Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… November 2016

November greetings. Hoping to see many of you at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in December in Orlando just a few weeks from now.

Our Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group on LinkedIn continues to grow, with over 40 new members since the October newsletter bringing the total to 267. If you are on LinkedIn and work at a college or university, join us by requesting membership at

New to “top tasks” strategy that will increase the marketing strength of your website? My workshop presentation from the eduWeb Digital Summit in August, Top Task Content & Design: A Strategy for Website Marketing Success, is at

How well do future students, current students, faculty and staff, and alumni like your website? Now you can do our basic Customer Centric Index survey at no cost. Details at

Conference Event in December

December 4-7, Orlando: Digital Marketing Strategy: Surviving and Prospering in a Changing World, pre-conference Tutorial E at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The tutorial description is at Early registration discount is open until November 6.

Join 7,300+ followers on Twitter at for daily marketing updates.

And now here are your November marketing news and notes.

Cartoon of the Month: How Much Content Marketing is Just “Crap”?

Not long ago Mark Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, referred to a “content crap trap” created by a huge increase in “content marketing” production that overwhelmed the people receiving the deluge of resulting messages.

Tom Fishburne took inspiration from Pritchard’s comment (and research reporting that a 35 percent increase in brand content happened in the same year as a 17 percent decrease in brand engagement) in a new cartoon at

Gen Z and the Future of Marketing: 5-Minute Video with Wunderman CMO

Gen Z, including college-bound folk under 18 years of age, is a key focus of an interview with Jamie Gutfreund, CMO at the Wunderman agency, about new challenges that marketers can expect. Anyone recruiting traditional students should invest 5 minutes to watch the video.

Key points: Gen Z is very marketing-savvy, very practical, and very much in search of transparency from brands that interest them. Find more to help improve your recruitment communications and website content at

Promoting Early FAFSA Benefits: Moravian College

Here is a rare example of gaining marketing advantage from creating new content around the benefits that potential students might expect to receive from the early FAFSA opportunity that started this fall.

On a page that makes strong use of headings and an easy-to-read text size, the college explains why early FAFSA “makes things easier for students and their parents.”

Moravian noted that students who file early will receive financial aid award letters in November or “three months earlier than in past years.”

For more on an unusually strong effort to take marketing advantage from early FAFSA visit

Branding with Substance: Furman University

New branding efforts often fall primarily into the “promotion” part of the 4 marketing Ps and less often on major change in product.

Furman University offers a different example. A new “Furman Advantage” program, fueled by a $20+ million-dollar donation, will create an elaborate array of mentors, internships, and research opportunities to strengthen the connection between a liberal arts degree and career success.

For more on how one liberal arts university seeks to strengthen brand position and increase first-year enrollment despite a less than ideal geographic location visit

Ranking Canadian Universities: The 2017 Maclean’s Magazine Report

The top “comprehensive” university this year is Simon Fraser, followed in the Top 5 by Waterloo, Victoria, Guelph, and Carleton. Sort schools by student satisfaction and reputation ratings as well when you visit

Virtual Reality: Explore a New Shiny Object

If you are talking on campus about how to add virtual reality to your tactical marketing mix, add this Adweek Brand Share infographic article to your reading list. Spoiler: VR developers think this is a very good idea. If you are not a VR developer, move with caution as you explore.

My favorite point: “A lot of companies that are eager to dive into VR still have islands on Second Life they no longer use.” You do remember Second Life, yes?

Explore more in “For Brands, Virtual Reality is All About Genuine Connection” at

Web Design: Top 10 Enduring Mistakes from the Nielsen-Norman Group

Some design mistakes persist through each new generation of creativity and so the visitor experience does not improve. And so, it is always good to check your web site performance against the warnings you will find here.

My favorites are #5, “Hidden Fees and Prices,” and #7, “Poor Search Results.” See the other 8 mistakes that endure at

Digital Marketing Glossary: Quiz Yourself on 18 Terms

How expert do you want to be on marketing in the digital era? Test yourself on 18 terms from AdAge starting with Attribution and ending with Trading Desk at

Writing Right for the Web: A to Z Guide to Effective Language

Making the words on your website as quick to read as possible should be an important content marketing goal. Alas, too often we cannot escape phrases that our bureaucracies seem to love but real people do not often use.

To explore how well your website content, emails, and blogs use “real people” language, scan the A to Z list of “Simple Words and Phrases” at

Football Coach Salaries: 72 at $1 Million or Higher

How does the compensation of your head football coach compare with the top 119 reported by USA Today?

University of Michigan leads the pack at nearly $10 million. See the rest at

Most Popular Topic in October Newsletter: Strong Graphic on College Ranking Press Release

Higher education folks often dismiss and disdain college rankings. Unless, of course, a college or university does especially well.

Centre College created a strong graphic image to introduce a press release reporting how well the college did on a new ranking system from the Wall Street Journal. Check the image at

Be a marketing champion on your campus.

Bob Johnson, Ph.D.


Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC

Increase your marketing success with one or more of these 5 services. Contact me for details at

  • Top Task Website Design Research with Gerry McGovern

  • Communication Audits

  • Expert Marketing Communications Website Reviews

  • Writing Right for the Web: Webinars, Conferences, and Campus Workshops

  • Competitive Website Reviews and Secret Shopping

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