Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Postgraduate Student Loans

As you may be aware, George Osborne announced plans for postgraduate student loans for 2016 in his Autumn Statement. I have collated the main points of this announcement in a bid to help identify the: Who, what, when and how’s and the potential opportunities to the University and ‘young’ graduates; in addition to what implications this may have on our marketing and recruitment work.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Email Marketing Tips

Email marketing is a key tool and is used throughout the student recruitment cycle. However it’s not as simple as just sending an email, there are lots of things to consider to ensure that people receive targeted emails that are relevant to them, we don’t just want to bombard people otherwise they will only ignore our emails.

To make sure that emails are sent to the correct people at the right time and contain useful content, there’s a useful acronym CRITICAL. I will explain what each of the letters stand for.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Digital Marketing Top 10

In July and September I had the opportunity to present my 'Digital Marketing Top 10' to colleagues in MRA and at the wider Staff Conference. I recorded the first of these sessions and if you'd like to view it, it's available in the YouTube player below. Alternatively, if you'd like to skip through the presentation at your own pace (and without my ramblings) you can do so using the Prezi player.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

What is #mychesterstory?

I recently wrote some blogs discussing the importance and value of student referrals for enabling prospective students to gain an authentic view of the real student experience at Chester. It's these student experiences that enable our prospects to identify with the University in such a way that it allows them to envisage what it is really like to live and study at Chester. And it's our students' stories that help tell the story of our brand and consequently differentiate what we have to offer.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Higher Education Marketing with a Difference... Differentiation

Where shall I go to university?
How do you differentiate one university over another? Ask any senior marketing professional in the Higher Education sector and they’ll recognise the importance of differentiating what their university has to offer over that of another. Yet the truth of the matter is that, as soon as you look past a university’s location, upon first glance many universities can appear to be very homogenous and indifferent from their rivals. Of course, universities are defined by the types of courses they deliver, but a prospective student will often know what course they want to study, so it then becomes a question of how to differentiate your university over those with a similar set of programmes.

As the HE landscape continues to evolve and students become a far more discerning set of consumers, HEI marketing professionals recognise the need to demonstrate the benefits of what makes their institution stand-out from the competition. And to do this, key performance indicators, such as satisfaction or employability levels, are often used as a means to highlight a good return on a student’s investment. Of course, this is very important to do and something the government has advocated, which is only too evident through the introduction of Key Information Sets. But, if all universities are making similar claims, can they really be used as a means to differentiate? And besides, surely with so much data now available for prospects to sift through, this only leads to more confusion?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

New On-line Design Brief...

The design brief is one of the essential parts of the design process. Starting a project without one is a bit like building a house without a blueprint. Although it may be possible to do, you may finish the house and then realize that you should have put the front door somewhere else!

So, what is a design brief?

A design brief is a document outlining the business objectives and design strategies for a project. It gets the design wheels rolling and helps us to think strategically about design solutions. It also encourages the client (you) to process and clarify what you need from a project, who the target audience is, and who the key stake-holders are.

How does a design brief relate to a marketing plan?

You could think of a marketing plan as the set of rules that direct your marketing activities. The marketing plan is simply a way to focus on one or more marketing objectives.

A successful design brief will inevitably be informed by your marketing plan. For example, if one of the objectives in your marketing plan is to target a specific age-group, this should be stated in your design brief. We can then use this information to propose design ideas that are coherent with your marketing plan.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Campus Tours: Where, When and Why?

With the 2014 Applicant Day cycle now over (*collective sigh of relief*), I thought it would be a good time to mention our campus tour provision at the Chester and Warrington campuses.

Applicant Days – done!

The Applicant Days have seen upwards of 2,500 applicants - plus associated parents / siblings / friends / partners / babies - pass through our doors over the last few months.  An increase of around 10% on last year’s Applicant Day attendance, this is a great outcome for making our offer more tangible to those applicants who visit us.  We know that conversion rates are significantly higher for people who have attended Applicant Days, and research shows that, however much applicants research into their chosen courses and institutions, the final choice ultimately comes down to whether or not a university ‘feels right’.

Getting a feel for the place 

Providing opportunities to visit the University is therefore a really important part of recruiting students, and booking onto Open Days and Applicant Days is a key call to action in much of our communications with applicants throughout the recruitment cycle.

Despite encouraging attendance at recruitment events, there will always be people who have missed or not been able to attend Open Days and Applicant Days, as well as those who apply late, or are simply slightly disorganised...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Adding Value for our Applicants - Newsletters 2014

The January - May decision making period (or Stage Two as we like to call it) of the Undergraduate recruitment cycle is of crucial importance to us all. At this time, an applicant will have applied to up to five institutions, each with their own marketing and recruitment teams doing their best to demonstrate why their university is the right choice for them.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Our 2015 Undergraduate Prospectus - what's changed?

To give you a bit of background, the whole process of producing a prospectus (re-writing, editing, image selection, designing, proofing and printing) generally takes 4-6 months from start to finish, with the Undergraduate prospectus being produced between the months of October and February and the Postgraduate prospectus between the months of March and August.

In the months running up to the project we are busy collecting ideas, feedback and researching the direction we would like to head in.  We have to work 18 months ahead to cater for our stakeholders (prospective students, parents, teachers, careers services etc) as this is when they would typically start their research - so last month (February 2014) the 2015 Undergraduate prospectus was completed for students thinking about starting uni in September 2015.

The University's positioning in the HE sector has changed in recent years and the prospectus along with the rest of our marketing collateral needs to reflect that.  For the previous year's prospectus (2014) we focused on streamlining the content and reorganising the structure slightly to make it more user friendly.  This year we focused on imagery.  We organised a weeks professional photography to capture our students going about their daily lives, studying, socialising, working out, shopping.  We were keen to not just showcase the facilities we have but to show how students use these facilities in their day to day lives.  It all needed to be more 'human'.  We took new photos of students relaxing in the comfort of their own rooms, enjoying a catch up with their friends in the local pub, heading off to lectures and visiting the many support services we have to offer.  We captured students in their study environment, heading from one lecture to another. And the list goes on...

We hope you like the 2015 Undergraduate Prospectus as much as we do.  Initial feedback from prospective students at the HE Fairs has been really positive and we're confident that we're getting closer and closer to producing a document that gives a prospective student an honest and complete idea of what it's like to study at the University of Chester.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Marketing as Mad as the March Hare

At this time of the year, some of my marketing colleagues can appear to be a little reclusive. A sighting of them can be a rare privilege and when you do spot them, they can appear to be in a bit of a frenzy, rushing from one place to another. So what exactly is it that makes them behave like this, particularly at this time of the year? This short blog will clear up the reason for this elusive behaviour and explain why this might be of interest to you if you’re thinking ahead to the next recruitment cycle.

Hare, There and Everywhere...

The first week of March sees the start of our recruitment drive for September 2015. Whilst 2015 may seem a long way off, the next few months will see the Marketing team clocking up the miles as they travel the length and breadth of the country generating further interest in the University's provision of undergraduate courses.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Applicant Day Checklist

With the University's Applicant Days now in full swing, I thought now might be an apt time to blog about how to get the most out of these days and ensure you maximise your chances of conversion. As with most blogs that I write, the core theme here will be centred on the premise of building a meaningful relationship with your attendees and leaving them with a lasting impression. I'm sure you'll agree that the tips contained within this blog are nothing ground-breaking, but perhaps instead more of a useful checklist for running successful subject sessions on an Applicant Day.