It’s that time of year again, students and professors are getting settled in to a new semester of college, and administrators are coming up with solutions to help their institution stay ahead of the competitive curve. Standing out among the crowd is a constant struggle for many institutions that are grappling with recent trends – the pros and cons of going test-optional, and a rise in the number of private colleges and universities raising the discount rates on their tuition come to mind first. Today’s students (and their parents) are invested in searching for the best education at the most affordable cost, causing institutions to go back to the drawing board to revisit their branding and determine their place in the marketplace.
If your institution is revisiting brand awareness and competitive positioning, consider investigating the following:
- How does the institution’s current branding resonate with key stakeholder groups (current/prospective students, alumni, faculty/staff, donors, local employers, and the general community)?
- What sets your institution apart from your competition?
- What is your institution known for? What branding opportunities can the institution capitalize on?
- What makes prospective students consider your institution? What leads students to enroll?
To answer those questions, we’ve found a couple research options to be particularly effective. Online survey(s) with current and prospective students, alumni, and faculty/staff provide quantitative insight into the perception and awareness of the institution’s brand. In-depth interviews with local high school staff, employers, and economic leaders provide in-depth qualitative insight into brand awareness. A competitive analysis can reveal competing institutions and uncover areas of opportunity for new program offerings or educational partnerships to reduce operational costs.
Using the results of the study is where the real magic happens. Findings can drive refreshed marketing campaigns, allowing the university to better connect with untapped marketplace potential, and reinforce current relationships. With an enhanced understanding of opportunity, the institution can rejuvenate strategic planning efforts and enact a long-term plan for providing academic excellence.
Is your institution interested in conducting a branding study or competitive analysis? RMS has all the tools and resources to determine the brand awareness and marketplace positioning of your college or university. If you’re interested in learning more about our higher education services, please contact our Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.
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