A Surprising Account Development Lesson from the Higher Education MarketJuly 06, 2015 | By Wayne O'Neill
Paying attention to business and political issues within a vertical market is something we coach all of our clients on. We spend a lot of time on this because the issues can appear incredibly subtle but have massive impact on the industry.
Recently, higher education is a perfect example of this.
The Live-Work-Play Revolution
If you have been paying close attention, you will notice that the hi-ed environment is starting to mimic community development in many ways.
It used to be a separate environment – where we sent our kids to get educated and where they all hang out with each other.
The world of higher education is no longer this separate experience.
Kids today are asking much deeper questions, much quicker, about how what they are learning and the skills they are developing will connect them with a job. And not just any job – but a job where they will make money, improve themselves and change their economic status.
Students are also asking where they can go to get this learning while experiencing the live-work-play community that they will eventually look for after they graduate. That is, they want to know where the nearest Starbucks is, where they are going to meet with their friends, where they are going to entertain themselves and where they are going to interact with a community that is more demographically diverse.
This is mimicking what we see in regions and cities – that is, considering how do you put yourself together so you make your institution more attractive?
The Surprising Concerns of Modern Students
Students today are driving institutions to ask much deeper questions on how they operate and how they are being assembled.
These issues are as simple (and troubling) as the bring-your-own-device issue. Before, higher-education institutions didn’t really consider how strong their Wi-Fi was, where the Wi-Fi repeaters were, or if older buildings needed to be renovated for the sake of technology. But today’s students care about that.
Students care about staying connected to the evolving student body on campus, but they also care about security. The latter is something that parents probably don’t realize, but it’s growing in importance. Students want to be able to communicate about their safety and what is happening on and around the campus.
The Bottom Line
The higher-education institution is no longer about ivy-decked halls – it’s about mimicking the live-work-play agenda of cities. The closer these institutions can match that agenda, the more attractive they are to incoming students and the more successful they are at pulling students back to the campus. This is how simple yet complex business and political issues can affect the way you connect with a market segment like higher education.