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How Relaxed is Your MBA Recruitment?

higher ed marketing

Summertime and the livin’ is easy…

Well, maybe for some.

There never seems to be a downtime when you work in b-school admissions and marketing.  Just as one recruitment cycle is over, another one is heating up.

While recruitment doesn’t take a vacation in July, there’s a decidedly more summer-like tone in business school communications spanning the seasons.  The messaging is warmer, more relaxed, less formal.  Even among the most elite and established business schools, communications are down-to-earth.  No longer is “serious” synonymous with “stuffy.”

Case in point.  Check out “Harvard’s Sassy New Business-School Application” as described in this WSJ article:

“Why be stuffy and formal if we don’t have to?” says Dee Leopold, managing director of M.B.A. admissions and financial aid at HBS, noting that this is how she and colleagues actually talk to candidates in person. ‘We decided to take our voice and put it in writing.’”

Everyone knows that business school is serious business.  That’s a given.  But that’s not enough these days to draw more applicants to your door.

At a time when prospective MBA students have more choices than ever before (including the ever-present choice of not doing an MBA), business schools that make it easier to do business will be the ones that have a distinct advantage in the competitive marketplace.

“It’s a lot easier putting together an application if you think they’re on your side,” says Betsy Massar of Master Admissions in this Poets & Quants article. “The new (HBS) application has sassy elements to it and comes off as more of a dialogue.”

Business schools are also taking a more conversational approach in their blogs as well which is an important top-of-funnel activity to generate leads and boost SEO.  In “Gearing Up for Fall 2015,” Soojin Kwon, the Director of Admissions at the Ross School of Business, puts prospects at ease as she provides advice for essays, recommendations, and application deadlines.  Take a look at her last sentence. Soojin shows that business school can be rigorous, but the people can be relatable.

higher ed marketingThen there’s this blog post where Soojin provides interview tips and answers a question about how to manage stress when applying to business school.  Notice how she uses humor to lighten an intimidating and nerve-wracking part of the admissions process. You can feel the stress melt away.

It all comes down to building personal relationships with candidates and connecting on a human level.

As you get ready for your next recruitment cycle, take an audit of your marketing collateral (i.e., website, blogs, social media messaging, information session presentation, applications forms).  Check out the tone.  Make sure the voice of your business school is:

  • Welcoming
  • Inviting
  • Approachable
  • Conversational
  • Helpful
  • Engaging
  • Empathetic

Think of ways that you can improve the customer experience. As Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions at Tuck Business School, says in this interview with Poets & Quants:

“A prospective student’s first interaction with the Tuck School is going to be with the admissions office. If they find us to be helpful and accessible, it hopefully sends a message.”

What message is your business school sending?


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