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Drive growth by switching from vitamins to painkillers

As a consultant, I get to see the inner workings of many businesses, across different industries from a unique vantage point that enables me to see what makes one organisation take off like a rocket ship and another struggle to gain momentum.

It all boils down to what is referred to in the venture capitalist community as you're either selling candy, vitamins or painkillers;

Candy - a "nice-to-have", that people enjoy but doesn’t solve a burning problem, and more importantly they can live without in a recession. Games and apps on your mobile are a good example of this.

Vitamins - typically have a positive impact over time, but they aren’t urgently needed.

Even though vitamins might be good for you, if you don’t take them, you may not notice a downside for a while, so you can delay buying them if needs be.

Painkillers - a "need to have", an immediate solution to a critically important and pressing problem that needs to be fixed now!

In times of recession and increased competition, you need to be positioning your offer as a painkiller, to make it a #1 priority for prospective students.

Think about it this way, if you're feeling crippling pain, you tend to focus on finding a painkiller solution, immediately. You’re not going to waste time doing too much research or shopping around.

The current opportunity lies in converting your vitamin offer onto a painkiller solution and communicating that message in an emotionally engaging way to the prospective student.

Your course may already be part vitamin, part painkiller (and possible part candy) at the same time, depending on who’s applying. But right now the negative market conditions dictate focussing in on the painkiller part to increase the impact of your recruitment activity.

Consider the business course acquisition advertising below;

How many are offering a solution to a critically important and pressing problem the prospective student needs to address now?

I suggest reviewing how you position your offer to students. Traditionally you might have been positioning your course as a vehicle to build long-term value for the student, and that’s a vitamin offer. Nothing wrong with that, you can sell vitamins when the market is positive and healthy.

However, when we are entering a recession and people are uncertain, vitamins aren’t strong enough, they don’t solve an immediate, pressing problem. COVID has changed the global higher education market, the key issues prospective students care about the most have changed and your offer needs to adapt if you are to establish a preferred value proposition with prospective students.

Redevelop your offer across your campaigns, web landing pages, email nurture campaigns, and call center talking points to create an integrated student experience that talks to the issues your prospective students care about the can enable a unique opportunity for them.

For example; for domestic school leavers, the current recession has made getting a job near impossible for the moment, so they will be looking for reassurance about their employment prospects when they graduate from your course. Consider communicating; graduation salaries (or rankings), employment rates (or rankings), internship opportunities, work-integrated learning programs, career services, alumni success stories, industry partners. Demonstrating these proof points throughout the acquisition campaigns, landing pages, and nurture campaigns will position the course as a solution to an immediate and pressing problem for the prospective student.

Continuing with last years awareness-building campaigns and landing pages risks creating a disconnect between your offer and current future student needs. Vitamins were in demand last year, but this year will be dominated by those offering painkillers, providing prospective students with a solution to a pressing issue they need to address.

Start by identifying the pressing issue you are solving for the target student group. Recognise that the key issues will vary across student segments, (student life-stage, education level, course, and cultural group).

Focus on the benefit you offer the prospective student, how will you help them solve their pressing issue?

Redevelop your offer across your campaigns, web landing pages, email nurture campaigns, and call centre talking points to create an integrated student experience that talks to the issues your prospective students care about the most.

Hopefully, this approach proves useful, if you’d like to discuss it further please contact me, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

At MacMorgan we help institutions develop a student-centered approach to growth. If you'd like to find out more about our unique approach, please click here for more information.

Click here for the previous week's blogs.

John Chatterton

+61432 906 790


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