Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… January 2010

Happy New Year!

This marks the 15th year since I started writing this newsletter when it was primarily a promotional tool for the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. Both the Symposium and the newsletter have enjoyed continued success since then. A special thanks to the many people who have been subscribers since the 1990s.

The challenges that plagued higher education in 2009 remain in 2010 as we continue to adjust to reduced financial resources, resistance to tuition costs, and demands for new programs and delivery systems. For marketers, it will be a time of special efforts and new accomplishments.

At the Iowa State social media summit in December, someone asked me what the next “new marketing thing” would be in 2010. That is always hard to predict but the mobile marketing world is sure to be at or near the top as we move further toward the world of Web 3.0. (The Iowa State presentation slides are online at

Join me this year on Twitter at and LinkedIn at

And now, here are your marketing news and notes for January 2010.
US News Rankings: New Reality Marketing Challenge

The 2010 US News college rankings are out and the overall results are not surprising. Harvard and Princeton lead the national university list. Williams and Amherst lead the national liberal arts colleges. The usual suspects fall below them.

What caught my eye was the category for “A+ schools for B students” with “less than stellar test scores or so-so grade point average.” The schools are listed within four regions. After a quick scan of the Midwest schools, I am very curious to see how this ranking is reflected on university websites over the next month or so.

Is your school included as a special place for B students? See where you and your competitors stand at
Master’s Degrees Mean $$$ for Higher Education

The NYT Education Life issue for January includes an article on the “New Universe” of master’s degrees in higher education. Narrative Medicine opens a review of 10 popular offerings that closes with New Media.

As elsewhere in higher education now, market forces are driving these new programs as schools discover people are willing to pay major dollars for a chance at expanded career opportunities.

See the 8 others at and compare with your offerings.
4 Mobile Marketing Trends to Watch in 2010

Marketing Sherpa makes an important recommendation here: focus first on making your website accessible from mobile devices rather than on developing special mobile apps.

Although the data is from early 2009, the trend is clear in every age group: growth in smartphones (although not near 50 percent yet) and text messaging (over 50 percent at age 50 and much more for younger age groups) that will continue in 2010.

More details are at
Secret Lives of Admissions Officers: Daily Beast Report

Not much has changed since the 1970s: low pay and rapid turnover still characterize life for new admissions professionals. Read this and stay up-to-date with what the public is learning about what the article describes as the “secret police force” in admissions.

The article, with mini-profiles of 10 admissions counselors, is at
500 Web Editors and More: University of Southern Denmark

If your school struggles with the best way to organize itself for maximum website impact, you will not go wrong reading the detailed plan used at University of Southern Denmark.

One key to the plan is initial screening and ongoing training for 500+ plus web editors responsible for keeping web content accurate, current, and easy to read throughout the university.

Download the details from my SlideShare site at
Market Shapes Career Relevant Higher Education

The feature story in the January 3 NYT Education Life supplement was titled “The Utility Degree” and returns to the old discussion about the extent to which higher education should aid people to find career employment after graduation. This time, however, the overall tone seems to reflect an acceptance of current market pressures from the current economy.

With few student majors, programs in Philosophy and American Studies are at risk.

Higher education is an expensive investment and people are focusing more on immediate returns. And so curriculums change to better meet demand.

Michigan State and St. Michael’s College are highlighted in the report at
Purdue University: Transparency in Financial Crisis

Higher education continues to walk a fine line between public acceptance and public disillusionment. The varied responses of major public universities to new fiscal conditions in 2009 often added to the disillusionment rather than the confidence.

Purdue University is putting weight on the transparency side of the scale with a website page that promises to keep the campus community and the public current with the last plans to weather the storm.

This is a risky step if people perceive the site as too much public relations rather than open public disclosure. Time will tell. Plan to check regularly at
Top 10 Intranets Add Mobile, Social Network Strength

In our Customer Carewords research this year for 14 colleges and universities, internal website users were almost always more critical in their evaluations than external groups. Faculty and staff were the least satisfied.

One conclusion: it is not easy to build one website that combines the best features of both internet and intranet sites.

Now Jakob Nielsen has identified 10 Intranet sites and the features that will make them especially successful in 2010. While none are in higher education, reviewing the list will help build a stronger case for a more efficient intranet. Give special attention to the move to easier mobile access and to the increase in social networking features within the organizations.

Check the report at
For-Profit Sector Capturing Military Students

Business Week magazine lays out in detail how the for-profit sector has won a 29 percent market share of college enrollments from active-duty military personnel. Call it aggressive recruiting or an enhanced “customer service” orientation, not-for-profit schools are falling behind.

University of Phoenix, for instance, has increased recruiters of military students from 91 in 2003 to 452 this year.

What lessons might the not-for-profit sector learn? Study the details at
Online Virtual Recruiting

Rachel Reuben at SUNY New Paltz gives a detailed review complete with screen shots of the online virtual college fair experience offered by CollegeWeekLive.

If you have a special interest in minority students or people from outside your primary recruitment area, check Rachel’s report at
New FAFSA: The Marketing Impact

Kiplinger applauds changes in the new FAFSA, noting a reduction of 22 questions.

Down in the middle of the article is news that people completing the form will also have direct access from it to information about retention, graduation, and transfer rates as well as information about cost and programs available.

Is this a new chance for a late-in-the-recruitment-cycle comparison of finalist selections before sending off the form?

The Kiplinger article is at
100+ Higher Education TV Ads on YouTube

Interested in TV advertising? If yes, visit regularly a new YouTube site created by Elizabeth Scarborough at Simpson-Scarborough. Right now 102 videos are available. Expect that number to grow.

Pick your favorites at
Future of Search Engine Marketing

If you are debating how much emphasis to put on search marketing in 2010, then you will want to read a recent column by Danny Sullivan, a genuine search marketing guru.

In responding to a recent prediction that search marketing has lost importance, Sullivan harkens back to a similar 1997 prediction and gives good reasons why the current forecast is no more valid now than 12 years ago.

Search engine marketing is one component of an overall online marketing program and it doesn’t make sense to ignore it. Read more at
Upcoming Presentations in 2010

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.

Thanks to everyone who attended a presentation or webinar in 2009. I’m looking forward to meeting many of you again this year, as well as adding new friends and colleagues. Presentation event dates are included here for your advance planning. Look for updates to here and on my website as they become available. Exact titles below might change but the major focus will not.

February 2, ACT: “Social Media in Marketing Communications,” Lansing, MI

April 7, Magna Publications Webinar: “Web Analytics for Enrollment Success”

June 3-4, Education Dynamics Aslanian Group Seminar, Marketing to Adult Students, Chicago, IL

July 21-23, ACT Enrollment Planners Conference, Chicago, IL

July 26-28, eduWeb2010, Chicago, IL Follow the conference program as it grows at

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

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