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B-school IFMR makes a strong pitch

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AN IFMR hoarding at Adyar in Chennai. Bijoy Ghosh
AN IFMR hoarding at Adyar in Chennai. Bijoy Ghosh

Archana Venkat

Chennai, Oct. 2

An intriguing ad featuring a young person's tonsured head crammed with diverse subjects ranging from retail banking and interest-rate derivatives to Tom Cruise and shopping has popped up across hoardings in the city as well as in newspapers. It comes with a tag line - sharp minds at work. This recent ad from the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) marks the beginning of the institute's effort at marketing itself. Bringing out an ad for a B-school may be common for institutes, not so for IFMR. Traditionally media shy, this institute has a good reputation among corporates and the government, says Mr M.J. Xavier, Professor, Marketing, IFMR.

But when the number of applications for admission did not exceed an average of 1,000 (yearly), the institute felt that there was a lack of awareness among students about IFMR. "For an institute of our stature, we expect 5,000-6,000 applications a year. We had to do something drastic to catch the public eye," says Mr Xavier.

Enter JWT (IFMR's ad agency). The ad brief was to inform students to look at IFMR as an alternative to the Indian Institute of Management (IIM). "We wanted students to know that an analytical, research-based institute similar to the IIMs existed within Tamil Nadu," says Mr Xavier.

Delivered results

If you are wondering if the eye-catching ad has delivered results, it has. "Our Web site that used to get 10-20 hits a day, now gets about 500 hits a day," says Mr Xavier. This is besides about 100 phone enquiries daily.

The institute has earmarked a communication spend of about Rs 50 lakh this year. Of that, about Rs 20 lakh will be spent on hoardings and newspaper ads and about Rs 20 lakh on direct marketing. This includes sponsoring mock Common Admission Test (CAT) papers for MBA coaching institutes in Chennai.

The institute also plans to advertise on BIG 92.7 FM through radio jingles.

About Rs 10 lakh will be spent on revamping its Web site and making brochures.

The institute plans to introduce a flagship programme next year in areas like banking and technology for industry-sponsored candidates. Recently, IFMR was ranked 14 among private B-Schools in India by

Outlook

magazine.

"Post the ranking our research visibility had increased. The number of presentations by our faculty outside college has increased," said Mr Xavier.

IFMR plans to increase the cut off for admissions from 85 percentile to 90 and eventually 95 percentile (based on CAT scores).

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 3, 2006)
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