Many schools today have separate Admissions and Marketing departments with the intention being that one will concentrate on enrolment whilst the other on promoting their brand and image.
But these two departments that seem so closely related, with goals to increase the school’s income and ‘family’ often have issues with each other in their daily operations, especially so in locations where competition for students is fierce, or the school itself lacks sufficient facilities, or not recognised enough for various reasons.
Aaron Wu, Director of Sales and Marketing for WCBS China, delves into what’s behind those issues, and how they can be rectified.
In this article, I would like to talk to you about how the Admissions and Marketing teams in schools can have fun working together. This interesting topic is mainly divided into three parts:
- Why can’t some school Admissions and Marketing colleagues have fun?
- What are the key ideas for effective collaboration between Admissions and Marketing?
- Success in integrating Marketing and Admissions: easy tools and perfect systems.
a. Cognitive differences, lack of consensus
Every day, Admissions staff respond to parents’ enquiries, arrange interviews, manage and report on the source of students; they can tend to think that the Marketing team knows little about the demands and needs of parents. In turn, the Marketing department believes that the Admissions team is not comprehensive in their consideration, by being too focused on the ideals of individual parents, and that as they think Admissions staff know little about school branding and precision marketing, they don’t know how to promote the school. In short, both sides have made the mistake of, to use a Chinese saying, “letting your backside rule your head”, [meaning wherever you are sitting will likely determine your point of view and decisions]. In practice, this can mean that there is a lack of consensus from outside the respective departments, contributions are ignored and both teams ending up fighting the same battles, thus seriously affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation.
b. Separate duties, lack of understanding
Keeping the functions of Marketing and Admissions separate can lead to problems if, for example, the Marketing department is only responsible for the establishment of large school events and brands, while the Admissions department is only responsible for organising and coordinating work related to enrolment.
Just performing their respective duties without considering the needs or demands of the other party can cause mutual resentment. If there is low enrolment the Admissions department will blame Marketing for providing poor quality leads. Conversely, the Marketing department may question the ability of the Admissions staff to convert. This is especially true when schools have limited resources or are not well matched.
c. Marketing goals vs Admissions goals
Marketing and Admissions usually have their own goals. For example, the Marketing department mainly holds various online and offline activities to increase the exposure and popularity of the brand with the outcome being Admissions leads. The goal of the Admissions department is simpler, to achieve the enrolment budget. The inconsistencies in their respective goals affect the focus of daily work, so it is easy to cause problems in the process of collaboration.
First of all, we still need to make sure we clearly identify what exactly is Marketing and what is Admissions. In general, the Marketing department is the integrator, bringing the relevant activities together, and the Admissions department is responsible for implementing the actions and applying them to each specific enquiry. The Marketing department’s job revolves around brand and product, whilst Admissions is specific to each prospect family from a micro perspective.
Differences in performance standards between Admissions and Marketing can cause problems. Admissions is more focused on enrolment numbers, so the success or failure of their efforts can rely on high-quality Admissions leads and customer contact information. Therefore, the value of Marketing to Admissions is very clear, there is no doubt. From a Marketing point of view, the focus is more on the overall income performance of the school, the return on education, and so on.
My years of experience in products has given me the opportunity to think from the perspective of Marketing and Admissions respectively, and only by doing this empathetically can we better understand each other and reduce contradictions. Some schools will even implement departmental consolidation, which can effectively solve this problem.
In many cases, even if there is a clear definition of responsibilities, people will still find many problems and conflicts when working together, or they can strengthen collaboration through more integrated processes to develop Marketing and improve performance more efficiently.
Do an integration at the activity level. At this time, Marketing is still separate, but it should have a team member participating in the business planning and enrolment strategies of the Admissions department. Goal setting, target Marketing advantage analysis, potential parent needs assessment, discussion of Marketing materials, and formulation of important school activity plans need the expertise of both departments. In fact, with enrolment numbers underpinning the success of a school, both Marketing and Admissions managers, directors, and even principals should collaborate, to fully understand the goals and ensure cooperation.
Consider encouraging close collaboration between Marketing and Admissions at all stages in terms of business processes. At the system level, the activities of both parties are integrated through a common database or a process control system. At the same time, corresponding measures are set up in terms of incentives and performance to ensure common goals.
The perfect school Admissions management system has a special logo from Marketing for Admissions leads and business opportunities to identify the contribution by them to Admissions. In terms of competitive analysis or customer analysis, Marketing can provide strong data analysis support for the Admissions team in the form of a system or database.
The ability to obtain, update and analyse information that includes elements of the whole process of Admissions is critical for both Admissions and Marketing.