Communication Should Be Specifically Crafted for Today’s Target Audience, Believe Higher Education Leaders
At ASMA’s Higher Education Innovation Summit 2021 – Admission Director and Marketers Summit, Higher Education leaders deliberated on the ‘Changing Landscape of Admissions and Marketing in Indian Institutions’
ASMA’s Higher Education Innovation Summit 2021 – Admission Director and Marketers Summit, presented by NoPaperForms took place on 16th February 2021.
The virtual witnessed two engrossing panel discussions that examined how Higher Education institutions have leveraged technology to not only enhance the delivery of high-quality learning experience to students but also to build revolutionise the entire education process and building their brands.
The first panel was moderated by Suraj Sapra, Chief Strategy Officer of NoPaperForms and comprised of Dhaval Gaud, Director – Marketing, Operations and Business Development, Parul University, Dr Pankaj Sharma, Director- Admissions & Outreach, SRM University, Manju Aggarwal, Group Deputy Director – Admissions, IBSAR, Prof Umesh Patwardhan, Director -Admissions, Vishwakarma University, Chanchal Kushwaha, Chairperson – Admissions, BIMTECH, Anil Nair, Director – Admissions & Outreach, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida and Prof Kedar Joshi, Admissions – Chairperson, TA Pai Management Institute.
The panels discussed the topic ‘Changing Landscape of Admissions and Marketing in Indian Institutions’.
To open the session, moderator Suraj Sapra, Chief Strategy Officer of NoPaperForms remarked, “The preferences and expectations of millennial students are changing. Just as we are evaluating students; students are also evaluating us and many others to make the best choices”.
Speaking about how the best talent applies to his institution and what are some of the things that have worked, Prof Kedar Joshi, Admissions – Chairperson, TA Pai Management Institute said, “There is a primary objective of an Admissions Chair to get the right candidate for the school. Students have a variety of choices in the country. We have to look at the shortlisting criteria such as CAT, GMAT, etc and that is an input for us for defining the talent. There are multi-faceted criteria ranging from work experience and diversity. We believe in an appropriate diversity and we have defined specific talent. This we communicate to our aspirants primarily.”
Talking about the challenges they aim to overcome in the admissions process with the use of technology, Chanchal Kushwaha, Chairperson – Admissions, BIMTECH said, “Over the years, we have improvised upon the system using technology and we have automated the complete process. Earlier, we were able to match up with the right target audience, but with technology in place, we get the right pool of candidates and we are able to communicate with the right communication strategy and using the right platform for engagements”.
He continued, “With technology in place and with the platforms providing these services, the biggest advantage is whatever budget you are investing engaging with the students or reaching out to the MBA aspirants, you are able to measure them”.
He added, “Technology has given us the platform where we can directly engage, where we can measure the impact, where we can analyse what we are doing and then take the correction action.”
Adding his thoughts to the discussion, Dr Pankaj Sharma, Director- Admissions & Outreach, SRM University said, “Technology is so important today because of the student experience. It is important that technology gives you more insight and the right information to the interested student”.
He added, “There are three categories of students 1. Those who are very clear that they want to go into IITs or a Medical College; they are not even exploring options. 2. Those who are giving IIT or other university exams but they are still exploring other options. 3. Those who are just focusing on their class board exams. Using technology we can just create communication for these three categories of students”.
Dhaval Gaud, Director – Marketing, Operations and Business Development, Parul University, commented, “Technology can play an important role by creating some kind of protocol so we can get to know when we should send out the emails, SMSs and WhatsApp messages. It will help to create a balance the amount of information we are putting out to a prospective student”.
Speaking on the changes his institution has introduced in terms of managing the admissions process and managing their media and marketing campaigns, Anil Nair, Director – Admissions & Outreach, Shiv Nadar University opined, “Each institute has a clear narrative of that defines the brand and vision of what they want to be”.
Nair continued, “Our target audience, our clients/customers are digital natives. You need to implement an integrated approach for your brand positioning, which could be content marketing etc”.
The day’s second panel was moderated by Vikram Shah, Chief Business Officer, NoPaperForms and comprised of Aman Mittal, Additional Director, Lovely Professional University, Prof Nandagopal. R, Director, Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Chennai, Manish Dalmia, Director- Marketing & Public Relations, NMIMS, Mumbai, Vikrant Vashisht, Head – Admissions & Marketing, Maharishi Markandeshwar University, Mullana, Dolamani Sahu, Associated Vice President & Group Head Admission, International School of Business & Media and Vishesh Chandrashekhar, Director – Corporate & Public Relations, Acharya Institutes.
Prof Nandagopal R, Director, Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Chennai began the discussion by saying, “Over the last five years, the landscape has completely changed in the education sector. Also, more transparency has come because of social media. Subsequently in the last 10 years, the major change that has taken place is the entrance of education portals that created a new market and the entire market completely changed”.
Prof Nandagopal added, “Only the institutions that have transparency will survive”.
Adding to this, Manish Dalmia, Director- Marketing & Public Relations, NMIMS, Mumbai said, “There is no one thing or channel that works for any brand, any school or any university in the Higher Education sector. Today’s target audience is millennials, so using one channel will not be apt. We use a mix of channels to ensure we are reaching out to the right target audience. Hence, it is very important to know where your audience lies in terms of merit and intellect; in terms of geographic distribution and disposable income. These are very important areas to discuss and deliberate before deciding the marketing mix”.
Dalmia added, “Print must be there in the portfolio to cast down your brand and your vision. But when it comes to running campaigns, the medium which we heavily rely on is digital media – search engine marketing and social media. We also believe in user-generated content”.
Speaking how his institution has been able to keep the admissions team motivated during the pandemic and how technology played a role to support it, Aman Mittal, Additional Director, Lovely Professional University said, “Every sector has gone through the pandemic and everybody was worried about what to do especially since the offline media has completely vanished, but I feel very fortunate that we have a very large and motivated team who gave us a lot of insight on what to do with respect to the marketing and the new initiatives that can be taken.”.
Vikrant Vashisht, Head – Admissions & Marketing, Maharishi Markandeshwar University opined, “There has been a paradigm shift in the education process and now the behavioural patterns have changed drastically. There has been a change in customer behaviour and we have to use strategies that cater to their consumption patterns”.
Vishesh Chandrashekhar, Director – Corporate & Public Relations, Acharya Institutes said, “Any institute cannot only use marketing techniques to communicate quality; it cannot sustain”.
He added, “The decision-maker has moved from the parent to the student and communication has to be specifically designed to create an impact on that target audience. There is a thin line between content marketing and advertising”.
Sharing his thoughts to the discussion, Dolamani Sahu, Associated Vice President & Group Head Admission, International School of Business & Media said, “Now is the time of storytelling and content marketing; the most important parameter is storytelling in terms of content”.