Stanford

Defining executive education

Why innovation matters

Whether you’re an established market leader or emerging start-up, growth is the lifeblood of business. Growth means finding new and innovative ways to do things—from moving into new markets and developing new products to controlling costs and managing prices. From growth comes opportunities to increase both brand power and business profit.

Education in the center of innovation

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) is a pinnacle player in the global education market. The school annually attracts thousands of applicants to fill just a few hundred slots in its esteemed MBA program. GSB is also a leader in executive education, however competition—from institutions such as the London Business School, Harvard and Wharton—makes growth more challenging. 

In 2011, Stanford sought Salt’s help to reposition its executive education program and create a state-of-the-art web destination to attract business innovators from around the world. Salt worked with the GSB team to carefully reconsider the market’s changing demographics; once the domain of HR professionals, executive education is being democratized. A majority of executive education attendees now select their own programs online, making it increasingly important to communicate the advantages of Stanford and its “innovation environment” in a simple, straightforward manner.

Having crystallized the strategy and brand messaging, Salt developed a modern, highly approachable online experience that sets Stanford’s offerings apart from other executive programs. The website was built to communicate the Stanford story to prospective applicants while serving relevant content and encouraging deeper exploration. An important component of the site is the interactive program guide, which encourages engagement through simplified course selection and a streamlined admissions process.

Learning to grow

According to the program director at Stanford, “The outcome of this work helped keep us #1, brought out the best of what makes Stanford executive education unique, and brought it to life with lively, compelling design and interactive experiences.” Year-over-year visits to the website grew by 47% and overall revenue increased 50%.

Expansion is essential

With the consideration and purchase of executive education programs shifting from HR professionals to the executives themselves, Salt and Stanford worked to redefine the way in which the school could engage prospects. Salt developed program search tools within the site that would make it easy for executives to search on timeframe, price, subject, or a particular type of business acumen that he or she wanted to develop. Almost immediately, Stanford saw substantial growth in U.S. and international site visits—including an increase of 115% from India—as well as significantly more applications for enrollment from worldwide audiences. The site really works as a marketing engine for the university.

Making innovation essential

To become the global leader in executive education meant defining why Stanford was different and more desirable than other prestigious schools. That difference was its focus on innovation and the tools to tell that story as they look to grow.

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