Graduate Management News

May 2015

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Messaging that Connects: Data to Inform Your Marketing Strategy

To create recruitment messaging that truly resonates with prospective students, you need to get inside their heads and understand what drives their decision making.


Effective marketing is informed by the motivations, reservations, and behaviors of the intended audience. The narrower you define that audience, the more targeted—and more impactful—your messaging can be. 

How do you put this into practice? Gain insights about your intended audience from 2015 Prospective Students Survey Report data, run a GMASS® database search to broaden your outreach to your intended audience, and use your creativity to craft messaging informed by your data-driven insights.

Unlocking the Power of the Interactive Research Tool

Have you taken our interactive research tool for a spin yet? Available exclusively to GMAT® accepting schools, it allows you to easily create custom data searches for any given segment of the business school pipeline. The image below illustrates its capabilities and just how simple it is to use: 


Once you define the segment of the business school pipeline that you want to explore, you can click through the interactive report data; graphs displaying the selected results will automatically animate on your screen. Instant insights! 

Data as Inspiration

With the interactive research tool, you have your finger on the pulse of the business school pipeline. Now you have to figure out how best to put that data to work.

Below we explore a sample scenario and discuss how to: 

  1. Use the Prospective Students Interactive Research Tool to gain insights about your audience, 
  2. Use the GMASS database to enable outreach to your audience, and 
  3. Craft creative messaging that speaks specifically to your audience with your data-driven insights. 

Scenario: You represent a business school in the greater New York City metropolitan area looking to increase the number of regional domestic applicants to your full-time Master of Accounting program. 

  1. Use the Prospective Students Interactive Research Tool to gain insights about your audience

    On the interactive research tool page, click “Configure Report” and select “Residence > Country > United States > New York-Newark-Jersey City” for location, and “Master of Accounting” for program type considered. This yields a sample of more than 100 prospective students that serves as a barometer for the motivations, reservations, and behaviors of your very specific, targeted audience.

    By clicking through the “Study Destination” items on the left hand side, you discover (to your delight) that three quarters of your targeted audience are interested in local programs. You also find under “General Criteria” that when selecting a school, these prospects care a great deal about quality and reputation (e.g., faculty, rankings, accreditation) and career aspects (e.g., career services offered, job placement history), and are less concerned with class profile (e.g., diversity) and school culture.

  2. Use GMASS to enable outreach to your audience

    Under the “New Search” tab in the GMASS database select “United States” for citizenship and “Master of Accountancy” for desired degree characteristics.

    GMASS offers multiple ways to search for candidates by location. The best way to target a particular metro region, as this scenario calls for, is to use the area mapping tool, powered by Google Maps. For example, under “Area Map/Radius”, type in “New York City” and select 100 miles for location. Even with these narrow parameters applied to your search, there’s still more than 1,100 names of registrants to purchase. That’s the power of the GMASS database!

    You can further refine the search to prospects who have already taken the GMAT exam, or prospects who are pre-test. How you craft messages to these two groups may differ depending on where they are in their decision-making process.

    (New York City is merely used as an example. Using the GMASS database you can customize the geographic region any way you want using area mapping, or you can select prospects from whole states or countries. The interactive survey report has more than 20 US statistical areas and 30 specific countries to choose from!

  3. Craft creative messaging that speaks specifically to your audience

    Now that you know what factors are driving your audience’s school selection process, what creative ideas do you have for your messaging? Remember, you want to speak to what’s important to them and also remain in step with your school’s larger branding strategy.

    Perhaps a series of emails that highlight your experienced and accessible accounting faculty members and interviews with recent graduates that laud how helpful your career services office was in landing their dream job. To enhance your appeal to the majority of your audience who view your location as a plus, you might feature recent graduates who work for accounting firms in your metropolitan area. Remember, you don’t want to overload prospects with messaging in a single email; it will likely take more than one to tell your story.

    There you have it! How many creative ways can you think to use GMAC data to inform your marketing strategy and use of our GMASS database? You may be surprised not only by the breadth of our data, but by the imaginative ideas it sparks!

About the Author 

Paula McKayPaula McKay is the director of School Products at the Graduate Management Admission Council.