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Strengthening Your Value Messaging

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How can colleges and universities effectively create "value messaging"? With a special focus on a "Tale of Two Augustanas" this conference presentation reviews from a marketing perspective how the value message might best be delivered on websites, social media, and email communications.

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Strengthening Your Value Messaging

  1. 1. STRENGTHENING YOUR VALUE MESSAGING ©ROBERTE.JOHNSON,PH.D.2015 Improving Your Strategic Recruitment Communications Plan Academic Impressions Houston, TX June 1-3, 2015 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 1
  2. 2. Why we are talking about this today… For the private sector… • Increasing concern re cost, especially as percent of income. • Concern over load debt levels. • Interest in concrete outcomes information • Why pay private sector money for a degree? For the public sector… • Rising tuition as public financing decreases creates PR problems. • Perception that schools don’t seriously work to control costs. • Some challenge to value of any college degree. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 2
  3. 3. THE MESSAGING ENVIRONMENT… Reluctance to directly use the “value proposition” in recruitment communications continues. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 3
  4. 4. A TALE OF TWO AUGUSTANAS… Augustana College… Sioux Falls, SD Augustana College… Rock Island, IL Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 4
  5. 5. Value message at S.D. home page… http://www.augie.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 5
  6. 6. Not so much in Rock Island… http://www.augustana.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 6
  7. 7. “VALUE PROPOSITION” WEBSITE CONTENT… Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 7
  8. 8. Opening view of the competition… http://www.augie.edu/value-proposition Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 8
  9. 9. “Exceptional” quality at lower price… • “Among these colleges and universities that claim similar outcomes relative to graduate and professional school admission and job placement, Augustana provides exceptional academic quality and the best value.” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 9
  10. 10. 7 claims + evidence links… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 10
  11. 11. “Authentic”… • Augustana hired a marketing firm to do a “Brand Audit” to “reveal” the “distinctive nature of the Augustana community.” • Is this credible? Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 11
  12. 12. “Undergraduate research”… • Summer science research opportunities • Average of 55 students per summer since 2006 • “Unlimited opportunities” in biomedical research in Sioux Falls area • Is this credible? Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 12
  13. 13. “Measurable outcomes”… • Graduates are well- rounded (88%) • Graduates leaders (86%) • Graduates effective communicators (90%) • Survey of employers hiring Augustana graduates Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 13
  14. 14. SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGES… Consistent “Exceptional Value” theme. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 14
  15. 15. A LinkedIn message connection… • Opening text notes “reasonable cost” and “exceptional value.” • “See more” includes URL (not live link) to the “value” page. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 15
  16. 16. “Exceptional Value” also on Pinterest… • “Augustana College (SD) is a community where challenging academics, a caring environment and reasonable cost come together to create exceptional value.” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 16
  17. 17. On Twitter… • “Augustana College (Augie) campus & student life - where challenging academics, a caring environment & reasonable cost come together to create exceptional value.” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 17
  18. 18. And on Instagram… • “Augustana College (SD) Official Augustana College (Augie) campus & student life — challenging academics, a caring environment & reasonable cost create exceptional value. http://www.augie .edu” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 18
  19. 19. “WORTH CLAIM,” NOT “VALUE PROPOSITION”… Augustana College, IL. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 19
  20. 20. “Value proposition” is not enough… http://www.augustana.edu/x57491.xml • “Value propositions too often assume students can intuit worth, recognize the full range of meaningful differences, trust what they're told without question, and as a result will make decisions that are in the student's best interest. • “This is why value propositions as they are understood today are not enough.” • W. Kent Barnds, Executive Vice President & Vice President of Enrollment Communication and Planning, Augustana College • “The Worth Claim: Beyond Brand,” July 31, 2013 at http://www.augustana.edu/x57491.xml Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 20
  21. 21. Market first, mission second… • “The worth claim at its core should be centered on something, or some things, for which students and families will be inclined to pay more. The worth claim has to be market-smart first and mission-centered second.” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 21
  22. 22. Worth claims #1 and # 2 • “You will have access to a premier alumni career network, creating professional and social connections to reinforce your knowledge base and help you find your first job, your next job, and your best job.” • “You will have greater access to experiences and services that will equip you to stand out to employers and graduate schools.” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 22
  23. 23. Worth claims #3 and #4 • “You will develop and gain the skills employers want most.” • “You will work side-by- side with faculty who specialize in one-on- one and small group teaching, to the benefit (of) your undergraduate education and your future success.” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 23
  24. 24. Traditional scholarship page… • Better heading: • “$2.5 Million in Scholarships” • 3 good points in one place: • Amount of the award • Criteria to win • Criteria to continue Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 24
  25. 25. Small extra “Ways to Save”… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 25
  26. 26. SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGES… “Worth claim” content is not apparent. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 26
  27. 27. Twitter: Traditional brand message… • “Augustana is a private, selective liberal arts college on a 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River.” • Nothing on “worth claims” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 27
  28. 28. Pinterest: no brand message at start Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 28
  29. 29. EMAIL RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGN CONTENT… Augusta College, Rock Island, IL Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 29
  30. 30. 1st response… visit us May 30 • “Visit us” theme is common. • 3 scholarships for visiting are different. • $1000 • $500 • $500 • 500 word essay required. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 30
  31. 31. 2nd response: “Cheat sheet” notes… June 4 • Help to craft the best letter of recommendation • Profile of a graduate • Graduation video & link to YouTube channel • Poll Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 31
  32. 32. 3rd response… visit us June 12 • Duplicates the first email. • Subject line is more personal: “Ryan, it’s you we are looking for” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 32
  33. 33. 4th response… visit deadline June 24 • Sent on June 24 to note deadline for June 27 visit day. • Continues the scholarship offer. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 33
  34. 34. 5th response… 5 college search tips July 7 • Subject line: “College search tips, foreign languages and visit days” • Foreign language video & link to YouTube channel • Alumni profile • Poll Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 34
  35. 35. 6th response… visit us August 20 • After a long hiatus, a prompt to visit in the fall. • Scholarships “exclusive to visitors attending one of the visit days” continue. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 35
  36. 36. 11 more email responses… August 29 to January 2 • Follow on Facebook • Visit, apply, succeed • Visit… September deadline • Join FB group, win $50 card • Visit, win $50 gift card • Visit in November • Visit in November • Student learning trendsetter • January weekend visit • Christmas video • Visit + scholarships Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 36
  37. 37. A critique of the series… • 9 of 17 emails are visit prompts • None speak directly to either “value proposition” points or “worth claims” • No email speaks to the academic program preferred at time of inquiry • An almost universal omission • None speak to cost and affordability concerns • Average of 2.1 emails, June to January • Is the long summer contact gap wise? Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 37
  38. 38. STRATEGY SUMMARY… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 38
  39. 39. Strategy + Tactics… • Create cohesive “value” or “worth” content at your website. • Make sure people easily find the content. • Make sure people can quickly scan content. • Avoid marketing hype. • Validate claims. • Use real people when credible, especially video. • Integrate with social media. • Speak “value” or “worth” from first inquiry contact… email (online inquiry) or personal (college night). Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 39
  40. 40. Email recommendations… • Build inquiry response contacts on “worth claims.” • 1st response links learning about preferred academic program to a campus visit. • Link “worth claims” to academic program outcomes in the series. • Alumni network from Biology • “Experiences and services” that relate to Biology • “Skills employers want most” & how Augustana delivers them • Satisfaction levels and post-grad placements for Biology • Minimum frequency of 3 emails per month. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 40
  41. 41. THANKS FOR BEING HERE IN HOUSTON! Bob Johnson, Ph.D. bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com @highedmarketing Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC ... @HighEdMarketing 41
  42. 42. APPENDIX 1: WARTBURG COLLEGE ON VALUE Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 42
  43. 43. 4 key points to start… http://www.wartburg.edu/admissions/value.aspx Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 43
  44. 44. Starting & mid-career salary levels… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 44
  45. 45. Compare sticker prices w/ net prices… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 45
  46. 46. Compare graduation rates… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 46
  47. 47. Faster graduation = faster earning… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 47
  48. 48. APPENDIX 2: LAFAYETTE COLLEGE ON VALUE Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 48
  49. 49. Return on investment theme… http://launchyourlife.lafayette.edu/value/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 49
  50. 50. High graduation, employment rates… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 50
  51. 51. Testimonials… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 51
  52. 52. 5 skills employers value… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 52
  53. 53. Alumni success… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 53
  54. 54. Call to action w/ options… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 54
  55. 55. APPENDIX 3: TWO SOURCES TO REVIEW… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 55
  56. 56. HubSpot on value propositions… http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/write-value-proposition Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 56
  57. 57. Email frequency… don’t be shy http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-open-click-rate-benchmark Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 57

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