Evidence-Based Innovation Blog

Why Permission Marketing is a Prospective MBA Student’s Best Friend: Blogs & Social Media

Posted on May 13, 2014 3:00:00 PM

MBA marketing

I have nothing against Kay Jewelers. I mean, how could a girl not like diamonds?

I was in the middle of a time-sensitive lead nurturing email for a client and I needed to stay focused. I was also up against another imminent deadline involving a university website project.It was just not the right moment for a sales pitch about a girl’s best friend.

Later, I realized I had just experienced every inbound marketers’ worst nightmare – “interruption marketing.”

If you’re not familiar with this term coined by marketing guru Seth Godin, here’s a cartoon that pretty much sums it up:

permission marketing

So, what’s the answer?

Enter permission marketing.

According to Seth Godin who introduced the concept (and book) in 1999, “permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them… It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.” Read more in this short Permission Marketing article in Seth's blog.

In honor of the 15th anniversary of Seth’s book, Permission Marketing, I wanted to dedicate a blog post to help business schools increase leads and grow applications with this winning concept.

Here are two business school marketing activities that involve permission marketing (we will discuss three other methods in a follow-up article):

1. Blogging

Blogging is a terrific top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) activity to nurture relationships with prospects because they can learn about your programs on their schedule. They can read stories and information on their own time whether they discover your blogs on your website, on landing pages, or on social media channels.

Blogging also helps with SEO, goes viral when readers share on their networks, and pays dividends long after the blogs have been posted. I am still getting traffic on articles I wrote a couple of years ago.

The key is to provide content that is useful, interesting, and entertaining. Address prospects’ interests, challenges and pain points. What are their goals, dreams, desires, challenges, and fears? Help them! Maybe it’s providing tips on studying for the GMAT. Or, it could be a post about scholarships and financial aid for prospects worried about how to pay for your program. It’s no surprise that some of the best blog articles come from current students and alumni who share their stories.

Here is a great example of a MBA student blog article from Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management:

permission marketing

Here’s another excellent MBA student post addressing a key buyer persona, female candidates, from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School:

permission marketing

Blog writing takes less time than you think, especially when you have guest bloggers.  The key point is to take the time to understand what prospects need or want to know. Write the post from their perspective. What would you need to know if you were in their shoes?

Need more convincing on the benefits of blogging? Or, want to convince your dean or colleagues? Read and share this Benefits of Blogging article from Hubspot.

2. Social Media

This is one of those no-brainers. How many of us spend a lot of time (okay, too much time) on social media? We want to interact with human beings. We’re wired to want to share information with other people. Social media is virtual version of the country diner or corner barber shop.

Every social connection is based on permission to post whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pintrest, YouTube or Instagram.

There are times that are better than others to post your messages to social media as suggested by this Best and Worst Times to Post, Pin & Tweet article, but essentially people are always on – especially a target market of millennials.

To leave social media off the table for engaging with prospective students is as Julia Roberts said to the shop assistant in Pretty Woman:

permission marketing

Here is an example of a business school that is rocking social media with creative posts that stimulate engagement:

permission marketing

It also pays to listen to your students and alumni on social media for permission-based marketing opportunities. Here is an example of a post I read from a newly-minted MBA alumna I had recruited. Her team members gave it to her as a graduation gift. How cool would it be for prospective students to see it on your program wall?

permission marketing 

Due to the length of this article, I will post a follow-up article to touch on three other business school marketing activities: webinars, videos, and lead nurturing campaigns -- stay tuned!

What other ideas do you have to share from your school?

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Barbara Coward, author of this article, is a marketing communications consultant at Percept Research. Barbara welcomes your questions and comments.

Yet my brand experience became a little less brilliant when my cell phone rang on a busy Monday afternoon.

Topics: Barbara Coward, Admissions, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Blogs