The business school marketplace is perhaps one of the most challenging sectors in education when it comes to student recruitment. Highly educated, ambitious, and in many cases very experienced, potential candidates for MBAs or business master’s degrees are often quite discerning. They will accept nothing less than the best possible study option to help them further their career and achieve their goals.
So how do you convince them that the best option is your school? While all digital marketing channels can play an important role in your recruitment efforts, content marketing is arguably one of the most crucial.
Quality blogs, videos, infographics, and other content helps business schools to position themselves to prospects as trusted authorities and communicate the value of a business school education without being overtly promotional.
Here are a few tips to help you put together a winning business school content marketing strategy.
1. Strike the Right Tone in Your Business School Content Marketing
When creating a business school content marketing strategy, it’s crucial that your content creators pay close attention to the tone of your content and strive to find the right voice for your institution.
This can be a difficult balancing act. Prospective business school students are likely to favour content that is less formal or academic than other university-level subject areas like STEM or the arts. At the same time, it’s important that the tone of your content isn’t too casual, as they will likely expect a professional air to your work.
A good tactic can be to research content from high-end business publishers like Forbes or Fast Company, and try to mirror their tone and style. Your prospects will be likely to read content from these publications or visit similar sites in their own time, and are more likely to respond to content produced in the same mould.
2. Highlight the Value of a Business School Education
One of the most common questions business school prospects ask themselves before applying for a program is whether it will be worth the investment. A top-quality MBA or business master’s program can be expensive, and pursuing their studies may require candidates to take time off from the workforce. In other cases, prospects may be receiving funding from their employer to pursue their degree, and the company will need to be convinced of its value.
With that in mind, it’s imperative that your school’s content highlight the value and return on investment a business education can provide as much as possible. You can create blogs, videos, or other content which shows the increased opportunities or improved salary levels graduates enjoy, using statistics or examples to provide social proof of your claims.
However, you shouldn’t stop at communicating the value of having a business degree on their resume. You should also demonstrate the value of what they learn. You can produce content that explains some of the concepts and subjects they will study during their time at your school, and how this knowledge can be utilized throughout their careers.
Example: This blog from Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley offers 16 benefits of completing an MBA. The benefits listed range from career benefits like expanding your network, to skills learned like strategic thinking and time management.
In the case of business degrees with specific specializations, such as marketing or supply chain management, this might involve emphasizing how having specialized industry knowledge can help them advance quickly in their chosen sector. When promoting more general degrees, meanwhile, you may want to underline the universality of the skills students acquire, and how they can be applied to a number of different industries.
3. Showcase Your Business School’s Faculty & Alumni
Another great way to offer evidence of the value of studying at your business school is to place a focus on your successful alumni. Creating content which showcases graduates who have gone on to great things will give your prospects a sense of what they can accomplish by walking the same path.
Example: This particularly inspiring post from the Rotterdam School of Management discusses how alumna and Syrian refugee Nisreen Mehlo pursued business education to build for a better future.
This will serve to excite them about their own future prospects, and strengthen your school’s case in their mind as the right choice for them.
In a similar way, you can also build content around the successes of your faculty. Many business schools employ faculty who have held or continue to hold prominent positions in various industries. Their standing can be leveraged to produce insightful content where they detail their successes, discuss pertinent industry issues, or provide insights into what students learn on your courses.
Example: This article from London Business School features an interview with Costas Markides, who serves as Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the institution.
This content will help convince prospects of your faculty’s credentials, and assure them that they will receive mentorship and guidance from the best possible sources.
4. Discuss Industry Trends to Demonstrate Your School’s Thought Leadership
It’s important that your school appears to be at the cutting edge of the modern business world. Prospects will want to know that you have your finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest trends, industry developments, and global business news.
You can convey this through your business school content marketing efforts by creating topical content offering insights and trends from different fields. This could involve spotlighting specific industries, particularly if you offer business programs with specialized focuses.
Example: This blog from WU Executive Academy discusses the impact of big data and digitization in the energy sector. Note that the post features a CTA prompting users to connect with the Program Manager of the school’s Professional MBA in Energy Management on the right-hand side.
Alternatively, you can look at topics that affect global business in general. Everything from the economy, to new technologies, to workplace culture trends could be fair game.
Example: This blog from Business School Lausanne discussed sustainability, a pertinent topic for many professionals.
Creating content like this will help you establish your school as a thought leader, and reassure your prospects that your institution is forward-thinking and open to embracing new ideas.
5. Go Local: Talk About Business in Your School’s Location
It’s been easy to forget during COVID-19 just how much of a role location can play in student recruitment. But as campuses around the world reopen, student mobility will resume, and prosects at all levels will be considering study destinations far and wide.
This is especially true for business schools. Prospects tend to want to best possible location to pursue their degrees, and will carefully consider the city or country they study in as much as they will consider your programs and what they have to offer.
One important aspect of your location they will consider is the local business environment. If students are going to be attending in person, they may be settling in your location and may even stay beyond graduation. Even if they are attending online or commuting part-time to your city, they might be looking to build connections that would serve them well in their future career.
As a result, it can be worth creating content relating to your local economy. Look at what industries drive business in your city or region, what exciting new opportunities are available for graduates, and how being based there during their degrees will help your students build their professional networks.
Selling a candidate on your location could be the difference between them enrolling at your school or going elsewhere. Your content is an ideal place to start doing that.
6. Offer Tips for the Business School Application Process
Applying to business school can be nerve-wrecking for candidates. Competition for places can be intense, and the application process itself can be challenging, often including several different stages and elements.
You can make this easier for your prospects – and build a lot of goodwill for your school – by offering as many resources as you can in your content. Create blogs or videos that offer general guides on your application process, giving students an overview of what to expect.
You might also want to delve deeper into specific elements of your application process, and offer advice for how prospects can approach them. For instance, if you require essays, personal statements, or something similar, you could create a blog post that gives potential applicants tips for writing a successful submission.
Example: Harvard Business School created a series of videos offering tips for navigating various aspects of its application process.
If interviews or any kind of in-person meetings are part of the process, too, offer applicants insights into what to expect and how to prepare. If references or recommendations are required, create content that helps candidates figure out who in their circle they should ask to provide them, and how best to approach asking for them.
Additionally, if the GMAT, GRE, or any other kind of test is a part of your entry requirements, this can also be a great topic to create content around. Offer study guides, overviews of what to expect on the test, and preparation advice.
This kind of content will be greatly appreciated by your prospects. What’s more, helping them deliver the best possible applications could give you a larger pool of great applicants to choose from.
7. Create Content That Helps Business School Prospects in Their Careers
It’s important to remember that many of your business school prospects may be looking to pursue their degrees while also continuing to work full-time. The proliferation of executive, part-time, and online MBA and business master’s options has made it possible for candidates to earn their qualifications without putting their careers on hold.
If you want to appeal to this audience, try creating content offering tips to help them advance their careers in your content. This could include content which focuses on helping them find opportunities, such as tips for job interviews or building a professional network.
Example: INSEAD Business School created this blog offering insights on preparing for a career post-COVID.
You might also offer insights to help improve their performance in their current roles by creating content around productivity, project management, or other areas of work.
Example: HEC Paris created this video offering tips for team development to managers and executives.
Another topic that could engage a large proportion of your audience is entrepreneurship. More and more students enroll in business school with the ultimate ambition of starting their own business. Delivering insightful content around various aspects of this topic could resonate strongly with them.
This content might also engage people on full-time programs, who will still be considering their future career path, as well your current students, who may be planning for life after graduation.