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Marketing to International Students

When it comes to marketing to international students, there are various strategies which both schools and international education agents can undertake. One important thing to keep in mind is that what works for agents will most likely not work for direct clients. Let’s see what works in B2B and B2C marketing

Marketing for international school agents

Being the middle person between the school and the student, the agent needs to, first and foremost, understand how your school operates. There is little or no emotion when the agent is making a decision on whether to work with a school or otherwise. Despite this, we are definitely not saying that the agent does not care; the most important thing for the international student agency is to logically see how the school operates in order to be able to answer the questions which students come up with. Therefore, to sum up, an agent’s decision is more rational rather than emotional.

Since the group of people / businesses you are marketing to tend to be information seekers, you need to make sure that your marketing material includes useful, in-depth details. At the same time, the less complicated your operations, contracts and agreements are, the more likely it is for an agent to want to work with you. Also, you need to ensure that the Return On Investment for the agent, makes up for the time that the agent has taken to close a good deal on your behalf. We are not just talking about money and high commission rates, even though these are important too. We are talking about some random acts of kindness which are very often forgotten.

What do we mean by random acts of kindness? These can be anything from free lessons for the agent him/herself, to offers which the agent can use to promote your school, to a simple greeting on a birthday or special occasion. The gist of all of this is that it is highly important to work on maintaining the relationship that you have built with an agent as it is very easy to lose them to competition. 

International student recruitment marketing

Marketing to direct clients means touching on the emotional aspect of one’s decision making process. Unlike the agent, a student wants to feel safe, excited and happy when they finally make the decision to come to your school. Whether you’re an agent or a school, the same concept applies. International student recruitment is all about asking yourself these questions:

  1. What would I want to know if I was travelling to a new country that speaks a foreign language?
  2. What would show me that I will have support once I arrive at the school?
  3. What will make me choose one school over another?

The questions may be complex but the answer is simple...It’s all about attention to detail.

First and foremost you need to make sure that when marketing to international students the message is simple and clear. This could mean that members of staff in your business speak different languages so the communication process is smoother, your website is translated into different languages, and it could also mean that you offer different channels of communication over and above the standard phone and email. Secondly, you need to give a clear understanding of what the student should expect. This can be done by posting testimonials, blog posts written by past students, realistic pictures taken during classes and excursions, and opportunities to join groups on social channels where past students can share their experiences. By doing this you are demonstrating 2 things - that there will not be any unpleasant surprises when the student lands and that you are doing your best to be helpful even before they have paid or confirmed their booking.

Last but not least, in both aspects of this industry, it’s important to always show that you are able to answer any questions that may come up and that there is no ambiguity in what you are saying. It is understandable that both international agencies, as well as students, will have a lot of questions to ask, so the more information you have prepared for them in advance, and the more updated your information is, the easier it will be to answer questions. Just like any other customer handling job, you need to truly understand the perspective of the other party so you’ll be able to put yourself in their shoes and handle the matter accordingly.

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