Next, you need to make certain that you are offering unique, valuable programs and services so that you eliminate or dramatically reduce the competition. This requires a competitive analysis as well as market needs assessment which will help you identify the perceived value of your offerings with key audiences such as faculty, staff, alumni, corporations, NGOs, and government agencies. Faculty, staff and alumni will help focus on your institution’s strengths and weaknesses, while corporations, NGOs and government agencies can help address opportunities and threats.
The work performed here will provide you with the insight you need to add new programs and services, eliminate programs and services and improve programs and services. Additionally, this work provides you with insight necessary to develop stronger messaging and offers that will appeal to your target audience/segments as they move through their decision making process.
How To Make It Happen
A competitive intelligence (CI) effort is an organizational commitment – which means you need to involve key members of your faculty and staff from across the institution. A common mistake is to make this a ‘marketing project’ and a one-time deal and some of the major reasons for avoiding this include leveraging the expertise within the institution to gaining support and buy-in to the findings and recommendations.
Competitive intelligence programs are not a ‘marketing responsibility’ because the work will impact every area and function within your institution. So when building your CI Team, make sure all areas are represented and that you invite key personnel to participate. However, marketing should be the central collector, administrator and/or analyzer of the data.
Together, you will work on answering these questions:
[list_item]What questions do we need to answer?[/list_item]
[list_item]Where can we find quality data and insight?[/list_item]
[list_item]Who is responsible for gathering and analyzing the data?[/list_item]
[list_item]How will recommendations be developed and shared across the institution?[/list_item]
The areas that you might wish to study are:
[list_item]Programs and Services (Programs would include degree programs by Undergraduate, Graduate and/or Doctoral; Certificates and Certification. Services include advisement, remedial, tutoring, etc.)[/list_item]
[list_item]Distribution (Classroom/Campus, Online, Blended)[/list_item]
At the end of this initial phase, your CI team will know what questions need to be answered, what data is necessary to answer the questions, what sources of information will be used and are acceptable and where the data will be stored for analysis and the development of recommendations.
Since CI is an on-going process, you will want to schedule a regular schedule for gathering, analyzing, recommending and reviewing the performance of decisions made by the CI team.
The Market Needs Assessment (MNA) is a research process for understanding what your audiences need, want, expect and perceive. This could include prospective students, current students, former students, as well as professional associations and community leaders at nearby corporations, NGOs and government agencies. Including professional associations and community leaders will provide you with insight into what your programs and services will need to address in order to meet future needs in the market. This is also an on-going process that enables you to test new ideas, identify developing trends and be better prepared to provide appropriate solutions and alternatives as things change in the market.
Learn more about how to develop unique, valuable programs and services!
Please contact me at 410-977-7355 or submit my contact form and we can schedule time to discuss your specific questions.