTO  CASE  STUDY  –  Smart  Phone  &  iPad  App  -­‐  for  Agents  to   improve  sales  knowledge   •   Very  popular  with  counselling  staff   •   Keeps  you’  in  mind’  at  all  Nmes   •   Makes  counselors  info  search  easier   •   Easily  updated   •   Value  proposiNon,  applicaNons,  fees   etc   •   Timely,    relevent  and  compelling   •   Leads  to  increased  applicaNons  and   enrolments  
  26. 26. 26  
  27. 27. Conclusions   It’s  all  about  customer  service  and   involvement-­‐  The  bare  minimum     1.  It’s  NOT  all  about  money!  Its  more  about   informa@on,  integra@on  and  service…   2.  Visit  them  and  provide  recruitment  support   promo@ng  these  visits.  Treat  them  as  part   of  the  team     3.  Take  the  agents  advice  but  be  prepared  to   ask  ques@ons   4.  Offer  to  pay  towards  the  marcomms   campaign  and  pay  them  on  @me  or  in   advance!   5.  Respond  to  their  enquiries  quickly.  Quick   applica@on  turnaround!  
  28. 28. Thank you! - Questions? Christopher Price CEO & Principal Advisor Adventus Education Tel. +44 7912111968 chris_pricet2 Contact me if you need help with working with agencies. If you are new to doing so and need to find partners and develop networks or need T&D on making it all come together to get positive outcomes!