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Recruiting Intelligence

It's the Little Things...

Choosing to study at an international university is a BIG decision for students and parents. So it makes sense that they care a lot about big-picture issues: Is tuition affordable? Will a degree from this school set the student up for a good career? How strong is the institution in my academic area? Is the campus safe?

But “little” things matter, too—more than universities or even students themselves often realize. This stuff comes into play a little later in the student decision making process, or as marketers call it: further down the recruitment funnel.

Prospective students and their families will judge your university not just on the practicalities, but on their emotional response to the institution and the overall perception of the campus environment. Understanding your unique audience segments will give you valuable insights into small improvements in your processes that will make a major impact.

Creating the welcoming environment at your institution has a lot to do with getting broader stakeholder buy-in. Translated, that means when an international student interacts with or arrives on campus, the overall experience is one of warmth and welcome at a very uncertain and anxious time. You've been there yourself: entering an unfamiliar place where you feel just a bit unsteady, not your usual confident self. 

At those times, the one or two smiling, welcoming faces brought back that feeling of, "Oh, this is going to be ok." Better yet is conveying the sense that this will be GREAT!

We will be discussing these very common university challenges at NAFSA this year on Wed, May 30 at 1 pm along with Dr. Martyn Miller, Assistant Vice President for International Programs at Temple University and Dr. Jon Stauff, Vice Provost for Global Education at Monmouth University. It will be a lively and valuable discussion. We hope you can join us: "Who's Got Your Back? Building Internal Support for International Recruitment." 

You can email Elaine to schedule a meeting with us at Nafsa.

So, what little things may not be so little after all? Read on...

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Streamline Your Global Partnerships

How many cooks are in your international-marketing-kitchen? Many universities work with a dizzying array of partners in their efforts to reach international prospects—an endless stream of specialized contractors all working in separate silos and in different regions.

We’ve seen universities that have hired many vendors under separate contracts:

  • A partner to build their international microsites
  • A freelancer to write the blog copy on that microsite
  • A partner to run a Facebook ad campaign in India
  • A partner to run a Weibo account in China
  • A partner to run webinars in Vietnam
  • A videographer to shoot student testimonials
  • A graphic design firm to design brochures
  • A social media manager to run their WeChat account
  • A market research company to provide yearly research reports
  • An SEO specialist to help with paid search

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…sorry, we dozed off there. It makes us tired just to write out this list. And we didn't even include the many agent contracts most universities sign in their primary target countries.

Does international student recruitment have to be this distracting and exhausting ?

Read on for our advice on streamlining and helping you get back to your real job...

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Student Recruiting, #DeleteFacebook, and You

It’s been a crazy few months of press coverage for Facebook, a giant in the world of digital marketing platforms. The company’s data crisis involving Cambridge Analytica has embroiled them in government scrutiny, heightened international political tensions, and angered individual users and advertisers alike.

Reactions like the #DeleteFacebook campaign may have you wondering: is Facebook advertising still an avenue for international student marketing?

Our money’s on “yes.”

Read on for our usual dose of valuable perspective.

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Africa's Tech Hubs: Your New Student Source?

Looking for new ways to connect with students from some of Africa’s biggest providers of international students, including Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya? Trendy “tech hubs” are an interesting new student source to keep an eye on.

Diversification is key to a successful global recruitment strategy. With recruiting challenges and competition rising in China and India, smart money is looking at emerging pockets of talented and motivated students. These locales will not achieve the size of either India or China in terms of total numbers of students sent abroad. But that's not really the point. 

When you consider return on investment for institutions with low brand awareness, recruitment sources outside of India and China present real opportunities.

For U.S. institutions looking for talented international students (particularly at the graduate level), Africa's tech hubs may be just the place to forge valuable connections.

We've got your attention now, right? Read on for the valuable information you need to make solid budget allocation decisions.

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Proactively Connect When The World Is Unsettled

Maybe it's the jet lag (it's not) but this most recent international jaunt has left me thinking big and getting a bit sentimental about the field we are in. You know all those cynics who refer to the international student recruiting work we all do with disdain saying, “It’s really only about the tuition dollars the international students pay?” Perhaps you can send them a link to this post and shift their thinking just a bit.

Last week I was in Moscow presenting on global digital marketing at The Forum on International Education. It was an honor to be invited to play a role in this effort by the Russian Ministry of Education as the government there implements an audacious plan to grow from about 230K international students to more than 700K choosing Russia for their post-secondary education. No small task.

At a time when the American and Russian heads of state are spitting at each other, I found myself in Moscow learning from my colleagues from around the world and taking time to visit many of Russia’s iconic and moving cultural achievements. Each evening, back in my hotel room, CNN told me about how our world leaders were acting in ways that left me more determined than ever.

Read on for reflections on the value of your work and the one important thing you can do right now in the face of international turbulence.

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International Persona Development: 101

You've heard us talk about the importance of persona development for your marketing work.

It's time to take this conversation to the next level. You're really going to want to share this post with your team, again. (Have you asked them to subscribe to the blog yet?)

The persona is such an essential tool in our industry, but do you really know what a persona is? Or why it's so important? And if so, when was the last time you stepped back to really examine best practices for developing your personas?

Switching topics for just a sec...Ben is in Moscow this week presenting at the Forum on International Education about digital marketing techniques to reach the global student market. Watch this space for a post with insights about the Russian student market at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels, as well as the Russian market's level of interest in certificate and online learning opportunities. The US-Russian relationship is at a fascinating point. There will be some great stories we are eager to share with you.

In this week's blog, we're taking it back to the basics. We invite you to join us for an quick tutorial on persona development and we offer you the option to download Intead's basic Persona Development worksheet. 

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A Round of Applause for Our Faculty

Have you been to some of the big industry conferences and left feeling a bit flat in terms of truly learning how to drive recruitment?

Every year, we love to celebrate the great minds that come together to share experience, ideas and insights at our annual International Student Recruitment Bootcamp – especially our faculty! This is a small team focused on sharing best practices in a workshop environment. A rare opportunity.

Did you miss our  Bootcamp Wrap Up Blog Post last week? Click that link to a post that was shared by your colleagues on social channels with gusto.

  • We think you'll want to bookmark that one and
  • Share it with your staff executing that global recruitment plan.

We are so proud to call our Bootcamp faculty friends and to give you the opportunity to learn from their invaluable, tested-in-the-field experience. This event brings hope and a sense of optimism into an industry that is currently flooded with so much turbulence and concern. We are thrilled to say that this year our faculty really did a brilliant job helping our Bootcamp attendees "navigate through chaos."

We invite you to read on to learn more about our faculty and the roles they play at their institutions. These are people to keep your eye on in the years ahead movers and shakers you might say. You can count on us to bring you the talent and perspective to drive your institution forward at all of our presentations and events. 

Ben will be in Moscow next week presenting at the Forum on International Education about digital marketing techniques to reach the global student market. 

If you want to stay in the loop for next year's bootcamp, Click Here to be among the first to know about the speakers, dates and more! 

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2018 Bootcamp Insights: Lessons from International Student Recruitment Bootcamp

Hello everyone! This week, as we're sitting here in Boston in the middle of the third nor'easter of March, we want to share some insights from our International Student Recruitment Bootcamp held just 4 weeks ago (in a sunnier and warmer place).

We recognize that creating a global marketing plan to move your institution forward is no easy task. That’s why we got into this work in the first place. We enjoy helping you do the research, find the insights and work through the challenge. Our data and our experienced team are ahead of the curve in what has become a turbulent market place.

We believe that sharing insights from major conferences and events like this helps to push our industry forward, and we hope that you will read them with an open mind and take back to your institution anything that resonates with you. Remember, we're always here if you have any questions or are looking for support to build a stronger recruitment system. 

Below, we share a valuable set of insights and concrete tactics from our Bootcamp since so many of our readers were unable to join us. We covered all of this stuff in depth during the Bootcamp and provided some individualized and group attention to answer all the questions that arise. 

At the end of this post, we share a link for you to stay in the loop for next year's Bootcamp. Maybe you and your marketing director can fit that into next year's budget and really move your recruiting program dramatically forward. 

Read on for really useful tips...

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Moving the Needle on Your International Student Recruitment

So your international enrollment numbers are ok, but not what you need them to be.

Or worse, like many of our colleagues, your numbers took a real dive over the past 12 to 18 months.

What steps can you take that will move the needle north? And north of what? How much growth can you expect? Oh, and how much investment will that require?

Let’s just take a breath and point out that, you ask some really hard questions!

Let’s try to answer them…with DATA!

Read on for some concrete next steps...

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The Risk of Following vs. The Value of Leading

Reflecting on AIEA conversations and what we are seeing in the field, I find myself thinking about the risk of being a follower and the value of being a strategic leader.

  • Followers see where the crowd is headed and go there without due diligence.
  • Leaders see where the crowd is headed and then check the numbers.

This is important. Increasingly so.

The effort to recruit international students is heating up in the US. The pressure on university administrators is growing. With India and China sending the most students to the US, most newcomers to the field – the universities finally joining the fray and looking to diversify their student body – are turning to these source countries. It can be a mistake.

We are seeing the global education agent network being pressured to produce more students for more campuses. That increased pressure is going to bring us renewed stories of fraud and inappropriate recruiting behavior. We don't want to see anyone caught up in that mess.

It is important, REALLY important, to align your team with talent – the kind of partners who don't cut corners and have your best interests at heart. This field is full of questionable characters, as we all know. Many of us have the scars to prove it.

Following our travels to San Diego for our Annual Student Recruitment Bootcamp and moving on to DC for AIEA, the Intead team is grateful for all of the opportunities to connect face-to-face with you, our colleagues and friends in such a challenging time for our industry. (More on our Bootcamp in a post in March.)  Focusing on AIEA for a moment, we have to thank AIEA's Darla Deardorff for feeding so many of us with great information and wonderful food for a few days in DC. The AIEA conference was well run and well delivered. Informational and so often inspiring.

During the conference, we had the pleasure of giving presentations on enrollment trends with Kaplan International and on US–India university partnerships with Monmouth University and Sannam S4. Both sessions were filled with lively discussion and audience engagement. As always, we shared ideas and had fun learning from each other. Thank you to all who attended! It is always a pleasure.

Read on for more reflections and insights from the conferences and my thoughts on enrollment trends and predictions. 

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