Using Risk Reversals

by Shane Sparks, Co-founder

For years, Gregg and I have been advocating for “risk reversals” in the admissions process. It’s a concept used successfully in many other industries (heck, WE use a risk reversals for our school clients), but rarely used in career education. A “risk-reversal” is simply a way to remove the perceived risk in the mind of the prospect. Guarantees, free trials, test-drives, etc. are all examples of risk reversals.

A surprisingly good example of this is Kaplan, who has been using a “try it before you buy it” risk reversal since September 2010. It’s a great strategy because it allows students get fully engaged with a program and ensures a good fit between school and students without all the pressure that comes from having “paid” in advance. Education is a “considered, intangible service”, meaning it’s a purchase that is thought about, and that the prospect can’t touch or feel, so they are mostly going on trust and faith that it will work out (both of which are in short supply right now).

Given the increasing limitations on admissions practices faced by many school (hello Gainful Employment regs), the publics’ real fears around the economy, and the seemingly endless bad news contributing to this fear… this is a prudent, and proven business practice that is worth trying.