Creative ways to market MBAs

By Chelsea Castonguay Stanhope

shutterstock_1365421727One of the most sought-after professional degrees is that of the MBA. In fact, during the height of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, "business schools all over the world are reporting big increases in applications" according to Forbes.com. While students ride out the economic slump created by the pandemic, more are considering parlaying their skill sets into an MBA program. However, one doesn’t have to be going into business in order to benefit from receiving an MBA. These are creative ways to market an MBA, and what one can do with their degree.

 

Provide a variety of options:

Completing an MBA opens many doors. For example, while the traditional route following an MBA program is into the business field, there are many different options available for those who are willing to get creative. For example, an MBA can be a great foundation for launching into a variety of careers, from healthcare, to sports management, logistics, and purchasing. According to Anna Kouzovleva, graduate of the MBA program at ESCP Europe, the “possibilities are endless.”

Therefore, it’s important to provide a variety of options to prospective students. Allow students the options to explore a wider array of opportunities, including diverse electives. Students should be encouraged to take control of their educational experiences by developing an education path that will help them nurture their interests and find success outside of school. This allows students to pick and choose what they want to take to help launch their postgraduate career.

Attracting students to your program:

Today’s students are looking for a high return on their investment, or ROI.  Therefore, to attract students to a program, it’s going to be important to show them what they’ll gain from attending your institution’s program. For example, consider highlighting what your MBA program has to offer. Do you have high job placement rates, top rated professors, or fantastic internship opportunities? These days, it’s not enough to give students a course list; students want to know what they will receive from attending your program. With a wide array of options out there, it’s important to think about how you can stand out from the crowd to capture a student’s attention and get them to commit to your program.

What can you do?

It can feel daunting to appeal to today’s prospective student, especially the MBA student. As previously mentioned, while many MBA students do go into the business or financial fields, there are plenty of other undergraduate students who might be interested in pursuing a MBA.

Highlights

If so, it’s time to get creative about ways to share these assets with prospective students. For example, consider doing highlights of professors, talking about their experiences with the university, as well as what their careers looked like. Many educators have a bit of a winding path that led them to where they are today, and would be willing to share that. Another great resource to tap into would be your alumni who have moved on to interesting or unique careers following graduation and ask them to share their experience.

Go virtual

With the COVID-19 pandemic still locking down many schools and large events, an in-person open house for your program or job fair might be out of the question. However, you can take most of this information to the internet. While it might be some work, consider hosting virtual job fairs or open house events so students can still get the information they need without having to travel to your school.

Put it in the hands of alumni

Today’s students are busy, and have a lot of information coming their way. To capture their interest, make sure you’re focusing your efforts on information that’s brief, and easily accessible. Social media is a great and inexpensive way to reach out to a broader audience. Consider asking alumni to do social media takeovers, so they can showcase their careers. Inside peeks into out-of-the-box careers are a great way to captivate the attention of students who have non-traditional undergraduate degrees for an MBA program, or may be wanting to learn more about what they could do with an MBA. Question and answer sessions on social media are a great way to increase engagement, and can allow students to ask some tougher or more original questions.

Forge connections on campus

Reach out to your colleagues for help. Professors and staff at your university may be the best connection to reaching out to students from different backgrounds and helping increase interest. Offer a brief informational training on your program, as well as how different majors can parlay their education into an MBA program. Another resource would be to connect with your school’s advising and career services departments. Advisors often work with students who aren’t sure about what comes next, similarly to career services. Schedule time to chat with them so they can fully understand the opportunities that come with a MBA, as well as how they can better educate and encourage students from a variety of majors to apply.

Career services and advising aren’t the only campus resource available. Academic departments are an excellent and often untapped way to connect with students. As an example, consider reaching out to your school’s English department, and market to students with a professional writing concentration, or creative writing majors. Engineering students may find an MBA helps them launch their own firm, or helps them work as project managers on the job site. For engineers and other students with more of a focus in hard sciences, an MBA can provide a “keen understanding of the fundamentals of business such as economics, accounting, finance, organizational development, and strategic development.” For students from a social work or anthropology background, an MBA may help them navigate a path towards a career in human relations, or even managing non-profit organizations.

Individualize

Developing tailored emails to target students in the specific demographic can help get the information to students in a more meaningful, personalized way. Create a document that’s succinct, but focuses on what a student can gain from earning a MBA. Encourage students to reach out with questions, and designate a staff person to help connect them with the right information.

When it comes to MBAs, it’s hardly a secret there are many advantages to earning that as a degree. However, in order to keep the student pool fresh and diverse, it’s going to be important to think about how to attract a variety of candidates to your program. Reminding students about the outcomes, as well as targeting them with a direct, individualized approach are sure-fire ways to help entice students into applying to your program.

Topics: Higher Education Marketing Student Recruitment

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