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Advertising can’t beat good service

THE profit margins of newspapers would definitely fall without the weekly advertising from the education sector. You’ve probably noticed the clutter yourself this month as TEE students gear up to fill in their course preference forms for 2001.

There are five universities in Perth all scrambling for about 10,000 students who annually sit their TEE. So how do you differentiate your product in a cluttered and confusing marketplace? Well it’s becoming increasingly apparent that you have to look beyond advertising to do this.

Stan Maklan and Simon Knox, authors of Competing on Value, say there is a growing divergence between the activities that are seen to create brand strength, and those that give customers what they really need.

Take Qantas’ latest television advertising blitz for example. The ad is great. They travel all over the world. But have you tried to buy a ticket on their telephone service lately? If you can get straight through to an operator, even after all of the menu options, it’s a miracle.

Knox and Maklan say marketers should look first at working internally to add value to their brand by fitting a service or product into the context of the consumers’ needs.

The telecommunications industry is another example. We now have a multitude of brands offering Internet, wireless, mobile and long distance services.

The choices, each heavily advertised, can be overwhelming. Customer satisfaction would increase with a simple bundled package with a single bill for all of the connected services. Oh, and direct connection to a customer service operator would also help.

So how has Curtin Business School re-vamped its marketing to focus more on building value for the customer?

We are constantly being told that students find it difficult to get up-to-date information and need someone at the University they can contact with a course query. This is not surprising considering the size of the Curtin, its range of courses.

The decision process for TEE students about where to study, can be daunting.

We appointed an online communications person this year to give students someone to contact online and to provide them with an email communications channel that sends them information on new courses, study tips and event information on where they can see University personnel.

Given the high rate of email usage among the TEE student population, the process has worked extremely well and we will be adding new online services next year.

What do your customers really want, a better quality service or more advertising?

l Kenley Gordon is the Development and Marketing Manager at Curtin Business School Email: gordonk@cbs.curtin.edu.au

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