COE teams typically invest marketing dollars equally across their entire program portfolio. Other teams make investments based on unconfirmed instinct or hypothesis rather than data-driven decisions. But in reality, not every program requires the exact same marketing investment.
A one-size-fits-all approach to funding decisions avoids privileging any one program over another. But that leaves low-performing or stagnating programs to receive less marketing dollars than they need to succeed—leading to ever lower enrollments.
Instead, COE leaders need a methodology to identify the programs that will benefit from additional marketing. Marketers must allocate their resources according to a program’s performance and growth potential to produce the greatest impact on enrollment.
The Prioritization Matrix informs smart allocation decisions
To make more strategic choices, Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies developed a model using external and internal metrics to assess both the program’s industry strength and the program’s overall strength. Their Prioritization Matrix enables marketing funding decisions to be made logically. Instead of making decisions based on history or politics, programs are funded based on performance and market position.
An ongoing challenge for COE units is navigating the transition from a high-investment launch to more stable, low-cost marketing for more mature programs. Increased marketing dollars for a mature program could see diminishing returns, but finding the best point to decrease marketing spend has proven even trickier.
The Prioritization Matrix has helped clarify which mature programs are worth continued or increased investment and which programs face less demand and can have their funds re-allocate to newly launched programs.
The matrix can also justify targeting marketing funds toward especially expensive-to-market programs, such as MBAs and other executive-serving programs.
Strategic investment is more than simply following market demand
While marketing leaders rightfully focus on programs in high-demand fields, simply following market demand is not always the most cost-effective way to attract additional enrollments.
For example, Program P in the graphic above with its relatively low industry demand might be an underwhelming option for marketing investment. However, institutional reputation can also have a strong impact on student enrollment decisions. Despite low relative market demand, a standout program that highlights institutional strengths may be a smart use of investment dollars.
In another example, Program M looks attractive from an employer demand standpoint. But marketing that program could be a challenge in a more competitive market without a well-known offering.
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