Building an education agent network is hard work. You’ve got to identify potential education agents, maybe attend agent fairs, assess applications, and finally do the admin work to settle an agency agreement.
Having done all that work the international student applications should start rolling in from your agents as they get busy, right?
(Sound of crickets chirping)
When the applications don’t flow it can be really frustrating. Why aren’t your agents doing what they said they would do? What was the point of investing all that time negotiating the agency agreement if the agent is not going to send any student applications?
I hear you.
Unfortunately education agents are not like automatic pool cleaners. You can’t set and forget.
To get best results from your agent network, and also the best return on the investment of time and resources you have made in recruiting new agents, you have to actively manage your agent network.
Keep in mind that many of your education agents will also be working for your competitors. If they have a structured approach to engaging with and supporting their educations and you don’t, there is no prize for guessing who is going to get the best outcome.
Here are 7 things you can do to get more international student applications from your education agents.
1. Provide regular updates
If you do just one thing – do this.
Providing regular updates for your education agents is critical because it means they have the most current information on your institution and courses when advising potential international students.
Regular updates also serve to keep your institution top of mind with agents who are probably working with a number of other institutions.
Regular updating of your agents sounds easy, but its another job to do, and messing around with email updates can take time even if you are using one of the big email marketing services like Mailchimp.
An easier option is to post regular updates to an agent portal which is set up to automatically email your agents with the update. It means that your agents get the update by email but can also log in to the portal to access the update, previous updates, and the other agent-focused material you upload to the portal.
Our Agent Manager solution is an easy way to get this kind of system in place.
2. Seek regular feedback from your education agents
It’s really useful to get feedback from your agents on their interactions with your institution. What is working well? What could be improved? What could you change or provide to help them recruit more international students for you?
You should aim to seek feedback at least twice each year.
3. Provide up-to-date (and translated) marketing material.
Ok so this is stating the blindingly obvious: it is really important that your education agents always have the most up-to-date information on your institution and courses.
And you also have to make it easy for your agents to access it whenever they need it.
Emailing your agents whenever you update your material is a good thing to do, but it won’t really achieve the goal of ensuring that your agents have easy access to your material. Think of the number of emails you get in a day. It’s hard to keep track, right. It’s the same for your agents.
From the outset you need to make information available to agents online and make it clear to them where to find it. That way they’ll always know where to look if they want to make sure they have your latest documents.
A really good way to do this is by setting up a dedicated online portal for your education agents.
The Agent Manager solution is a stand alone agent portal – branded to look like your institution’s website – which enables you to easily upload marketing and promotional material for your education agents. Whenever they need something, they can log in and access it.
The other thing to consider here is translating your marketing material – or at least key documents – into the languages of your main target markets. While many of your prospective students may be fluent in English, your agents will usually be working closely with the student’s parents who may not be. Having information in their native language can make the decision making process easier and shows your commitment to international students from the country in question.
4. Agent training
A regular, structured program of training for your agents can pay big dividends.
Much of the relevant information may be covered in your marketing material but it’s worth training your agents on your institution and courses to give them a deeper understanding of what you offer. It will make your agents feel more confident promoting your institution, and significantly improve the quality of advice they give to prospective students.
Training is also important because education agents often have a relatively high rate of staff turn over. By conducting regular training you can ensure that new staff at the agencies you work with are up to speed.
5. List your education agents
If you want to down the rabbit hole and fully explore the issue of publicly listing your education agents, check out my recent post – ‘Should you list your education agents on your website?‘
All we need to say here is that listing your agents makes sense because it makes it easier for a prospective international student to find one of your education agents near them and start talking about admission.
The Agent Manager solution generates a fully searchable and sortable agent list which institutions can use on their website. Your approved agents can log in and add or edit their details themselves, so it is one less admin task for you to do.
6. Let your education agents use your logo
This is related to the point about listing above.
On many education agent websites you’ll see the logos of the institutions they represent. Agents like using logos on their websites because association with your brand is a good way for them to promote their business.
Do you know if any of your agents are using your logo? If they are, does the logo they are using meet your branding specifications?
If you are going to allow your agents to use your logo, you should be clear in the agency agreement about what they can and can’t do.
You’ll also want to carefully control the branding material that your agents are using. You don’t want them cutting and pasting just any logo from the web. What if it’s your old logo? What if it is the wrong size?
A good way to keep control is to make approved logos available to your agents in an agent portal so that they can log in and download them.
Ideally the logo you provide for download should link back to your public list of education agents. That way if an agent is using your logo on their website and a student clicks on it, they will be directed to your list of agents so that they can confirm that the agent is actually one of your approved agents.
If you want to take the logo idea a step further you can also consider creating a special logo for your agents which makes it clear that the agent is an approved agent in the current year. Something like this:
The Agent Manager solution makes it easy to provide logos and branding material to your agents.
7. Agent visits
If you can manage it, visiting the offices of your education agents is a great way to build the relationship and encourage applications.
I am not going to talk too much about this because Anna Harrison over at educationagentreviews.com has already covered it in a really useful post. Thanks Anna!
A final note for in-house recruiters…
If you considering your approach to education agent management, please check out our Agent Manager solution. It’s a complete agent management system that:
- Increases enrollments through your agent channel – by making it easy for you to engage with agents regularly and give them easy access to the information and resources they need to recruit for you.
- Saves time for in-house recruitment teams – by making it easy to do the daily tasks involved with managing your agent network – eg updates, training, and performance monitoring.
- Manages risk – by giving you tools to protect your brand and reputation by monitoring agent performance.