Social Media, the Internet, and the Erosion of Traditional Marketing Channels
In the not too distant past, MBA recruiting was reasonably straightforward and relatively standardized and stable. A school would design a brochure, which it would use as a mailing piece for inbound inquiries as well as for distribution during MBA admissions events, whether on campus or off campus. Schools would ensure that they were listed in the appropriate third-party publications and resources that were available for MBA applicants. MBA admissions officers would travel to various events, sometimes around the world, and engage alumni in some of their recruiting events.
This was circa the 1990s.
The internet has changed the status quo profoundly. First enabling schools to develop standard web-sites and utilize e-mail engagement, and then much more. In 2015 we are seeing a shift to mobile access to the internet, and the increasing impact of social media. These are persistent topics of this column.
What is clear – no matter how a school decides to deploy web, social media and mobile content – is that the internet is both a terrific opportunity, and a threat, to marketers and traditional means of marketing.
In essence, we now have a new channel in which a school can connect and engage its audiences, and that new channel erodes the importance of prior channels (alumni, brochures, recruiting event attendance, etc.)
Why is there an erosion of traditional means of marketing? The answer is quite simple; if there used to be four channels that helped marketers reach out to their audiences, and now you add a fifth, then the prior four channels’ impact will be diluted. We see a similar phenomenon in media consumption generally. Internet has evolved, therefore newspapers and magazines are on the decline. It’s an equal sum game, growth in impact of a new channel means erosion of impact in existing channels.
This fifth channel also gives candidates more control; they can seek out content and insight on their own terms, rather than on the terms of the various schools. This fifth channel also gives schools the opportunity to create “sticky” engagement, by encouraging candidates to follow or ‘friend’ their programs of choice, ensuring a persistent means of communication.
The outcome of this erosion of the traditional channels leads us to one clear takeaway; developing a strategy for social and mobile is fundamental to ensuring a marketing program does not lose ground with peers and applicant expectations.
This post is part of Southwark Consulting’s blog series, “Engage”, which examines the new social media and mobile environment and offers case studies and advice on how to navigate this evolving landscape. These stories are published every second Thursday.