We are actually trying to move away from the term agency as is commonly known in the education industry merely for the sake of when most of the universities with whom we chat understand it is a long term strategy and not always a small investment, they can’t get their head around why they need to spend money building up they brand. They say is a lot easier for them to justify to their principal to have a Pay per Performance agent. We know after being in the market that to some “agency” is a bad word. For many is also a necessary piece.
When we first started with NYU 6 years ago even though they believed that they had a strong brand (and they do) for the majority schools there’s no recognition of the brand down in LATAM. The first thing that we do is help them manage the brand effectively in the local markets they are currently recruiting actively. We tackle proper brand introduction and development, nurturing, outreach and call center management.
What we found in some of the early stages is that they would treat their international prospects much in the same way they would treat an American student. As you may know, they very much like being handheld and there’s need to be a lot of follow up. You need to make it happen! We help the university understand that and we become an extension of their admissions office. The prospect is greeted on behalf of the respective school. When the prospect responds to any of the ads we promote and regardless of the channel, we have found statistically that it creates, not surprisingly, a much better conversion ratio and brings the students to the school.
We try to listen acutely to what the universities objectives are and try to come up with a plan that works for them. As you may know the agency model as we understand it is one where is purely pay per performance. The way we look at it is, while there may be at times a commission component, its more of a traditional agency of record with traditional advertising an agency engagement.
We are very sensitive of the fact that the brand introduction in the LATAM market needs to be carefully introduced and managed. Is no just about bringing students although that is the primary goal. It’s about making sure there’s measurable brand equity developed and with that you will find that there are lots of strategies involved. Messaging, SEM, billboards, TV advertising etc. And so is more of an advertising relationship and other times is an agency hybrid or sometimes everything in between.