Golden Gate University
Golden Gate University was confronted with intense competition for Strategic MBA (SEMBA) candidates in the San Francisco Bay area. The competition included Stanford, San Francisco University and other fine institutions. The window for attracting qualified candidates was extremely short, with an application deadline of December 1st -- for a January 3rd start date.
Golden Gate needed to fill a minimum of 20 chairs with qualified candidates. The accelerated 12-month program was real world-oriented, and particularly attractive to working college graduates. It included an international consultancy and study tour, strategic plans for domestic organizations, as well as individually tailored career plans; and while it was different, it was not exclusive in the Bay area. The competition quickly emulated the nature of the degree program.
In academia, word of mouth is a particularly powerful tool, but it lacks saturation. Golden Gate's reputation was significantly impressive, but not sufficiently widespread. The PMG plan was to widen the search and develop rate and rank criteria for the most promising markets, utilize mass media and to direct prospects to Golden Gate's web site for pre-screening.
Timing being of the essence, print magazines were not a reality. Television and radio were cost prohibitive and too horizontal. Since budgets were limited, fractional page ads were deployed in top newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Business Times and the western edition of the Wall Street Journal.
Message is especially vital in fractionals. PMG developed a series of no-bull fractionals which incorporated a representative tag line: "Think strategically, act decisively, advance rapidly."
The holidays wreaked havoc with the first efforts, but what began as a trickle of inquiries soon became a deluge. In all, the PMG program received over 120 qualified inquiries. Moreover, the media frequency enabled Golden Gate's Executive Director to interview candidates and make selections before deadline. The bottom line is that Golden Gate University now has a Strategic MBA program which has been expanded beyond the original model... and in 12 months, they'll have their largest Strategic MBA graduating class in 24 years.