In full swing with demand for graduate management education (GME) up among international candidates and application volume sustaining last year’s boom. To reach, match with, and recruit candidates you’ll need to align your recruiting goals with a successful strategy when it comes to candidate-facing tour events. In the 2020/2021 MBA Tour season, there were 8,700 attendees and 25,000 registrants across 29 events. That included 37,000 school booth visits and 7,000 more intimate, smaller meetup matches.
In our latest GMAC Connect Presents webinar—Finding the Right Solutions for Your 2022 Recruitment Strategy—we shared how to get the most from the upcoming season of The MBA Tour.1. Build tours into your recruitment strategy
Whether your recruitment focus is on domestic or international candidates, building a tours element into your overall recruitment strategy can help you meet with a wider pool of potential candidates.
Firstly, tours provide an opportunity to meet with and recruit students who already sit quite far along the candidate pipeline. 70% of tour registrants stated they were interested in starting a program within the tour year or one year later.
Tours are also a chance for you to build brand awareness and attract new candidates who would have otherwise missed an opportunity to connect with your school. In the latest tour season, on average, 49% of MBA Tour attendees said they are now considering schools they had not explored beforehand.
In our GMAC Connect Presents webinar, Rebecca Mallen-Churchill, the director of recruitment for graduate programs at Arizona State University’s (ASU) W.P. Carey School of Business, explained the benefits of attending tour events.
Although W.P. Carey is known for a couple of areas of expertise—innovation, for example—candidates are less aware of the school’s strengths in areas like entrepreneurship and information systems management. And meeting candidates at a tour means she can convey that message.
“Our largest or our most effective lead source is connecting with students from tours,” she said. “I don't know how we would meet some of the people and incredible students in our program if we didn't.”2. Match your recruitment goals with the right MBA Tour product
For a tour to be a success you need to align your recruitment goals with the right MBA Tour product. The products available from The MBA Tour range from building awareness all the way through to consideration and conversion.
Whether your strategy is to grow your volume of leads or to attract a smaller number of candidates and focus on relationship building, you have several options.
- Keynote Panel
A panel moderation hosted by us along with representatives from your school, offering an opportunity to build brand awareness among candidates.
The discussion will focus on a general aspect of applying to business school, maybe a specific aspect of the application process, or a more focused discussion on how to finance your MBA or master’s. It’s followed by a Q&A session.
- MBA Talk
MBA Talks are another way to build brand awareness. These 25-minute topic-based presentations enable you or alumni to share important topics and unique features of your program to candidates, and why your school might be a good fit for them.
If a candidate misses your presentation, they can still watch it through the on-demand feature offered during and after the event.
- Resume Clinic
For a closer brand and relationship-building session with candidates, you might want to opt for a Resume Clinic. These one-on-one chats are a softer sell where you or someone from your career services run through a candidate’s business school resume. You also have the chance to follow up with specific candidates afterward.
MeetUps are smaller group sessions of up to six candidates on Zoom or in-person where a school representative gets to present their program to candidates and answer any questions they have about their school.
“When talking to schools a typical goal we hear is they’ve increased marketing in a particular market, they’ve built awareness, but now they’re looking to speak to high potential candidates and convert them to actual applications,” explained Jarrod Gardiner, Asia Pacific area manager for The MBA Tour.
“MeetUps would be our recommendation here […] and we match candidates based on criteria you provide, and our data, and send those candidates invitations prior to the event.”3. Treat your school presentations like a Ted Talk
If you’re attending a tour to build brand awareness, then an MBA Talk can be a great way to put your messaging in front of candidates. But think broader than just presenting your MBA program.
Rebecca from W.P Carey recalled being advised to think of the presentation as more of a Ted Talk. The school has been ranked by US News and World Report as best in the US for innovation every year since 2016, so innovation became the bedrock of the talk.
“Think of a topic that’s going to be of interest to somebody before they even think about your school,” she explained. “We just made a few minor changes to the way that we presented the talk, and I’ve seen more engagement from our MBA talk attendees.”
4. Commit to your messaging beyond the Tour
Your tour recruitment effort should exist beyond the tour end date. You should have a strategy for both the candidates you met and those who were unable to attend; 96% of those unable to attend an event said they would attend a tour in the future.
You should send a personalized message to the segment group you meet at the tour. Tomofumi Nishida, the deputy director (Asia and the Middle East) for the IESE Business School MBA, explained that he sends a follow-up email soon after the event to each lead. That could be an invitation to a one-on-one meeting with him or an invitation to a future event hosted by IESE. For the second segment group of candidates who were unable to attend the tour, the key is timing.
“For me, it doesn't make so much sense to contact them right after the fair in case we don't have any events in the near future,” Tomofumi noted. “Instead, it makes more sense for me to invite them to any group session hosted by IESE. So, the best time to contact them could be one week before or two weeks before we are trying to host that specific group session.”