Online Business School MarketingMarketing Plan

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Marketing an Online Business School

South University's Online BBA Program seeks to equip students with the knowledge as well as skill set they require to succeed in business related careers -- particularly those at the entry level. Some of the courses the university offers in an attempt to prepare students for leadership positions in the business arena include, but they are not limited to, organizational development, strategic management, and management of organizational change. The university makes use of various approaches in a bid to market this particular program. This text highlights the pros and cons of the existing marketing program.

One of the ways the university markets its online BBA program is through the use of testimonials. The testimonials are, in this case, however, solicited and are posted on the university's website. At the time of completing this text, the person appearing on the university's website for testimonial purposes was Jeff Philips -- a former student at the institution. In his own words, he points out that "I found that everyone was willing to go the extra mile in helping me ... I was really looking for that in an institution" (South University, 2016). Such a testimony is of great relevance as most individuals visiting the site in search of info about the program would want to hear of the experiences of someone who has already sat the program. Such an approach to marketing, therefore, builds the confidence of future students and quickens their decision making process regarding whether to enroll or not to enroll for the program. However, it is important to note that as Taylor (2013) points out, "reviews can make or break your business." Unsolicited and uncontrolled reviews may be risky as an approach to marketing. South University does not at this time face any challenge on this front as whatever is posted is first filtered for content.

The university also markets the various courses it offers, including the online BBA program, via several social media platforms such as twitter and Facebook. On its Facebook page, the university provides general details about all the programs it has on offer and provides social media users with a quick link to its website for more information. It is important to note that unlike other forms of, or approaches to marketing, Facebook marketing permits establishments like South University to really hone in on those who engage with the said university. The university could, for instance, make use of CRM data to reach those who are similar in some way. In this case, the look-alike-audience could include friends, associates, and siblings of those who are already enrolled in any of the institution's programs. The relevance of audience targeting cannot be overstated in this case largely because it is this same audience that is likely to enroll for a program at South University. This approach to marketing of the university's online BBA Program could, however, mean that the same target audience is privy to all the negative comments posted on the university's wall --whether legit or illegitimate. This may resent an image that is not necessarily accurate about the institution -- discouraging those who may be considering enrolling for the online BBA Program from doing so.

Alternative Marketing for the BBA Program

It is clear from the discussion above that there is need for the formulation of a better marketing strategy for South University; particularly as it seeks to market its online BBA Program. It is important to note, from the onset, that the number of people using the internet has increased exponentially within the last two decades. Two years ago, it was estimated that "over two billion people have access to the internet" (Taylor 2013). According to the author, this is a huge global audience that cannot be ignored. The relevance of internet marketing cannot, therefore, be overstated.

To begin with, the institution should take into consideration pay-per-click advertising as it seeks to market its online BBA program. It is important to note that unlike other traditional approaches towards advertising, this particular approach is relatively cost effective because one only gets to pay when an internet user clicks on the posted advertisement (Bailey, 2011). Additionally, this approach would permit the university to perform A/B tests in an easy way in an attempt to test a variety of keywords so as to determine those that resonate with the audience the institution targets. Although other forms of online advertising like banners still have a place, they pale when compared to pay per click advertising (Howie, 2014). As the author further points out, "your ad could be seen thousands of times by plenty of different people, but unless someone actually clicks on your advert you won't pay a cent for the privilege" (Howie, 2014, p. 12). It is, however, important to note that adopting this approach to advertising may not necessarily pay off. As a matter of fact, the university could end up incurring costs and no benefit at all. This is particularly the case given that not necessarily every "clicker" commits to enrolling for the program. The institution, could, therefore, end up having only two or no admissions out of 10,000 clicks.

The university could also partner with stakeholders, particularly students, to create awareness about its BBM program. The said stakeholders could be given some kind of incentive for them to expend some effort in such an endeavor. For students, such incentives could include, but they are not limited to, redeemable points for every new enrolment courtesy of the concerned student. Such points could be redeemed at any time for gifts or college fees. This approach does not have any downside and could be very effective as those engaged to create awareness about the program, in this case students, are already familiar with the institution and therefore make excellent ambassadors.

Testimonials could also be quite powerful if well implemented or utilized. Erbe (2000) points out that the use of testimonials has a positive impact on the communicator's perceived credibility. Currently, the university has only one slot for testimonials -- on its website. This could be extended to other social media channels, specifically YouTube. In the past, businesses have made use of YouTube to share ideas, to entertain associates, or for promotional purposes. YouTube is currently the largest and most utilized video hosting service; meaning that it could also be quite an effective tool for marketing purposes. I would propose that the university sets up a YouTube channel that brings together all promotional and informational videos. It is important to note that a YouTube channel enables a business to customize its presentations and outlook and also has a web address that can be passed on to others for promotional purposes. Allowing those who have in the past completed the BBM program at South University to talk of their experiences and presenting these experiences in video format in such a commonly visited platform would most definitely give the program some 'personality.' This is particularly the case given that presence on YouTube allows the institution to add movement and color to the BBM program, giving it some authenticity. In essence, this approach to marketing will be providing some evidence of measurable results through testimonials.

The university could also get creative in its marketing efforts and choose to ignore mainstream approaches to marketing. One way to do this would be by embracing an email marketing strategy. Here, the university could send a discount coupon link with every email its sends. The said link could be affixed at the bottom of every email -- perhaps as a signature. Even in instances where those who receive the email are not necessarily interested in the program, they may have someone in mind who may be interested in the same. This could turn out to be a powerful and perhaps tasteful way of marketing the BBM program.

Conclusion

It seeking to market its BBM program, the key goal of South University should be to get the word out to as many people as may be possible. Were we in the 1970s, the most effective way to do this would be via TV commercials and newspaper advertisements. In the present day, gaining access to the target audience has become far much easier, and perhaps cheaper. It should be noted that while web-based or online programs increase the pool of potential applicants by far, the number of those offering the said programs increases as well -- bringing about intense competition for the same applicants/potential students. This effectively means that the relevance of a smart marketing strategy cannot be overstated. The approaches to marketing highlighted in this text are likely to help South University outpace the competition as it seeks to grow its online BBM program.

References

Bailey, M. (2011). Internet Marketing: An Hour a Day. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Erbe, J. (2000). Online Marketing: Persuasive Strategies in Commercial Emails. Hamburg: Hermannstal

Howie, I. (2014). PPC Basics. New York, NY: Wordtracker

South University (2016). Business Administration Bachelor of Business Administration BBA. Retrieved… [END OF PREVIEW]

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