Even in the best of conditions, commercial fishing is a really tough job. You can’t always be sure of a catch in the first place. The work requires specialized equipment, a strong constitution, a team that works well together, patience, and an ability to read the signs. And even with all that in place, there is still no guarantee of success.
And then, there is fishing in a gale.
Your boat is being knocked about. Your footing is unsure. There are a host of really challenging external conditions to navigate while your team continues to work with the equipment and do the important job of catching the fish.
External conditions cannot set you back!
You see where I’m going with this, right?
Right now, your enrollment managers and admissions reps are all fishing in a gale. We all are. Our institutions are counting on us to produce the catch that will keep everything afloat. Current conditions cannot set us back. And yet…there is no guarantee of a catch.
Some days, the fish simply are not biting. They only want to nibble (as Google search and click trends may indicate).
Enough with the metaphor, here are our top tips to enroll your incoming 2020 cohort and work toward your enrollment goals for 2021.
Read on for tips to produce the catch even on a bad day. (ok, so we are still using the metaphor).
Let’s talk about what you and your team should know right now and how we can apply the signs we are reading to maintain student enrollment during the biggest storm to rock the boat in a very long time:
- Align the team
- Maintain the equipment
- Read the signs
- Find the helpers
- Stay focused
Motivate the Team for the Challenge
You’ve been in gales before. There is an adrenaline rush as the enrollment marketing team rises to meet the challenge. But after a time, it can become exhausting and the energy level starts to flag. As a leader, rallying and managing your team is a significant part of the job. No small task in sustained winds.
Don’t ignore the HR side of student recruiting. Keep your team talking to each other. Share what you all learn from week to week. There’s plenty of new online content about how to manage your team remotely. Here’s a good article from Nafsa by Jessica Sandberg (@JessBSandberg).
Check the Equipment
- Website content is relevant to the situation and answers the questions students now have.
- Digital tracking codes are in place.
- A nurture process is set up to elevate qualified leads for personal follow ups.
Take a look at our Digital Marketing How To post from three weeks ago that includes the helpful graphic below. Still relevant 21 days later ; -)
And get that new student journey (decision making process) to match up with your website and digital marketing processes. See this recent Student Journey Re-imagined post for help there.
Watch the Data
Where are the fish and what makes them bite?
So many student sentiment surveys are out there right now. So much other economic and public health data. Not to mention global Google search trend data and your own internal digital marketing analytics. How to discern the signs that can guide you vs. the noise?
Yes, it is a lot and our team reviews this stuff weekly to make sense of it. The most recent data worth looking at is from our trusted allies, IIE. Responses from 234 US institutions that, combined, host nearly 50% of the international student population in the US (including nearly 50% of Chinese students studying in the US). The short answer: expect your international enrollment numbers to plummet this fall (not really news, right?).
A bright spot: 92% of international students already in the US in spring 2020 never left. They have a strong connection to your institution, but it is not unbreakable. Those students are struggling to figure out what they will do this summer and fall and what is an affordable and valuable option. What are you offering them?
Fixing the low point: Your incoming class of international students this fall is going to be so much smaller. Regional campuses can solve some of this and help you recoup revenue your institution is in real danger of losing entirely. See “The Bait You Are Using” below and click that link! There IS a solution for institutions acting quickly.
Choosing target locations: As you plan ahead by region for the next recruiting cycle, look here for some really helpful recent US and global consumer sentiment analyses (by country) from McKinsey. Super helpful stuff.
Our advice: Know your customer. Take time right now to check in with current students. Most of you have done this already. Be sure you are communicating effectively with them regularly. Offer them inspiration, not just factual updates. Let them know you have some new, innovative ways of making their education valuable and enabling. How? A few ideas below and, our refresher on nurturing leads also applies to retaining students.
The Bait You Are Using
Consider carefully what you have on offer.
Domestic student enrollment numbers are going to drop. The inclination is going to be to stay local – makes it easier to bail when those institutions making every effort to open inevitably have to send their classes home again this fall just as they did this past spring. So, what do you have on offer to increase your regional prospects for your institution?
- For domestic students, the enrollment decisions are challenging. The family economics have changed dramatically. The value of what you have to offer has to be extremely clear. And the discounts are going to make students pay attention. Your options: no revenue vs. some revenue, as painful as that choice is for your institution.
Same applies to international student enrollment and how you keep them for the full degree program (2 years, 4 years). Your incoming class represents more than just one year of revenue. What are you doing to set these students up for success so they will want to stick with you through graduation day?
- For international students still in their home country who also want to stay local right now (for a variety of reasons from visa processing to virus concerns), give them the local option. Using global campuses that you can switch on immediately is how you do that. Intead is working with CIEE to provide the answer to this one. Not much time left to make this happen for fall 2020. Email us!
The message for all students: we will set you up for success like no other institution can. And then your institution has to deliver on that promise with all of the student support and reassurance necessary.
Find the Helpers
Your biggest fans are your alumni. You need them NOW!
Getting your alumni involved in your new remote learning offerings will be clutch. They care deeply about your institution’s success and they, like all of us right now, want to be involved in something meaningful. Motivating young people as they determine their career paths – that feeds the soul. It’s why you are doing what you do, as well.
Your alumni will give hope, reassurance, and the all-important career connections to your incoming class. They will be instructive and inspiring. They will get a personal charge out of being helpful in this way. And all of that only happens if you have managers giving your alumni the administrative support they need to be helpful to you. This effort cannot be random and one-off. You’ll need a coordinated plan and the ability to execute. If you have an internal team to make this work, great. If not, email us.
All of this sounds important and doable, right?
You’re thinking you can certainly motivate the team (you’ve always been good at that), but you simply don’t have enough time in the day to check and upgrade the equipment, watch all the signs (data analytics), communicate the value clearly, and coordinate the alumni and other helpers out there.
And yet, you have to deliver the catch during a gale.
We can help you make the case for all of this and execute the plan.
Intead is your bigger boat.