With a move towards growth and development, more and more businesses are coming up making it difficult for the target customers to choose the best alternative. As such, the customer tries to seek information and that is when the role of marketing comes into play. Marketing is a powerful tool in the hands of manager that is generally used to create awareness of the product or service among target market and attract them to purchase it. Thus, managers need to plan the marketing of their organisation carefully to ensure optimal outcomes and maximum awareness generation.
This report presents the marketing plan 2018 for Curtin University. The report proceeds by reviewing a external and competitive environment that the university faces in the country along with identification of the university’s strengths and weaknesses to tackle the opportunities and threats that comes in its way. Further, university’s positioning, strategies and resource allocation is discussed that form the core part of the institution’s marketing strategy.
Market and Demand Assessment
The Australian university and other higher education industry is poised for growth with an estimate annual growth rate of 4.5% (IBIS World, 2017). As per Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017), 1 out of 5 people in Australia is engaged in formal study that includes 1.2 million people between 15 to 19 years of age and 741,100 people between 20 to 24 years of age. Further, the ratio of people enrolled in higher education has increased from 56% in 2006 to 64% in 2016 among young females and 55% to 61% among young males. Similarly, increase in education was also experienced in older age of 25 to 64 years indicating the need and opportunity for educational institutions to expand their services to meets the rising market demand. As of 2016, Curtin University had a total of 37,533.9 students enrolled in different courses of which, 24549.5 were domestic students and 11,622.6 were international students (Curtin University3, 2017).
Further, based on the market assessment, the target group for Curtin University consists of the following prospective segments:
- Freshmen: This group is aged around 15 years and includes students who have just finished schooling. This group is attracted to university due to its costs, reputation, campus, image and other such factors.
- Graduate Students: This group includes students who have completed their under-graduate qualification and have clear focus and purpose for engaging in higher education. This group selects educational institution based on strength and reputation of their specific programs.
- Non-traditional students: Such students are unique and their choice of educational institution may depend upon the specific courses offered by university, flexibility, mode of learning and other non-traditional factors.
The Australian university and other higher education industry has undergone many changes over the past five years as a result of influences from macro-environmental factors with respect of political, economic, social and technological aspects of the country. These factors are discussed as follows:
Political: This theme includes the issues at the government and institutional level in higher education. In Australia, the Federal Government affects the higher education systems through its policies, models and regulations. The Australian Government emphasizes on increasing domestics and international university enrollments by increasing the public expenditure on universities and relaxing the student visa requirements (IBIS World, 2017).
Economic: The economic climate, sector funding, value for money and employability are the significant economic factors affecting the higher education industry in Australia (Doherty, Steel and Parrish, 2012). The industry currently is growing with the rate of 4.5% annually, earning revenue amounting to $31 billion and is responsible for employing as many as 127,638 people (IBIS World, 2017). Moreover, the government has committed to inject over $15 million for the development of higher education and provide better value to the students and the economy (Department of Education and Training, 2017).
Social: With shifts in business environment and skill requirements of the professional, the needs and expectations of students are also changing. Further, rise in education fee has also increased the expectations of enrolled students towards a more student-centric services delivered by the universities. As the need for obtaining greater skills is increasing, people are increasingly adopting to study along with their jobs thereby creating pressure on universities to accommodate the work patterns thereby providing greater flexibility in education systems and learning practices (Doherty, Steel and Parrish, 2012).
Technological: While the changing technology has threatened the traditional role of educational institutions as the guardians of knowledge, it has also created opportunities to innovate and provide better ways to fulfill the changing needs of target market. Further, incredible growth in technology also provides opportunities to change academic structures and practices and make knowledge accessible through innovative channels like mobile applications, webinars, social media and simulation technologies (Doherty, Steel and Parrish, 2012).
The educational environment for universities in Australia is highly competitive with 43 universities in total including 40 Australian universities, 2 international universities and one private specialty university (Study in Australia, 2017). In addition to these universities, there are other institutions that provide higher education courses to the aspiring students in the county thereby increasing the competitiveness of the higher education industry.
In Western Australia, Perth and Fremantle is the hub of higher education with universities like Curtin, Edith Cowan, Murdoch, University of Western Australia and University of Notre Dame Australia as main higher education institutions in the region. However, of all the universities present in the region, Curtin University has the largest market share of 44%, up from 40% in 2013 among Western Australian universities. Moreover, it also continues to the first choice among freshmen from both Western Australia and interstate students (Curtin University4, 2014). Further, a revenue analysis (Table 1) of major universities in Western Australia also reveals a good position for Curtin University indicating higher enrolments as compared to its competitors (Weber, 2015).
The SWOT analysis helps in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation and also creates awareness regarding the opportunities and threats existing within the external environment that can affect the success of the organisation. The SWOT analysis of Curtin University is as follows:
· Western Australia’s largest and most multicultural university with one-third students hailing from international regions
· Ranked among top 2% universities worldwide (Curtin University, 2017)
· Offers wide range of innovative course and has strong business and industry connections and high-impact research
· Ranked 27th among global universities under 50 age in QS World University Rankings 2016-2017
· 5 star excellence rating in QS Stars rating
· 90% employability rate after graduation (Curtin University2, 2017)
· Highest market share
· Poor understanding of the scope of university’s programs and courses.
· Diversified courses and many campuses threaten effective management
· Focused priorities
· Reduction in revenues and rise in costs (Weber, 2015)
· Increased domestic enrolments due to government funding
· Attract international students supported by relaxed student visa requirements
· Technological shifts provide opportunities to attract students for distance learning
· Promising political and economic environment
· Highly competitive industry
· Rising fees and changing social preferences of students (Doherty, Steel and Parrish, 2012)
· Continuous technological shifts
· Lack of skilled personnel to focus on research and development
· Technological and business changes requiring academic restructuring
Value and Brand Positioning Analysis
The positioning statement is an important aspect of marketing plan as it determined the manner in which the target audience views the organisation. Thus, it is necessary to present a vivid description of the brand during positioning so as to differentiate it with the competitors and highlight the unique aspects of the organisation as a brand (Pride, Huges and Kapoor, 2016).
The following brand positioning statement is the foundation upon which the marketing plan of the university is built:
Curtin University is a world class higher education institution and cultural hub that offers a range of innovative courses along with high-impact research. We aim to support our students not only professionally but personally to ensure all round development as individuals who have the ability to turn any opportunity in their stride through hard work, courage and integrity embodies by us.
Marketing Aim and Promotional Objectives for 2018
For any marketing plan to be successful, clear and concise delineation of marketing aims and objectives is of critical importance. It helps in identifying the business what it wants to achieve through its marketing plan and activities. Moreover, marketing aims and objectives not only provide an important area of focus for the marketing team but also need to be consistent with the overall strategy goals of the business to ensure maximum effectiveness (Kotler and Keller, 2015).
The aim of marketing plan of Curtin University is to bring about increased awareness among existing students and attract new students by highlighting the role of the university in their lives and also promote the activities of the university. The following are the main aims of the marketing plan:
- To develop and launch a new branding campaign that increases the visibility of the university among the target market through utilizing the alumni, faculty, and university leadership as brand ambassadors.
- To promote Curtin University as nationally recognized innovative educational institution that not only focuses in professional development but also on personal development of its students.
- To attract Australian business community by generating awareness regarding the professional development efforts of Curtin University to impart professional training to the graduate students
The objective of the proposed marketing plan is to highlight the distinctive courses and educational programs offered by Curtin University that differentiates it with other existing universities in Australia, especially in Perth and represent it as unique and special university. Further, achieving more enrollments (expected increase of 20%) by attracting new students by way of highlighting the unique features of the university is another objective that the marketing plan seeks to achieve.
Marketing Mix Strategies
Marketing is not just communication of information to the target market, but also used to establish and enhance relationship with all the stakeholders by addressing their needs to meet the organisational goals. The marketing mix strategies can be identified using the seven Ps of marketing. To develop a successful marketing strategy, it is necessary to take a holistic approach towards the seven Ps rather than viewing them in isolation (Kotler and Keller, 2016). Thus, in context of Curtin University, the seven P’s are as follows:
Product: For Curtin University, the product includes the vast variety of graduate and under-graduate courses offered by them. Further, it also includes the services, research, activities and employment opportunity provided by the university. Thus, the product strategy is to provide unique courses to its students through better staff, more exposure to related industry and interaction with industry leaders in the field to develop greater understanding and generate higher interest in the chosen field.
Place and Physical Evidence: In context of university, place and physical evidence may be more or less similar and inter-related to shape the experiences of the students. The university campus can be a used to outline the place and physical evidence strategy by represent the brand by way of the appropriateness of the place, its cleanliness and its serenity to create an environment that is conducive for learning and encourage innovative thinking and creativity.
Price: For educational institutions, prices include the fee and other monetary charges taken for admission and entry into other activities and courses. Thus, pricing strategy for the university needs to focus on justifying the benefits included in the cost of education courses and activities offered at the campus. Additionally, the prices also reflect the benefits of the infrastructure facilities of the institution (Olaleke, et al., 2014).
People: In context of University, people include staff, students and alumni. Thus, the university can use its people to communicate the benefits of studying their by highlight all that’s good about it. The university can enhance communication between these three categories of people by facilitating greater engagement, training and interaction. The strategy is to create word of mouth publicity for the university by getting the student or alumni to recommend it to others. Word of mouth publicity can be far more effective and beneficial as compared to other messages through different marketing channels (Kotler and Keller, 2016).
Processes: Another crucial element of marketing mix is the process that is the way in which the university deals with its customers. Thus the strategy is to create the process related to attaining information and contact the university representative easy, effective and professional. This will include regular updating of university website and social media accounts to target the selected customer and ensuring quick responses to customer queries.
Promotion: It is the final element of marketing mix that is decided only after considering the product, price, place and other elements. Effective promotion strategy helps in establishing the brand identity and brand image through communication of university’s relevance, accomplishments and excellence in the field. The university can use following promotional tools and strategies:
Create university magazine, publications and articles
Create a quarterly or half yearly magazine or can publish articles in newspapers that promotes the skills and achievements if university faculty, students and alumni. The magazine will be used as a tool to create awareness and establish brand image.
Create a series of online videos and short films
It will be used to create awareness by connecting emotionally to the target market’s aspirations. Moreover, they will be used to create awareness about university courses and other programs. The videos will be posted on university website, social media accounts and YouTube channels.
Social Media Platform
Create accounts on social media
University can use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others to create student focused social media campaign to promote its products and services. It can use quizzes and games to engage target audience on social media and send promotional gifts to selected few.
Develop a university campaign that will use all promotional tools to direct the message towards target audience.
The university can use above mentioned tools to create a campaign that focuses on communicating a similar message through different tools. These tools will ultimately connect to form a connection with its customers and create brand identity.
Any organisation does not exist in isolation. It has to compete with its rivals in order to survive and hence need to adopt strategies keeping in view its competitors in the industry. Competitive strategies are necessary to create a distinct image for the organisation and its decision are based in the analysis of BCG matrix, product life cycle and other tools that help in identifying the investment requirements and other strategies based on the market offering, market share, market attractiveness and other related aspects.
Curtin University has the largest market share and high growth as compared to its competitors. Thus, it belongs to the Star category of the BCG matrix indicating that good growth prospects for the university (Wheelen and Hunger, 2013).
Moreover, even though the University was established in the year 1987, owing to the industry growth and shifts in technology and customer’s social preferences, the university can be considered at the growth stage of product life cycle. Moreover, the market share of university has experienced a constant growth from 38% in 2012 to 40% in 2013 to 44% in 2014 indicating the growth potential for the university in future (Curtin University4, 2014).
Thus, at this stage, the university can adopt differentiation strategy to ensure fighting for the patronage of the customers by creating unique market offerings that are distinct from its competitors (Wheelen and Hunger, 2013). Thus, the university needs to concentrate on achieving superior performances in terms of better education quality, on campus services, teaching staff and aids used and experiences for the enrolled students and alumni.
Media and Budget Allocation
In order to address the target market and strengthen the marketing activities, allocation of funds is necessary. Moreover, looking at the rising revenue trend of the university, it is easy to allocate large amount to the marketing activity. However, looking at high market share and expected growth trend, it is rather rational to allocate less advertising expenditure as a part of overall sales (Kotler and Keller, 2016). Thus, the media and budget allocation for Curtin University is as follows:
Video and Short Films
Social media platforms
Table 2: Budget allocation (source: assumed)
Hence, a total of $170,000 will be allocated to carry out the marketing activities of Curtin University.
It is expected that the proposed business plan will help in creating desired product awareness among the target market of Curtin University. With its promotion tools the university aims to achieve the following outcomes in terms of market reach:
1500 stories and 40,000 magazines
Video and Short Films
Social media platforms
100,000 followers and 75,000 referrals
Table 3: Expected outcomes (source: assumed)
The marketing plan is an important part of strategic planning as it is responsible for generating awareness and establishing the brand identify by communicating and connecting with the target audience. For this, collecting relevant information related to macro-environment, target market and competitors is necessary to identify the needs and position the brand accordingly. In context of Curtin University, the use of magazines, articles, videos, social media marketing and campaign is proposed to achieve its marketing aims and objectives. Moreover, keeping in view the expected growth of industry, rising market share of university and increasing revenues, the university will use differentiation strategy to uphold its performance by creating unique market offerings and distinct brand image as compared to its competitors.
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