Several years ago, and I mean in the 80s or early 90s, I read an article by Karl M. Mathews, at the time, president at Southwestern Business College in Palos Hills, Illinois. I can not find a current reference to Mr. Mathews nor to Southwestern Business College. I copied the article but forgot to reference from what publication (sorry publisher), and in the course of rereading old articles for possible relevance today, I came across it again.
The statements in this article are as relevant today as they were several years ago in my opinion, so I thought I’d share them with you. Would be great reading for those younger members of our profession who may never have had the opportunity to read what I consider foundation material.
There will be three posts, today, tomorrow and Thursday. The first myth is The Sacrosanct Lead, the second, Industry Standards, and the third, The Comparison Game. I will certainly appreciate any comments. So here goes!
Myth #1: The Sacrosanct Lead
"Let me preface this by saying that in no way do I wish to state or imply leads are not important. Leads are important. Without leads, one cannot enroll students. But leads are not as important as the actions taken with them. Also, it should be noted when discussing leads I mean media and list-generated leads. High school and direct referral leads are more stable in nature and require different treatment.
Leads are a transient statistic. (In the jargon of the statistician, leads are considered independent variables). It is difficult, if not impossible, to accurately project the number of leads one can gather at any given time. Independent variables can be influenced by events sometimes beyond our control. Sometimes, it matters little if more advertising/marketing dollars are spent. The best thing one can hope for is to find a pattern, or better yet, several patterns, of reliability.
In most cases [disruptions in the lead-gathering cycle] the causes are subtle and require time to determine the cause. Unfortunately, the time needed to analyze the causes rob you from capitalizing on the lead’s initial interest. It now becomes more difficult to work that lead. Making, or remaking, a first impression, a second or third time is often not successful.
Since leads are independent variables, such numbers are an unreliable base for calculating admissions performance. Yet, the focal point of most systems and discussions revolves around lead-close ratios. [...] Unfortunately, lead tracking usually evolves into an admission performance evaluation system based on the number of leads gathered. In statistical reality, leads and enrollment have no significant correlation.
Common sense tells us that without the leads enrollments will not occur; but fact tells us that even with leads there are no assurances of enrollment, no is there any predictability as to the number of enrollments. Leads by themselves only tell us how effective our advertising was.
I realize this commentary - some may call it an attack- on leads, is bordering on heresy. Just a most of the ancients believed the Earth was the center of all that existed until a few “heretics” eventually proved them wrong, a prevailing tenet of this industry has been that the lead is the center of our admission system and all else revolves around it. Leads are not the center of our system. Leads are necessary vehicles to assist us in reaching our goals. Leads are in independent orbits and are influenced, and influence, the real center of the system, each individual school.”
Comments are most welcome.
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