University College Birmingham is a recognised institution with a special marketing strategy in place. The institution has only recently been granted the right to offer its degrees. It is regarded as one of the best in the region in the courses offered. The institution also has a marketing strategy in place that oversees the marketing of its courses and degree programmes. The measure of success in the marketing strategies applied in the institution is the number of students enrolling in the various courses. The future of University College Birmingham is dependent on the marketing strategies that have been put in place and the measures that are yet to be implemented. The focus of this paper is on how it should organise the marketing department to increase enrolment in the new degree programmes. The strengths weaknesses, opportunities, and threats have been discussed with recommendations being made.
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University College Birmingham is an institution of higher learning that is located in the city of Birmingham in England. The institution has both undergraduate and postgraduate programs in various courses, with the main areas of specialisation being Culinary arts and hospitality (BARNES Reports: Colleges & Universities Industry (NAICS 61131) 2013). Some of the other courses offered in the institution include tourism, marketing and business management, sports management, early education, sports management, hairdressing, business enterprise, beauty and accounting, and finance among others (University of Birmingham 2012). The institution has progressed from a technical school to the status of a college over the last century. The following is a report on the marketing strategy that the institution has put in place and the measures that it should implement to remain competitive and attract more students.
The institution has a marketing strategy in place, and a dedicated team oversees this. The team has twelve members with the chair being the relations director of the institution. This team meets regularly to sets goals and objectives to be met in the set period. The chair and his deputy chair the meetings. Some of the goals that the team has included the definition of the target student populations for the institution (McCabe, Stern, & Dacko 2012, p. 24). With the number of new courses being offered in the institution increasing, the other objects that the team has is to promote the new courses. The enrolment in the institution is also of concern in the strategy. The team is charged with the mandate of ensuring that the enrolment of students is consistent. There are several challenges that the institution and the marketing team face. The main one is the enrolment shortfall.
University College Birmingham has set several goals in the marketing department, as indicated above. Consequently, some strategies have been proposed to achieve them. Among the strategies that the institution has been branding and corporate communication. The institution has been in existent for several decades. It has depended on this main strategy to ensure continued enrolment into its courses. The institution has created a name for itself in several fields such as catering and sports. These elements make it a brand. Some of the things that the institution will have to include the protection of the brand name and enhance its image as a world-class learning institution. As Laran and Tsiros state, the brand of a product or an institution helps in moving the product and in securing future markets (2013, p. 56). The institution, therefore, has to ensure that it maintains the brand name. The brand-building also helps in the building of confidence among the customers and clients, and this further promotes the image of the institution or organisation (Laran, & Tsiros 2013).
The main clients of the institution are students taking various courses, and these should be structured in a way that is appealing to them. Each of the courses that the institution offers should be marketed individually. This strategy will attract the students interested in each. As Bennett states, the most important people in an institution are the people that are served by it, and pleasing them should be of priority for any organisation that hopes to succeed in the respective sector (2011). To attract a large number of students in the various courses in the institution, the marketing team has made materials popularising them to the people concerned. This strategy has worked well in the past, with the institution recording significant rises in the applicants in various courses.
Some of the other individuals and groups that are significant in the marketing strategies of an organisation include the suppliers and the business partners. As Homburg, Artz and Wieseke state, “the suppliers and business partners of any company play an equally important role as its target market” (2012, p. 74). The institution recognises this fact. It has made cordial relations with suppliers and partners in various areas. The marketing team is responsible for the integration and understanding of the operations of these two partners in the operations.
Marketing Plans and Tactics
The institution has adopted several tactics and plans to foresee the implementation of its marketing strategy and achieve the desired results. Some of these have been successful with others failing to achieve the desired results. The major strategy that the institution has used is corporate communication, which has been of significant help in the institution. In the achievement of this goal, several communication tools have been used. These will then be discussed with the focus being made on the success and failures of each.
One of the tools that the institution has used to its advantage is public relations, and this has been a significant factor in its success. As Constantinides states, “PR is a powerful marketing tool, especially in building brand awareness and corporate credibility to the company and its products and service” (2006, p. 432). The institution has a public relations department that is focused on ensuring that the needs of each of the clients are met. This department has enabled the management to keep track of activities in the institution and market it to the community. As Engelen and Brettel argue, “Its power is stemmed from the fact that it is perceived as a neutral source of information in mass communication tools as well as its ability to communicate and influence both the consumer and the supplier alike” (2011, p. 233).
Some of the factors that will apply in the public relations campaign include the use of press conferences and press releases. This strategy has been applied in the institution and with significant effects. In the programs that the institution is about to launch, there should be adequate involvement of the media to popularise the projects and ensure that there is success in the marketing. The institution should also provide press releases that will help in marketing strategies. Another strategy is the use of widespread advertising to drive the institution’s goals. The institution should carry out marketing campaigns to also popularise the new products, and itself along the process.
For any organisation to have a successful marketing plan to succeed in the respective field, there is a need of analysing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and the threats that it faces (Phong-inwong, Ussahawanitchakit, & Pratoom 2012, p. 324). According to Sarin, Challagalla, and Kohli, the analysis helps the organisation in the formulation of marketing objectives and working marketing strategies (2012, p. 34).
The strengths of an organisation are the competitive advantages or core competencies that give the organisation “an advantage in meeting the needs of its customers” (Waranantakul & Ussahawanitchakit 2012, p. 73). University College Birmingham has a competitive edge over the other institutions in the area and the region. One of the major strengths of the organisation is the highly qualified staff that the institution has managed to obtain and maintain. UCB has professors and competent lecturers in the disciplines that it offers courses to students. Some of them are award winners and involved in the research. They have made the institution an academic hub compared to the other institutions in the area.
Another strength that the institution boasts of is the location and availability of facilities. The college has several attractive buildings that house the departments, administration block, lecture theatres, and the library. These facilities are located along Summer Row Street with the rest being on Newhall Street. The institution can also accommodate a large number of students in its halls of residence. These halls are conveniently located close to the main institution blocks with most of them being on Broad Street. The location of the halls is the main entertainment district in the city. Students have the pleasure of using these for entertainment. Another advantage that the institution has is the large number of courses offered within it. These have in the past attracted many students from around the town and elsewhere. According to Sabnis, Chatterjee, Grewal, and Lilien, offering diverse products is a marketing strategy as different customers have different needs (2013, p. 345).
The weaknesses of an organisation are as important as the strengths as they help inform the changes necessary in the marketing plans (Kaufmann, & Roesch 2012, p. 234). The institution has several weaknesses that are of concern to its marketing strategy and team. The weaknesses, however, could be overcome with different measures to be implemented. The main weakness that the institution has is the relatively new stature that it has. UCB was a college for many years and never offered its degrees until late 2007 when the Privy Council granted it the right to offer its degrees (Kaufmann, & Roesch 2012, p. 234). It was only then that the institution acquired the status of a university college with new students being enrolled (Kaufmann, & Roesch 2012, p. 234). The institution is therefore faced with the challenge of marketing itself under the new status and convincing the target population of students that the degree courses offered are credible. As Kaufmann and Roesch state, newer organisations or new products offered by an organisation may be faced by the challenge of market penetration as compared to organisations and products that have been in existence in the market (2012, p. 234).
The opportunities that an organisation faces and hoe it utilises them determines the success experienced in the industry. As Rowley states, “Opportunities are favourable conditions in the environment that could yield rewards for an organisation if acted on properly” (2012, p. 24). The institution has some opportunities that it could utilise in its marketing strategy to achieve its targets. In the recent past, there has been a growth in the number of international students enrolling in British institutions. UCB is no exception having 105 of its student population being foreigners. The organisation could use the opportunity of international growth to market itself as the learning destination for international students. The institution is also located in a favourable and convenient area, and it could use this opportunity to present itself as the institution of choice for the residents. There are also large numbers of mature students in the area, and these could also be a target population for the institution. According to some of the studies, there has been an increase in the number of mature students enrolling in the various courses in the United Kingdom (Mintz, & Currim 2013, p. 46). The institution could ride on this opportunity to ensure that it attracts as many of them as possible. One of the factors that would favour this is the location that is just within the city, and this would be attractive for this class of students who work in the town during the day.
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The utilisation of opportunities faced by an institution is affected by a number of factors, is the most common one being the threats. According to Coumau, Fletcher and French, “Threats are conditions or barriers that may prevent the organisation from reaching its objectives” (2013, p.105). The institution is faced by several threats that may hinder its growth and act negatively towards its strategies. One of the threats that it faces is the mushrooming of smaller institutions offering competitive courses at a cheaper rate compared to those it offers. These institutions are a threat since they could attract some of the students bound for the institution. The other threat that it faces is the competition from the other institutions and universities in the area. These have a competitive edge because they have offered degrees for a longer period. This strategy has made them better in comparison with UCB. However, these threats could be easily overcome depending on the marketing strategies that the institution adopts.
The institution has several strategies that it needs to implement to realise its marketing goals and align itself in the achievement of the future and present goals in academics and research. The first thing is the categorisation of customer groups that it is to reach out to. The first group is the undergraduate students, and these are in the various courses that the institution offers. The second group of interest is the mature and international students who join the institution every year and present as an opportunity for the institution’s growth. Another category of people and institutions are the competitors and suppliers and partners. The organisation, therefore, needs to devise a strategy that impacts on all these people, and this should be done through the organisation of marketing strategies around these people. The institutions marketing team should have a member representing these special groups with these members reporting to the marketing director (Luo, & Kumar 2013, p. 243). The current management structure in the marketing and public relations department is highly centralised. A reorganisation in the management hierarch, as suggested above, would ensure that there is an improvement in marketing. The improvement will also go a long way in ensuring that the people on the frontline in the marketing and sale are empowered in their marketing tactics.
Evaluation and Control
This section highlights some of the measurements to be used in the evaluation of the marketing plan in place and that to be implemented. Some of the measures that need to be put in place need evaluation to ensure that they are working gas designed. One of the measure and performance standards that the marketing department can use is the financial performance of the organisation or institution (Luo, & Kumar 2013, p. 243). In the case of University College Birmingham, the most informative measure that can be used to objectively determine the success of the marketing strategies is the number of students enrolling for the various degree courses offered. This figure will give an idea of the impact of the marketing strategies put in place. As Luo and Kumar states, there is a need to evaluate the methods used in marketing, as this will determine the success in the future (2013, p. 243).
The institution also needs to have a feedback program to ensure that clients can gauge the institution’s performance. There is also the need to survey to determine the performance of the institution as perceived by the students and the general population. As Luo and Kumar state, products surveys help the organisation to determine the consumer knowledge on the same, and also inform on measures to be implemented to achieve change (2013, p. 243). The other thing that the institution needs to do to assess its performance is to have an internal and external audit done on the various areas of concern such as financing, marketing and quality of services (Luo, & Kumar 2013, p. 243).
In conclusion, an organisation needs to have an effective marketing strategy in place to ensure that it remains relevant in its respective field. University College Birmingham is an example of an institution with a marketing strategy in place to ensure that it performs in the education sector. Some of the targets that the institution hopes to achieve are a constant increase in the number of students enrolling for the various courses being offered here. This target is also a significant measure of the marketing strategy, which has been discussed. Some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by the organisation have also been discussed with adequate ways of utilising them to the advantage of the institution being explored. The recommendation in the marketing strategies has been made along with the measure of success.
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