Business education is anti-cyclical
With every recession there’s a corresponding rise in applications to MBA classes and postgraduate courses. Now the world is facing the biggest recession in a generation (as illustrated in McKinsey’s covid19 briefings). If you are responsible for marketing business or postgraduate programs, now is the time to act; the top schools are already well ahead (The Economist, May 16)
Prospective students have a large number of courses and institutions to choose from (see ARWU, THE, QS) – and the competition for talent and fees has long gone from national to global, a trend further accelerated by the move shift services online during the pandemic.
The role changing role of online video
Evidently, video is central to delivering world-class teaching remotely in times of social distancing. Top institutions like Harvard and Stanford have been leading the way here for years. However, video also plays an important role in connecting with and winning over prospective students. In the current economic and social climate they will be weighing carefully where to take their funds, and which institutions will best serve their needs and life goals.
For several years, we have been working with top tier MBA schools and universities, such as Chicago Booth (ranked #1 by The Economist), University of Cambridge, King’s College London, to enable them to connect with current and future students in effective and authentic ways.
Three ways to connect with prospective students
We always partner closely with our higher education partners to help them craft the tone & voice, as well as content, that’s most suitable to their brand. Working with many leading institutions over the years we’ve identified a few archetypes of video content that forms the foundation of marketing postgraduate education online.
1. Showcase your brilliant minds
Your faculty are your key asset, they make a name for your institution through their publications and standing in the field. Yet, students also want to know how they are as teachers, as people. Video is the unique channel that allows you to bring to life the brilliance of your faculty’s thinking, but also their personality. In times of increased reliance on remote learning (see Financial Times, April 15), this also demonstrates competence with distance learning. These videos are typically short in duration (less than 60 sec) and can easily be created from existing lecture or media recordings, interspersed with motion graphics, animation, and other material.
2. Showcase your facilities
MBA programs and universities across the globe have made unprecedented investments in their facilities over the last decade, for instance over $300M for Stanford’s new campus, and over $600M for Columbia’s (Economist 2014). Students have come to expect high standards and the impression they have of a school’s campus will play a big role in their decision. Yet with travel being restricted in many places across the world at the moment, it will be hard to form a first-hand impression for many of them. From our experience, filming on campuses across Europe, Asia, and the Americas, we’ve learned that combining different perspectives (e.g. drone, 1st-person, indoor/outdoor, etc.) and embedding these into a strong narrative, jointly created with our clients, gets the best results. Again, these films can be created without the need for our crew to interact directly with students or faculty or to even be on campus.
3. Showcase your alumni
Aside from the league tables, your prospective students will be looking at who has come before them. What have they achieved and what positions do they hold? How has their education inspired them and how do they in turn inspire the next generation? Again, there is no better way than video to bring both the hard facts as well as the human story to life. With many of our partners at the top schools we’ve traveled the world to shoot personable and authentic statements from former students, reflecting on their time on campus. We find these work best if shot in a location that meaningfully relates to the narrative of the alum.
More recently we’ve also had great results with self-recorded videos during covid lockdown. In those instances we ship simple-to-use equipment or record over readily available channels, such as mobile phones, ensuring professional results through careful remote direction and post-production.
Achieving impact and ROI with your videos
These are the 3 archetypes we’ve found in our close collaboration with many of the top schools over the years. From our experience, in particular over the last few months of covid-related travel restrictions, these can be modified so that it’s still safe and simple to produce impactful higher education videos.
Of course, each video is bespoke and requires close alignment between client and agency to ensure message and tone are aligned with the brand and the goals of the campaign. Careful pretesting and online metrics are naturally part of creating video with high impact and ROI. This is particularly important at this critical juncture, when many prospective students will be making what will be one of the most important decisions of their careers.