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Recruiting Intelligence

Think Positive: Differentiation is Powerful

Last week, we touched briefly on the importance of differentiating your institution in the minds of international students. You may be seeing ever more doom-and-gloom sentiment among your peers on campus and colleagues in the field. The uplifting confidence that comes from a deep understanding of your differentiators is essential to your success.

This approach applies to your institution's success as much as it applies to your personal success. For this blog, we'll stick to your institution's approach and leave the rest to you.

So, your institution is not ranked in the top 50, right? And your access to a major city? How about your brand recognition in your target countries?

The reality is, most schools are in the same boat here. Not all international students are looking for the same things. There is a niche that will find your attributes just right. All international students are not all looking for the same things. But they DO need to become aware of what you have that other's don't. YOU need to help them assess and select.

International marketing is not an easy thing to do. It may seem overwhelming, confusing and, at times, impossible. It's easy for your colleagues on campus to fall into the trap of thinking, "Why would any international student want to come here?"

It's time to flip the question.

Why wouldn't they want to come to your school? You have so much to offer. Your doors wouldn't be open if you didn't. The question is: "What can your institution offer international students that no other institution can?"

Bottom Line: Creatively communicating your differentiators is essential to helping students know about and then grasp the opportunities you offer. 

Let's get into this a bit deeper...

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Developing Essential Skills Within Your Recruitment Team

This week, Ben at Patricia are in Miami at the AIRC conference, where they will be hosting a digital marketing workshop alongside Angel Ahmed, CEO of GNET, and Hillary Dostal, Director, Global Initiatives at Northeastern University. This expert team and comprehensive workshop will help international recruitment leaders develop strategic communications plans that differentiate their unique institutions. And, they will be talking about the skills needed throughout the process to achieve success. 

Plans are only as good as the team executing them. Seems obvious, right?

Is your team aligned on your strategic enrollment plan? Do you have a comprehensive marketing plan to work from? Are there gaps in the skill sets? We bet there are at least a few areas that could use improvement, right?

This week we want to walk you through our strategic marketing workshop format and a series of corresponding worksheets available via Intead Plus to guide your marketing and enrollment teams. Ready? Let's check it out. 

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The Essential Guide to Implementing a University CRM

Is there anything more annoying than trying to accomplish a task without the proper equipment? Whether it’s trying to cook up dinner in a too-small pan or charge your phone with that slightly-defective cord that only stays plugged in if propped up in one specific way (argh!). 

Working with tools that are not quite right can drive you up a wall.

The more important the task, the more frustrating it is to have a tool that isn’t helping you succeed. So, it’s no surprise that many universities, high schools, and language schools feel incredibly irritated by customer relationship management (CRM) systems that don't meet their needs.

If that sounds familiar—and if you wish you had more guidance on how to set up a system that will actually workkeep on reading.

The Intead team is gearing up to present our AIRC full-day workshop on December 5 followed by some great learning and networking at all the conference sessions. If you are going, please be in touch (info@intead.com). We'll be at ICEF the following week in Miami and welcome a meeting there as well.

Now about those CRM systems...why is everyone switching to Technolution's #Slate, anyway?

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New Open Doors Data: What Does It Really Tell Us?

NPR Marketplace fans may have heard a familiar voice on last Tuesday’s episode. Ben was happy to join the show’s ever-engaging economic reporters as they quickly reviewed the latest numbers from IIE’s Open Doors data and considered the issues at play.

Those of us working in international student enrollment in the U.S. have monitored enrollment data even more carefully than usual over the past few years. In a time of political upheaval in the U.S. and globally, the impact on enrollment has been a nail-biter. How have anti-immigrant rhetoric, changes in visa policies, and rising violence affected enrollment? How will these trends affect us in the future? And how can universities counteract the negative messages and perceptions with positive ones?

This is complicated work, and one that regular readers of our blog engage with vigor. And not for nuthin, but our market research with FPPEDUMedia predicted this turn of events eight months prior to the 2016 election. Our blog subscribers saw the storm clouds coming and had our tips and reports in hand. 

But even those who follow these issues closely would be forgiven for scratching their heads about the latest headlines about the new 2017/2018 Open Doors numbers.

“Number of International Students in United States Reaches New High of 1.09 Million” says IIE’s own announcement. “New International Enrollments Decline Again” says Inside Higher Ed.

Huh?

If you plan to be in Florida for AIRC or ICEF next month, reach out so that we can connect in person. Ben and Patricia will be there presenting workshops, sessions and generally sharing our research and strategic marketing approach with anyone willing to listen ;-)

Now, Let’s break down the latest data... 

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Higher Education is Changing. Are You Keeping Up?

Today on the Recruiting Intelligence blog, we’re excited to broaden the enrollment conversation.

You may have read our guest post a few weeks ago from Dr. David Di Maria about the commonalities between international and non-traditional students.

Most Wednesdays, we cover topics related to international student recruitment. As our readers know, effective international student outreach requires an understanding of two fundamental concepts:

  • The first idea is cheesy, but true: no matter where we’re from, we’re all people with common core desires, fears, and drives. The desire for a safe and enriching environment, fear of isolation or failure, and the drive to succeed in our chosen field are pretty universal.
  • The second concept is the hard part: While we all share the same broad needs, our background does shape the best ways to capture our attention, meet our desires, assuage our anxieties, and encourage our dreams.

Understanding that duality is the key to effectively reaching international students and prompting them to take action (read that as "prompting them to apply"). It’s also the key to reaching another, increasingly important group of students. We’ve been thinking about these learners a lot lately, and we’re jazzed about discussing them here today: “non-traditional students.”

Non-traditional students are the future of education—both international and domestic. This is a group of students that clients are asking about more and more, and a market segment none of us can afford to ignore it.

We’re so certain of this, in fact, that we wrote a whole book about the subject. 

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Selecting a Marketing Agency: What Makes an Effective Team?

You know your organization needs to do a better job of recruiting in key markets, but how do you find the "right" marketing team? This is a complex question, but from our experience, there is one clear answer. 

Exploring an array of works by strategic thought-leaders including Brene Brown, Jocko Willink, Reid Hoffman, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, comparing and contrasting a range of theories and approaches, strategic and tactical advice about creating effective teams – a pattern begins to emerge.

The answer: When you are evaluating vendors, consider team culture carefully. With global marketing, there’s a lot that can go sideways quickly, and you want the right group of people by your side to launch effectively and adjust when needed.

Will your agency adapt to change with grace and thoughtful expertise, and still deliver results given the new reality on the ground? Will they have the global network that identifies the need to change and share it with you on the spot? Or will it become apparent later, after the campaign funds are long gone?

The "right" team is hard to find. We know that truth from experience. Read on for a bit of wisdom from one of our clients about choosing the team that will move your institution forward. 

But before you click on: Last Chance for a free pass to today's Intead Plus webinar, "What's A Muslim Student to Think?" with my guest, Wajahat Ali, Journalist, CNN Talking Head, NYT Op Ed Contributor and all around thoughtful, analytical, humorous guy. Starts at 11AM DST. You won't be disappointed.

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Using Chatbots for Student Recruitment

Before we even had our coffee this morning, members of the Intead team had already texted with spouses about children’s forgotten school lunches, communicated with dog walkers on Facebook messenger, and answered Slack messages from each other. Something tells me your morning didn’t look all that different from ours. We are living in an era of instant communication.

We have come to expect that we’ll be able to reach folks quickly and get the info we need wherever and whenever we want to. So, it’s no wonder that we’re seeing the rise of “conversational marketing”—and that your prospective students expect you to keep up with the times.

Conversational marketing is “feedback driven” marketing that relies on artificial intelligence, or bots, to communicate with consumers—or in our case, students.

Here's the important question: Will your institution be at the forefront? A fast follower? Or trying desperately to catch up?

Upcoming Educational Opportunities

How about a FREE PASS to our next Intead Plus webinar? 

Wed, Nov 7th at 11AM EST we will have an important discussion: "What's a Muslim Student to Think?" with our friend and guest speaker Wajahat Ali whom I was first introduced to at the 2015 AIEA conference when he keynoted the luncheon. As a blog subscriber, we want you to experience the value of subscribing to our newest service. Please join us for the webinar as our guest.

And we would be remiss to not mention the AIRC conference and our full-day workshop on all things international student recruiting. December 5 in Weston, FL. Join veteran recruiters and marketers and hone your marketing plan using our worksheets. Get the scoop here

Chatbot Info, Let's Get Into It...

So about those Chatbots...are they sounding too futuristic or difficult to implement? It’s not as intimidating as it sounds, and it’s changing the marketing game. You can make this happen for your institution. Here's what you need to know...

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Leading Enrollment Planning, Leading Change

How’s enrollment going these days? Are your numbers where they should be? Is the trend on the right track?

For so many enrollment administrators, these questions prompt a level of anxiety because the trend is down and the storm clouds on the horizon bode more of the same.

There are steps you can take. And it is time to stand tall and act. Our advice: Never waste a good crisis.

Regardless of the field you work in as a leader, there is the perpetual challenge of launching new initiatives. The ideas and business plans are one thing – coming up with them is actually quite manageable. The world is full of opportunities that absolutely can and will succeed with the right team and resources behind them.

So here’s the question: Are you doing the assessments necessary to find the best path forward?

Market research looking outward can tell you where the opportunities are. Couple that with a deep internal assessment that identifies what is working well and where your investment of staff time and resources is doing the greatest good (and where it is not).

Learning Opportunities

One common element of this work is typically our digital audit to understand your online presence, web traffic and email performance. The results of this audit provide both market receptivity metrics as well as internal performance metrics.

You can access our experience and chart your path forward. At the AIRC annual conference this December, we will deliver a full-day workshop on global digital marketing and enrollment planning. This could be the low-cost opportunity that helps you jump start your enrollment plan overhaul. We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity.

Of course there is also our deep recruitment research and instructional library available to Intead Plus members (have you signed up for our can’t miss Intead Plus Webinar with Wajahat Ali: What’s a Muslim Student to Think?)

Read on to learn a bit more about what we look for as we develop customized enrollment plans for our clients…

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A Second Look at Higher Ed Rankings

Rankings can be addictive. Ask any student who has ever clamored for that valedictorian spot, every salesperson who has tried to outgun her colleagues to be the month’s top seller, every parent who beams at their kid’s position on the Little League batting lineup.  

While you’re at it, ask an enrollment professional, too.

University rankings—think U.S. News and World Report, The Times Higher Education (our far and away favorite in the field if we had to choose), QS, or the Shanghai Jiaotong Academic Ranking of World Universities, and now the Wall Street Journal — affect so much. Students place a lot of weight on ranking lists, and so do parents, alumni, research funders, and governments around the world.

A great ranking can be like an institutional lucky charm, nearly guaranteeing ongoing success. Working at such an institution can feel like taking a perpetual victory lap, waving to crowds of adoring fans as applicants and endowment funds come rolling in.

But a poor ranking can feel like an institutional curse, dooming an institution to mediocrity. Working in enrollment at an “average” institution can sometimes feel like an exhausted, uphill scramble for applications and dollars. This shouldn’t be the case—and it doesn’t have to be.

Rankings matter a lot. Should they? And what can you do about it? Read to the end to find out! 

A couple of opportunities to learn more before we dive into today's topic:

  1. Bite-size data points: Intead Insights is re-launching on Twitter! We're sharing quick stats that, in  15-20 seconds, can teach you something new about enrollment marketing. Fun, informative, surprising, and all the cool kids are doing it (as if). Follow us on Twitter: @Intead 
  2. Digital marketing full-day workshop at AIRC: On Dec., 5, 2018, Intead and our talented colleagues, Angel Ahmed, GNET, and Hillary Dostal, Northeastern University, will be giving a full-day workshop as part of the AIRC conference in Westin, FL. If you have not yet registered, now is the perfect time! Register here

Now, what's a mid-ranked or low-ranked institution to do? Let's review the concerns and provide some advice...

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Vendors, Vendors Everywhere: Our Tips for Tackling the Expo Floor

As we head into conference season (who are we kidding, it’s always conference season), we find ourselves wandering expo halls looking at the many vendors, each professing to be the best, the most unique, the most qualified. And they all seem to have a "tech" solution.

You've noticed this too, right? We've been around the block a few times and seeing all the claims can bring on a certain expo floor fatigue. How to know which vendor, which tool, is right for your type of institution? There are certainly some worth avoiding and others worth evaluating.

The Intead team provides our clients with industry perspective to help navigate the many options all saying, "We recruit students for you." And the reality is, you don't get students without putting in some of your own elbow grease, always.

Ahead of us are 3 great events, Can We Meet You There?

  1. Nafsa Region XI – Oct 23-25 in Portland, ME
  2. AIRC's 10th Anniversary Conference – Come to our pre-conference workshop for a full day of digital marketing and budget planning! Dec 5-8 in Weston, FL
  3. ICEF Miami – Dec 10-12 in Miami Beach, FL

We are presenting our research and tips at each of these events sharing the dais with your peers and other great industry leaders. Let us know if you'll be there. See conference links below.

Now let's return to the expo floor. How to navigate the obstacles and find the gems...

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