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Do You Understand You?

Posted by Ben Waxman and Reina Sekiguchi Posted on Jan 5, 2024 3:42:00 PM

How well can you talk about you? 

Quick! Give us your institution’s elevator pitch! Easy, right? 

What if the other person in the elevator is a 28-year-old from Milwaukee? Now a 17-year-old from Miami. Now you’re in an elevator in Shanghai. How about Mumbai? Ho Chi Minh City? Bogotá? 

If you’re a rep covering one of these places, chances are you’re well-practiced at spinning up your strongest differentiators for your given audience. But for marketing staff and administrators looking at the big picture, understanding each of your target markets gets a little harder. We know, that whole “only-24-hours-in-a-day” thing makes it difficult to keep up with the entire global student population. 

Your institution’s journey to effective messaging begins and ends with an understanding of who you are. 

Now before you spiral into an existential crisis, remember: as marketers, we’ve been leading these journeys of self-discovery for a long time. Read on for (some) of our secrets to understanding and communicating your value, no Eat Pray Love  required. 

Understanding Your Market 

Different markets are just that, different. And while general industry statistics and literature can be valuable in understanding their needs, to really establish customer personas that go beyond generalized regional and country data and become directly relevant to your institution, you need to go straight to the source. 

Tessellati begins each client project with a strong foundation of customer decision-making research, guided by several tools, including: 

  • Targeted surveys 
  • Focus groups 
  • One-on-one in-depth interviews 
  • A comprehensive digital brand audit
  • An analysis of situational/environmental/economic data in our target regions. 

Developing Your Messaging Strategy

Now comes the fun part: communicating that value to your specified markets with a fresh understanding of Who You Are… 

In addition to cultural differences and varying preferences for your various services, your different regional markets also have varying technological preferences. We always make sure to capture those preferences (and any country-specific technological restrictions) in our research, too. Your marketing messaging, including its form, content, and dissemination channels must be carefully attuned to these differences. 

Simplest example: you won’t be using Facebook in China. You have a good line on messaging and channels to use instead? Will your marketing get past the prospective Chinese customers’ eye roll? Will it prompt the thoughtful “hmmmmm” consideration? 

Will you apply that same approach to the student from Seoul? Nairobi? And what about that 28-year-old from Milwaukee? 

Blame limited time and resources, but we’ve frequently seen all customers outside the US lumped together in one “international” audience.  Or, worse, sometimes domestic and international messaging is one and the same. Simplistic domestic/international distinctions are simply not effective at capturing the attention of prospects. It never was. 

It’s time to get specific with the services you offer and how you offer them. 

Now, more than ever, localized, culturally-sensitive messaging is your friend. We’re talking varied user experiences on region-specific microsites, and a portfolio of tailored ad headlines, creatives (think video snippets), landing pages with enticing downloadable content offers, translated content for some markets, and more. 

Don’t feel overwhelmed. This is all doable, and highly effective.   

The Bottom Line 

A comprehensive market research plan and a dedicated team will result in compelling and creative campaigns that communicate your value to the right audience, at the right time. This work leads to market growth because you understand you in the eyes of your prospective customers. 

And if that notion of region-specific microsites and landing pages is going to keep you up at night, be in touch

Topics: Intrapreneurship


This is where business analytics shape artful marketing. In marketing, it's about insight, industry expertise and team dynamic. We take the time to ask the right questions and listen (really listen) to the answers. At the outset, we are more intent on, and curious about, what you and the industry have to say than about expressing our ideas. Once we have gathered and analyzed the information needed, as quickly as possible, we have insights to share.

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