Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… November 2010

November greetings to everyone.

My presentations at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education next week were finished today. Now I am looking forward to meeting many of you in San Diego for this premier event while we enjoy the strong array of keynote speakers and other sessions.

Higher education marketing is still in flux as people continue to grapple with the challenges of a changed economy that is shrinking available financial resources. Tuition levels and tuition discount rates continue to climb. Items on both of those appear below. I was especially fascinated by a new presentation in a Chronicle of Higher Education article that average tuition costs are lower now than in 2000.

Cost concerns can heighten opposition to even relatively modest investments in brand position research and programs. That is one lesson from the current flap over the “Makers All” venture at Purdue University. Expect higher concern over anything that diverts resources from tuition reduction and student aid to come under increasing scrutiny.

But we must continue with everyday efforts to improve the marketing experience. I am about to revise and expand my “Writing Right for the Web” webinars to include not only traditional websites but also writing and presentation for the mobile and social media worlds. Get the session details and register for these November and December events at

And now here are your marketing news and notes for November.
Marketing Online Programs

Just put 10 “top of mind” points from last week’s boot camp on marketing for online degree programs in a new blog post. Items range from a continued reluctance to engage in the social media world to a starting level Google Ad Words budget (about $20K) to the strong preference for 8 week over 16 week courses.

See the full list with links to even more stats, information, and recommendations from participants at
Need-blind Admissions: Disappearing?

The InsideHigherEd summary of a standing room only session from last week’s College Board Forum is that few schools will continue making admission decisions without regard to ability to pay because most cannot afford to provide the needed financial assistance.

A Colorado College participant noted that CC did away with “need blind” several years ago for financial reasons. Other notes include Vanderbilt, Embry-Riddle, and Case Western universities.

Reality marketing intrudes via the comment from one parent who just wants to know up front what the policy is. The article and other comments are at
Controlling Tuition Discount Rates: Augustana College

In the private sector, controlling a creeping tuition rate is high priority at many colleges and universities. Most of the time, people do not want to talk about it in public.

Congratulations to Augustana for agreeing to an interview that shows the difficult adjustments needed to achieve an ambitious goal: more applications from people willing to pay more tuition.

Augustana is at a 42 percent tuition discount rate now. That’s high but not unusual. Read about what’s being done to reduce that at
5 Secrets for YouTube Search Engine Optimization

YouTube is the second most popular social networking site, although it is long way behind Facebook. Given that, it makes sense to make sure search engines are as likely to find your videos as possible.

I liked Secret 3: Use the full number of spaces allowed for page titles (100), descriptions (5,000) and tags (120).

Check the other secrets from Sage Lewis at
Value of Truth in Brand Claims

If you work in the branding side of marketing, be sure to read the AdAge article on “The Competitive Advantage of Truth” in branding campaigns.

This is not an article about why you should not lie. It is an article about using brand campaigns to give people real information about yourself rather than just making claims about how wonderful your institution is. In higher education, after all, every is committed to academic excellence.

Prompted by a recent brand campaign by Chevron, the article is at
Purdue University and “Makers All”

I have never been a special fan of tag lines, have not formed any strong opinion about the “Makers All” phrase and have no idea of how well it describes what happens at Purdue. Some people at Purdue are not happy with it, but keeping everyone happy is not easy or necessarily desirable.

That said, if you have followed the discourse so far, have a look at how “Makers All” is used in the university’s video at

We live in a social media world so do not skip the 10 comments from the 2,407 people who have watched the video on YouTube these past two weeks.
Focus Groups and Web Design

Do you use focus groups as part of your web design process?

If you care about the marketing strength of your site, read Gerry McGovern on the perils of relying on focus group results at
Marketing a Grant Proposal: 9 Insights

If you work with the increasingly competitive competition for grant money, be sure to see if you m
ight benefit from any of the 9 tips offered by Fund Raising Success Magazine.

Suggests range from making sure your math is right to not asking for more than 30 percent of a project from a single foundation. See the other seven at
Mobile Marketing: 2 Key Elements

Every website has pages upon pages of content that serves no useful purpose to regular visitors to the site. Indeed, many pages are rarely if ever visited.

Creating a mobile-friendly website is a great opportunity to leave behind content of little interest.

That winnowing is even more important when you consider the most important feature of a mobile site: easy task completion. Excessive content makes navigation more complicated and hinders easy task completion.

For more on creating mobile websites visit
Online Magazines: Another Done Right for the Web

If you are searching for another example of a web-friendly magazine done without “flip” technology or PDFs, look no further than Notre Dame Magazine.

Key stories heads and columns by faculty and alumni are easy to scan in 5 seconds.

For another example of a magazine written “right for the web” visit
College Costs: Lower in 2010 than in 2000?

For an interesting approach to change in the net cost for a college degree, consider “The Real Price of College: Looking Beyond the Sticker” by Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson.

After you read it, ask yourself this question: would this argument that average net costs are lower in inflation-corrected dollars in 2010 than in 2000 sell to families dealing with the cost of higher education today? Note that the authors correctly note the growing fear of loan debt as an obstacle. Loans defer but do not reduce the cost of higher education.

Check a proposition with little marketing strength at
Lip dub fan?

If you believe there is marketing value with potential students in lip dubs, don’t miss the new offering from the University of Victoria at

About 1,000 students participated and nearly 120,000 people have watched as I’m typing this.
eduWeb Conference Call for Papers

Start thinking now about a proposal you might make when the Call for Papers opens on January 5.

The conference welcomes papers with a marketing perspective. Check the tracks and more information on eduWeb (San Antonio in July this year) at
My Upcoming Conferences and Webinars in 2010

Attend an upcoming conference to share questions and answers with people like you who are building a competitive edge in higher education marketing. Join me at these events.

November 7-10, American Marketing Association, Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education: Pre-conference tutorial, “Mobile in the Marketing Mix: Crafting a New Recruitment Communication Strategy.” Follow the program at

November 18, December 9 webinars: Academic Impressions, “Writing Right for the Web: Social Media, Mobile and Traditional Sites.” Dec 9 is an advanced session for creating and editing content for social media and mobile sites. Details 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

Start now at

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