Designed to deliver a quick shot of helpful, easy-to-digest content related to enrollment management, our new “300 Words or Less” series includes advice, opinions, topical responses to news/events, and beyond. This insight comes from the day-to-day interactions we have with clients and prospects and our own insights and experiences in the higher education industry. 

Five Steps to Opening New Markets
(in 300 Words or Less)

By Clint Chapman

Seemingly, all institutions are entertaining the idea of opening a new market. I hear:

“We’re heading to Texas because there are so many students!”

“Our president thinks we could do well in Denver!” 

“Surely there are students in Hawaii looking to move to Maine, right? Plus, I could use the vacation!”

The truth: Understanding your potential market and continually looking for opportunity in new markets is critical. However, there is no easy button for this one.

Important – Lock down your primary market first! No point in reading further if you haven’t. If you haven’t designed, planned, and executed to drive primary market enrollment, looking to new markets won’t save the class.

Five steps to opening new markets:

Step 1: Discovery – utilize tools at your disposal to understand the student market and how students from those target markets have performed at your institution (conversion, yield, persistence, etc…).

Step 2: Determine value – understand the competition and determine how your institution offers unique value to those students. Why would they come to your institution over another?

Step 3: Test – test new markets with lower cost efforts to see how your brand resonates. Start with five to six markets and measure engagement with your brand and offering.

Step 4: Pick winners – pick winners and narrow your new market search to one to three markets before you spend too many resources. If you can do three to four rounds of testing with progressively higher touch/higher cost efforts each time, even better.

Step 5: Keep it going – do this every year and continuously open new opportunities and test, test, test!

Opening new markets takes:

  • Time
  • Resources
  • Patience
  • Strategic thinking
  • Effort

Stay with it, invoke a data-informed approach, and you can increase your footprint and reach your institutional objectives.