Short answer: it depends.
If there is one thing that I have learnt working with law schools over the last four years, it is the fact that no law school is the same. Sure, the end goal might not be too different i.e. getting high-quality (or at least high paying) applicants to enrol for their graduate programmes.
But there are so many other factors at play here.
For instance, how familiar are Indian applicants with your law school, have you received any applications from India or is India a completely new market, what is the level of buy in from the school leadership, what are the kind of resources (monetary and human) that can be devoted to the India market etc.
A quick point here – the human resource angle is one I think a lot of law school managements either fail to acknowledge or are unaware of. The fact of the matter is that graduate admissions teams are stretched thin and have been for at least a few years now. Is it reasonable to expect them to take on one more market, especially one that is as large and complex as India?
But that is a discussion for another day.
Coming back to the various factors that differentiate your law school from the next- why are they so important? Because every single decision on the marketing side will flow from the answers to the above questions. As any service provider will tell you, clarity from the client is crucial.
So, even before deciding to embark on a marketing campaign, a round of introspection would be in the best interests of all parties involved.
As for the answer to the (mildly) clickbaity headline, here are three possible answers, divided as per the marketing budget.
- With an annual budget of $6,000
With limited funds, it is imperative that you stretch that dollar as far as you can. In real terms, what this means is using sponsored posts on popular Indian websites and/or social media channels a few times across the year.
When it comes to social media, I see LinkedIn as being one of the most effective at least in the Indian market. And, in an ideal world, use these sponsored posts for an extremely specific call to action. This CTA could be a webinar, or an online conference, or even a talk with the career services office.
In my experience, interest in LLM applications peak twice a year – so you should work this into your plan as well.
- With an annual budget of $6,000 – $24,000
This is the sweet spot in terms of marketing spends.
Not only can you pick up some of the more expensive (and highly visible) banner advertisements, but you can also team up with organisations such as Amicus Partners (subtle) to manage, review and fine tune the marketing campaign.
Popular websites I have worked with in the past include Bar & Bench, Lawctopus, and SpicyIP. The last is particularly useful for IP-focused programmes.
A consistent, and long-term ad campaign, aided no doubt by the size of the budget, can help achieve significant results – for one US law school, for instance, we saw application numbers shoot up by 150% in a year’s time.
The higher visibility (through more expensive banners) is particularly useful for those schools who have not traditionally seen Indian applicants.
- With an annual budget $24,000 or more
This is where things can get quite interesting. The funds not only mean that you can lock-in long term campaigns (and negotiate a lower price) but also explore offline options as well.
For example, you can look at hiring human resources in India to connect with Indian law schools, entering into collaborative agreements and the like. These agreements can be crucial in the long run, building closer relationships that benefit all parties involved.
Other offline options include essay competitions, sponsoring moot courts etc – all of these are fantastic (but investment-heavy) ways to build your brand in India.
Of course, like I said at the start, budgets and funds are just one part of the equation. To set up truly effective campaigns, not only should you know the pros and cons of studying at your law school, but also have clear (hopefully measurable) goals in mind.
Failure to do so will only result in money wasted.
And that would truly be a crime.
Finally, a few lessons I have learnt along the way:
- Keep your goals clear, and preferably quantitative.
- Invest long-term. There are no short-cuts to building recruitments. None.
- Nothing beats peer review. India alum are an invaluable asset – use them.
(If you would like to have a chat on how your law school can create and execute an effective marketing campaign, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org)