With the new year upon us, it’s time to write and attempt to implement those pesky, but requisite, resolutions. Instead of those boring and likely undoable resolutions about being more organized, eating better, or exercising regularly, I wanted to present a handful of resolutions to help you succeed in the adult student marketplace. Don’t worry about the order, but if you can even pick off half of these in 2013 you’ll likely be in better shape than last year.
#1: I resolve to…really understand my top competitors for adult students. Compare programs, cost, financial aid strategies, differentiators, marketing efforts, and more. Look for standouts as well as places where you can excel by comparison.
#2: I resolve to…get into the heads of my prospective adult student audiences. Conduct focused qualitative and quantitative research to find out motivating factors, what they seek in a program (and what programs they seek), awareness and perceptions of our institution (and competitors), and more. Before I can appropriately target and communicate with this audience, I need to understand it.
#3: I resolve to…make sure our institution offers the right academic programs in the right ways at the right price. Determine whether our curriculum is appropriate for the needs and expectations of our marketplace or whether we are missing big opportunities based on our program array (or how those programs are offered).
#4: I resolve to…keep our messaging about faculty focused on what adult students seek in their teachers, not just what faculty want to say about themselves. Remember, adult students want faculty who understand the unique needs of adults, are approachable, are available, are empathetic, are competent, and have meaningful experience in the working world.
#5: I resolve to…make sure our web experience lives up to adult audience expectations and needs. From simply being present on the audience navigation bar to being able to easily find fast facts, cost and financial aid, majors, sample curriculum, advising, outcomes, and the opportunity to interact with other adult students. Adult students are web information seekers (96% of adult students would turn to an institutional website for information about enrolling in college*).
#6: I resolve to…remember that “location” isn’t just about whether we offer our classes on campus, online, or both. When considering location, adult students also think about safety, traffic flow/drive time, parking, availability of coffee/wireless/comfortable place to put up their feet, clean/modern facilities, etc.
#7: I resolve to…make sure that we’ve translated our institutional brand messaging for adult students. If our prospective student messaging is pretty much the same for all of our prospective students, we’ve probably missed an opportunity to effectively communicate with an audience segment like adults.
#8: I resolve to…try something new when it comes to divvying up my marketing dollars. A typical split is 70% tested media, 20% new media, and 10% experimental media. Take a small (10% only!) chance on something really new.
#9: I resolve to…not only use Google Analytics, but also analyze the data and make strategic decisions about what to do based on the results. I should also identify high-level key performance indicators that I can track and share with others to readily demonstrate successes and challenges.
#10: I resolve to…establish an adult student advisory panel/board/committee to keep a pulse on the needs and opinions of these students. I will include both new students as well as continuing students in order to get a good cross section of input and feedback.
*From Stamats Adult StudentsTALKTM study.