WCET Webcast: Strategic Portfolio Development Maximizing Course Offerings While Lowering Costs

WCET Webcast Recap from Thursday, April 20, 2017

Strategic Portfolio Development (SPD) is a forward-thinking program planning approach that helps institutions position themselves to more efficiently operate in today’s market while preparing for tomorrow’s. It identifies the most strategic and scalable market-centric digital program anchors, concentrations and certificates to create a series of “suites” that build off of each other, interconnecting current and future content and program areas.

Benefits of the Strategic Portfolio Development Approach

The modular nature of this approach provides schools the ability to attract a larger section of the market to their digital offerings, maximize their use of resources, quickly increase their number of market interesting programs offered and ultimately grow a more robust and long-lasting digital presence.

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Panel Speakers

How SPD Works:

SPD involves analyzing trends in the market and understanding where the educational gaps and opportunities exist, not just to identify students, but also to help students prepare for jobs. By doing this, institutions can build efficient, flexible, and relevant online curriculums.

Connect with Wiley Education Services to learn more.

SPD helps institutions:

  • Maximize the courses they offer.
  • Quickly address changes in the market, without having to redesign an entire program.
  • Bridge outcomes with workforce expectations.
  • Identify employment needs/gaps to offer programs that will provide students with strong employment opportunities after graduation.
  • Make program planning and development more efficient.
  • Increase enrollments as students often prefer programs that allow them to focus on a specific, market relevant, specialization.

Strategic Portfolio Development – A Marketer’s Point of View

The approach of Strategic Portfolio Development influences marketing in two main ways:

  1. First, is the University’s value story in the market place
  2. Second, is the economic benefit to the marketing budget

Let’s start with unpacking how a University builds its value story. We have things like history, mission and credentials – these are long established macro-level brand ingredients. The value story is further made by factors that are rapidly evolving – program differentiation, outcomes, and the online environment itself.

The Intersection of Institutional Competency and Today’s Student Journey.

So where does Strategic Portfolio Development come in to this? In effect, it helps the school become a center of excellence in a set of scalable disciplines, which in turn, helps build competitive differentiation. While SPD has great internal benefits for the school, it’s also a student-centric approach. I like to say that it’s the intersection of institutional competency and today’s student journey. When an institution can market a depth of experience that gives students meaningful choices, the value story further grows in the marketplace.

At Wiley, our strategic marketing direction starts with a solid understanding of the product portfolio and the markets it can serve. We’re immersing ourselves in the university brand and looking to understand the in-depth details of the programs. A competitive analysis is paired with this information to provide perspective on the landscape. It gives us a feel for where to position the program, department, or university at large, that allows for market differentiation. As much as I’ve used the word market differentiation, it’s most meaningful if that is arrived at from the student’s perspective. Gone are the days of using course catalog descriptions to sufficiently describe the program. Gone are the days of the online modality being unique. Students want to know the outcomes and the ROI. If there’s a set of related choices that can better speak to the nuanced need of a chosen career path, it helps build confidence.

Impacts the Efficiency and Scale of Budget

Let’s move on to the way Strategic Portfolio Development impacts the efficiency and scale of budget.

At The Onset of Research, Not Every Student Knows Exactly Which Degree to Pursue

Sometimes there’s an assumption that every graduate student knows exactly which program they want to pursue. The reality is, many of the initial searches higher up in the funnel are very broad. Students start looking for program comparisons. This often leads to uncovering a specialization, or even a different program, that the student didn’t know existed. I’ll give you an example. I was recently looking at search index that compared the terms ‘accounting masters’, ‘accounting MBA’ and ‘business masters’. On average, there’s 76% more searches for the broad term ‘business masters’ than searches for an ‘accounting masters’. And, ‘accounting master’s has 147% more searches than typing in ‘accounting MBA’. {for all you data scientists, I know you can slice the data in infinite ways and there’s conversion impacts at every level – this stat is to help get a broad point across}.

Now let’s imagine that the school could compete with any of these phrases. That’s exactly what happens with SPD if there’s a program suite that can be co-marketed today. Even if it’s messy internally because the programs come out of different colleges, there is real strength in marketing relevant choices together. Instead of building many one-off marketing assets that support a single program, you can consolidate. The speed to market is quicker because you can add a tangential option to an existing set of assets and marketing campaigns rather than start from scratch. From a paid media perspective, digital marketing efforts can be initially targeted to a larger audience which can result in a lower cost-per-inquiry.

See a Real Example of SPD in Action

Check out the WCET Webinar to see how this plays out in Scranton’s real world portfolio example. In the marketing section, we talk about how to market at the individual program level while bringing down costs in aggregate by marketing the suite at large. Market demand then dictates how inquiries shake out by program.

At Wiley, we underpin this strategy with sophisticated media technology that allows performance targeting and conversion modeling – but that’s a webinar for a different day.


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