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Communicating to B-School Applicants: When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best

What is your favorite part of Valentine’s Day?







Or this?

Of course, adult greeting cards tend to be a little more mature.

Nonetheless, greeting cards, as a whole, are a popular way to show you care whether you have a penchant for SpongeBob, or something a little more serious and sentimental.

In fact, an American Express survey revealed that the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts are greeting cards (57%), followed by flowers (32%), and jewelry (17%). 

(Meanwhile, 21% of those surveyed indicated that cold, hard cash and gift cards are the best way to warm hearts, notably down 26% from the previous year.)

Other preferences for sending Valentine’s Day sentiments? The survey also noted that 62% of couples will use some form of technology or social media to share Valentine’s Day messages. Most will send a text (34%) while 33% will send a Facebook post or message, 26% will send an email, and 22% will send an e-card.

The survey was conducted in 2013, and I’m certain that those percentages would have only increased in the past four years. It’s clear that people want to show that they care, and that they want a convenient way to do so.

But what does all this have to do with business school marketing?

Well, think about what Valentine’s Day is all about:

Would you use these words to describe your communications with prospects? If not, why not?

We tend to think of recruiting students as a transaction.

School: Attract applicants. Meet enrollment targets. Evaluate credentials.

Applicant: Strengthen skill development. Change careers. Make more money.

But it’s much more than a transaction of talent. It’s not just “give” and “get.” Real relationships are at the heart (pun intended) of the entire admissions journey.

With this in mind, think about your communications to prospective students not only on this holiday, but year-round. Are you creating a real relationship? Are you conveying what prospects really desire? How does the reader react and respond to your words?

The head of romance at Hallmark Cards says cards reflect real relationships in society:

‘We put great importance on creating cards that say exactly what people want to express,’ she says, ‘so they can pick up a card and think: “This is us, this is my relationship.” Consumers won’t compromise on the words so it’s vital we get it right.’

Are you getting it right?

Over the years, I have analyzed hundreds and hundreds of business school communications from social media posts to email campaigns to blogs to websites – you name it – and I’ve noticed that marketing collateral falls short when it leans in favor of the transaction rather than the relationship.

Applicants value schools who get to know them well, and you need to show that your school understands their dreams, their goals, their challenges.

It’s also important to remember that each channel requires a different tone and style. Would you court prospects on Facebook the same way you would on LinkedIn? What about your website? Be sure to tailor your messaging accordingly.

In 1944, Hallmark coined the slogan: When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best.

Communications have evolved from print to our present-day digital formats since then, but the lesson is enduring.

Are you crafting messages that show you care enough? Are you sending the very best of what you offer?

Think about what you can do so that prospects will say:

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