Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Engaging University Brand Advocates

In a service-led industry, such as higher education, customer referrals have a very important role to play in enhancing the reputation and value added aspects of the brand. Therefore, with this in mind, it is important that we do what we can to encourage positive feedback from students and staff alike.

Of course, in order to do this, first and foremost we need to be doing the basics right: provision of a quality service that adds value to the end user, all delivered with a good dose of customer care. Failure to do this will ultimately result in poor customer satisfaction and the rest will be history. However, if you get this right, then you’re likely to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction and be in a prime position to strategize on how to turn this into a means to market your course.

In marketing circles, this is often referred to as referral marketing or word of mouth. It’s a cost effective means to promoting your course(s) to new group of prospects.  And, whilst this can often happen spontaneously, you can influence this by adopting appropriate strategies.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Role of Student Ambassadors

Our recent Open Days were amongst the busiest we have ever had and pivotal to their success was the role of our student ambassadors.  More student ambassadors than ever before volunteered to help out at the Open Day, ready to do their part to advocate the University.  Student ambassadors were on hand to provide tours, show their accommodation, give directions and generally be a friendly and welcoming face.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Another Open Day... Another Blog

It’s been while since my last blog, so with the advent of a new application cycle and the passing of another season of Open Days, I thought maybe now was the time for another blog about Open Days, with some reflection on their success and some thoughts on where we go from here.

Seeing Double

Of course, given the inclusion of an extra Open Day in the calendar, since this announcement there has been much debate as to how sensible the addition of an extra date was, especially over two consecutive weekends. One of the main incentives for doing this was to enhance the visitor experience. In recent years, the numbers attending Open Days have been steadily increasing and it was decided that it was in best interests of the visitor to split the main Chester Campus Open Day over two weekends.

I'm sure, to a certain degree, this debate will continue, but with the overall numbers in attendance far higher and more manageable spread over two dates, there’s a strong argument to say that we should continue with this formula next year. In reality, the extra date has now created far more choice for the visitor and, therefore, helped to increase overall attendance. This is important for us in order to maximise our chances of converting enquiries into applications, and it’s also helpful to our prospects at a time of the year when the majority of UK universities are trying to cram in their Open Days. And, given the nature of the application cycle, to move to another weekend later in the cycle would now be far too risky a strategy.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Engaging with students in The Student Room

There's been a lot of talk recently about departments setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I'm really pleased to see new accounts being created by colleagues in Art and Design, Warrington School of Management and others. As I mentioned in my previous blog, these are great platforms to communicate specific information about your courses and departments, in a way that we just can't manage on our general accounts.

However, another popular platform that you might not be aware of is The Student Room, a community of over 1.2 million students who visit to discuss all sorts of topics ranging from study, to current affairs, sport, health and relationships.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Tips for setting up departmental Facebook and Twitter pages

I've recently been getting a lot of requests for advice about setting up departmental Facebook and Twitter accounts. I think this is a great idea, because it gives you the opportunity to engage with prospects, applicants and students of your course in more detail than the main University ones, which, by design, has to be more general.

Rather than emailing everyone individually, here are a few general tips for setting up these various pages, which I hope will get you up and running. Of course, if there is something specific you'd like to ask me, or I've forgotten to include anything, feel free to get in touch with me by email.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Identity Crisis: Football, Branding and Cardiff City

Identity Crisis: Football,
Branding and Cardiff City
In this blog, rather than focusing on marketing in the Higher Education sector, I thought it would be interesting to focus on another services sector that, like Higher Education, can be subjected to some resistance when the marketers take hold.  It is well known, of course, that football is now more than just a sport.  And over the last few decades we've seen many examples of how to, and how not to, run a football club as a business.

Of course, given my location, the natural thing to have done here would have been to write a blog on Chester Football Club.  It’s certainly had its fair share of turmoil over the last decade or so and would have made for an interesting case study.  However, given my sense of national pride, it’s only natural that I would look to focus my attention on the industry in the ‘land of my fathers’.

In particular, I thought we’d turn our attention to the topic of branding and whether it is possible, or even ethical, to re-brand a football club.  In one form or another, this is a matter most followers of Cardiff City have been debating about over the last 12 months.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Statistically Speaking, Visually Communicating

If you’ve seen our latest university promo, you’ll have noticed that there is a heavy use of graphics for illustrating various statistics and facts about the University.  The purpose of this film is to highlight why Chester is a sound investment for higher education; an upcoming university rising up the league tables and getting the recognition it deserves for the service it provides its students.  But why use infographics for narrating such achievements?  And what exactly is an infographic?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Prospectuses, prospectuses

It's around this time of year that we publish a new Undergraduate Prospectus, and so it seems a timely opportunity to inform you more about the process of creating our printed prospectuses, as well as why we do it. The following post covers:
  • The University of Chester's 2014 Undergraduate Prospectus - available now
  • An explanation of the Marketing Department's prospectus timelines
  • Why our prospectuses are important marketing materials
Undergraduate and Postgraduate Prospectuses
The 2014 Undergraduate and 2013 Postgraduate Prospectuses

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Marketing School Direct

For those of you reading this with absolutely no responsibility for the recruitment of School Direct places, or the recruitment of any kind of teacher training course for that matter, you might think that there is little point in reading on. However, if you have a general interest in student recruitment and raising the profile of your course, I would urge you to stick with this blog, especially if you are concerned with ensuring the best return on your marketing expenditure. The marketing principles discussed within this blog really can be applied to any course at the University.

A Game Changer

A change of government policy and the introduction of a new course called School Direct not only changes the rules of the game but also presents new challenges for student recruitment. Raising the awareness of new course provision can often be a challenge in itself, but with School Direct this responsibility doesn't just sit with the university that the school, or group of schools, have decided to go into partnership with, but also with the school itself.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Avoid getting spam on your phablet (or creating an email campaign in 2013).

You'll probably not be surprised to learn that email is a big part of our communications strategy. How big? Well, in the last 12 months we have sent over 225,000 emails to prospects, applicants, current students and alumni. So although they might not be as publicly visible or permanent as the website or prospectus, they make up a really important part of our marketing communications mix and they offer some unique features that we try to fully harness.

Yes, email is 'cheap' (less than 1p per email), but they are much more valuable to us than that. The flexible nature means that we can target them much more easily to an individual's needs, and increase their relevance to them. They also offer useful tracking options, so we can see which messages are working and follow up on these accordingly. They're also instant, and during a nervous application cycle, people seem to appreciate it!

Email marketing serves as as useful communications tool to remind people that we are thinking of them and to provide targeted offers of courses and services they might find useful. They also reinforce our other print and digital messages, and it is important that maintain the same design integrity as our other communications. 

It's easy to get email wrong, so here are a few best practice tips to ensure that we are delivering the best quality messages to the right people.