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14 B-School marketing USPs that fall flat

Last updated on: February 4, 2011 17:49 IST

14 B-School marketing USPs that fall flat

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Soumik Ganguly
In the previous decade, there are some common things that private business schools in India have showcased to lure students to their MBA or equivalent programmes. Due to the excessive usage of these so called 'unique selling propositions', these terms have become irrelevant, and are no longer associated with the way aspirants choose a B-School.

The following terminology is what is often used by B-Schools to attract aspirants. We will take you through each one and explain why none of them are actually worth boasting about at all.

1. Approvals from the AICTE, NAAC, UGC, etc.

This no longer holds significance as most of the 2,000 odd b-schools with these approvals are the ones that sulk the most, and are possibly the worst examples of how a b-school shouldn't be. The only quality AICTE-approved b-schools are the ones that have been around for long and will flourish despite or without AICTE approvals.

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2. Air-conditioned campus

Does this really matter?

3. Well-stocked library

Shouldn't this be the bare minimum requirement of any MBA programme? How is it unique?

4. Free laptop

This sounds like some kind of a free alarm-clock-cum-radio being offered along with a magazine subscription. Why would someone worry about a laptop worth Rs 20,000 when they are investing Rs 6 lakh in fees and expenses? More so, how can this be a 'salient' feature?


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5. 100% placements; 'Placement partners' 

A closer look will reveal how much of this is true. There are some horrific stories spoken about in the industry about how certain HR department companies are paid money by B-Schools to give the student an offer on the condition that they can chuck him out after three months. If this is true, then it's a huge scandal in itself. The important question you need to ask yourself is -- "Do I want to join an educational institute or a placement agency to find me a job?" Moreover, even the top-20 (by any definition) b-schools do not manage 100% placements, so how can these private b-schools even dream of doing so?

6. Additional programmes in SAP, super-specialisations

This is actually laughing-stock material. I mean, there are so many more elective course credits available for students in some of the best b-schools, that claiming something like this sounds hilarious.


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7. Hostel facilities

What is so special about having a hostel on a campus?

8. Visiting faculty from XYZ B-Schools (usually the IIMs or XLRI)

This means that the school's own full-time faculty strength is poor. By relying on visiting faculty, the B School is only trying to save costs. This means that a large part of the fees that are being charged by them are going straight into some personal pockets of the owners but certainly not into too many professors' full-time salary account.

9. Hygienic canteen

So is the food in other college canteens killing students with diseases?


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10. Wi-fi campus

This is the biggest farce of all. If someone belonged to the 1980s, they may say 'wow'. But to the current young generation, who takes technology for granted, it will sound amusing.

11. Scholarships

This usually means a 'discount'. Using this terminology sends out the communication that the institution treats education as some kind of bargainable commodity. This word has been overused and aspirants have no respect for such things anymore. Most students now perceive 'scholarship offers' like these as desperate attempts at advertising. Moreover, any B School that thinks about education as a bargainable commodity is likely to treat it exactly like that when it comes to delivering the goods.


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12. International curriculum

Some even go the lengths of claiming that their curriculum reflects those of Harvard's or Wharton's. For the small section of people who are not in the know, this might sound like an attraction, but for any MBA aspirant who does even a little bit of research, this will prove to be a lie. One can never replicate the curriculum of any of these universities. This is because course credits available in those schools and the resultant number of teaching hours require a faculty strength (more than 300 staff members) which even the best schools in India have not been able to achieve.

13. Ranked so-and-so-number in India

There are so many b-school ranking bodies in the country now, that every private b-school has a chance to get into a 'top' position in some ranking or the other. So many private b-schools claim to have a good rank that it has become a redundant word now.

14. Backed by IIM alumni

Great educational institutions are formed by academics from top universities and not business professionals who have been trained to work in the industry. Moreover, there are all kinds of people graduating from an IIM -- some become good managers and some don't. Without getting into the individual credentials of each of the purported IIM alumni backers, this argument merely sounds like rhetoric. In many cases, this IIM alumni promoter is a rich man with lots of spare cash who isn't averse to making a small side-investment in an educational venture as long as he doesn't have to involve himself in the day-to-day functioning -- and in exchange the b-school copiously uses his name for marketing itself.


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Several B-schools that form an immaculate marketing campaign around the above often wonder why their communication does not translate to proportionate application form sales or any enquiries. As the academic-session date draws closer, these b-schools then have to buy contact number databases of MBA aspirants from various sources and fill up their seats after a large-scale telemarketing exercise. That does get them students, but never the same quality of students that will get them anywhere near a long-term reputation.

If B-schools would avoid using these terms and start identifying themselves properly, it will translate into a much better response in every possible way. The question is: would they have anything substantial to talk about if they choose to omit these terms from their advertisements?


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