Keys to Smaller Universities Defeating Their Competitors

University Recruitment Strategy for Smaller Schools

One of the challenges I enjoy as I advise university enrollment and marketing organizations is helping them win against larger competitors. 

That’s why I appreciated the insights that I gained while touring the Pea Ridge National Military Park, one of the war’s pivotal battles and the most intact

Civil War battlefield in the United States.  The Union victory at Pea Ridge decided the fate of Missouri and other Western states, an amazing accomplishment considering the Confederate forces outnumbered them 3 to 2.

As I examined the Confederates’ demise, I identified three factors relevant to today’s student recruitment teams:

Lesson #1:  In an attempt to quietly flank the Union army and take them by surprise, the Confederates marched 60 miles (sometimes nearly jogging) the week prior to the battle.  As a result, the troops were exhausted before the battle even began.

Applying this to university recruitment, you need to determine if your team has the capacity to win the battle before you enter the highly competitive recruiting process within higher education marketing.  Ask yourself if the team is operating as efficiently as it could and ascertain if valuable recruiting time is spent on less important activities.  If you spot inefficiencies, you will need to focus on enablement and time management to increase your team’s productivity.  A good grasp of conversion rates and how recruiter time is being allocated will be key data points to answering this question.

Lesson # 2:  Because the Confederates wanted to cover the 60 miles quickly, they carried minimal supplies and ammunition with them to the battle.  Lack of ammunition became a serious factor in their defeat.

Applying this to university student recruitment would be similar to trying to achieve an enrollment goal with insufficient leads.  Ask yourself if the recruitment team has enough leads (or inquiries) to attain their goal.  Again, knowing your conversion rates helps you predict the number of leads you will need by certain points in time to achieve your enrollment goals.  Likewise, knowing how many leads you will need creates a measurable framework for your marketing and lead-generation strategies.

Lesson #3:  The Confederates lost two of their Generals at the onset of the battle leaving them without clear direction.  Because they failed to prepare for this possibility, subordinates did not understand the full battle plan.  Lack of communication and preparedness created a leadership vacuum that paralyzed the Confederate forces.

Applying this to university recruitment relates to process.  Having a well-defined process that describes the recruiting and enrollment stages as well as ownership and goals for each of those stages is vital.  All team members should understand their roles and responsibilities and be empowered to respond to changes in the market in a timely manner.  In the same way, each recruiter should know what is expected of them, their goals and success metrics, and be equipped with a distinct message.

When structured correctly, smaller enrollment organizations can hold their own against larger competitors.  Just like the Union forces, making sure you have fresh troops (sufficient capacity), ammunition (leads), and effective communication (well-defined process) will empower you to defeat a much larger force.

Give us a call or fill out the form on the Contact page to learn how these principles can transform your university recruitment strategies.

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