The way students are searching for academic programs at your university.

When communicating with your prospective students, you undoubtedly strive to connect your offerings with their goals, interests and values. In doing so, you emphasize the benefits of your distinctive market positon and your ability to provide an exceptional education that is supportive of your prospects’ plans, hopes and dreams. But because the goals, interests and values held by each high school student can and will differ, you’ll need a powerful strategy to create compelling forms of communication that resonate with the wide (and often large) pool of prospects while remaining meaningful to each student. And while big and small data helps us move closer to one-to-one communication, you’re still left with an enormous task of developing distinctive messages that speak to students you likely have never met.

Far too often, we’ve observed institutions who forsake their true distinctiveness by promoting a broad range of descriptors and vague promises in an attempt to align with as many prospects as possible. They’re left with, paradoxically, no identity, no message and no market position. This, necessarily, comes to ultimate disadvantage via a hard lesson in the ineffectiveness of communication that is too generalized. At the same time, demonstrating the capacity to help all sorts of prospects achieve their broad range of academic and career goals would be an advantage for an institution, and could likely improve their brand awareness. So for the sake of this post, I’d like to focus on the importance of identifying prospects in terms of what their goals are, because we know that this can be communicated broadly with success, so long as you have the right strategy and content.


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Rick Bailey

Rick is the Principal and founding partner at RHB.