In an effort to promote the School of Management more effectively, SOM Dean Edward Snyder decided during his inaugural year to add $1 million to the school’s marketing budget.
Upon assuming the deanship last summer, Snyder identified a handful of “strategic shortfalls” at SOM, among them the school’s approach to marketing its programs and initiatives beyond the Yale community. While specific uses of the expanded marketing budget will not be announced until later this year, Snyder said the change will ultimately attract more students and faculty to SOM. As the number of Master of Business Administration programs continues to grow worldwide, two associate deans at peer business schools said Yale’s push for increased marketing fits with an international trend.
“There are now over 13,000 MBA programs around the world, so the landscape is getting crowded and noisy,” said Trip Davis, senior associate dean for external relations at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, where Snyder served as dean from 1998 to 2001. “For high-quality, well- known schools, the integrity of the brand is very important, and those that have the resources to market their brands are going to do that.”
Snyder said SOM has many unique educational offerings, but that those are often not adequately publicized.
In addition to offering a multidisciplinary curriculum, the school also hosts events such as the annual Education Leadership Conference, which brings together speakers to discuss education policy, Snyder said. These events frequently do not receive the amount of media attention they deserve, he added.
“We do all these great things and people just don’t know about them,” Snyder said. “Basically, [the budget increase] shifts us from, ‘We’re Yale — people will come to us,’ to ‘Here are all the terrific things we’re doing.’ ”
As business schools look to distinguish themselves from thousands of competing programs, showcasing expertise in a “niche area” is particularly valuable, said Davis, who also serves as president of the Darden School Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the Darden School of Business. To better publicize one of its distinctive annual events, Davis said the business school partnered with news network CNBC last October to produce and broadcast the Jefferson Innovation Summit, a conference on the role of entrepreneurs and innovators in society. He added that marketing efforts are important in conveying the “strengths and essence” of a school to prospective students and faculty members.
Randy Allen, associate dean for international and corporate relations at the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University, said competition for students and faculty is continually rising among MBA programs. Efforts to attract faculty are particularly heated, she said, as professors from the Baby Boom generation prepare to retire.
“It is critical to have strong marketing programs and to continually be re-evaluating the effectiveness of what you’re doing,” Allen said. “But it’s complicated because you’re trying to reach multiple audiences.”
Both Allen and Davis said strong marketing can also indirectly impact a business school’s ranking.
Effective marketing campaigns can help attract prospective students with high GMAT scores and grade-point averages, Davis said. If these students enroll and earn high salaries after graduation, their credentials positively impact their school’s rankings, he added.
But Snyder said the decision to expand SOM’s marketing budget was not related to the school’s performance in business school rankings. BusinessWeek’s 2010 ranking of American business schools gave SOM the 21st spot, while the school earned the 20th spot on the Financial Times’ 2012 Global MBA Rankings.
Snyder said Yale’s $1 million marketing push was financially feasible because SOM had tightened its budget under former SOM Dean Sharon Oster, who stepped down in 2011.
Though the SOM communications department handles the school’s marketing and will use the additional funds, SOM spokeswoman Tabitha Wilde said her department has not finalized plans for the expanded budget.