Higher education has become a parity product. There, we said it. We got it off our chests.
For a college or graduate program to truly stand out today, it has to sell some point of difference — to distinguish it from the slew of schools competing for students (and spending a lot doing so).
An acclaimed, accomplished faculty — or wide alumni network — aren’t enough anymore. Neither is a study abroad program. Lots of schools have those. To be truly successful in the marketing game these days, a school has to find something that truly distinguishes it from the pack. A unique selling proposition. A game changer.
It’s not so much what a student can do with a degree. But what a school can do for the student better — or differently — than any other school.
In our previous blog, we spoke about our campaign for Texas A&M that connected with students on a personal and emotional level — the educational experience became an extension of them. What else made the campaign successful was the pay-off — the fact that the school offers the best value of any 4-year college program in Texas. So we got students’ attention with emotion, and then convinced them (and their parents) with logic.
We applaud Texas A&M/Texarkana for being bold and definitive in positioning itself as the best higher educational value in Texas. Then again, that’s precisely what it takes to win the higher education branding game these days.
So what is your school’s point of difference? If you don’t have one, find one. Look closely at your course offerings, the students and faculty you attract, and even where you’re located. Find something that makes your institution unique, special and compelling. Then make that the center of your brand proposition.
It’s working for Texas A&M. And it can work for you.
Need help coming up with that unique value proposition? Contact us. We’re very good at that sort of thing. After all, brand clarity is our value proposition.
With the high cost of higher education, students are looking closely at whether a law degree, MBA, or MFA is really worth it. As a result, more and more schools are competing for fewer candidates. Ads for undergraduate, MBA and law programs seem to be everywhere these days, online, in broadcast media — even in metro stations.
So how do you keep your school’s brand fresh and top-of-mind in a barrage of noise? The key to successful higher education branding is to inspire students. Don’t just advertise what they can do with a degree. Talk about your school experience as a personal extension of them. Make a connection.
That’s precisely what we did for Texas A&M University. Using a play on the A&M, we devised an anthem “I AM” that showcased what an education means to real students (who became spokespeople for the campaign).
It worked — far beyond anyone’s expectations. Student enrollment at the Texarkana campus increased more than 20% over a two-year period. And the university surpassed its five-year strategic growth plans in just 3 years.
The campaign became a rallying cry for the university’s development efforts, too — yielding lots more money to fund an athletic program, new buildings and faculty additions. It also earned top honors in numerous categories in the CASE Awards (the Clios of higher education).
See what can happen when you touch an inspirational nerve with young people.