Sloan-C Director of Marketing
In October and November, Sloan-C held an online seminar focused on addressing many of the marketing issues facing institutions offering online programs. A wide variety of participants attended this event. Administrators, marketers, faculty, instructional designers, and others all came together to discuss a topic that is usually relegated to just the marketing communications staff. It wasn’t surprising because marketing is an activity that affects every aspect of an institution. Marketing needs to be a consideration from every person in the organization.
Examples of marketing-oriented activities:
--When faculty members develop courses for the upcoming semester
--When an institution considers a new program focus to meet a new area of student interests
--When a researcher writes a proposal for a research grant
--When a new faculty member is considered for tenure
All of these activities are commonplace among your own activities and all have marketing implications. If you care about the education that you are delivering to students at your institution, then you are a marketer.
The basic premise of marketing involves the following three steps:
--Identify a need in the marketplace
--Develop the service that will meet those needs effectively
--Put in place a communications plan to reach that market effectively
The Sloan-C online seminar focused primarily on the 3rd area, but the discussion certainly discussed how the 3rd interacts with the other two areas. Some key areas of discussion during the seminar included:
--Cost Effectiveness – There are some very cost effective ways for an organization to market an online program. There was a helpful resource provided by eLearners.com at http://elearners
/resources/sloan/pricing.asp that outlines and compares four commonly used online marketing methods. Other suggestions include focusing on a very specific niche market and establishing corporate partnerships. As an entrepreneurship professor once told me – if you can’t compete head on with the big guys, choose a niche and own that niche.
--Scaling Up – Be aware that you can be too successful. Make sure you have the infrastructure in place to handle the lead generation and follow-up that will be needed when a marketing initiative is successful.
--Online Marketing for Online Programs – The anecdotal evidence, as well as the data-supported evidence indicates that online marketing works well for online programs. If you have the budget, also using traditional channels is still advised.
--Market Evolution – According to Sean Gallagher, a Senior Researcher at Eduventures, we are entering a time of extreme competition. As the market shakes out the weaker competitors in the next few years, he predicts student focus will increasingly be on the brand of the institution and the pedagogical model the institution uses. Student outcomes, measured by job placement and tuition return on investment will be increasingly scrutinized. We suggest that careful consideration is given to these concepts now as your programs are created so that your institution does not fall victim to the market shake out that is predicted in the relatively near future.
**If you missed this online seminar, it is still available in an asynchronous format. You can find out more about this event at http://www.sloan-c