Posted on 9/21/2015 in Business and Strategy
By Dean Dorazio
As an institute of higher education, you focus most of your marketing efforts on increasing your lead to enrollment rates. This is no easy task, especially since the risk that you are marketing to the wrong student is always present.
However, the solution is far easier than the problem. To be able to market to the correct students, you need an accurate picture (or persona) of who they are.
Having a set of buyer personas based on your “ideal student” is crucial for proper enrollment. By marketing successfully to the right buyer personas, you receive a class of students motivated by being in your program, determined to work hard, graduate with a great GPA, get a job, and become alumni who give back a success story.
Using accurate and correct buyer personas for your programs will enable you to focus your marketing efforts on where they will be the most impactful, motivating prospective students to enroll. They will also ensure that the students you attract are students ready for education, and have goals that align with the educational mission of your school and the strengths of your programs.
How Do We Find Our Ideal Student Buyer Persona?
There are two very important steps that you need to follow to set you on the right track to define who your ideal buyer personas are for each program:
1. Find Out How Your Program Changes Lives
Each school has a different culture, atmosphere, and philosophy. Take the time to talk to your current students and learn why they are getting their education. All students have a trigger or a point where they realize an education will help them achieve their goals. Maybe they want to get a better job in order to make enough money to send their children to college debt-free. Maybe they want to be the first member of their family to receive higher education. Whatever the reason is, knowing what that trigger is will help you tailor your marketing efforts so you strike a chord in these potential students. To discover these triggers, interview your current students about their experiences, aspirations, and goals. Use them to learn what makes you great.
2. Find Your Differentiators
As previously stated, every person is unique. Institutions are no different! You have different programs, each of which offers a much different experience than your competitors. What you need to ask yourself is what can we do that others can’t? Are you located in the heartland of America and can offer greater agricultural studies? Did your program just win a grant to build a state of the art graphic design lab? Why are you renowned? Why would a student be proud to put you’re your name on their resume? That’s what makes you different, that’s what makes you great.
How Will Student Buyer Personas Impact The Success of Your Institution?
Knowing who your ideal student is will enable you to market your strengths to a receptive audience, in the media and language that reverberates with this audience.
Knowing is only half the battle, the other half is acting upon said knowledge. As mentioned above in step two, part of the process is finding your differentiators. Once you are aware of the reasons students select your school, you can market to those who will benefit the most from your offerings.
Students enrolled through this marketing will perform better since their goals are aligned with your strengths. Their lives will be enriched as they continue down the path towards graduation and achieve all of which they are capable of. What will benefit your students will ultimately benefit you, so do what you’re good at.
So what will come of it when you attract all these eager, passionate students? When you know that you are enrolling students that are excited, will be challenged and motivated to succeed at your school, you will see happening, organically:
- An increase in graduation rates
- An increase in overall GPA
- Increases the levels of student engagement, socially and academically
- More success stories in undergraduate and post-grad experiences
- Your alumni network blossom and become a strong foundation for attracting future students
There are no drawbacks to a well-formed buyer persona. They will help attract the right kind of students for your institution which will improve your rankings and allow you to positively change their lives.
However, a word of warning when using buyer personas: use the right ones. Using a poorly created persona with no research behind it will affect your attempts adversely. You will market to the wrong demographic which means you will be ignoring your ideal group. Those you do attract will be poor fits and not be excited by your offerings and be unfulfilled or even leave. So when you conduct your research and find your ideal student, remember:
School is never about the how, it’s about the why.
Do you need help developing buyer personas for your students? Contact Wakefly, we have over 13 years of experience crafting leading digital marketing strategies in the higher education industry!
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