College Development Network (CDN) College Awards Sponsor, Emsi, helping to support you in promoting your core product to young people.

Imagine stepping into a bicycle shop one day to buy yourself a new bike. After looking around and making your choice, the assistant looks approvingly and says:

“Claud Butler Trailridge 1.1 2017! Yes, I can see why you’ve picked that. With its alloy 6061 frame, Shimano ST-EF41 EZ Fire Shifters, and 36H Quick Release wheel hubs, it’s got an awful lot going for it.”

Your attempts to explain that all these technical details aren’t exactly why you chose it prove to be pointless, so after paying for it you wander out of the shop muttering to yourself that yes it’s great that it has ST-EF41s and all that, but actually the real reason you chose it was because … well because it looked good, was reasonably priced, and will allow you to do what you want it to do, which is to go on bike rides around your area.

What the assistant in this imaginary scenario did was to mistake the actual product – the physical bike – with the core product – the fact that the bike can fulfil the client’s desire to go bike riding. Now this might at first seem a bizarre equation to make, but a lot of colleges tend to make exactly same mistake in their marketing. What do we mean by that?

Why do young people go to college? Is it for the course? Ultimately, the answer is no. The real reason that young people go to college is that they perceive that the course they do will give them greater opportunities to gain good and meaningful employment at the end of it. In other words, whilst courses are a college’s actual product, its core product is where those courses can lead the student.

A random search of college websites shows that, by and large, colleges tend to market themselves on the basis of their courses, rather than where those courses might take those who do them. But if young people go to college because they think that by doing a particular course they will have more options and better opportunities at the end of it, wouldn’t it be better to focus marketing on making the link between courses and careers more explicit? Put another way, if you can successfully show young people the link between your courses and in-demand careers in their area, won’t you be tapping into exactly what young people are seeking?

The good news is that this link can be made explicit. By taking granular, localised Labour Market Insight – including salary information, occupation demand and transferrable skills for all the career options out there – and linking it directly to your college’s courses, you can give young people a vision of how your college can help them get to where they want to be, and demonstrate to them how your core product can lead to their success.

If you would like to find out more, contact us at

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