By Sarah Ham, Manager, Marketing Communications, AACSB International
We have all had one: an undeniable craving for cookies.
When that craving arrives, the question at hand is, which cookie do we buy? A Madeleine, a ginger biscuit, or a mochi? There are so many different flavors available that the pressure of making a decision is often just as powerful as the craving itself. Even worse, often times as buyer's remorse sets in we realize that, after eating ten Oreos, we really wanted a chewy, double-chunk chocolate chip cookie.
Yes, the chocolate chip cookie. Simple, comforting, a worldwide favorite—all for one reason: those chocolate chips. Semi-sweet and simply delicious, they are the one ingredient that 'makes' the cookie what it is. Without them, it is just a plain cookie—rarely craved, never coveted.
A business school, for all intents and purposes, is like a chocolate chip cookie. Different ingredients (superior faculty, scenic campus, prime location, competitive programs, etc.) mixed together to meet the needs of students seeking the best management education. But, what are the 'chocolate chips' in your recipe?
Every prospective student craves a business school with the right ingredients to satisfy their need for superior management education. Some students know exactly what school they want to attend, while others consider all of the ingredients before making a decision. No matter what type of business school you are (well-known or a best-kept secret) it is imperative to promote your best ingredients.
One of the most important ingredients (the 'chocolate chip,' if you will) of a business school is its AACSB Accreditation. Considered an ingredient brand to an institution's existing brand identity, AACSB Accreditation supports a school's mission as an indicator of quality, positioning it among the finest in the world. Business schools are now, more than ever, in an increasingly competitive market for the best and the brightest students. The world is not flat, information is everywhere and students are incredibly savvy when weighing their options for business schools. Differentiating a business school from the rest of the world is critical to success.
As AACSB moves forward with a number of strategic marketing campaigns to increase awareness among students and employers regarding the value of AACSB Accreditation, the most savvy students and recruiters will learn to 'look for the seal' when researching and evaluating target schools. AACSB is providing students, parents, counselors, and recruiters with information and tools to understand the true value of accreditation through a variety of digital and print ad placements globally. The campaigns will help these audiences to better understand that AACSB Accreditation is the benchmark of quality for business schools worldwide, and schools with AACSB Accreditation offer the highest quality faculty, dynamic and challenging curricula, and career opportunities that are not found at other institutions. The AACSB ingredient is, in fact, what supports a school's brand—and should be leveraged in your integrated marketing and communications efforts as well. As AACSB continues it campaign worldwide, it is important that your school feature the AACSB Accreditation seal prominently in all of your communications—websites, brochures, etc.
There are a number of tools and resources that are available to help your business school leverage the power of AACSB Accreditation to support your brand. Online, in print, and in the world of social media, these resources are designed to seamlessly include AACSB as a part of an integrated marketing and communications plan that complements your business school's brand identity. You can start by integrating the latest version of the AACSB Accreditation seal into your promotional materials, ensuring that students and employers who 'look for the seal' can quickly identify this indicator of quality. Within your online presence, link the seal to the AACSB website specifically designed to educate students, parents, faculty, counselors, and recruiters on the value of accreditation. All of these resources can be found on the Promoting Your Accreditation section of AACSB.edu. AACSB also is in the process of developing additional tools and resources to help schools promote their accreditation within the context of their existing brand.
Discerning and savvy potential business school students will refuse to settle—it's not in their nature. They will research and weigh all of their options, considering the pros and cons of each business school's brand. They will look for ingredients like expert faculty and superior degree programs, class schedules, and graduate employment rates to satisfy their educational needs. And, in addition to all of the wonderful things your business school has to offer, students want to know if it's got the chocolate chips that make you the best—AACSB Accreditation.