That is the message Mount Royal University’s marketing department intends to utilize in hopes of drawing more students to campus from a wide geographical area, says marketing director Lucille Gnanasihamany.
“Students who thrive in a setting that is based on high student-faculty interaction that takes pride in the excellence of its teaching, and that is dedicated to preparing students forthe next step in their lives — and that could be a career, or it could be grad studies — will be drawn to Mount Royal,” she said. “You’ll find students like that in Springbank or in Singapore.”
Gnanasihamany said little has changed with regards to the geographical areas that Mount Royal’s message is being spread in. The university intends to continue targeting core areas including Calgary and area, southeast B.C. and southwest Saskatchewan.
“We are increasing our proportion of word-of-mouth marketing such as grassroots networking and online social networks — Facebook, YouTube, etcetera — however, traditional media such as newspaper will continue to be a core means of reaching our diverse audience base, which includes students, parents, donors, and the community at large,” Gnanasihamany said.
With regards to marketing the university brand internationally, Gnanasihamany said further direction is needed from the international education department before any major initiatives are undertaken. Furthermore, she noted that the university’s marketing expenditures are not significantly different from previous years but was not able to provide any concrete numbers on the amount of money being invested.
“The biggest difference from this year’s marketing plan versus any other year’s has to do with upgrading items that need to reflect our new name — including on-and off-campus signage and logo applications,” she said. The university slightly modified the original Mount Royal College logo during the transition period by crossing out the word “college” and writing “university” in its place in red ink.
David Finch, a first-year assistant professor at the Bissett school of business, said the work being done by Gnanasihamany and her team appears to be textbook marketing.
“It’s about consistency, it’s about identifying a single competitive advantage and leading with that,” he said. “Certainly what I interpret as the primary advantage for this university is the individual instruction. Students are students and not a number. I did my undergraduate at Western where I was in a class with 500 other people.
“The fact that the marketing group at Mount Royal leads with reinforcing the interpersonal dimension of an education is marketing 101. It’s about differentiating ourselves from all the other schools.”
Finch also said Mount Royal’s nearly 100 years of history will play a major role in drawing prospective students to the storied institution.
“The slogan ‘Canada’s oldest new university’ I think is just pure brilliant positioning,” he said. “It’s very consistent because it’s unique, it raises questions in the minds of stakeholders of ‘what do you mean by Canada’s oldest new university?’ And that starts the discussion.”
Logistically, Finch said Mount Royal is likely not in the financial position to create a broad mass media marketing campaign but he said it is important for the university to increase its presence at conferences and forums held by specific industries.
“It’s about targeting specific programs to specific audiences that a Mount Royal-type education might appeal to,” he said. “The key is feeding that core message in there and then you create an audience network that can then spread that message.”
If the marketing strategy does pay off and Mount Royal is able to draw more students, Gnanasihamany is confident the institution will be able to keep pace.
“Mount Royal is very planning-oriented, and this instance is no exception,” she said, noting that careful planning of infrastructure will be key. Construction of a 1,200-stall, $25-million parkade at Mount Royal should begin in the next few weeks and the Mount Royal Conservatory of Music — a $60-million facility that will include a 650-seat performance hall and approximately 82 studios, could break ground as early as next summer.
As well, the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University won’t be involved directly in the institution’s marketing campaign but VP external Robert Jones sees a greater opportunity to engage students enrolled in full four-year programs.
“Less students are going to be working towards a transfer to a university, Mount Royal is no longer going to be seen as a pit stop,” Jones said. “I think it’s going to provide an opportunity for them to be engaged longer and they’re going to want to be engaged more. I think the university name change will build a community of belonging.”