Communication is all about empathy. Study copy writing on websites and you will see most writing is corporate, selfish, feature driven. You want all of your communication steeped in empathy and benefit language.

Marketing now controls two-thirds of the admissions process

Female student at computerToday, prospective students do most of their research about their EDU buying decision away from the school. When an Admissions Advisor connects with a student, they are about 2/3 along the buying funnel.

Enrollment Management Tip:

Focus your copywriter/ad agency to up their game. Promotional material should answer only one question: “Why should someone put their life in your hands?”

Is Your Marketing Information Selfish or Empathetic?

Is your marketing information selfish or empathetic?

Is your promotional information written in selfish ‘feature language’? Consumers are like selfish six-year-old kids and hate reading other people’s selfish language. It’s all about what’s in it for the consumer when parting with their dollars.

Tip:

Write in benefit language, become an empathetic organization.

Enrollment Management Tip: Confirmation Bias

Our Marketing Manager, Jodie Gastel, got me thinking about a notion to consider: the onslaught of information on the web feeds into the ‘confirmation bias’ carried around within us all. This bias, combined with readily-available, easily joined ‘Confirmation Bias Tribes’ is deepening entrenched opinions and judgments like never before. Dealing with deeper, harsher opinions represents a serious adjustment when it comes to the Art of Persuasion.

Here’s a Tip:

Understand the biases that sit within your target market and understand what on the internet feeds or confirms those biases. Write your copy accordingly to address those biases in a proactive manner.

Reputation is ¾ of Everything

I was leafing through Douglas Magazine, an excellent tome on local business issues. I came across an excellent article written by an old friend Mike Wicks, a reputable dude who has made his living in sales training, writing, etc… Mike’s article was about the value of a reputation from an empirical perspective. In other words, one can attach a financial score to a weak reputation and it’s not pretty. Mike’s article got me thinking about a few things on this topic;

Product Delivery is the premix for Reputation

My partner Shane Sparks and I are fond of saying “Nothing can destroy a crappy business like a great Ad Campaign.” The outcome of a branding effort is to leave the consumer with kind of a buyer’s insurance policy that they are making good choices. If a business is delivering crap, the branding efforts will not grab, and it will simply accelerate negative word-of-mouth. Read more

Taking control or letting chaos rule?

To Embrace or Control Chaos: Big New Choice for Higher Education

Nasim Taleb has written an interesting book called Antifragile. Taleb talks about how, through embracing risk, nature has a way of applying stress to that risk. This, in turn, allows an entity to either fail or succeed under that stress and pressure. The stress related to embracing risk is what makes our society strong; as an illustration, did you know a regularly-stressed femur actually becomes stronger over time? In fact, they are known to become even stronger than concrete.

Some businesses–or people–thrive when there is upheaval by embracing uncertainty and benefiting from it. These folks are known as antifragile. Others who crave the status quo and safety try to control uncertainty rather than embrace it. These are the risk-adverse folks who, according to Taleb, ride the backs of those who strengthen themselves through embracing risk. They are fragile. As an entrepreneur, I’d characterize these types of people as a waste of space. Read more

Audio & Notes: Things You Can’t Say or Write

“Things You Can No Longer Say or Write After July 1st” affecting US Title IV schools.
An audio recording and notes as presented from our Conference Call
Presented by Shane Sparks and Gregg Meiklejohn of Enrollment Resources Inc.

Employability

  1. Avoid using the BLS stats on national averages, if it does not accurately reflect local employment. Recommended to use local stats that are documented and avoid BLS generalized employment references
  2. Avoid salary claims – don’t make them unless you can prove it from graduate stats
  3. Avoid generalized placement statistics that are not accurate – whether it’s student, accreditor or government
  4. No Help Wanted advertising whatsoever – avoid posting ads in the help wanted section of classifieds and on “job postings” for sites such as craigslist, kijiji. Need to check to see if your lead providers and affiliates are doing this.
  5. Relationship to employers promoted to suggest connections IMPLY better job opportunities
  6. “Lifetime placement” – don’t make this claim in case the program may not be available in the future or for any other reason that you may not be able to stand behind this claim.
  7. What you don’t say can hurt you – preconditions of employment being one of them (criminal record requirements, existing medical conditions etc – policy needs to be in place pre-enrollment)
  8. Implied strong employment outcomes – claims needs to be based on documented outcomes
  9. Avoid terms such as “in Demand”, “Fastest growing career”, “high job placement”, “good jobs”, “high salary” and the like unless these are accurate and documented locally.

Financial Aid

  1. You’ll want to keep the tone to “financial aid for those who qualify”. Not promote your department as having an advantage in the application process. Keep things factual.
  2. Scholarships – need to be true (discounts are not representative of scholarships)
  3. Misinforming students right to refuse financial aid

Institutional

  1. Avoid terms such as “state of the art”, “modern”, “cutting edge” if this is not 100% representative of your school
  2. Small class sizes – needs to be 100% true
  3. Can not state approval or endorsement by the Department of Education to the quality of the education programs. It’s suggested that you apply this to your accrediting agencies as well if they are stated on any promotional material.

Program

  1. Avoid terms such as Start a Career in XXX in as little as …. – this would be a false claim as it’s likely not 100% true in all cases
  2. Do not claim program length without noting which study type it is (part time/ full time)
  3. Certified – avoid general claims to certification. If you mention certification, you must disclose the certification body and whether that particular certification will meet any preconditions of employment.
  4. Can not state any employment opportunities without disclosing if further training or certification is required and if your program meets the requirements for preparing for certification. Must disclose whether the program meets all employment requirements.
  5. Suggest credit transfers without disclosing any limitations
  6. Misleading statements about faculty expertise or experience

Overall: What you don’t say may hurt you – don’t leave out any details that could be misinterpreted or misleading. Base everything on fact.

Other info

  1. You need to monitor what others are saying about you as well as “indirect” statements about your school that are not factual will be a problem.
  2. Affiliates come to mind – need to monitor the conversion about your school on the web and protect your reputation. You may need to draft a cease and desist order to distribute if needed to cover your bases.

You can not use phrases like “lifetime Career Assistance” – or “grads can always take refresher courses” – no one can reasonably guarantee that their school will always be around or that they will always be involved in the same course offerings.

If you use Job Outlook statistics, make sure they are regional. National statistics could be a form of misrepresentation because those stats are not necessarily representative of the kind of job prospects graduates will have in your town. Any job stat should be genuinely representative of the community the grad will be entering into.

The DOE is asking for disclosure about things that might inhibit a grad from securing employment, for example, if a criminal record would make them unemployable in a given field. However the actual regulation says something about disclosing whether or a not a disability would make someone ineligible and the lawyer on the last webinar stated that saying something like a person with a disability would be unable to enroll in your school would open you up to way more problems than with the DOE – so this is one on which to tread lightly.

Scholarships must be scholarships. Meaning scholarships must be funding with criteria which students apply for. You can not use the word “scholarship” when you mean “discount”. For example, you can’t have a “$500 scholarship for those who enroll by May 1st.”

Be very careful about overstating the age and quality of training devises – schools should avoid phrases like “state of the art” unless being absolutely cutting edge is really their selling point. For example, if your computer labs use Windows 2007, you shouldn’t say things like “modern” cutting edge equipment.

A good thing to start thinking about is keeping records of the performance of your graduates because really, if you can’t prove something with your own grads – employment rate etc. – you probably can’t use it in promotional material.

Schools may need to start being transparent about whether or not their credits are transferable. For example, credits from a school that is “Nationally Accredited” rarely transfer to a “regionally accredited” school.

How 1% Can Translate Into Millions of Dollars

I have a story about 1% and how this esoteric, marginal mathematical digit can represent for schools the difference between mediocrity and excellence, breaking even or being highly profitable. Read more