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First Marblehead: Building the Private College Funding Business

Posted in: Brand Positioning & Development, Financial Services, Marketing Profile & Segmentation, Professional Services/B2B, Qualitative Exploratory

First Marblehead: Building the Private College Funding Business

Challenge: The rising costs of college tuition spurred the need for additional sources of college funding. First Marblehead wanted to build its private college funding business to fill that need.

Objective: To better understand the mindset and behavior of college-bound high school students, current college students and parents, with respect to college financing.

Solution: Plan-it conducted two phases of research, first an in-depth exploratory with college-bound high school juniors and seniors and their parents, current college students, high school guidance counselors and college financial aid officers. The study explored the overall attitudes, needs and concerns regarding a college education and, specifically, financing their college education. The exploratory work was followed by a national quantitative profile study to confirm learning from the exploratory and to help identify key segments for more targeted communications.

Result: Insights based on the two studies were used to develop an optimal communications platform, messaging strategies for reaching these key audiences, and media opportunities. In addition, suggestions were made for the application process to insure simplicity and to alleviate much of the stress and anxiety that is associated with the college selection process. After the 2010 government revamp of the Federal Student Loan program, that virtually eliminated the need for private lenders, First Marblehead is one of only a few private student lenders remaining.