Are you in education marketing or student recruitment? Despite the handy “M&R” phrase, we meet so many colleagues who talk of each component as two entirely separate planets.
Given how competitive things are in education, we think it's vital for education institutions to understand the link between marketing and recruitment and to make sure they are working and communicating hand in hand.
If we go back to basics and define the terms, marketing in education refers to the strategies and tactics that educational institutions use to promote themselves to prospective students, parents, and other stakeholders. Recruitment, on the other hand, refers to the process of attracting and enrolling new students to the institution.
Even stripping them back to their elemental forms, they completely overlap. While to some, marketing and recruitment may seem like two different things, they are both part of the same process: catching new students' attention and enrolling them.
Marketing and recruitment have more in common than we might think. Both require a deep understanding of the target audience and the ability to connect with them on a personal level. In both cases, it's all about building relationships and creating a sense of community. Both also require a keen eye for detail, whether it's analyzing data or reviewing applications.
So, are their differences really so significant in reality?
It's all about strategy and logic, just like the Roman god of war. Marketers use data and analytics to determine the best approach for attracting students to their institution. They focus on creating a strong brand image, using vibrant colors, and relatable messages to make students feel at home.
Marketing is the foundation of recruitment. Marketing gets them interested in the first place by giving them all the info they need to make them truly aware of where and what to study, or why they should consider such a program and or institution.
Let’s put it like this: without marketing, potential students would not know that an institution exists. A strong marketing campaign builds an institution's reputation, which in turn attracts potential students.
When a school has a strong brand and reputation, it is easier to attract new students. Marketing campaigns that communicate an institution's values, mission, and strengths, help to create a strong brand identity that resonates with students. Strong recruitment performance is great, but we should acknowledge that it is built on the developmental work of consistent marketing and brand building over many years.
Let's take the example of the 2020/1 challenges, as institutions that invested in digital marketing before the pandemic were able to pivot quickly and effectively to a digital recruitment model. If institutions weren’t so invested in digital marketing pre-pandemic, they certainly moved to change that. As they could see, it allowed them to target their marketing efforts more effectively, and reach students who are a good fit for their programs. Naturally, this improved recruitment outcomes as they were already talking to the right prospective students. Those more targeted conversations were able to yield more specific insights that in turn strengthened marketing efforts again.
Marketing is evolving all the time, and as we discussed in our most recent article, empathy marketing and community building are becoming critical levers to help students feel engaged and supported by an institution, as they become students. This not only supports recruitment, but also retention rates.
It's all about emotions and feelings, just like the goddess of love herself. Recruiters use a variety of tactics to appeal to students' emotions and persuade them to choose their institution. They rely on their communication skills to provide students with the information they need to turn interested students into enrolled students.
Don’t worry, recruitment folks. It sounds like marketing is getting all the shine, but this is not that. Recruitment, then, is a continuation of the marketing process. Once an institution has attracted potential students, the recruitment process begins. This is where admissions teams engage with prospective students, providing them with information and answering their questions about the institution.
Recruiters need to be really in tune with the messaging from marketing, so that they can understand the type of expectations potential students are arriving with, and what the key draws for them might be. With good communication, this process will be seamless.
In the USA, universities have enrollment management teams, while in Europe, they have admissions management teams. The difference in nomenclature may seem minor, but it speaks to a more significant difference in approach.
Enrollment management teams are responsible for every aspect of the student's journey, from the first inquiry to graduation. They analyze data to create targeted campaigns and recruitment strategies, working closely with government agencies, such as the Department of State (DOS), to ensure that international students are granted visas efficiently and effectively.
On the other side of the Atlantic, admissions management teams are responsible for selecting the right candidates for the university. They work closely with university departments to ensure that applications are reviewed thoroughly and that the most qualified students are selected. Admissions management teams do not have the same level of interaction with government agencies as enrollment management teams in the USA.
So, what can we learn from these differences and similarities? Perhaps the most important lesson is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing and recruitment. Every market is unique, with its own challenges and opportunities. It's essential to understand these differences and adapt accordingly.
International student marketing and recruitment may be from different planets, but these are intertwined and interconnected, each playing a vital role in attracting international students to institutions worldwide.
In truth, the relationship between marketing and recruitment is not one-way and is actually symbiotic. Recruitment also informs marketing. As admissions teams interact with prospective students, they get valuable insights into the types of students who are interested in their institution. This information can be used to fine-tune marketing strategies and campaigns to better resonate with prospective students.
Both marketing and recruitment are aimed at attracting international students to a particular institution or program. Marketing aims to create brand awareness and attract students' attention through various channels such as social media, email campaigns, and advertisements. Recruitment, on the other hand, involves interacting with potential students and guiding them through the application process.
Marketing is all about being creative and standing out in a crowded marketplace. Marketers are like the peacocks of the education industry, flaunting their colorful feathers to attract potential students. Recruitment, on the other hand, is more like a dating game. Recruiters are the smooth-talking wingmen, helping students navigate through the complicated and confusing process of applying to a foreign institution.
Whether you are a from Venus or from Mars, there is a common goal: to demystify the myth of separation between marketing and recruitment because it is just that – a myth. Marketing without Recruitment/Enrollment/Admissions teams are like the moon without the sun, and Recruitment/Enrollment/Admissions without Marketing teams are like the sun without the moon. They both flash their light in different moments of the day and are equally important in the galaxy of international marketing and student recruitment.
We are M&R. That sounds like it could be a good slogan actually (don’t steal it), but we say this because we specialize in bringing M&R teams together, streamlining processes and communication flows, and building a common sense of purpose and approach. To talk to us about how we can give your M&R some TLC, just drop us a line on our contact form here.