Jeff’s Elevator Pitch

Online courses as a potential marketing tool for China.

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1 Barrie Carter { 11.28.09 at 4:33 pm }

Hello Jeff:

Wow! What an intriguing and compelling idea. Perhaps UBC’s marketing and recruiting department should view your pitch ASAP.

Indeed, your pitch could very easily apply to India as well.

After all, these two markets are still viable for investment despite the current global economic condition. Even in times like these, investors are still making money.



2 Jeff Laird { 11.28.09 at 5:20 pm }

Thanks Barrie – feel free to pass my name on if you know anyone over there; I’m certainly available as a consultant 🙂

3 James Richardson { 11.29.09 at 9:03 am }

Great ptich. Definitely a massive market and with increased living standards and demand for education it is very promising. Scalability is an issue as relativley intense instructor involvement is necessary unless a programmed instruction approach is adopted.

4 Jeff Laird { 11.29.09 at 2:18 pm }

Hi James – I would address that issue through a use of TAs and the development of a social network environment within the course. A media rich course could also take some of the strain off of an instructor; a course like I propose would almost need to be a continuous entry course if it were to be viable so there would be a lot of self-guided material.

5 Amy Frank { 11.30.09 at 8:42 pm }

Hi Jeff,
Great elevator pitch! I am so impressed with your ability to talk in front of the camera and remain natural.

Your idea is very interesting and realistic. I think that you have definitely tapped into a great market. What you are proposing is a way to bring money to UBC, which is exactly what investors want. I can see how this is a win-win situation for both investors and students. I agree with James regarding the intense instructor involvement. Social networking would be ideal. I found in this program, I have learned so much from my peers and received so much support.


6 Sharon Hann { 12.01.09 at 12:37 pm }

Anytime you see an underserved marketing opportunity there is potential for profit. As the head of UBC’s marketing department, I would be interested in you pitch (sadly for you I do not hold that title). I think a free ‘get to know us’ course would help specifically address cultural issues and questions. I would like to see your full proposal. Sharon

7 Ashley Jones { 12.01.09 at 4:39 pm }

I think this is a great idea, especially offering the course for free. It would be very interesting to see the number of students who complete the course and how many go on to attend UBC. Great video, I find being able to actually see you (rather than a slideshow) makes the pitch much more personable. Well done!

8 Tony D { 12.01.09 at 11:25 pm }

Hi Jeff

I like your idea Jeff, it sounds like you have a background that allows you to understand your market and how you can cater to their needs. I agree that the potential to recruit Chinese students is definitely a worthy cause for an institution to undertake. The fact that there are so many BC offshore schools in China is also a big boost to the potential success of the program. Your idea of granting students with an introductory student number is a good start to get students on board with the project and will easily facilitate the ability to capture statistics to validate the venture. Your mention of competition from other schools brings to mind the thought of other BC universities presenting similar options for students to come to their university. Therefore I see that time is of the essence and once this program is initiated if successful it won’t take long for other BC universities to be contacting the offshore schools in the hopes of recruiting their students. As you mention because of this name recognition will be an important factor since if it is as important as you mention once students believe UBC is “The University” of BC then they will naturally be attracted to it.
I like the idea of allowing students to take courses online first year even without a visa however my concern is what happens if students are eventually turned down? Will their credits be transferrable? There will need to be a process involved to satisfy those students as it would not mesh well with positive name recognition if that was the case. There will also need to be a process to ensure that students are actively completing the UBC online course introduction to Canadian culture and such. As a teacher I know I have enough curriculum to cover already, there needs to be a way to incorporate it into the BC offshore school culture to make sure students actually take a look at it and complete it, making it a mandatory part of the grad plan may make this possible.
I definitely see the merits of increasing the UBC name in the Asian market and the possible financial benefits of it. Based nearly solely on the fact that there is already a large presence of BC offshore schools in China I see the possibility of the venture becoming a success. Count me in!

9 Byron Kask { 12.02.09 at 6:04 pm }

This is a really interesting idea, and like others have said, it has a huge market potential. If this were to become popular, would UBC be able to handle it? Could it perhaps be a training grounds of UBC TA’s or something similar? Any which way, it’s a pretty great idea.

10 Sharon Hann { 12.02.09 at 8:40 pm }


I chose your pitch as one of the three to look at more completely. As I said, you elevator pitch was intriguing enough for me to wonder why it’s not already done. Your full proposal included more specific information about the market, how choices are made by students, ad included a solution to the limiting factor out of everyone’s control – Canadian Immigration Services. This shows me that you have thought of many, if not all, of the main variables at stake here.

A course that is principally run by teaching assistants is a very low cost way of gaining an audience with students at the brink of their university choice. I would think it would all but remove the need for on site seminars and yet provide greater traction for the message. A component that included parental information can easily be incorporated into the course. In the case of Chinese students attending BC curriculum schools the information might be different than students attending other school but considering UBC.

I think as soon as UBC rolled out such a course, the rest of the universities and colleges would soon follow. What would be UBC’s edge to stay ahead of this pack? Marketing is always a moving target. As soon as one leader sets a trend, the rest follow with copycat versions. That said, the investment is low considering the benefits of attracting international students so I think it should be implemented as soon as possible. Culturally specific introduction courses are needed. Perhaps as a moving target, the course could fold into English proficiently preparation courses as well and as you mentioned even the first terms typical roster.

Very good idea, I suggest UBC implement it now and make you the highly paid consultant you deserve to be. ☺ Sharon

11 Cathy Jung { 12.03.09 at 3:22 pm }


Your pitch was very well organized and flowed nicely. I found your comment regarding “the opportunity to gain early interest and commitment” a good hook. You’ve obviously done your research on this. You were able to speak to the statistics on China being the largest market, visas and BC offshore schools in China etc. You come across as knowledgeable and credible. Your voice was clear and confident.

So far your pitch has me leaning towards wanting to invest, however I would want to know a bit more to address the following 2 things:

1) What amount of investment is required for this, you indicate there would need to be an outlay for media rich resources however I’m left wondering what this is estimated at?

2) You also mention that University of Massachusetts has the strongest inroads in China; however you do not address why this is or how UBC will specifically address this. A few more details here would have helped me decide how we would take the market away from University of Massachusetts.

I really enjoyed the summary and as an EVA liked the wrap up as it recapped everything nicely and was a very good visual. Well done!


12 Bev { 12.03.09 at 9:53 pm }

Hi Jeff- Extremely well done. You got a very “do-able” venture here. Your background information is relevant, interesting and convincing. UBC would do well to follow-up on this venture. I think as others have mentioned that once UBC has implemented this program, others will follow suit very quickly- but being first out the door will go a long way to putting UBC front and centre.

One question- what are the actual costs to UBC?

Great presentation.

13 Jeff Laird { 12.04.09 at 10:28 am }

Thanks for the great comments – and questions about development costs.

Development costs range greatly and would depend upon several things.

In my work at a college, I worked with two instructors who developed a study skills courselette for students – this would be the scope of the project I would suggest as I don’t know if we would need the volume of material for a full credit course.

This course was developed using $7000 of funding from BC Campus and a term release time for 1.5 faculty members (this is fairly standard practices at universities and college – faculty are afforded a couple months a year to develop a project or conduct research).

So one cost factor in developing such a course would be the interest of faculty in developing this idea – the more bodies using their already paid for development time – the lower the upfront cost.

That project had a lower level of interactive media than I would recommend for a course that doubled as a marketing tool – so media development could play an increased cost factor depending on the expertise of the people. While I used UBC as a model – this pitch could be presented to any institution. Some institutions have strong support personnel whose job it is to support faculty in the development of online course material (as my role was at the college level) – some have less support which would require hiring outside media producers, graphic artists, web designers, etc…

Finally, the cost of staffing and teaching the course would vary depending on enrollment. While this is an easy justification in a pay-based course, it is a harder pill to swallow when offering the course for free however, you can quickly see the benefits come registration time the next year.

So, if you are looking for a hard number, I’m afraid I can’t give you one without being on the inside of an institution and seeing the support that already exists. There is a great paper here
that discusses the general cost of developing an online course; my vision would be a half course that is media-rich so I would ballpark around the 750 hours of faculty time range.

14 Jay Dixon { 12.05.09 at 8:57 am }

Hi Jeff,
Well done. This is a well designed pitch. Your confidence and connecting your experiences makes the audience feel like the this is a viable venture. It has the “short term expense for long term gain” theme to it. I can see this as a viable pitch and I would consider it if I were a University decision maker. It would definitely come down to the cost issues I think. If a pilot program were started you would have to monitor students to see how many end up taking UBC courses to see if there is enough cost recovery. As you mentioned in a previous post, if this were a pitch from you who wished to benefit as a consultant I would recommend making it University neutral. I suppose though you could pitch it to the University of Alberta, or MgGill, UVic etc. I like the idea, and think this is completely possible. Keep pitching it! You may be visiting China again promoting this in the years to come!

15 Liz Hood { 12.05.09 at 1:21 pm }

What an innovative idea. I like the concept of recruiting international students, perhaps expanding to other Asian nations as well. Clear explanation in your elevator pitch. Nice work.

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