The Internet and Content Marketing Enable Business Schools to Reach Two Audiences
Reaching Those Who Are Already Engaged and Those Who You Want to Engage
The internet, and the shift to mobile access, has had a profound impact on consumer purchase behavior. This impact is illustrated by both the Mckinsey Consumer Decision Journey Model and Google’s Zero Moment of Truth. Both models are well worth exploring.
These frameworks highlight the idea that prior to the internet a consumer’s first informed exposure to a product was in the retail store, ahead of a purchase. The second informed exposure is the experience with the product, post purchase. Both these experiences impact not only the purchase decision, but that of repurchase.
Post internet, and post mobile, the first informed exposure has moved to the internet for any significant purchase (a car for example). Consumers are now much more informed, before they enter the retail store. The content on the internet is developed by the brands themselves, as well as by consumers that have shared their experiences about those brands, post purchase.
How do these models apply to the MBA admissions space ? Simply put, candidates can now seek out information about programs, via various searches and resources on the internet, without having to rely on the programs’ own traditional marketing programs of distributing program catalogs, attending fair events, welcoming incoming applicants to campuses, and so forth. Applicants seek out information and insight across multiple online channels, rather than programs solely pushing marketing information aimed directly at candidates.
This highlights the importance of making sure that there is detailed content on the internet about your program, and its particular strengths, that is available anytime that a potential prospect does a search on the internet for information that is related to her specific needs. This content can be published by an MBA program via blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social media vehicles; it is also published by other applicants, students and alumni of programs.
An MBA admissions office should now recognize that it is producing marketing related content for two discreet audiences:
- Applicants that are already engaged in their social media efforts (candidates that have progressed down the admissions funnel and have already determined that the school is part of their consideration set)
- Potential applicants that are not yet engaged but could be part of the applicant community for the program. These are candidates that are at the very top of the admissions funnel, gathering information to develop their MBA Program consideration set.
Prior to the internet, it was hard for less well known programs to shift into candidates’ consideration sets. There was significant inertia in the industry, supported by business school rankings which tend to list the same schools, in a reshuffled order, and alumni of ranked programs supporting the brands of their programs. Now, with the internet, a well developed content marketing program, that is optimized with keywords that highlight the strengths of a particular program, can enable discovery. A program that also engages other constituents to participate, whether it is current students or alumni, can only strengthen the overall messaging.
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.