Creating a marketing plan

These standards take you through the elements to consider when preparing a marketing plan, including goals, objectives, strategies and tactics.

Define what you need to achieve

A goal provides an overarching statement about what you want to achieve, such as:

  • increasing student numbers
  • increasing the number of PhD students
  • raising awareness of the school.

What are your objectives?

Objectives are more detailed and should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed).

For example:

  • increase student numbers in the Bachelor of Architecture by 10 per cent by 2016
  • have an average of two PhD students per department academic staff member by 2017
  • have 50 media mentions by staff in the department per year in 2017
  • generate 25 applications for the new program for 2015.

Situation analysis

It is a good idea to briefly describe what the current situation and outlook are in terms of factors that will influence the plan and strategies. It is most likely to be a general narrative and could include comments on the political environment, current situation with regards to students (e.g. PhD students are 30 per cent of student population and rising/falling), economic outlook, drivers of the University's reputation, trends in relevant factors (e.g. student enrolments, median Universities Admissions Index entry), competitive position and trends, etc.

What strategies will you use?

Strategies describe how the objectives will be reached. For example:

  • raise the profile of the Bachelor of Architecture
  • develop the capacity within the Department to relate to and utilise the media
  • use on-campus experiences to promote ANU to targeted prospective students.

The plan should contain strategies which address each of the elements identified in the SWOT analysis (see below).

In traditional marketing plans, strategies would be grouped by the four Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place (Distribution) and Promotion.

In the University context, there tends to be little flexibility in a number of those elements (e.g. programs are predefined, prices for domestic students are fixed through HECS-HELP, and ANU has one campus), and hence often the focus of the plan will be on communications.

SWOT analysis

When developing strategies, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is a helpful tool.

Strengths and weaknesses are often internal to the University, opportunities and threats tend to be external.

For example:

  • Strengths
    • strong reputation of ANU
    • ANU 'on-campus' experience
    • first year accommodation guarantee
  • Weaknesses
    • shortage of on-campus accommodation
    • competition between Colleges for same students
    • lack of market knowledge and market research
    • image of ANU tied to poor image of Canberra
  • Opportunities
    • new sources of funding for PhD scholarships
    • new, more approachable government
  • Threats
    • declining local cohort of prospective students
    • catastrophic event damages ANU reputation

What tactics will you use?

Tactics are the action plans for implementing the strategies. They need to be sufficiently detailed to allocate resources, budgets, and to monitor progress. They should contain timeframes and allocate responsibilities. For example:

  • create a webpage explaining the new offering by June 2015
  • review University policy regarding students remaining in Hall accommodation beyond first year
  • undertake focussed student recruitment campaign in regional Victoria in 2016
  • identify and attend three relevant conferences to identify potential PhD candidates.