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What Can P&G Teach Us About Alumni Relations?

What Can P&G Teach Us About Alumni Relations?

I left Procter & Gamble almost a decade ago, but the two basic rules of branding have stayed with me ever since. Firstly, the need to segment your consumers. Secondly, to provide a differentiated value proposition based upon that segmentation. How can we implement Alumni Relations tricks from P&G.

It is hard to imagine given my receding hairline, but I worked in the sexy world of haircare with some of the world’s great shampoo brands like Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Vidal Sassoon and Wash & Go. Each targeted a different type of shampoo consumer, based upon criteria such as age, gender and time spent on haircare products. Can you imagine what would have happened if P&G had offered just one brand to meet the needs of all its different consumers?

So what does this have to do with the world of education?

Well, it often feels that schools treat all their alumni as if they were the same. Taking P&G’s example, it should not be that way.

I also want to differentiate here between segmentation for fundraising, and segmentation for alumni relations.

For fundraising I think many schools do a very good job in segmenting their donors. See a great presentation as an example by Becky Vardaman, Vice President of Strategy at Converge Consulting, who provided a useful approach at the CASE V and VI Presentation on Alumni Segmentation presentation. As we also heard this week at the Global Leaders Summit, some leaders, like Elizabeth Crabtree from Brown University, have developed some very innovative criteria for fundraising. For example, if alumni are married to one another it is a much stronger indicator of higher giving.

However when it comes to segmenting alumni relations, it feels like schools do less well. Many schools assume that one value proposition should fit the needs of all their alumni.

For alumni relations, should schools not be engaging alumni in a more differentiated way and, and critically, what they offer to alumni based upon criteria like age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, as well as more obvious ones such as location, industry and seniority?

Each school will of course need to develop its own alumni segmentation based upon its unique background, culture and history, and which segments are more meaningful and addressable for their institution. Moreover the segmentation if done correctly, should lead to a specific offering that will make the alumni network more relevant for its members and hence increase alumni engagement.

It’s 2017 and alumni simply expect more. They expect at the very least that their alma mater has made a first attempt at making their relationship more personal and relevant for them.

Do you think schools are segmenting their approach to alumni relations with the same rigor that they do for fundraising?

Which is the most important basis to segment your alumni? How feasible is it to provide different offering to different alumni?

Do you have some success stories of implementing an alumni segmentation or do you have any more alumni relations tricks from your experiences?

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