Web Generates Prospects for Boston U's Corporate-Ed Center

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The Boston University Corporate Education Center is conducting an integrated marketing campaign with online marketing playing a key role in branding and lead generation.

The month-old effort aims to boost enrollment for the center's management development and information technology training programs, particularly corporate training engagements for groups of employees.

"It's a push-pull national campaign targeting human resources professionals, corporate trainers and IT management professionals -- push here -- and individuals who would take the training -- pull, in this case," said Michael Donovan, managing partner at BUCEC agency Overdrive Marketing Communications, Boston.

The campaign involves a Web site, paid listings and search engine optimization, online ads, e-mail and public relations. Media have been negotiated on a cost-per-lead basis, not traditional cost-per-thousand or cost-per-click. Direct mail, catalog fulfillment and print ads will complement offline.

The initial buy includes sites like Boston.com, Fastweb.com, Cramsession.com and Gantthead.com.

This round of advertising asks the target to register online for a free project management seminar.

"The idea behind this call to action is if we can get people to come to the seminar, they are sold more easily to sign up for the course," Donovan said.

Overlaying that message is the stress on professional education from Boston University. The ads note BUCEC's instructors with industrial experience as well as the chance to learn from multiple channels: university classroom, on-site at companies and online.

Leveraging its relationship to Boston University, BUCEC is creating content such as business application white papers. These papers will support PR efforts by converting into bylined articles and speeches from Boston University experts.

In addition, each white paper is an opportunity as a data capture source within BUCEC's search, e-mail marketing and online ad programs.

This marketing approach differs from the center's previous push when its campaign was 90 percent print, spent mainly on printing and mailing catalogs. Now the effort is mostly online, using the Web for various marketing initiatives, including downloadable PDF files for catalogs and e-mail instead of huge amounts of mail.

"Also, search is a new endeavor for them," Donovan said. "The great thing about search engine marketing is that it's where targeting meets timing. Using search marketing techniques, Boston University can reach students at the critical moment when they're looking for specific course offerings."

Still, BUCEC has its work cut out. It competes with equally aggressive regional counterparts at Northeastern University, Harvard University, Babson College and Worcester Polytechnic Institution. Nationally, it goes head to head with the University of Phoenix Online, Jones Knowledge and Horizon Training.

The marketing acknowledges a tight recruitment effort to interest corporate students.

"Yes, this segment has been hit very hard with the downturn in corporate training projects," Donovan said. "Corporate training budgets have been slashed in recent years."


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