The future of higher education marketing… a few odd thoughts

Higher education marketing: overly focused on “branding”

This morning I’ve been working on my last presentations for the Academic Impressions conference on strategic recruitment communications in June: “Future Trends in Higher Education Marketing.” And so just before the Memorial Day weekend I’m sharing some points that came to mind today.

The Monsters University website: funny, painful, and accurate

Searching about the web brought me back once again to the memorable and ever-so-accurate Monsters University website. You really should go visit this… again, if you already have. 
Don’t miss the video message from the Academic Dean. Laugh. Weep. We will know that higher education marketing is truly advancing when we can say that marketing like this is a thing of the past.
The wisdom of St. Michael’s College
Other notes that have been circulating in my brain this morning:
  • We are spending too much time and money on “branding,” often without the resources to sustain a campaign that actually has the ability to make an impact.
  • We are still weak in the basics: limiting “search” names bought to those with high conversion potential and investing in CRM software to take advantage of what we know about prospects, for instance. 
  • Too few presidents and boards have a sense of market place reality similar to what moved St. Michael’s College to adopt a strategy of intentional shrinkage.
Some things that I hope will change, in no special order of importance:
  • We’ll learn how to make use of “Big Data” opportunities to focus on smaller numbers of potential students who are more likely to enroll. Enrollment conversion will increase.
  • More schools will make an essential investment in CRM software and train admissions staff to use it well. Enrollment conversion will increase.
  • Specialized mobile apps will be a strong feature of sophisticated marketing programs that in the mobile world some things are best done as apps especially design for the mobile world, with special attention to academic programs. Enrollment conversion will increase.
  • Department store” universities will start to disappear and marketing efforts will focus on special programs that remain as the academic product line is reduced.

Think you can’t afford to invest in CRM software and a customer relationship management program? Shift resources from “branding” and “promotion” until you can. 

Your goal: to take the detailed information from ACT and SAT “self-report” students and convert it into effective inquiry response communications. Enrollment will increase.

What will never change:
  • The power of personal contact, whether in person or by email, text, or telephone. Higher education is an expensive purchase for nearly everyone. Personal contact that starts with early inquiries will increase conversion.
And now, back to finishing that presentation.
That’s all for now.

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Strategic Recruitment Communication conference in June

June 25-27, Orange County, CA: “Building a Strategy Recruitment Communication Plan,” sponsored by Academic Impressions. Review the agenda and register.

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