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The How-To: Disrupting The Tightly Controlled Academic Sector How to craft a strategy to appeal to customers who might not even be aware of the existence of your service.

By Ademola Adekunbi

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Nearly every child knows the answer to this question, but how much attention do children really get in making their dream job a reality? As unexperienced teenagers, young people are under extreme pressure to make the most important decision of their lives, which is to craft a perfect college application and to choose the right college that will turn their dreams into reality.

For a few entrepreneurs, this situation was perfect for some disruption in the form of admissions consulting firms focused on improving the chances of candidates, especially those faced with the reality that in spite of sky-high SAT scores, being accepted by a prestigious college has become increasingly difficult to achieve in the last decade.

Why is this happening? According to an international admissions consultant, the number of applicants has skyrocketed due to the acceptance of the common application, an online application system that allows applicants to easily apply to colleges from a single portal, making some universities even less accessable than before. Unfortunately, community colleges and online universities do not offer the same post-graduate opportunities as these top-tier institutions and increased competition for the same number of slots and lowered admission rates has meant that applicants are after every advantage they can get to gain admission to the top schools.

So, for an entrepreneur looking to make a mark in an industry as tightly controlled as academia, success can only be achieved by crafting a strategy and adept marketing in order to appeal to customers who might not even be aware of the existence of the service.

Selling the service amidst free competition
Nevertheless, there are people who may ask why 26% of college applicants today even use a private college admission consultant instead of just consulting a high school guidance counselor or the internet. While a potential student can use these resources for general assistance and information, those sources cannot generate an individual strategy custom-tailored for a specific applicant.

The lesson for entrepreneurs is simple: Even if there's a lot of information on the internet, you can still make a great business by focusing on the experience and contacts that you can bring to the table on a particular subject. For instance, entrepreneurs in this business emphasize on the unique, customized perspective they can bring to a client's application.

Focus on your competitive advantage
Since there are marked similarities between most of the companies operating in the space, entrepreneurs looking to stand out from the competition have no choice but to highlight their unique selling propositions as much as possible. The current situation in the industry shows how two opposite features can be played up and depicted as being advantages, depending on one's perspective.

The most in-demand consulting firms on the market are those that offer help from former college admissions officers of top universities since they have extensive knowledge of the college admissions process from the inside. However, some families instead prefer to work with graduates of top universities, as those consultants are often more affordable and have fresh insight into recent trends at top universities.

Value-added services
College admission consultants often offer their essay editing skills as well. Such consultants often work together with professional editors to assist college applicants in optimizing their college application essays. In some cases, college admission consultants often also help to find scholarships for the applicant, which often saves the student tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. At the end of the day, experienced private college admission consultants can take the stress of the college admissions process out of the parents' hands and make for a more relaxed senior year.

The key lesson for an entrepreneur is that it always pays to provide an all-inclusive service. Apart from opening more opportunities to earn fees, being the one-stop shop for all of a client's needs will make it easy to lower prices on any of the services without affecting the bottom-line too much, since you'll be making enough money from other services.

Related: Numbers Don't Lie: Self-Employment Is Thriving In The Middle East

Ademola Adekunbi

CEO, Regal Inks Content Marketing

Ademola Adekunbi is a writer, entrepreneur, and CEO of Regal Inks Content Marketing. He works with companies to boost their search engine positions, and ensure an increase in customer engagement and revenue. 


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