Meet Robin Kuriakose of Direct BS/MD Programs
After applying and being accepted into medical school, Robin Kuriakose saw a need to help others go through this difficult process. With this in mind, he started Direct BS/MD Programs, www.directbsmd.com, while going to school and working. He recently shared some of his tips with me on how SEO and e-mail marketing helped his new business gain awareness. Here’s what he had to say…
Why did you start your business? Tell us about it.
I started Direct BS/MD Programs in order to bring awareness about direct medical programs in the United States. Either high school students or parents do not know about them, or they do not know what experiences they need to be a competitive applicant.
Direct BS/MD programs are programs offered by several, dozen universities across the country, which guarantee applicants admission into medical school from high school. Some programs require a certain score on the MCAT, while other programs waive the MCAT altogether.
Admission into U.S. medical schools is incredibly difficult these days and applying for these programs, which secure a seat for you in medical school, would be the most rewarding direction to take if you plan to pursue a career as a physician.
How have you marketed your business?
Marketing the business has started with a vast search engine optimization (SEO) strategy followed by Facebook advertising. Of course, word-of-mouth was also employed but reached only limited audiences. To educate people about the programs, I emailed 2000 guidance counselors from the top high schools across the country to inform them of the programs as well as the resource I had created online.
What has worked and what hasn’t?
While SEO has definitely worked in bringing the page to the #1 ranked on Google for my specifically-targeted keywords, I realized that people need to know these programs exist in order to search for them. When I e-mailed guidance counselors to solve this problem, I noticed hundreds had e-mailed me back thanking me for the resource as they put the link on their school district’s website. I started noticing traffic from these websites.
As far as Facebook advertising, the problem with encouraging people to share the website and information about the website to others is that the programs are so competitive that people do not want to share this information with others. They do not want to share this resource with peers because it would reduce their chances of getting into a program. So Facebook advertising has increased “page likes” and continues to increase the audience quantity, but not enough engagement in sharing and spreading the word. I have started to look at targeting parents so they can inform their children, as well as nephews, nieces, or friends.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge in creating the business has been not being able to maximize my involvement in a student’s application process. While I did establish the resource, there was so much more to be said that could only be conveyed through individual, client interactions. To overcome this, I recruited students from different universities to help walk them through the process – from starting the first line of their essay to closing the deal on their interview. These students are qualified based on their experiences of gaining admission into these competitive programs.
Is there anything you would like to add?
While starting the website was definitely a time-consuming matter, I learned a lot about how online marketing works and how to best display the content I am seeking to give. It has been an educational rollercoaster, and to this day, I am still learning. My ultimate hope is that more students apply for these programs to guarantee their dreams of becoming a physician.
Thanks for your great insights Robin, and we wish you all the best with your business and medical career!
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