Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… February 2009

As we are about half-way through a nasty winter, let’s hope that in 6 weeks we’ll not only know that spring is about to arrive but that we’ll also have better insight into just how the current economic plague is going to impact higher education in September and beyond.

Someone asked on Twitter not long ago if the higher education bubble of the last 10 years had burst. It has. And so the times are a bit more exciting than we imagined a year ago.

Students are still enrolling, even as the institutional pattern shifts toward lower cost, less debt, and more certain monetary rewards. If you’re at one of the many schools increasing adult student enrollment, consider two upcoming events. First is my webinar on February 17 reviewing strong recruitment websites for adult recruitment at followed on June 4-5 by Carol Aslanian’s conference on “Web Marketing to Adult Students” at

If you believe in the benefits that come from making it easier for people to read the content you put online, attend the “Writing Right for the Web” webinar on March 30 at

Do you have a LinkedIn site? Connect with me at

And now to your marketing news and notes for February.
New College Review Site

Unigo is a new website “by students and for students” that seeks written comments from college students along with photos and videos, to establish itself in the college exploration market place.

Visitors can search the schools that are included by “most viewed” and “recently added” tabs. Forums exist for 194 schools. Check to see if yours is included and plan to monitor comments if it is. Most are not yet active.

Readers who visit the “privacy” section will note the warning that privacy terms may change and are asked to return and check to see if they have. Don’t count on Unigo to let you know. People who read the fine print when they register can opt out from having their personal information shared with third-parties who might wish to contact them.

One article might get lots of attention: “Financial first aid: Paying for college painlessly.”

Check Unigo at
“Generations Online” from Pew Internet

The Pew people give us another report on how folks are using the Internet at in a 9-page PDF.

The main message is clear: inexorably, generational differences in Internet use are eroding. Yes, they still exist. But the gaps are shrinking. Fund raisers who specialize in deferred giving will want to pay special attention to increased Internet use among older people, particularly those who are well educated and have higher incomes.

This one made me realize we are indeed all getting old. Millennials now run from ages 18 to 32. Out of high school and headed for middle age.
Online Video & Your Future Marketing Plans

If you haven’t yet planned to dramatically increase the role of video in your online communications, then read the NY Times story highlighting the way a 9-year old turns to YouTube before Google in researching information for class assignments.

Then count how many years before this lad and others like him start exploring colleges to attend.

Will your website be ready for their visits?

The story is at
UC Davis Solicits 30-Second Ads from Students

Ad agencies cringe at this approach, but it really is inevitable in an era of user generated Internet content. UC Davis is running a contest for 30-second video ads about the university, shot by students. The theme: “I got Aggied!”

The top “People’s Choice” prize is an iPod Touch.

Watch an opening video and check content rules including the “Principles of Community” at
Delta Project on Tuition Increases & College Expenses

College and university PR people will hope this stays hidden way, but it has already received coverage in the public media.

The Delta Project “on post secondary education costs, productivity, and accountability” released a report reviewing “trends in college spending.” It traces an overall decline in spending on direct educational costs despite an increase in tuition revenue and an increase in spending on just about every other aspect of campus life, from student affairs to maintenance. Tuition revenues are being used to replace declines in state support and private giving.

Enacting the Delta recommendations would require a major change in the way higher education makes strategic policy decisions.

My favorite: “Increase degree productivity by reducing the number of excess credits taken by students and the time it takes students to get a degree.” The University of Wisconsin system is given credit for major strides in this direction.

Don’t miss this at if higher education policy interests you.
Watch Super Bowl Ads You Missed

Superb? Silly? Stupid?

If you haven’t already had enough, AdAge gives you the opportunity to replay any or all of the Super Bowl ads at
Truth in Online Advertising: Google vs.

Why is Google making money when Yahoo is not?

Gerry McGovern suggests that one reason is their different attitude about what’s acceptable in online advertising and what is not. Visit for a comparison and discussion of the two approaches.
Future of Email in a Social Media World

How long have people been saying email is dead? I stopped tracking long ago.

But evolution in online communications continues at a rapid pace. And so it is a good idea to read Jeanniey Mullen’s ClickZ article on “Bye-Bye E-Mail” at before spending too much time trying to solve the Twitter puzzle.

Make sure you scan down through the comments that add much to the original article. Email is still a valuable part of your marketing mix if you adapt it to the changing online environment.
Pressure Grows to Spend More Endowment

Whether your school’s endowment is huge or modest, odds are that a combination of internal and external pressure is going to increase interest in spending more of it to help get through the current financial crisis.

Inside Higher Education presents a detailed overview of what’s happening at

The key marketing point: outside higher education, many people have never bought the argument that only a wee little bit of endowment can be spent on current operations in order to ensure future viability. Today, that claim carries less weight than ever before when immediate financial sacrifice is the order of the day. Look for increased pressure to dip more into endowment to reduce or eliminate the need for tuition increases.
Texas President Dares a Blog on Tuition Increase

You have to give Pat O’Brien, president at West Texas A&M University, great credit for starting a blog specifically to get feedback on a proposed tuition increase for next year. And for taking the time to read and respond to many of the 140+ comments received since January.

From a marketing perspective that fits today’s world, this is exactly what more presidents should be doing.

Visit the “Designated Tuition Increase Blog” at
Great Guide to Social Media Marketing

Whether you’re new to the topic and still trying to puzzle out the basics or reasonably experienced and looking for a way to check what you already know, you won’t go wrong if you buy Dave Evens’ book, “Social Media Marketing, An Hour a Day.”

As you might guess from the title, the book is written for normal human beings who need to know about the topic but don’t have time to immerse themselves in Twitter from one end of the day to the other.

You can get a good flavor for the approach by visiting Dave’s “Read This” blog at

If you do have the time to follow closely, try his Twitter site at
5 Tips for Viral Marketing on Twitter

You get more mileage from marketing efforts on Twitter if people who follow you “Retweet” what you post to their own followers.

Dan Zarella offers 5 recommendations on how to get more people to help spread your marketing messages. My favorite comes right from the original direct marketing play-book: ask people to do it and more people will. And the request works even better if you say “please.”

Read Dan’s article at
News Stories Online: 10 Steps to Better SEO Results

When I do web communication reviews, one of the things checked is the online presentation of press releases. The innate interest of a particular new release aside, most press releases are poorly prepared for reading online and most are poorly prepared for search engine visibility.

Take major steps toward better search engine results when you follow Monica Wright’s recommendations in “10 Ways Journalists and Newsroom Can Conquer SEO.”

One of her most valuable tips comes last: “Your title tag and description are your first impression to attract potential audiences.” Make them specific about what follows in the story. And remember to repeat the main words in your title tag in the primary headline on the page.

The full list is at
My Upcoming Presentations in 2009

Share questions and answers with people like yourself who are building a competitive edge in higher education marketing. Join me for one or more of these events!

February 17, Webinar: Innovative Educators, “Key Website Features for Better Adult Student Recruitment.” Session details and registration at

March 30, Webinar: Academic Impressions, “Writing Right for the Web.” Session details and registration available soon at

June 4-5, Chicago, IL: Aslanian Group, Web Marketing to Adult Students: “Writing Right for the Web” and “Using Adult Friendly Social Media in Marketing.” Registration starts 15 February; review the outline of sessions now at

Increase ROI from your online marketing. Expand the writing, editing, and search marketing skills of people on your campus. Host a camp
us workshop on online marketing.

Contact me at
That’s All for Now

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D. (
President and Senior Consultant
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

Increase your online marketing success with these 6 services.
• Customer Carewords Research with Gerry McGovern
• Writing Right for the Web On-Campus Workshops
• Marketing Communications Website Review
• Competitive Website Reviews
• Content Copywriting Services
• Usability Analysis

Start now at

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