During this pandemic the education sector has taken a pretty big hit barring the few top colleges and schools, ever wondered why?
Aren’t you doing everything that they are: keeping a huge chunk of the budget for marketing or providing the best infrastructure for your students. In times of crisis though none of it has really helped. What established schools and colleges have is a simple formula that is often overlooked, it’s called ‘Brand Equity’. While brand recall through a social media presence is important and helps fulfil your short-term goals, a detailed brand building plan is what will eventually stand the test of time. Take the example of Oberoi International School or La Martiniere School, who have since their inception kept a rock-solid foundation by not only setting detailed brand guidelines but also working on it 365 days a year. Today, parents believe that their children have a bright future after they graduate from these reputed institutions, hence are willing to pay fees even during the times of virtual learning. They also do not want to risk losing their spot as these schools have inherently made it seem like it is extremely difficult to get one.
Economic meltdowns are damaging to all but they are wrenching for smaller institutions who must fight to make payroll. Historically, brands recover 9x faster from economic turmoils than others. Enough of that, clearly you are not reading this if you are not facing an issue so let us look at the opportunities at hand. The institutions that survive the current turmoil may emerge with fewer competitors, a more loyal base of customers. The question is how to survive. For this we need to look at a two-pronged approach. The first is to look for opportunities that align with new consumer behaviour. The second is to work towards a long-term plan that helps you grow faster post-recession.
The economic depression of 2008 stands testimony to how brand equity and brand building helped the biggest of brands across sectors survive a crisis and even spring right back up.
Starbucks is often used as a case study in most advertising schools. Their brand direction has been ‘focus on customers’ over the years. During the recession of 2008, Starbucks could’ve been a spectacular brand fail. It was struggling to survive, closing hundreds of stores and firing thousands of employees. Consumers were turning away from the coffee king, whose pricing was more expensive than other coffee shops and even fast-food chains like McDonald’s. Instead of cutting down on their branding expenses, Starbucks launched a campaign that became a pillar in reinforcing their brand promise. The brand started turning its stores into welcoming hubs and launched an online portal called “My Starbucks Idea,” where customers could contribute ideas about what they wanted from the Starbucks experience. One of the ideas, came from one of their employees, Starbucks should have a twitter handle. This is 2008 long before any coffee shop had a twitter account! Compounded with an active social media marketing strategy & tech integration, Starbucks regained its brand perception of “cool, caring, and value-added.” A legacy that continues till date.
P.S: They’ve added over 13,000 stores since 2008 financial crisis almost doubling their capacity.
The same is true even today as we move towards another economic meltdown. For all sectors including education, if consumers can see a brand promise that connects with them, your institution will be their first choice. Starting now will help in creating a loyal customer post-recession. It is of utmost importance for educational institutions to stay calculated and always be aware of how quickly the market can change. Creating a brand that can successfully pull through to the other side during these times will ensure it can survive almost anything in the future too. First step towards this is to re-assess all your old strategies to see if they are relevant today.
While your brand expertise may not change in a recession, the value proposition for the brand may need a tune-up. This is a good time to look at your most satisfied parents and understand hidden benefits of your brand that you may not have focused on.
Conversely, a recession is also an important time to invest in your most valuable consumers. If you’ve done customer lifetime value analysis, you’ll know that they are extremely expensive to replace. Instead of losing them, offer value to make them more loyal. You should also invest in your best faculty members. If your faculty fear for their jobs, you’ll lose the best ones first.
The key thing to remember is that a recession affects minds before wallets – it’s seeing other people get laid off that causes people to reduce their spends. Repositioning your offerings to different aspects of value can help you retain students who will see a long-term benefit in sticking with you. Look for opportunities like launching new activities that might be relevant today.
John Quelch, Leonard M. Miller University Chair Professor
If the recession slows things down for your brand, use that lull to innovate. Work on brand strategy and planning which will give you an extra edge over others post-recession. You will build a loyal audience base by then. Something as simple as, let’s strat a twitter account, could still be a game changer for many schools and colleges in India even in 2020.
As most financial experts agree, it will be quite some time before stability emerges in the markets, consumers will seek out those institutions they can depend on to get them through these trying times. Based on the 2008 recession experience, we can safely say that they will look for the following traits in their brands, irrespective of the industry: A Leader who is Credible, Influential, Informative, Reliable and Trustworthy.
They weren’t protected from the market because they had better products or services. In fact, most of the resilient companies lost nearly as much revenue as industry peers during the recession. Their willingness to move early made the resilient companies far more likely to successfully weather economic shock.
Times aren’t easy but that shouldn’t stop you from moving forward. Sit back, stop thinking finances and start putting the focus back on the students and parents.
August - 7,2020 | Posted by: Iosignite
October - 2,2018
October - 10,2018