Marketing communication plan

The Brand: Leeds University Business School

The Leeds University Business School underwent an identity metamorphosis in the year 2009. The current positioning can be understood through the analysis of the existing cornerstones of the institution.

MISSION STATEMENT

Make an exceptional impact on business and society globally through leadership in research and teaching.

THREE ELEMENTS TO ACHIEVE MISSION

  • Research
  • Learning and teaching
  • Collaborative Partnership

CAUSE

We provoke a cooperative approach to business excellence for people and society.

VALUES

Excellence
Cooperation
Challenging
Generosity
PERSONALITY
Simple
Friendly
Imaginative

Context Analysis

Swot Analysis of Leeds University Business School

Prior to campaign planning it is essential that the current context is thoroughly analyzed. Following is a SWOT analysis to identify the most significant internal and external factors influencing the Leeds University Business School. The framework has been analysed by aligned strengths with opportunities and weaknesses with threats to support our recommendations in the report.

Strengths

  • High quality of teaching and research
  • Performance-oriented culture
  • Branding
  • Stakeholder relationship management
  • Diverse course contents

Weakness

  • Marketing strategy; exclusivity limits growth
  • Reputation; short history, new university
  • Facilities; lack of infrastructure
  • Students performance; high number of students lead to less participation

Opportunities

  • Marketing development; increase national and international students
  • Economic; low rate currency
  • Innovative courses development
  • Credibility and quality of the British higher education

Threats

  • Location; distant from London
  • Competitors; Leeds Metropolitan
  • Recessionary market trends

Current Communications Mix

Website: Communication as the foundational elements of a good website, it undertake the intuitive impressions and interactive platform in action. LUBS website carries the responsibility to transmit information to the wider community and potential audience, it has design a rich colours and basic style of information dissemination, from undergraduate to MBA.

Scholarships: In undergraduate programme, LUBS provides scholarships to UK and international students, including Business School International Scholarships, NCUK Scholarships, Leeds IFY Scholarship and International Schools Excellence Award. In postgraduate programme, LUBS provides scholarships to both UK/EU and international students, which includes Martin Scicluna, Business School, and ESRC Scholarships; and Business School International Scholarships and Vietnamese Scholarship, respectively (LUBS website, 2009).

Word-Of-Mouth: Graduate and current LUBS students act as ambassadors representing LUBS, sharing their studying experiences to their friends and families.

Printing Literature: LUBS also provides many brochures which introduce its main business courses, learning environment, professional teaching experiences, and various resources to students. Using colorful and diverse stripes on these brochures, it provides not only a brand-new image for LUBS, but also an identification for undergraduate, postgraduate, and MBA programmes.

International Fairs: There are two main international business fairs that LUBS attended. The first one is the QS World MBA Tour. This fair provides a chance for prospective students to meet face-to-face with the MBA admission officers and alumni of the world Top Business School to help you make your business school selection and make informed education and career choices. Another fair is the QS World Grad School Tour. The school will give information about scholarships and organize seminar running pre-event. Also, the educational agents are other most important parts for international students to apply for LUBS. But mostly, they represent as University of Leeds not Business School itself.

Collaborative Partnership: LUBS is EQUIS, ESRC, CIPD, AMBA accredited, and also a member of ABS. Collaborative Partnership is one of the three key elements to achieving the mission of the Business School. This is a strategy that is being implemented by LUBS to build and maintain its reputable corporate image in the minds of its stakeholder groups in the UK and internationally.

In LUBS, there are 14 Undergraduate courses, 15 Postgraduate courses and MBA. Two of the postgraduate courses offered are in partnership with organisations external to the business school. Firstly, MA Advertising & Design which is parented by the Leeds University School of Design; and secondly, MSc Business Management which is provided in collaboration with the German Graduate School of Management and Law (GGS), this course is taught on campus at Heilbronn, Germany by staff from the Business School.

Global Talent Centre is a careers advisory unit that operates on a student level and a corporate level bringing together the two parties in different settings to benefit both parties.

Marketing Communications Campaign

The report has followed the Marketing Communications Planning Framework to develop a campaign plan for Leeds University Business School.

Marketing Communication Objectives

Through an analysis of the current positioning and the survey results the report documents three fundamental marketing communication objectives:

  • Reaffirming the quality learning and Research
  • Promoting Innovation and business excellence as the fulcrum of all operations
  • Aligning Leeds University Business School with CS & ER goals

These objectives are the principle behind the marketing communication planning and are aligned with the institutions mission, cause and values. The Marketing objectives of the business school are supported and facilitated through this proposed framework.

The marketing objectives as per the existing marketing plan of the business school are as follows:

  • Recruit high quality students from the UK and overseas
  • Maintain our position as one of the UK's leading business schools.

The Marketing Communication Objectives operate to implement the positioning of the institution at all the following five levels:

  • Awareness
  • Perception
  • Comprehension
  • Attitude
  • Overall preference

Marketing Communication Strategies

The report proposes that we use all the three strategies in order to provoke a comprehensive impact on all stakeholders to achieve the objectives.

Push Strategy
Pull Strategy
Profile Strategy

To elucidate the point further, following are some examples:

The promotional mix to support the pull strategy

  1. Public relation: Public relation activities need to focus on the educational fairs, the sponsorship opportunities and corporate social responsibilities in order to enhance the awareness.
  2. Direct marketing: A database needs to be set up. By using the database creating information need at the customer level so that there is a pull of information.

The promotional mix to support the push strategy

  1. Personal selling: Personal selling or educational agents are important to attract more prospective students and reinforce the LUBS brand image.

The promotional mix to support the profile strategy

  1. Public relation: It is important for using corporate public relation regularly to reach and maintain good relationship with all stakeholders.

Communication Tools & Media Mix

The report documents in detail three chosen tools and presents them in the following framework

  • Marketing Communication Tool
  • Rationale for Selection
  • Creative Strategy
  • Media Plan

TOOL 1: PUBLIC RELATIONS (PR)

An organisation that succeeds without public relations is likely as, say, a salesman, a politician, a lawyer (or any other professional persuader) without a personality; PR deals with the projection of the personality of the organisation (Haywood, 1991).

Equivalently to LUBS, the use of PR as a tool in the marketing campaign will strengthen the brand awareness and leadership of the corporate image of the Business School which in the long run builds a better knowledge of what the business school stands for and thereby impacts a strong and favourable perception of the school's value and reputation in the minds of the key stakeholders. Therefore, the major rationale for the selection of PR as a marketing communications tool in this project is to impact the perception of Leeds University Business School's corporate image in the mentality of its stakeholders which includes both the current and prospective publics.

In the words of McNamara (2008), "similar to effective advertising and promotions, effective public relations often depends on designing and implementing a well-designed public relations plan."

In implementing McNamara's perspectives, the activities of PR that would be carried out to execute the perception objective of the Business School will be based on two major aspects which are as follows:

  1. Internal Communications
  2. External Communications

Internal Communications: In the actual sense, internal communication could be said to be PR directed at the internal publics. This is important in the marketing perspective because it is important for the staff and faculty to understand and be reminded from time to time what LUBS represents and its brand image so that they can imbibe corporate and brand culture and be able to communicate it verbally and non-verbally to the external publics, both current and prospective stakeholders.

The following media can be used for internal communications:

Readers' Letters: The business school magazine, Communicator, would have a column/section for readers' letters which gives the reader opportunity to participate and makes the publication contains one of the most popular features of the press. Thus, readers' letters not only provide the opportunity for internal publics to have their say but they add reality and credibility to the magazine (Jefkins, 1994).

Speak up schemes: This makes people feel good that the fact they can propose something, means that their ideas are valued and this in turn boost their morale in the organisation they work for. This could be done online through e-mails, intranet, and offline by allocating suggestion boxes on the corridor walls. This would also be used as a feedback avenue to measure the effectiveness of the marketing campaign on corporate and brand image.

Team meetings/briefings: This is face-to-face meetings held with faculty and staff to discuss latest developments within LUBS and keep them informed about the strategies and tactics that used to implement these developments. For instance, the introduction and guidelines of the new Business School brand could be discussed at such meetings. Tips on the new brand image, core values, and personality of LUBS can be sent out every week via intranet, e-mails, and also configured on screensaver messaging, power point templates, desktop drops, memos, etc., as a reminder of what the Business School represents.

External Communications: The goals of external communication are to facilitate cooperation with groups such as suppliers, investors, and stockholders, and to present a favourable image of an organization and its products or services to potential and actual customers and to society at large (QFinance, 2009). To achieve the goal of this definition in the marketing campaign of LUBS, the following PR activities will be carried out:

The use of e-newsletter: Jettuen (2006) states that, "the launching and maintenance of a quality e-newsletter enables organisation to stay in touch with interested potential clients. As long as you keep the ratio of information sharing at 80% and selling to 20%, chances are good that your company will be the first readers will call when they are ready to buy".

Advertorial: An advertorial is an advertisement designed to simulate editorial content, while at the same time offering valid information to your prospective clients (Advertorial 2008). This can be published on the print media to create awareness about new developments, upcoming events, educational fairs, favourable unusual occurrences happening at LUBS.

Educative Debates: A way to increase the visibility of LUBS in the face of the audience is by engaging in educative debates and conferences. Darr (2009), states that "beyond doing traditional in-person speaking, there are multiple opportunities to be a featured speaker via online webinars, teleseminars, and virtual conferences."

Testimonials: The most often overlooked way of establishing credibility is letting clients speak for LUBS. Testimonials are the single most effective tool that is used for converting leads into clients because people like to hear from other people who have previously worked with LUBS. Testimonials from clients should appear on all of the marketing materials, including the website, the brochures, business cards, etc., (Sparta, 2009). Therefore the testimonials of the alumni members, alliances, and collaborative partners of the Business School make an impact on the perception of the publics toward it.

Corporate Social Responsibility: This could be executed through charity participation and sponsorship. LUBS can participate in activities that benefits different charities in Leeds such as Business Enterprise Days for overachieving youngsters from deprived backgrounds which is orgnised for local youngsters. However, to bring in a CSR element, the target could be overachieving youngsters from deprived backgrounds, e.g. schools in the areas of Beeston, Harehills, West Leeds. Some of other suggested organisations are Leeds Community Foundation, The Children Society, etc. Charity Participation gives visibility to your company and shows that your company is community focused (Darr, 2009).

Since it is not in the policy of LUBS to engage in traditional mass media advertising, another strategic way to create awareness of its image is through sponsorship. The business school can sponsor some of the business related events organised by some of its collaborative partners and at such events there will be opportunity to showcase the brand image which makes the business school more visible to people that would attend the events. It is proposed that LUBS sponsors the next prestigious Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business awards which is a "celebration of the best companies in this enterprising region" (Yorkshire Post, 2009). This annual event which is held in Leeds holds great potential for the Business School to achieve its mission whilst staying true to the cause and values of the organisation.

Educational Fair: By using this kind of event can provide more opportunities for LUBS to meet potential prospective students. And also creating and sustaining a series of relational exchanges between business school and students in an agreeable environment which both have independently sacrificed their time to attend the fair. LUBS can build her corporate identity and collect up-to-date data so that it can improve its capabilities towards competitors. Also, this kind of PR can be done through personal interaction so it will be easier to develop relationship and also increase trust and credibility of business school.

The creative strategy that will be applying to LUBS is to develop the same old traditional of educational fair to become more interesting and informative. Firstly, the fair should be separated into two parts. One is for international students that should be organised in each targeting country twice a year to stimulate the perception of prospects. Also there should be a variety of informative activities to help prospect students to have a clear decision about their study. Moreover, each participant that attends this fair will get the small model of LUBS building as a souvenir and also remind them of LUBS.

The main activity in the fair is to be having representatives from each department in LUBS such as marketing, finance or MBA to give clear specific information that prospects want to know. Because mostly at educational fair general information are given to questions. So if more details of the course or necessary details are provided, there will be effective feedback and good perception of business school. Also each course that LUBS provide should have its own booth.

One more activity that would be helpful is to create a small room or just provide a small area to imitate both lecture and seminar class for prospective students that attend the exhibition having a chance to be in a real studying circumstance such as a style of teaching at business school or group discussion.

Open House: Another fair is for UK students which can call an open house. This is a good opportunity for prospective students to come and visit LUBS. Here, some useful information as such numbers of students, courses, facilities, etc., are introduced; and also have a tour for prospects to see the facilities in LUBS as such Yorkshire lecture, seminar room, or cluster.

TOOL 2: DIRECT MARKETING

According to Tapp (2000), "direct marketing happens when individual customer details are kept on a database, thus allowing that particular customer's needs to be understood. This enables any subsequent approaches to the customer to be tailored according to that customer's, or the businesses, specific need."

In the light of changing customer preferences and media fragmentation there is a growing need to focus on relationship marketing. We suggest we follow a combination strategy of:

  • Retention
  • Acquisition

The results of the survey undertaken for this report show that 37% students chose to contact the Business School directly to express interest in studying here, and 36% used the Email to go about receiving further information.

Direct marketing is a way of acquiring and keeping customers by providing a framework for three activities: (Tapp, 2000)

  • Analysis of individual customer information
  • Strategy formation
  • Implementation such that customers respond directly

LUBS uses Direct mail & Telemarketing as tools to maintain relationships with students (current and potential students).

Direct Marketing has proved to be one of the most economically viable forms of marketing communication. A survey by the Pitney Bowes and Rogers Grap in 2001 showed it is an effective marketing tool. 34% of those surveyed said that Direct Mail is the most valuable method companies use to establish and further customer relationships (Newsletter Inc, 2006).

Providing a unique range of benefits to the Business school, it enables the institution to engage directly with students - whether they are prospects, leads, end users or existing.

Other reasons why Direct Marketing is appropriate according to Sellwood (2007) are as follows:

  • Flexible Targeting
  • Multiple Uses
  • Cost-Effectiveness
  • Ease of Management
  • Rapid Delivery
  • Testing Capability
  • Relationship Building
  • Targeting of Messages
  • Geographic Targeting

In the light of the fact that the business school has a limited marketing budget the above characteristics make direct marketing a potential for marketing impact optimization.

Direct marketing primarily facilitates itself through three ways: Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Internet based direct marketing.

Direct Mail: Direct marketing, via database analysis, has a key role to play in strategy creation (Tapp,2000). Direct marketing has developed as powerful tool in customer loyalty strategies. (Charistoppher,1991)

Some facts from BMC OPTIMISE website reveals that when people preferred HTML email marketing messages and newsletters, they preferred them because.

  • HTML email newsletters can accomplish a more effective layout
  • Color can be used in the email newsletter
  • Images can be included in the email newsletter
  • Ads can be more effective in HTML email than text email

Four emails in two months with categorised content for potential and current students are suggested. Information can include academic research advantages, campus and courses introduction, financial supportive information, different division contact approaches.

Internet Database Marketing: The internet is the most potential interface for direct marketing. The report develops extensively on this tool as the one of the primary targets for this campaign are overseas student which makes developing this tool extremely important.

Telemarketing: Part time job for international students, to do contact with potential students, prospects particularly, checking the students who have received the offer from LUBS if they need some help. Avoid the difficulty of communication with each other just because of variant language background, and implementation such that customers respond directly.

A proper database (contains information about customers and competitors and internal information about LUBS) is essential to run a direct marketing campaign successful.

TOOL 3: PERSONAL SELLING

Being one of the tools of personal selling, educational agents act as representatives from University of Leeds. They act as bridges to communicate between prospective students and University of Leeds, to make sure there are no communication barriers between them. It is a very appropriate tool because as Fill (2009) commented that "the potency of personal communication is very high, and messages can be adapted on the spot to meet the requirements of both parties. Personal selling messages can be tailored and be made much more personal than any other methods of communication."

It is even much more significant for educational agents using personal selling as a tool to communicate because they consult with prospective students with much more personal experience sharing in a specialized way directly.

To cooperate between educational agents and LUBS in a more efficient and effective way, and attract more prospective business students, here are some suggested ideas:

Firstly, agents can cooperate with LUBS by using games to attract prospective students. First, agents can put some information about Leeds University Business School which presents the quality of teaching and research and business excellence on the internet before starting the game. When prospective students read them and have some basic concepts, they can start the game in which they are expected to answer 10 multiple choices questions relating to the LUBS. If they answer all correctly, they might have chances to win a prize (ex: free language courses for a month or a free airplane ticket to Leeds, etc.). The condition to win this prize is that prospective students have to apply to LUBS and also get at least conditional offer. By doing so, they learn not only some initial concepts about business school, but also encourage them to apply to business school in order to win the prize.

Secondly, graduate students can act as Leeds University Business School ambassadors by using word-of-mouth to influence prospective students. Agents can invite them to educational fairs to share experiences face-to-face to students who are interested in studying in business field in Leeds.

Thirdly, local agents can publish the interviews with local graduate business students as advertorials on local educational magazines, and deliver them in educational fairs. By doing so, it provides a more persuasive, effective and closer way to communicate with local prospective students

Integrated Marketing Communications

In integrating the different elements of the campaign the following would be considered:

  1. Internationally, an education fair would be organized which is PR tool and the educational agent which is personal selling tool would participate in this event to educate the audience about LUBS; and we will have an audio visual that showcases the business school's website. The attendees will also have accessed to the website of LUBS in booth and the data of attendees would be added to the database system which is a form of direct marketing.
  2. In the area of CSR, sponsorship is considered. For instance, Financial Times organizes a business related event and LUBS sponsors this event. This serves as an opportunity to impact the brand nationally in UK and internationally in the world. When the event is advertised on the mass media, online, newspapers, the business school would be mentioned as the sponsor, i.e. proudly sponsored by LUBS. This creates awareness for LUBS and at the same time tells the mass audience what LUBS's position is in the educational system and also reveals the kind of collaborative partnership that is run by the school.

At the event, the name of the LUBS would be printed on the banners that displayed at the event. A strategic stand would also be provided for LUBS when some of staff and students can talk to the attendees during the break of the event which is a means of carrying out personal selling. The data of the interested candidates would added to LUBS database which is a tool of direct marketing. Lastly, branded pens, notepads, diaries, stationary holders would be distributed at this event which senses as a reminder of LUBS to the audience.

Conclusion

Leeds University Business School integrates its current communication mix by using Public Relation, educational fairs, scholarships, websites, publication and the word of mouth. By achieving objectives, this marketing communication plan implements push, pull and profile strategies which relate to public relation, direct marketing and personal selling.

After coming out with some creative ideas implemented in communication tools (public relation, direct marketing and personal selling), it leads to integrated marketing campaign by combining all of the tools to develop in more effective communication strategy in Leeds University Business School.

Reference

Books

  • Fill C. (2009). Marketing Communications: Interactivity, Communities and Content. Harlow: Pearson Education
  • Jefkins, F., 1994. Public Relations Techniques: Extensively revised and updated for the 1990s. 2nd ed. Great Britain: Butterworth Heinemann
  • Haywood, R., 1991. All about Public Relations: How to Build Business Success on Good Communications. 2nd ed. London: McGraw-Hill
  • Tapp, A., 2000. Principles of Direct and Database Marketing. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Pearson Online Publications
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  • Lauren L. Darr is President of Lauren Originals, Inc.- parent company of the brands LOI International and DIY Marketing Communications. She founded the company in ...
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Website

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  • Leeds University Business School, 2009. Homepage. [online] Available at http://business.leeds.ac.uk/ [Accessed November 26,2009]
  • Leeds University Business School, 2009. Scholarship. [online] Available at http://business.leeds.ac.uk/masters/scholarships/ [Accessed November 21, 2009]
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