6 minute read

How to leverage alumni success stories for marketing MBA courses

Why you need to leverage alumni success

To attract star talent to your MBA programme, you need to show why your MBA is the one to take; to demonstrate that it is dynamic, lively, relevant and, above all, fundamentally worthwhile.

Prospective candidates want to know what they are getting into and what they are going to get out of an MBA. Many candidates will weigh up the pros and cons of taking time out of their careers to take an MBA, and they want to know what they’re getting when they apply to your school.

You can demonstrate this through a natty blend of course information and grandiose claims, but the very best way to show that your course is the MBA to sign up to, is to display the success of those who have signed up and gone on to great things. Nothing succeeds quite like success, and showcasing that success is a great way to demonstrate the value of your MBA. To show prospective candidates that your MBA is worth their time, showing off post-degree success really is essential.

success stories

It is all well and good to boast of the strong professional network that a candidate will gain, the improved salary and the wealth of job opportunities available post-MBA, but if you nail these claims to provable real-world examples, then prospective candidates can see just how much more improved their lives can be after taking your course.

The best way to prove this is to ask a current or former student to offer their story, and of their success after taking your MBA. Alumni have no obligation to offer an amazing review of your school, and so when they do it exists as a legitimate third-party endorsement, which is sparking marketing gold dust for your MBA programme.

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How to harness alumni success stories

Take some time to contact your alumni, especially any star candidates who have gone on to great things, and contact them, ask for an interview, and get that key information.

Reach out to alumni with specific questions. Many will be proud of their MBA, and happy with their network, and want to share their success. Dig deep into your alumni network – you will actively have to seek out stories – to get to know your alumni and hear the best of their stories. Then, you’ll have to ask them personally to share their story with you. With the right advice, together you can craft a compelling story, and you want their successes to be tied to an engaging narrative.

An alumni success story can show the benefits of an MBA far down the line, potentially years after graduating, whereupon alumni have gone on to do great things and are in serious positions. This is invaluable.

Many of your students will go on to great things after graduating. You want to highlight how their graduate education contributed to their unique achievements. Every MBA cohort will include students who go onto to change the world in some way. You especially want to find the students, the ones with different stories that make people sit up and pay attention, ones that make people click on that link and read to the end.

Get these stars to tell you things such as:

  • Why they chose your MBA.
  • Why that was a good choice.
  • What they learned on their MBA.
  • Who were they before the MBA, and who were they afterwards?
  • How did the MBA affect them and lead to change?
  • Some specifics about the MBA which they loved.
  • How did the programme change their outlook or goals?
  • What tips and tricks they learned that they could not learn in industry.
  • How the MBA helped them land a new job.
  • How the MBA propelled them to their current career success.
  • In general, how the MBA positively affected their life.

ceo in suit

Alumni success stories are a super-effective way to hook applicants as they have a strong element of truth, and you want this truth to come through. It will shine best when placed in a powerful narrative. People are more likely to remember a fact when it comes ensconced within a story. Encourage your alumni to tell their story. This can be done with leading questions, like those above. There is an essential narrative power in an alumni story.

People like to connect with a story on an emotional, relatable level – they want to feel like they, too, could succeed like your successful alumni. You want to make sure that student stories convey their success in a relatable way. So: craft a powerful narrative of success, interweaving how your MBA enabled this.

You want to drill down into specifics, as interesting specifics help a story stand apart. One of the best ways to highlight your institutions success is by promoting some of your highest achieving students and alumni through telling their story, but also you want the most interesting and diverse collection of student stories possible. A compelling interview guarantees more attention than a routine one and will be highly effective in not only profiling the student, but also the programme they were on, the societies they joined, the reasons for wanting to study in a school’s particular location, and the unique things that they went on to do.

Tie an alumni story to your other marketing materials, such as the benefits of access to seasoned and notable staff who have door-opening connections, or a serious pay bump on graduation, and, if possible, statistics that prove these figures. Do all of this, and you are onto a winner.

Student stories from foreign countries and target markets, or underrepresented communities, can be especially powerful, as they show students that it is possible to take the plunge, get their MBA, and succeed.

ceo in office

How to write a success story about one of your alumni

Writing an alumni success story involves showcasing the achievements and journey of a former student in a way that inspires and resonates with your audience. Here are some tips on how to craft an effective alumni success story…

Start with a compelling headline, one that hooks the reader. Emphasise a notable achievement, unusual experience, life-changing decision, or a unique aspect of the person’s story.

Provide a brief background sketch, potentially including their country of origin, career path, education, prizes, and any notable accomplishments while they were studying on your institution’s MBA. Include personal details that makes the individual relatable and their story inspiring to readers.

Focus on the key accomplishments and milestones in their career or personal life, that led them to the MBA, and then how the MBA enabled them to succeed and achieve their dreams. Include any specific skills, knowledge, or values they gained during their time with you that contributed to their achievements.

Include challenges and any instances of overcoming adversity, as these aspects drive interest in any story. Be sure to share challenges the alumnus or alumna faced and how they overcame them. This adds depth and relatability to the story. Emphasize resilience, determination, and the ability to learn from setbacks, and how these skills were learned, adapted, and strengthened on the MBA. Link as much of their success to the specifics of the course as is possible.

Incorporate personal quotes and anecdotes to add freshness, authenticity, and personality to the piece. Make sure to reinforce the connection between the person’s success and the education, opportunities, and life lessons they received on their MBA at their institution. Mention specific classes, trips, programmes, professors, or experiences that helped put them on the path to success.

They can also talk about the networks they’ve made and the lasting friendships that they made and the lasting skills that they acquired. With an alumni story, you can show off that you really did provide future-ready skills.

Graduates from top MBA programmes often land positions that put them on an accelerated path into leadership, and to be able to show that this is the case is valuable.

Keep the tone positive and uplifting to inspire and motivate readers. Use language that conveys pride in the individual’s achievements and the contribution of your institution to their success. If your graduate wants to throw in a few positive words or superlatives, then great!

pr strategy meeting

Show how they gained edge over others. Show how they’ve built confidence. Show how your alumni have impacted the world.

And be sure to end with a call-to-action, with links to learn more about the marketing MBA, find application pages, or read more alumni stories.

Ensure you publicise a variety of stories which represents the diversity of your alumni community, in terms of ethnicity, job industry and type of career, to maximise impact.

Follow these tips, and prospective candidates will be able to see just how much better their lives would be with your MBA under their belt.

→ Free webinar: How to make better use of your alumni


The power of leveraging alumni success

Ultimately, you want stories that shine a great light on your school and its MBA programme.

An alumnus or alumna telling their tale of their experience of your MBA, and then detailing the ways in which prepared them and sent them success-wards is, overall, a supremely powerful way to show off the benefits of doing your MBA, and the rocket fuel it can be to any marketing career – but those stories don’t need to end their reach on your website.

If there’s one thing we know, it’s how to make your business school, and tales of studying on your MBA, shine in front of journalists.

Want to know more? Get in touch.

TomAuthor: Thomas Willis

Tom has a doctorate in English and Classics from University College London, a master’s in Classical Reception from UCL, and spent a year as a graduate researcher at Yale University. Spending so long in universities, Tom has an in-depth understanding of how they operate, and how they best work, he has developed a deep admiration for research, and wants nothing more than to see academic research read by more and affecting the world in powerful ways.


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