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How to Spot Partnerships for Business School Recruitment

As Labor Day approaches, you can almost hear the collective sigh from coast to coast. Where did the summer go?

Some will celebrate the long holiday weekend with a trip to the beach or the ballpark. Others may head to the mall to catch the Labor Day sales. If you are looking to spruce up your fall wardrobe with some back-to-school (or work) styles from J. Crew, for example, you would head right to the retailer’s stores.

Or if you want to wait another week or two, you could shop the brand at Nordstrom.

Wait. What?

Yes, you read that right. Starting September 12, J. Crew will be selling its women’s brand apparel at 16 Nordstrom stores across the country.

The partnership comes as both retailers grapple with pressured sales and fewer shoppers coming to their stores,” according to an article in Fortune.

It’s what you would label a win-win for both parties.

J. Crew gains exposure to new customers through another distribution channel and a chance to “re-elevate” its brand image.

Nordstrom gains a “point of differentiation” and increased store traffic.

It’s a smart strategy at a time when the retail industry is struggling.

“It’s not a pretty world for retail right now,” says the president of a major American department store who was interviewed for the WSJ Magazine feature story entitled “Store Wars.”

Clothing and accessory sales grew an anemic 1.8 percent in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. In the first five months of 2016, sales barely grew at all—just a paltry 0.2 percent.

There are some similar threads in the higher education sector.

According to a survey of 265 business schools by AACSB International, enrollment in U.S. MBA programs is down 11 percent since 2009.

There are a number of ways to address this not-so fashionable trend.  More recruitment overseas recruitment. More advertising. More events.

But maybe it’s time to take a page from the retail playbook and attract more “school” traffic through partnerships as well.

It’s a strategy that is, well, trending.

Earlier this year, six leading business schools including Darden, Fuqua, and Kellogg held a Masters in Management Forum with Kaplan Test Prep in Washington, D.C.

And CEIBS recently linked with the Global China Connection to augment brand awareness in the United States.

Fuqua and Kenan-Flagler have joined forces in the past to attract executive MBA students through “strategic co-opitition.”

As we head into the new recruitment season, think of “big picture” possibilities to boost brand awareness and attract new streams of prospective students. Try new initiatives that you haven’t imagined before. Identify bespoke partnership opportunities to reach prospects are earlier in the pipeline.

It’s another way to button up your enrollment plans before the next school year begins.

Schedule a 20/20 Brainstorming Call