Best in class: business school marketing and the subtle art of showing off

1 minute read

As a marketer, you’ll want to highlight your business school’s accreditations and rankings, but how do you do that without being too blatant, or worse, boring?

In business school marketing, there’s a fine line between bragging and making sure your audience is aware of your well-earned credentials. Slapping a list of awards or a couple of accrediting associations’ logos on your marketing assets isn’t enough for prospective participants, who may well be wholly unaware of the implications. What does it mean for them?

Here’s a real-life example. One of SIM7’s copywriters, Emily, has spent plenty of time in academic institutions and found that open days can make or break a prospective student’s interest. “During one particular day, we were told repeatedly that the uni was number one in the rankings. And that was the extent of the pitch. But what was missing for me was the backstory. I left that presentation thinking: sure you’re number one, but what makes you number one? Did you pay for the rating? Does it make any difference to my course? Was the ranking for accommodation or facilities or car parking or what?! It was uninspiring to say the least.”

So, as a business school marketer, what’s the secret to articulating your talents with more tact? Here are the top five golden rules:

#1 Pay attention to tone of voice

When talking about accreditations and awards, the temptation is to adopt a boastful tone that’s likely to be at odds with your brand voice. Are your defined tonal values, say, ‘confident’ and ‘assured’? Or are they more, ‘approachable’ and ‘modest’? Cross reference any accreditation or ranking announcement with your tone of voice guidelines, and make sure your messaging is aligned.

No tone of voice guidelines? A) speak to us ASAP! and B) in the meantime, aim towards a more neutral tone.

#2 Prove your position

When talking about your ranking in your business school marketing be sure to emphasise what it means for the participant. It could be as simple as saying, ‘We were ranked as the top business school in Europe, which means that our teaching is outstanding and we have a 95% pass rate’, for example.

Also, from the research that we at SIM7 have done, many students don’t know what a triple accreditation is or, again, what it means for them.

If you’re talking about accreditations, quality or rankings, every asset from your website to your social channels needs to elaborate more. It’s all about informing the user. Don’t rely on the prospective participant knowing as much as those within the sector know.

#3 Modesty is a sound policy

Don’t confuse building awareness with relentless self-promotion. Of course, business schools need to communicate their rankings and accreditations – this should always be way up the hierarchy of your messaging, but you don’t need to oversell it.

Plus, using them as the primary reason for prospective participants to enrol isn’t enough. What’s your proposition? What are your USPs? What are your key messages? Don’t lose them in the mix.

#4 Be creative with credible credentials

Not every business school can be top of the league tables or have an 95% pass rate, but you can still exercise some creative flair in the way you communicate the less than spectacular credentials.

For example, are you no.1 in your region? Are you ‘most improved business school’? Or ‘fastest rising’? Could you be ‘One of the best business schools in Europe’? These types of achievements are valid and valued; they also highlight your business school as a rising star.

#5 Ask your participants

No accreditations? Didn’t do well in this year’s rankings? Could you get a stellar testimonial or two from your alumni? At SIM7, we’ve found in our research that real life testimonials are just as effective and shouldn’t be forgotten.

You’ll likely know this already but it bears repeating that 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. When people see that others have had a great experience at your business school, they’ll be more likely to get involved.

Bottom line

Your accreditations and rankings are amazing and deserve to play a big part in your marketing. And with tone, modesty and a touch of creativity you can make them shine.

If you’re a business school marketer and you’d like some creative agency input on how to show off with subtlety, drop us a line today!