Posts Tagged ‘higher education branding’

Do You Really Know What Students and Parents Think About Your Campus Visit Experience?

June 8th, 2017

First, let me share some data. Then I’ll extend an invitation that I think you’ll want to accept.

The Data:

Colleges do not differentiate themselves through their tour and visit programs, students say. In our national co-sponsored studies, and through focus group research we conduct, 60% of students say that campus tours are “all the same,” and they don’t consider that a good thing. Students tell us that most don’t generate any more or less excitement than all of the others they experienced.

The key reason, students tell us, is that most tours focus on the college and its attributes without consideration for the student’s specific interests. This is especially so in group tours. In contrast, students who receive one-on-one tours where the focus is on them and what they want, tend to see the campus visit experience as a demonstration of the college’s personal interest in them.

Ask yourself:  Do our tours and visits capture the magic that is unique to OUR college?  Does the visit feel personalized to the interests of the student? 

In our recently released study, “Hidden Influences,” over 18,000 college bound students were asked what they remembered seeing or experiencing on a campus visit that made a college especially attractive to them. Two primary themes emerged. Students were enamored with the campus itself (which they described in many different ways) and the students (both prospective and current) they observed and interacted with on their visit.

Students most frequently express their appreciation for the campus less in terms of physical attributes and more in emotional attributes such as the “feel” of the campus, “atmosphere” and “vibe.”

Interaction with current students on a campus plays a critical role in their college selection decision. It gives them a feel for what their life will be like if they enrolled. Prospective students respond very favorably to current students who are friendly, enthusiastic, happy and welcoming.

Ask yourself:  Are visiting students given a variety of opportunities to interact with each other and current students in a positive environment?

When prospective students were asked what they remembered seeing or experiencing on a campus visit that made a college especially unattractive to them, the same two primary themes emerged: the campus and students/people.

Interestingly, though, their comments about things they find unattractive are notably more visceral than their comments about things they find attractive. They describe campuses as “gloomy,” “dreary,” “dirty,” “run down,” “desolate” and “empty.” They describe students as “snooty,”“unhappy,”“unfriendly,” “mean-spirited” and “rude.”

It’s hard to imagine that any student would enroll in an institution at which they had such negative emotional responses as described above.

During a campus visit about one-half of prospective students see and experience things about the college that they find unappealing. This finding may be expected since all students are not going to like everything they see at all of the campuses they visit. What is more concerning is that only 13% of students say that an admission counselor ever inquired if they had seen or experienced anything the student found unappealing or concerning about their campus.

Ask yourself: Are you asking your visitors if they saw anything they didn’t like? Simply asking, “How was your tour?” isn’t enough. Probe for the specifics of what they did and did not like. If you don’t ask, they won’t tell and you will never know the real reason they didn’t enroll.

Perhaps the most important questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Is your campus visit program resulting in greater yields?
  • How well do you use this golden opportunity to cement the emotional commitments of prospective students and their parents?
  • Do you accurately measure the results of these visits and the impact on enrollment?
  • Is every campus representative well-trained in their role?

The invitation:

After our last two co-sponsored studies, we wondered: Just how much and how precisely are colleges capturing the thoughts and opinions of students and parents after their campus visits? Are they capturing truly relevant data, or are they capturing data that doesn’t prove to be all that useful in helping them improve their campus visit experiences in the hearts and minds of prospective students?

So, out of curiosity, we asked a number of our clients to let us see the “post-visit” surveys they use. They were more than happy to have us review and comment on them.

In a nutshell, the surveys were mostly boilerplate. With questions like “Were we helpful?. Or, “Did you see everything you wanted to see?” Or, “Can you see yourself enrolling here?” Etc. Etc.

The questions on these surveys did not measure CHANGE in a student’s view of the college. Or dominant EMOTIONS that were or were not instilled in students and parents as a result of the visit experience. Or how the visit experience COMPARED to other campus visit experiences the student had with other colleges.

We’d like to look at are larger number of “after-visit” surveys in use at colleges across the country. We’d like to see how they can be improved.

So, if you’d like to send us your campus visit survey please do! (Don’t worry, it won’t be shared with anyone.) We’ll take a look at it along with others we receive. We’ll then share with everyone the best, most incisive, most actionable, and most creative questions we see. There is no cost for this!!

Send your campus visit survey to Bob Longmire by CLICKING HERE. You may want to leave your contact information in case Bob has a question or suggestion specific to you.

Shifting gears:

I hope you’ll check out the national co-sponsored higher education study we are launching now:  Emotional Motivators. This study is based on the adage: “Facts tell. Emotions sell.” Students want and need facts and information about the colleges they consider. But their college selection decision will hinge on how they FEEL about the school they’ll ultimately enroll in. This study will tell you how they feel about you relative to the other colleges they considered (or chose to attend).

You should get in as a co-sponsor! There is still time. You can get a deeper level of insight on the pool of prospective students you were/are working for 2017 and get a clear understanding of how you were or weren’t tripping their trigger. You can click here for a video with all the details.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here.  Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at rmontgomery@longmire-co.com.

[Video]: Resources You Can Use Now to Finalize ’17 and Ensure a Successful ’18

May 23rd, 2017

As summer approaches, enrollment managers and admission directors expand their focus to critical issues like professional development, marketing planning, research and pre-enrollment service initiatives. Meanwhile, many colleges are still in the throes of making their 2017 class.  According to the recently released NACAC College Openings Update, over 500 colleges and universities are still accepting applications from prospective freshman and/or transfer students for the upcoming fall term.

Wherever your institution falls on this wide spectrum of future planning, we have a number of free tools and resources available to you. On our website and YouTube channel you’ll find an ever growing list of admission counselor tutorials aimed at making your counselors even better at their jobs. You can also download the complete reports from our each of our national co-sponsored studies that dive deeply into the hot-button issues that impact your enrollment.  Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get even more. There you’ll find tutorials, up-to-date market data, and a wealth of actionable information to help you with your recruiting efforts, today and in the future.

Our most recent video (below) introduces you to the national co-sponsored higher education study we are launching now:  Emotional Motivators. This study is based on an old adage: “Facts tell. Emotions sell.” Students want and need facts and information about the colleges they consider. But their college selection decision will hinge on how they FEEL about the school they’ll ultimately enroll in. This study will tell you how they feel about you relative to the other colleges they considered (or chose to attend).

You should get in as a co-sponsor! There is still time. You can get a deeper level of insight on the pool of prospective students you were/are working for 2017 and get a clear understanding of how you were or weren’t tripping their trigger.

Be sure to check out our Counselor Training Tutorials. At the heart of our highly-acclaimed Interactive Counselor Training Workshop is a proven model of communication that counselors tell us is transformative. The model is simple and highly effective. Adopt this straightforward method and you will see greater success in your recruitment efforts. Our ever-expanding tutorial menu includes sessions covering these high–impact topics from the popular workshops we conduct at college campuses across the country:

Counselor Training Series Overview: Longmire and Company believes that the conversations between prospective students and the colleges they are considering can be much richer and more fruitful for both. Having rich conversations with prospective students provides you with a greater understanding of each student’s unique needs, preferences, motivations, and how they will make their college selection decision.

CHECK OUT THESE VIDEOS ………

The Counselor Training Series is just the beginning of the valuable free video tools available to you. Again, check out our YouTube channel for more tutorials, powerful data from national co-sponsored studies and interviews with some of your peers.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, PLEASE consider getting involved in this new co-sponsored study we’re launching. You’ll benefit from it! Previous co-sponsors get involved year after year because it’s inexpensive and they get insightful and actionable information.

Email or call me if you are interested in how we can help. Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company and the tools we have to offer, click here. Be sure to subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you can stay up-to-date.

Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at rmontgomery@longmire-co.com.

The Four Best Practices of Admission Counselors According to College-bound Students

May 16th, 2017

Just what are the traits of an exceptional Admission Counselor?  Google it and this is what you’ll find: Excellent writing and speaking skills, ability to relate positively to a wide variety of people, enthusiastic, organized, professional in appearance and demeanor, familiarity with technology and data driven systems, able to work both independently and in a team setting, excellent time management skills, and so on. All clearly important attributes for a role that has enormous impact on any college’s recruiting success. But what if prospective students were writing your job description? How would it be different from the stock descriptions you find in a standard job opening announcement?

Here are some clues: In a our co-sponsored study, The Relationship Dynamic, 38% of college-bound students said that their college admission counselor played a significant role in helping them form a relationship the college they chose.

In a separate study, The Value Proposition,” students were asked to identify and quantify the relative influence of specific interactions on their relationship with the college they selected. Across the board, the students rated social media in the neutral range whereas interaction with admission counselors rated much higher, demonstrating a far greater influence on enrollment.

What do students say counselors MUST do?

In our recently released study, Hidden Influences, over 18,000 prospective students are very clear about what they want from a counselor.  Topping the list:  Answer their questions. ALL of their questions, completely!

While this may be impossible in a practical sense, students have a very high expectation that counselors have an answer for their every question. They expect counselors to be knowledgeable about issues relating to cost, financial aid, history of the institution, outcomes, deadlines, classes required for specific majors and so on.

Don’t say, “I don’t know.”  Instead say, “I’ll find out.” And do it!

If the counselor cannot answer a specific question they expect the counselor to find the answer and get back to them in a timely manner.
Students say they develop a strong affinity for a counselor who is well-informed and responsive. It is a key ingredient in their formation of a relationship with the college as a whole and it is influential in college selection.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, students voiced their frustrations with counselors who are unable to answer questions and cited examples of counselors who actually avoided questions and requests for information that fall outside the most basic.

Many students shared experiences where a counselor had given them information that they later discovered is “wrong” and “inaccurate.”  And, students have a very low tolerance for counselors who respond to specific questions with “vague” answers and information.

What qualities do top-notch admission counselors have that lead prospective students to enroll?

  1. They are knowledgeable and responsive. They know the answers to every question about their school, campus, costs, loans, scholarships, etc…  And, if they are asked a question that they don’t have an answer for, they find out fast.
  2. They demonstrate a sincere interest in the student.  They get to know the prospective student as an individual and understand his or her particular needs, preferences and motivations.
  3. They connect the student to people, places and activities that will create excitement about the college. Because they have mastered #2, they know just who those people, places and activities should be.
  4. They make sure to let the students know that the college is interested in them.  They make the student feel wanted.

Here’s what admission counselors need to know.

You know that a student’s college selection is tied closely to the strength of the relationship they build with a college over time. And, you know that creating relationships is a multifaceted, nuanced and crucial part of student recruitment.  But do you know this?  Your role is crucial. You are a powerful motivator when you use all of the tools available to you.

We help colleges and universities with their recruiting efforts every day. If we can help you, please let me know. If you’ve thought about helping your staff with professional development, now is the ideal time to train and motivate your staff. Email or call me if you are interested in how we can help. Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company and the tools we have to offer, click here. We will be sharing more key insights from our studies so be sure to subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you can stay up-to-date.

Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at rmontgomery@longmire-co.com.

Data Driven Strategies to Finalize Your Class and Minimize Melt

May 10th, 2017

Four-Studies_698x400Congratulations on successfully navigating Yield Season 2017!  Now, on to the next phase—ushering your class through the required processes to ensure they show up on the first day of class. The predictor of enrollment is excitement and emotional commitment. Students who don’t feel an emotional attachment to your college are far more likely to melt.

You can look to findings from four recent co-sponsored  studies for some guidance.  The studies point to specific actions you can take during orientation and beyond to strengthen and maintain the relationships you have worked so hard to build with your admitted students AND create meaningful connections with those students who have yet to bond with your college.

Here is what the data tells us students really want and the techniques you can successfully implement today to give it to them.

Understand Us!

In our most recent co-sponsored study, “Hidden Influences: Revealing the unspoken perceptions that prospective students have about your college and why it matters in your ability to grow and control enrollment, we asked over 18,000 college-bound students whether they felt the colleges they considered were more focused on understanding their needs and preferences or more focused on presenting information about their institutions.

We were stunned by their response: Only 20% of students felt that colleges placed the focus on them. This feeling was shared by students bound for both public and private institutions. In a prior higher-education study, The Excitement Factor!, college-bound students were asked if the colleges they were considering had taken a personal interest in them at any point in the recruiting process. The response was shocking. Two-thirds said “No” or “Don’t Remember” and in our view “Don’t remember” is the same as “No.”Personal_Interest_460x287

Showing your interest in and focusing on the specific needs and concerns of your committed students is crucial to ensuring they matriculate. Students see college as the beginning of a new chapter in their life and many are apprehensive about all of the transitions associated with going to college including moving away from home, meeting new people, leaving the comfort and familiarity of high school, and new educational challenges ahead. Without the safety net of the high school counseling office to turn to, some students may fall through the cracks.

Excite Us!

In our Value Proposition” study, we learned that a student’s excitement about attending a college is more predictive of enrollment than other key factors, such as cost and perceived quality of the institution. We explored that further in The Excitement Factorand discovered that over one-third of students actually experience an “AHA” moment where they can recall the precise instant, place or circumstance when they experienced a rush of emotion and realization that a specific college was the right choice for them.

In most cases, the student’s epiphany happens when they are on campus but the people, places and circumstances involved are widely varying, highly personal and unpredictable.

The job of any college, as it relates to recruiting students, is to put the student in a place or frame of mind where this epiphany can happen. To enable the student to envision what their life will be like. You’ll have additional opportunities to do that for students you expect to enroll.

Impress Us!

Consider this: In our national co-sponsored study, How Customer Service Delivery During the Recruiting Cycle Influences Enrollment,” we found that 53% of students and parents say that the service they receive from a college during the “shopping process” influences their selection decision.

We also see this in our work with individual colleges that utilize our assessment program, Service Quality Management (SQM). They know, as do you, for many students the selection process continues well beyond the point at which they make a promise to enroll.

Our studies have found that poor service delivery, across any brand touch point on campus, often outweighs other important factors, including strength of academic programs, faculty reputation and even the financial aid offered. Prospective students and parents view the pre-enrollment service they receive as predictive of how the student will be served after enrolling. They will change their mind about a college or avoid it altogether if they receive poor service.

Actions You Can Take to Excite, Impress, Build the Student/College Bond

Counselor Actions Relationship_Makewith Impact

Your admission counselors can be powerful influencers in creating a bond between your college and the students they have recruited.

Here’s how:

  • Stay in touch, ask questions and have meaningful conversations throughout the entire process. Make the student feel wanted, important, and engaged with the college.
  • Connect the student to people, places and activities that will create excitement about the college.
  • Identify students who are at risk for summer melt and enlist support for them from current students, faculty or other new admits.

Meaningful Social Media Strategies

Find unique ways to connect your incoming class to current students through social media sites, texts and your orientation programs.  Some colleges have created videos of current students addressing their own pre-enrollment concerns that they share with newly-admitted students.  Seeing a successful, happy student talk about how their own anxieties turned out to be unfounded can be a great stress reliever.

Orientations that Excite

What goals have you established for your orientation program?  Do they read like a laundry list of paperwork, must-do’s, must-know’s and must-see’s?  Instead, your goals and practices should be developed in the context of, “How does this strengthen (or create) the emotional bond each student has with us?”

By its very nature, college orientation is very process-driven: read this, hear this, watch this …  Instead, create entertaining programs and activities that engage students, foster enthusiasm, and enable the student to feel what it’s like to be a student and a part of your community.

Moat importantly, build in opportunities for admitted students to connect with (not simply meet) other newly-admitted and current like-minded students.

Service that Shines

To avoid losing students before classes start, be sure to give them a stellar experience everywhere and at all times. Students and their parents agreed that a single bad experience can be the catalyst for completely derailing the prospective student’s original enrollment plan. The most often cited negatives include unkempt grounds, buildings and restrooms; lack of clear signage; unfriendly staff and faculty; excessive phone hold times; unresponsive staff; and overwhelming paperwork.

Just as importantly, the study concludes that offering great pre-enrollment service will not only “save” enrollments but it is also one of the best possible ways for a college or university to differentiate itself in today’s competitive environment.

NEWS: Longmire and Company’s just-announced national co-sponsored higher education study has been launched to explore – in depth – the topic of emotional motivators in college selection.

Emotion study boxUnlike any other higher education research to-date, “Emotional Motivators: How to increase and control your enrollment by getting a deep and accurate understanding of how students really feel about your college,” will explore how students feel and, more importantly, why they feel that way, to give you a deeper understanding of the students you’re trying to recruit. The actionable insight yielded by this study will give you greater control over your conversations with prospective students, better ability to craft sharper mass marketing messages, and more direction to design highly productive campus visit experiences.

We hope you will join a prestigious list of co-sponsoring colleges and universities, large and small, and participate in this study. Co-sponsors find our studies valuable because of the wealth of new insight they gain about their individual pools of prospective students – insight they can use to drive action and change.

Colleges are signing up now so we encourage you to contact us soon if you are thinking about participating. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE INFORMATION.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here. Be sure to Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information

RickMontgomery_100x100Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at rmontgomery@longmire-co.com.