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Do not over expand, education sector warned

The chief executive officer of marketing and enrolment firm Capture Higher Ed, Len “Nappi” Napolitano, has warned higher education institutions that they need to carefully consider their course offerings. “We cannot be McDonalds”, he told them.

Photo: Higher Ed Live

Napolitano gave a very specific answer as to what steps institutions should take in covering their bases

Speaking with Gil Rogers, from digital firm Platform Q Education, on Higher Ed Live’s industry discussion feature ‘Fireside Chat’, Napolitano recalled the over expansion in consumer choice by both McDonalds and Starbucks, and reminded institutions that they could connect with students with “limited offerings… because the way you present your offerings is relevant to that buyer”.

“Technology is more than just a funnel”

In the discussion, released in early September, Napolitano lays out the journey that the US post-secondary education industry has taken over the last few decades, including being shaped by for-profits and “reimagining their propositions” by taking on virtual engagement tools and gathering data to inform their development.

Avoiding over expansion is a way for institutions to keep their marketing budgets ‘stagnant’, according Napolitano, and therefore focus on priorities. Rogers, meanwhile, outlined the width of these priorities, describing how institutions are anxious to fight on two fronts, post-pandemic.

“So many people that we talk to say ‘we’re going to be asked to go back to travel, go back to posting campus visits and regional programs’. But we also see the value in virtual content in events and programs.”

Emphasising forward planning, Napolitano gave a very specific answer as to what steps institutions should take in covering their bases.

“Take a calculation of your marketing dollars, execute the revenue from there and divide your budget. Reduce your travel budget by 20% immediately.

“Take that additional 20%, divide that by 50%. Don’t spend that, leverage it for your yield campaign and take the other 10% and begin to leverage that for a variety of technology engagements.”

Napolitano gives an example of the pay-off from this. He describes a conversation he had with a VP of enrolment of “a highly selective institution” who told him how fortunate they were that they were able to use a suite of technology because it made his counsellors “more efficient and accessible”.

“Technology is more than just a funnel,” said Napolitano, “it’s at every stage of the funnel, and leveraging the data from a series of technologies means they can generate the same yield for their counsellors, while reducing the amount of work by prioritising students.”

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