Monday, September 16, 2013

Successful College Strategies for Marketing to International Students

A paper by Vik Naidoo and Terry Wu in the Journal of Marketing Management seeks to expand the discussion and understanding of college marketing geared toward international students.  Reviewing colleges in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand they have been able to narrow down their understanding to implementation related outcome variables, commitment dimension, strategy, and role factors. The work adds to the body of literature on key concepts related higher education marketing and its success. 

The trend in global educational services appears to be growing. Educational services range from the actual education to textbooks. It also appears to be growing as an export trend making it an industry with huge future potential. Both traditional and non-traditional education has seen increases in exportation of services to full-paying foreign students due to declining governmental budgets.

Due to the changing nature of marketing from domestic to international education, organizations have been implementing new marketing strategies. Failure is associated more with implementation than with the actual strategy. Conceptually, organizations can find a marketing strategy but often fail to take into account details of the environment when implementing such a strategy. 

Like other marketing strategies the failure to align the internal operations within the organization to the marketing promises can create a misalignment between the message and the actuality. This problem can become even more apparent in large traditional universities where large bureaucratic structures with a large swath of competing interests can slow change. It is this large bureaucratic structure that continues to maintain strategies even though they may not be competitive.

The study used the four countries in their analysis as it represents around 45% of all international recruitment. A total of 570 mid level marketing managers were included in the study in order to assess overall strategy.  To be successful organizations must emphasis strategy, role commitment/performance, strategy implementation success, and fit vision with strategic initiatives. There should be an alignment between the strategy, the behaviors that are needed to achieve that strategy and the ability to implement that strategy within the organization’s vision. 

Marketing managers seemed to have difficulty understanding how the implementation of the marketing strategy fit within the overall vision of the organization. There should be a heavy amount of communication about how the marketing managers and their teams fulfill the strategy as well as how this strategy fits within the goals mission. It is an alignment between vision, strategy, role, and action. 

The overall strategy and vision should be well-known among the senior administrative and college leadership in order to ensure that actions are not obstructed by misunderstanding or poor activity alignment. Administrators may be able to encourage the implementation of the strategy through proper systematic adjustments while deans will be responsible for the fulfillment of the strategy when new students arrive. Without a clear understand actions can be wasted and counterproductive. 

The report does not indicate this concept but like in companies, a successful strategy and its implementation make systematic changes throughout the organization. It is not enough to work in silos as this creates haphazard service implementation. Those who make decisions within the organization should be fully aware of the strategy and how it fits within their operations. The alignment of all of the organizations parts creates a more efficient and consistent production that fulfills the needs of students.

Naidoo, V. & Wu, T. (2011). Marketing strategy implementation in higher education: a mixed approach for model development and testing. Journal of marketing Management, 27, (11/12).

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