Collateral Damage

Higher Education Changes Impact More Than Schools

3 minute read

We’re hearing a lot in the media and our daily conversations about how the pandemic has created chaos in higher education. Students and colleges alike are scrambling to find ways to deal not only with the current disruption, but also the uncertainty surrounding the new academic year that’s right around the corner. Just this week in New York Magazine, NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway said he believes the day of reckoning will come “over the next six weeks, when we realize that the deposits and registrations for the fall are down 10 to 30 percent.”

But the impact will go well beyond the schools themselves. For some businesses, the damage has been clear and immediate. Those that have a lot of college students as customers don’t need anyone to tell them this is bad for business, and it won’t get better if students can’t return to campus.

Is Your Business Impacted by Recent Changes with Higher Education Institutions?

How many of these things could potentially impact your business?

  • Faculty and Staff: Are they a part of your customer base? Distance learning, social distancing, staff reductions, and budget cuts will impact them too. If they are not around, or change their consumption patterns, who will you target to fill the gap?
  • Student renters: If students don’t come back to college cities and towns in their usual numbers, who will you go after to replace them? Will others fill in those student-heavy neighborhoods? Will you have to overhaul your products, services, and marketing approach to serve a fundamentally different customer base?
  • Entry-level workers: Does your business regularly hire college students or new graduates? The candidate pool will shrink if students study remotely, drop out, transfer, are delayed in graduating or taking professional licensing exams, or decide to take a “gap” year. Who will you hire and how will you reach them?
  • Interns: Student field work is common in many disciplines, particularly business, education, and health care. Does your company routinely use interns to find promising job candidates or handle necessary tasks? Who will you recruit if their availability decreases due to enrollment drop-offs, social-distancing restrictions, or program cutbacks at the schools?

Do you need a Marketing Plan B?

Businesses that are too busy putting out fires today to think about tomorrow run the risk of suffering long-term damage to their ability to survive and thrive beyond the pandemic. Crafting your Marketing Plan B is simple, but it’s not easy. The key is to break it down and write it down:

  • Think about the possible impacts from all angles
  • Sort them on the level of threat to your business
  • Identify potential strategies to deal with each threat
  • Brainstorm tactical ideas to support each strategy

The situation we’re in right now is new territory for everyone, but discipline and clear thinking can help take some of the panic out of the pandemic.

If you need any assistance assessing your situation or formulating a plan, the team at FARM is ready to help. Drop us a line! We’d love to have a conversation.

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