No shortage of responses to my article on the perils of discounting (available here). Here’s another one, from higher education recruitment but my answer applies to any industry…
I love your emails, it’s the one thing I make sure to read every day. This topic is something I have been thinking about for a while and I wanted to reach out to you and see if you had any advice.
When it comes to being a college admission counselor and recruiting students, everyone is talking about scholarships, which technically discounts our costs. We’re already a leader in value, when it comes to what we can offer, elite education and small private school advantages with our state university degree at a public school cost. But, in a business that is now all about discounting, and offering scholarships to students, how do we sell our competitive advantage in value without discounting our perceived value? Also, applicants see us as a step down from the flagship state university. How do I change their perception?
I’m not in the business of dispensing free advice but since I know Aaron has invested in copies of all my books and has been a loyal reader of this newsletter for the past eight years, here’s my humble but highly accurate answer. Which I might add applies to just about any business under the sun…
Given everything you’ve told me, by logic alone you shouldn’t have to discount. But humans aren’t logical buyers, we are emotional buyers.
So my advice is two-fold:
- Deepen your applicant pool so much, you have more full pay candidates than you know what to do with. There are few problems that can’t be solved by having an overflowing sales pipeline. In doing so you become the buyer, not the seller. And in any relationship, the buyer holds the advantage because they can walk away from the sale at any point.
- I would produce a promotional video about how that big ol’ flagship university down the road is actually a step down from YOUR campus. Showcase all the crazy little features and amenities you have that they don’t. Make it fun, funny, ridiculous and over the top.
- Our pool is 5 degrees warmer
- We have Chick Fila on campus, they have generic chicken nuggets in their cafeteria
- Our auditorium is used for concerts and plays not to hold a bunch of enormous intro courses for freshmen.
- Our football team doesn’t suck (because we don’t have one)
- At our school “java engineer” doesn’t mean you’re training to be a Starbucks barista.
You get the point, mention obscure things you have that they don’t. When you’re the underdog, you can “punch up” so to speak. (Meaning you can make jokes at the expense of someone or something who is perceived to be of a higher level in terms of status.)
Warning: Your admissions director may not be down with “declaring war” on the flagship university but if you produced that video in a fun playful way I bet everyone (even your competition) would appreciate it, understand the intent, and get a laugh. And most importantly, attention. After all we are in an attention economy.
Now, for those of you with other questions, membership has its privileges. My beloved underdogs aka paid members of my membership community, have unlimited email access to me and can take advantage of my monthly call-in days where they can call in and ask me questions, get feedback and utilize me as a sounding board for ideas.
These are just two of MANY reasons you should join Yesterday’s Underdog. And if you join now, I’m offering 3 fast action bonuses, which you can read about here:
P.S. Those bonuses go away in a few days never to be seen again.