McDaniel College was founded in 1867, in Maryland, United States, and the Budapest campus of the College was established 20 years ago. It was popular from the beginning and nowadays Americans and diplomats interested in it typically. It offers a standard American four-year undergraduate program in Hungary, including a number of dynamic major programs, from art history, business, and communication, to political science and psychology, leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. A unique feature of the program is that students have the option to complete the upper two years of study at the main campus of the college in the United States.
As McDaniel College Budapest hadn’t had a complete analysis of its target groups, competitors, strengths, weaknesses, image and other important factors, the aim of the this marketing plan is to provide a comprehensive overview of the listed factors. In the 2000s the competition in this field got bigger, so the candidate’s number dropped roughly by half. The aim was to increase the number of new students. The aim was simple: create the marketing plan with specific steps, then accomplish it.
We made preliminary a 80 page market study, to learn thoroughly about the competition.The first step to define target groups is to analyze the current student body and global trends. The purpose of this analysis is to get a comprehensive picture of McDaniel’s competitors.
We asked almost all of the current students to complete questionnaires about the school, like: “What do you consider the three most important STRENGTHS of the College?” and “What information was most important for you when you chose a college/university?”. We asked students what they think the most important strengths of the College are. The results was, that the main strengths are the diversity, the liberal arts and the small class size. It can’t be clearly determined in ranking, se we had to dig deeper.
We weren’t able to create focus group testing, because in the middle of the semester, it was almost impossible, to collect the students. So we interviewed them. In the interview, the questions included those topics from the survey, which were the most important for the students. In fact, the interview’s advantages that, you can get detailed, and more honest answers, than focus group testing. Also, you can ask some personal questions, like the person’s financial status, and other possible hindering factors.
Using the information obtained from the interviews and surveys, we set up the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) tests. A unique selling proposition (USP) is what makes your business stand out from the crowd and tells your customers what is special about you.
At USP testing, we chose two pictures. One with students on it, and one with the college building. There wasn’t much difference between the two pictures’s success. But the headlines performance was very interesting. We tested several headlines and body copied that added up 8540 ads all together. Based on the preliminary survey and the interview’s results, the succesful ones should be those headlines, which contained diversity and small size classes. But the hungarian students seemed to prefer the american degree, and the opportunity to learn abroad, especially in the USA.0
Contrast to that, the top rated creative was the “six-pack” ad, among the younger age group. It was a little bit provocative and humorous. This ad appeared in “Cosmopolitan Magazine”, which most targeting young womans.
It was essential to appear at the upcoming event, the Educatio. This is an annually organized, 3-day-long happening especially for high school students. This is the perfect place for schools to meet personally, reach and engage their main target group. It’s essential to grab their attention, so we prepared with stand, flyers and hostesses, all in “McDaniel design”. For those, who really interested in the College, we designed a unique brochure, which communicated the suitable USP messages to present the College’s benefits in detail. The brochure contain all the information a sensible prospective student expects to find. Information about academic offerings, housing, dining, services, and financial aid should all be easy to navigate and understand, with high quality photos.
Based on the weak brand awareness of McDaniel College, it was important, to introduce the brand in detail. We made branding videos, to all of the College’s major programs. And to deepen the brand’s impact, we made remarketing articles. The newsletters were divided into majors, and sent to the former subscribers, segmented by their interested fields.Emails are still very effective to persuade students to the next step in the funnel. We can remind them of deadlines, share information, ask questions and so on. While they spend some minutes on the website, maybe on Facebook and watch videos, we can constantly pull them back to the website and attract their attention regularly by sending emails.
We had to make a new website that corresponds to today’s standards and is attractive to the main target groups. McDaniel’ s page should be not only responsive, but to be adaptive. We remade the site’s structure and made it responsive.
The other important goal was to create the possibility of the online application. Up to this point, McDaniel College had only paper based application opportunity. The online version allowed candidates, to manage the whole process from home. But we didn’t left the students alone. With CRM (customer relationship management) system, we could easily follow and help them, at any steps of the application. They got completing guide, and notifications about the successfully uploaded documents.
The biggest challenge though is the conversion from “admitted students” to “enrolled students”. Social media has a big impact here. When users “like” McDaniel’s Facebook page, we can communicate with them constantly as we would send them emails. Choosing a College has a long consideration cycle and social media plays an important role in keeping contact throughout this period. Another advantage of social media, especially Facebook with its billion users, are paid advertisements. We reached our target groups effectively and very precisely with Facebook targeting options.