Graduate School USA (GSUSA)

In late 2014, GSUSA was an organization in flux. Its Marketing department had shrunk from 20 to five, and with neither a CMO nor a marketing communications strategy, the department was struggling to affect revenues in a meaningful way.

Assessing the Situation

Many of the School’s media placements were based on history, intuition, and stakeholder biases. Its marketing collateral design was entirely predictable – based entirely on a red-white-and-blue color palette and leaning heavily on American iconography (stars, stripes, capitol domes, eagles, etc.); its marketing efforts lacked metrics; and its marketing production efforts lagged behind deliverable dates.

Recognizing that the current staff did not have the skills or experience to develop a marketing plan that would generate revenue in the form of new student enrollments, GSUSA engaged MarketPoint LLC to evaluate the department, and develop a reorganization plan and a strategic communications plan. However, with declining enrollments and mounting financial pressures, the School did not have the luxury to wait for a fully developed plan before implementing, and so the directive was given to “rebuild the plane while in the air.”

In-Flight Maintenance

MarketPoint worked with organizational stakeholders to develop a marketing communications plan for Fiscal Year 2016 and began placing appropriate marketing messages in targeted media. We performed primary research among Federal customers (both students and supervisors) and among Evening and Weekend Program students. Based on the results of the research and the School’s well-established mission, MarketPoint developed taglines for Federal Training Programs and for Evening Programs and proposed dozens of advertising concepts, in the form of headlines based on the expressed needs of the School’s customers. From those initial concepts, and under the direction of an interim, outsourced CMO provided by MarketPoint, the School developed new campaigns in appropriate media channels. To supplement advertising (and minimal legacy email campaign efforts), MarketPoint identified a source for opt-in mailing lists and began a nationwide campaign to more than one million Federal employees. Through the combined effect of “right-messaging the right audience at the right time and in the right places” and a concentrated national email campaign, MarketPoint was able to drastically increase traffic to the School’s e-commerce site and drive enrollments.

MarketPoint’s outsourced CMO continued managing the School’s marketing efforts, maintaining a weekly commitment averaging two days onsite (plus several hours offsite), throughout the transition period. In addition, MarketPoint’s outsourced CMO played a key role in interviewing and identifying his replacement. Today, the school is back on track, with a new Senior Marketing Manager, who has begun the process of rebuilding the department, leveraging MarketPoint’s recommendations.