This is a guest post by Elizabeth Kraus. Elizabeth is a marketing and branding expert and the co-founder of myUsearch.com, the Honest College Matchmaker, an online matchmaking service that delivers qualified and invested student inquiries to help colleges protect their brand, control marketing costs and connect to students who are actually interested in their institution.
You have been asked to increase enrollment and have been given some pretty lofty admissions goals, but your budget has stayed the same, or has maybe even been cut. Sound familiar? If all your admissions marketing ideas have been shot down because of budget constraints, you might be feeling a little desperate. Don’t worry. YOU HAVE OPTIONS. Here are five simple ways to justify your admissions marketing budget and meet your enrollment goals:
1) Track Everything:
Make sure you truly understand the cost of your admissions marketing efforts including frequently forgotten costs like travel expenses, campus tour costs, and admissions staff time for things like data entry, marketing mailings and student inquiry follow-ups. Compare these costs to the results each effort produces and make sure every cost can be justified.
2) Understand Your Key Performance Measures:
There are three commonly used ratios used for analyzing cost: 1) Cost Per Lead, or CPL, 2) Cost Per Application, or CPA, 3) Cost Per Start, or CPS. You should know the industry average for each of these performance measures and understand how your school measures up.
3) Quantify the Value of Your Staff:
No one wants to succumb to layoffs, but to avoid them; you should be able to quantify the return on investment for each of your staff members. By understanding how many student inquiries, applications and matriculated students each staff member produces, you can justify their cost.
4) Welcome Transparency:
By welcoming analysis from outside parties, you will show confidence in your admissions marketing efforts and may even learn a thing or two. There are several companies that offer tools to help you analyze your efforts, so if you don’t have anything in place yet, you may want to consider them.
5) Reduce Your Costs:
The often overlooked, but easiest way to increase your available budget is to cut the fat. Use your findings from step 1 through 4 to take a realistic look at your admissions marketing costs. If you look deeply enough, you will probably find some things that aren’t quite as effective as you thought and you can start making cuts before someone in a board room has to make them for you.
In summary: If you can prove your efforts will produce tuition revenue, your budget will follow. It is sometimes hard to admit this when you are providing such a socially imperative service as education, but in the end, boardroom decisions are based purely on dollars and cents. Don’t forget this and use it to your advantage. Empower yourself to make a difference in your students’ and your staff’s lives by decreasing your costs, measuring your success and justifying the money you need to make things happen.
And if all of this talk about budgets and tracking makes your head hurt, consider attending our upcoming FREE Webinar Tomorrow: Fight for Your Budget: How to Track and Justify Your Admissions Marketing Efforts. We’ll break this down into manageable pieces and suggest simple and easy ways to make it happen. Good luck!