For any organisation – joining the dots between departments and teams to provide a coherent customer journey can be a struggle. We work within the college sector and know that this can be a particularly pressing challenge when coordinating the multitude of initiatives you run; from apprenticeships and funded training programmes right through to commercial training opportunities. Here are our top three tips for colleges aiming to boost their business development.
Plan your customer journey
With so many engagement and marketing activities planned across your college, communication between departments is key. Engaging with prospective students and business prospects at the optimal time helps everything click into place, preventing your marketing messages getting missed or falling by the wayside. Having an overview of what’s coming up across the college means you can plan marketing resources effectively - pooling them when needed during peak times (for example, around enrolment time) and sharing any spare capacity during quieter periods.
Think about how businesses you work with tend to move through the programmes and the support you offer. Which are complementary, or tend to be of interest at a similar point in a businesses engagement journey? How do most businesses engage with you in the first instance? You can tailor what you promote to the business based on the stage of your relationship and where the business sits on their own development lifecycle.
For example – if you’re promoting training on a commercial basis, what better target than those that you have already established a trusted relationship with through apprenticeships or funded training schemes? Or if a business you’re working with is experiencing a period of growth, can you capture this information and classify them as a potential high value prospect for further targeting?
Know your customers
We’ve found that many colleges do not have a single joined up view of the businesses they work with. The apprenticeship team might be chasing a business about an apprentice they have agreed to take on, while another team working on a completely different programme are contacting the same business without any awareness of this existing relationship.
Sharing data between teams to provide a single, joined up customer view can be hugely beneficial - allowing you to leverage these existing relationships to their full potential, upselling and cross-selling to the businesses you work with. What’s more - it makes for a much smoother customer experience and allows you to plan an interconnected customer journey with multiple touchpoints which guides the business through the various levels of support and training open to them.
Join the dots
With the customer journey mapped out, and with a centralised view of the data – you can begin to join the dots and develop a marketing plan for guiding a business through the support and training you offer. What’s key is ensuring this is co-ordinated. With more joined up activity – each business should be receiving more targeted communications, streamlined to ensure this is focussed around the elements of your offering which are of most interest and relevance to them. Without some degree of control, the risk is teams avoid sharing their data for fear it will be heavily targeted by other departments. And if teams are all communicating with the businesses they work with independently – those businesses involved with more than one department will end up being bombarded.
Joining the dots can help unlock a vastly increased potential from your existing business relationships. And, just as importantly, for the businesses you work with – joined up communications will help them navigate your offering and identify how to get the help they need.