Having no plans means you are planning to fail. Proper planning and implementation of these plans play a very crucial role in determining the success of a student agency.
Firstly, we must be clear about what a marketing plan is. In simplest terms, a marketing plan is a business document that outlines your marketing strategies and tactics. It often is restricted within a fixed time boundary and covers a variety of details related to marketing- costs, goals, and actions(steps) to be done.
As per the definition in Wikipedia “A marketing plan may be part of an overall business plan. Solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a well-written marketing plan. While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, without a sound strategic foundation, it is of little use to a business.”
Marketing plays a crucial role in making your product visible to the target audience. If your target audience can’t find you, they won’t render your service; as a result, you as a student agent won’t be able to generate any revenue. After understanding what a marketing plan is, now let’s discuss why student agency requires one.
- Marketing plan clearly defines your market. It makes it easier for student agency to reach out to their clients by identifying potential clients.
- Marketing plans assist in generating marketing messages that will produce expected results. A marketing plan will help student agency identify how your service can help the target audience.
- Well developed marketing plans provide you proper direction and focus. Multiple marketing choices can sometimes create confusion in the mind of a student agent. A marketing plan helps in eliminating these confusions by determining the best course of action for a student agency.
- Similarly, marketing plan also assists student agency to garner control over the functioning of the business and avoid future uncertainties.
- Resources are always scarce for small business, even for a student agency. A marketing plan helps in dividing and allocating the funds based on priority and need.
The quality of your marketing plan will determine your success. Thus, you should be able to correctly incorporate proven methods, principles and strategies into your marketing plan to ensure quality in your marketing plan.
Here we have brought forward ten of the most crucial components of a successful student agency marketing plan you must have to make sure that you survive and grow in this highly competitive industry.
Your student agency is not for everyone. The first and foremost thing you as a student agency must perform is to identify the right audience. This audience will be receiving all your brand’s intended messages. Therefore, a student agency should be able to clearly define what types of students (the ones interested in going abroad for studies) are they targeting, whose interest can be best served.
You need to give time to understand the audience for whom you plan to develop your student agency marketing plan. You can use various demographic variables such as age and gender to classify your target audience.
Key Questions student agency must consider while understanding and classifying the target audience include:
- Who is going to be best served by the functions of your student agency?
- What are their goals and how can you assist them in achieving those goals?
- Similarly, what are the general queries that most of your target audience have?
- What are the factors that influence their decision-making process?
2.Perform Brand Audit
Once you identify who you plan to serve the next crucial component is determining your current position. Include both strengths and weaknesses of your marketing efforts and how your student agency is perceived in the market.
Performing brand audit can be very time-consuming. You need to coordinate with multiple departments working within your student agency.
Key Questions student agency must consider while performing brand audit include:
- Who is creating the current marketing content and for what purpose?
- How do different components used as marketing materials(images, colors, etc.) signify your student agency brand?
- How can you improve the visual elements of your brand and how you communicate your brand to the target audience?
- Have you been able to answer the queries of your target audience?
- Are your marketing materials answering your audience’s questions?
- Are you able to reach out to the emotional elements of your target audience through your marketing efforts?
Student agency must be distinct than the competitors to succeed. Perform both internal as well as external analysis to understand the industry you are operating in along with following your brand as well. Try to be unique. Your uniqueness can be your most significant advantage. Your distinctions must be based on the tastes and preferences of your target audience. Similarly, you should be able to communicate your distinctiveness through your marketing efforts.
Key issues student agency must consider for creating and developing a distinct brand include the following:
- Focus on conducting detailed research activities that assist in understanding key features that you can use to achieve competitive advantage.
- Incorporate various creative activities, learning methods, knowledge sharing, multiple disciplines as part of your development process. Doing these will assist in flourishing innovation within your student agency.
- Identify a distinct business philosophy based on the nature of the target audience you are trying to reach.
- Student agency can also set themselves apart through pricing strategies. Try to fix different price levels than your competition and make sure you have enough support to back up your pricing options.
- Make sure that you focus on a single or limited set of distinctive characteristics rather than trying to incorporate multiple distinctions. For a student agent selection of the right agency management system can create distinctive brand image.
Brand statement merges all the thoughts student agency have regarding the business including its mission and vision. The brand statement defines you; what you do and what differentiates you from the competition. The promise that you make to your target audience is created through the brand statement.
Here’s an example of a Brand statement that student agency can use:
We at [Agency name] believe in prioritizing students interest over anything else. We assist students in their dreams of pursuing quality education by providing our [Distinct service that you provide].
As a student agency, you need to incorporate the following information into your brand statement.
- What are you offering, the audience you will be serving and what makes you different from the competition.
- Your business promise that you plan to deliver while experiencing your service.
- The brand personality that you wish to convey and communicate to the target audience.
To survive and grow in this industry a student agency must understand the competition operating within the industry. Benchmarking your competitors helps you in making comparisons with the best in the business. Your research should be focused on competitors who are focusing on the same target audience and who have a similar distinctiveness as yours. You can even perform a SWOT analysis to determine Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats of each of your competitor with relation to your business.
Key Questions student agency need to ask themselves while performing competition research include:
- What is the pricing charged by my competitors for the service?
- Similarly what are the functions that they can perform better than yours?
- What are the functions that you can perform better than them?
- How are they reaching out to their customers?
Content is king. Period. The overflow of information and the access that people have to content through multiple platforms has made content even more important. Thus, a student agency should focus on delivering quality content to attract prospective clients. Content marketing has been one of the most effective marketing tools for a while now. Student agency should make the most out of it to create compelling content for their target audience.
Key Questions student agency need to ask themselves developing a content strategy include:
- What can be the right channel for a student agency to deliver content though? Blogs, infographics, audio, video or print?
- What content channels student agency can financially afford?
- What queries of our audience do we plan to resolve with the content?
- How will our content resolve or answer these queries?
7.Unique Selling Proposition
Student agency should be able to pinpoint what makes them different from all the similar businesses operating in the same industry. Now is the time for student agency to figure out their ‘unique selling point’ or USP. Student agency must begin with identifying their core philosophy, mission, and values. Talking with partners, management, and stakeholders associated with the agency helps.
Key Questions student agency need to ask themselves while creating their Unique Selling Proposition include:
- How does student agency expect the consumer to perceive their brand?
- What should the brand say to the consumers about the agency and how should it speak to them?
- How are competitors creating their USP and using it to their advantage?
- Understand what motivates the target audience and what triggers their purchase decision making/
The marketing plan must finalize the prices of the services that a student agency offers. Determining the pricing for the service offering depends upon multiple factors such as the financial resources of the agency, goals and targets of the agency and similarly the market penetration and profit generation plan of the business. Determining the price of your service is a robust process and a crucial one as well. Student agency do not want to price their services very low or very high, minor differences in the prices may fail in the service as a whole.
Key Questions student agency need to ask themselves while determining the Pricing of the service includes:
- What are the costs that you are incurring?
- Similarly what is the market demand for the service you are providing?
- What is the average industry price for similar services?
- Who is your client and how much are they ready to pay for the service?
A successful student agency marketing plan must incorporate budget from the very start to the finish.
Including marketing budget within your marketing plan will allow you to use it for quick references whenever it is needed. By having it included in the marketing budget, you will also be able to check if the marketing efforts and different activities performed under the marketing plans are under or over the marketing budget. Similarly, the information that you receive from this can also be beneficial for student agency to rework their marketing plan in the future.
Resources are always scarce for a student agency. So it is vital for student agency to use the budget very wisely. Thus a student agency should make sure they do not overspend, plan and allocate and use resources very carefully.
Determining a budget cap will ensure that your agency will not go over budget.
Key Questions student agency need to ask themselves while preparing the marketing budget include:
- Understand your sales funnel. How is it generating results? Using the right agency management software will help you in harvesting this data)
- What are the operational costs being incurred by your student agency?
- What are the objectives and goals of your business?
- How much are you willing to spend on social media and search engine ads?
Change is a continuous process. Various changes take place regularly in the industry a student agency is operating. To survive and thrive in this always changing environment student agency must be very flexible and adaptive to these changes. Everything from the competition you have, the technology you use, the service you are offering to the behavior of the target audience you are focusing changes. You as a student agent need to be aware of these changes taking place as these changes can have a significant impact on the overall functioning of your student agency.
To tackle these changes and adjust accordingly, you need to have contingency plans. Having contingency plans ensures that your agency is adaptable to the different changes taking place in your industry.
Student agency should be able to identify multiple scenarios and develop different action plans to be taken under different situations.
The internet is the biggest platform that provides alternative marketing strategies for student agency. The Internet is an affordable platform that can help student agency reach out to a larger group of the target audience in a very effective manner. Similarly, the internet is also one of the most cost-effective media to promote your services. Using the internet as an alternative marketing tool will also provide value for money for your marketing activities.
Some alternative online marketing strategies that a student agency can use include:
- Social media marketing
- Purchasing ad space on websites
- Running ads on apps
To monitor the progress of your marketing plan, it is essential for student agency to establish targets. Similarly, it is also vital for student agency to include timelines as well as quantitative variables within their marketing objectives and strategies. For example: To provide service to 200 students who are interested in studying abroad within the next two years.
Student agency can use different variables like schedules, budgets, and various marketing metrics to monitor and evaluate the final results. Doing this will help an agency to identify and track the progress towards the marketing objectives. Schedules assist student agency to check when the marketing tasks were supposed to be completed and when they have been actually completed. A budget helps in making comparisons between the planned expenditure and the actual expenditure of the marketing activities. Similarly, marketing metrics facilitates in tracking the final outcomes of the marketing tactics used by the agency and to ensure that the marketing tasks are moving forwards towards the desired marketing objectives.
Continuous monitoring of all the activities is essential to ensure that the student agency is being adaptive to the constant changes that take place in the industry.
Some of the most critical elements to track the performance of the marketing plan include:
- Sales Analysis: Tracking your sales and measuring the current deviation between the planned sales and the actual sales taking place. While analyzing, lower the variation, the better the performance of your marketing plan
- Market share Analysis: Analysing the share of the market your student agency is in control of. Market share is different from sales. Even if sales show an increase, it might not mean an increase in the market share in case of a growing market. You need to make sure that you analyze the overall market share, the segment share, i.e., the targeted segment and the relative share
- Financial Analysis: Analyze the number of separate performance figures and key ratios such as net profit, gross profit, return on investments, gain on sales and net contribution.
Always remember an adequately created marketing plan will help student agency to be at the top of the industry. Especially being an industry that is driven by the number of marketing efforts one uses in their business, developing a comprehensive marketing plan is a must for student agency to thrive and compete in this homogeneous market.