Graduate Management News

March 2016

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Marketing Insights for the Expanding Pool of Women B-School Candidates

The percentage of GMAT™ exams taken by women hit a record high in 2015. Do you have a targeted marketing plan to build their awareness of your programs?

Attracting Women

Among the hottest topics in graduate management education right now is the representation of women in MBA and specialized business master’s classrooms. In testing year 2015, women accounted for 44.4 percent of all GMAT exams taken—a record high.[1] 

The pipeline of qualified women business school candidates is growing. The question is: Does your business school have a plan to attract more of these talented women to your programs?

The targeted marketing tool many top business schools rely on to give them an edge in building their brand awareness with women candidates is the Graduate Management Admission Search Service (GMASS) database. The GMASS database contains the names of nearly 200,000 women candidates, all of whom are waiting to hear from business schools like yours.

Here are three tips to get the most out of the GMASS database in making connections with the expanding pool of women candidates.

Timing is everything

When it comes to building your business school brand awareness with prospective students, getting your message timing right is critical. If you make your first contact with candidates too early, your message isn’t yet relevant to them. If you do it too late, they’ve already established their school list and you missed your window.

A great time to make that important first contact with candidates is between when they register on and when they take the GMAT exam. In this window of time, you can be confident candidates are serious about going to business school and will be receptive to your messaging, and you can make candidates aware of your program offerings before they have to finalize their school list when they sit for the exam. On average, GMAC research indicates that this window is 4.3 months for women candidates aged 21 to 30.[2]

How do you get the timing just right? GMASS makes it easy. As a part of your search criteria, select ‘pre-test’ to restrict your list to registrants who have not yet sat for the exam. Currently, there are just under 100,000 women currently preparing for the exam with their names in GMASS, just waiting to hear from business schools like yours.

Align Your GMASS Search with GMAC Research Insights

Important to crafting messaging that will resonate with women candidates is understanding what’s motivating them to pursue a graduate management degree and what kind of business school experience they’re looking for. When you gain this level of insight, you can position your program offerings in a way that will maximize their appeal to your specific audience.

The best data resource for this kind of information is the easy-to-use Prospective Students Survey interactive report, which allows you to drill deep into the mindset of a particular segment of the student pipeline by filtering the data by a variety of variables. Using this tool in combination with the GMASS database ensures that you’ll know as much as possible about a particular segment of the pipeline before crafting your messaging. Simply align your GMASS search criteria to your configuration of data in the Prospective Students interactive report for instant insights into the specific segment you’re targeting.

Financial Aid Interest

Our newest feature of the GMASS database is the ability to include financial aid interest as a part of your list creation. By selecting this as a part of your search, you know that every single one of the women on your contact list is interested in learning more about the financial aid available at your business school, allowing you to tailor your messaging content accordingly.

According to GMAC research, financial concerns are the number one reservation women registrants aged 21 to 30 have about going to business school.[3] An excellent way to establish your brand with these candidates is to give them a simple explanation of how financial aid works at your school. This type of messaging is not only helpful to candidates as they weigh their options, but communicates that you understand their situation, and are willing to work with them to make business school feasible.

As you create your next GMASS search, also consider accessing our additional resources to share with women candidates. As your program explores its outreach strategies, please feel free to contact me for an individual GMASS consultation.

[1] GMAC (2015). Profile of GMAT Testing: Citizenship Report, TY2011 through TY2015.
[2] GMAC (2015). Prospective Students Survey. Data collected 2013 and 2014.
[3] Ibid.

About the Authors

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




Matt HazenbushMatt Hazenbush is Research Communications Manager at the Graduate Management Admission Council.