Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter… July 2021

July… For many schools, the altered recruitment season for on-campus students continues. COVID-19 impact remains, especially around vaccine policy to “require” or “encourage” vaccines. And marketing for 2022 first year students has, as always, already begun. No dearth of challenges, for sure.

Not long ago, John Thompson, vice president of marketing strategies at Waybetter Marketing, called to ask if I’d do an interview around enrollment management and higher education marketing. And I indeed did that. Read the answers to John’s 7 questions at “Q&A with Higher Education Stalwart Bob Johnson.”

eduWeb presents the 2021 Digital Summit, August 3-5, with a conference format updated and priced to fit our new world. Matt McGann, dean of admission and financial aid at Amherst College, is the opening keynote speaker. Scan the other 26 speakers and review event details and registration when you visit “eduWeb Digital Summit.”

Join 872 higher education professionals on the members-only Top Tasks: Higher Education Website Content group at LinkedIn. Request membership at

Follow along with 7,200+ people for my daily marketing updates on Twitter.

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And now, your news and notes for July.
Cartoon of the Month: “The next big thing in marketing”

Once again, another needed reminder to beware of chasing after the proverbial “next big thing” that will propel everyone to follow our marketing lead.

Tom Fishburne quotes from a collection of 2018 marketing essays: “This is not a plea to ignore the new and favour the old; rather it is a plea to beware throwing out the strategic principles of marketing out with the new tactical bathwater.”

More to share with your marketing colleagues at “The next big think in marketing.”
Schools at Risk: 10 indicators to monitor for strategic planning

The past year has highlighted college and university stress points that existed in the pre-COVID-19 world for most colleges and universities.

Michael Imber divides 10 risk indicators into 3 categories:

  • Leading Indicators (Applications, Yield Rates, Tuition Discounting)
  • Concurrent Indicators (Graduation Rates, Melt, Retention)
  • Lagging Indicators (Cash Flow, Covenant Violations, Market Rankings, Accreditation).

More on each risk category at “Value Proposition: The Core of Higher Ed Strategic Planning.”
Podcasts: 10 “best” to follow for higher education marketing and recruitment

Podcasts abound and we don’t expect any but the most dedicated to follow each of the 10 recommended by the folks at Terminal Four.

That said, do scan this list that includes a short description of the primary topics included for each one to help you select. If you have one to recommend, add the requested addition to the blog post. Visit the list at “The 10 best Higher Ed, Marketing and Recruitment Podcasts in 2021.”
Student Recruitment: The “Funnel” vs. 10 step “Full Circle Marketing”

The “funnel” idea never seemed a good one to me. In its most basic form, it suggested that the best way to meet an enrollment goal was to increase inquiries. And the best way to do that was too often seen as buying more ACT and SAT names. And visiting more high schools. And college nights.

That’s changing today as more attention is being paid to converting people to move through a recruitment cycle. Fewer inquiries? Not necessarily a problem if what’s left are better inquiries.

In that context, Sean Carton asks us to think about “Full Circle Marketing” as he outlines how “The Digital Age Difference” has made many traditional recruitment activities based on the “funnel” concept obsolete.

Consider ways to adapt your recruitment activities to the new world as you review the 10 steps in a “full circle” marketing plan at “Forget the Funnel.”
Social Media Advertising: 2 blog posts to boost your planning

Social media advertising, using the available tools to focus on people most likely to enroll at your school (their profile most often matches the people who already enroll) should be an important part of every student recruitment plan for both undergrad and graduate students.

Compare your current plans and activities with the recommendations of two firms with social media expertise:

One takeaway from each article: Facebook isn’t quite as dominant as it once was but it remains the most important social media site. Before venturing in too many other directions, make sure you have your Facebook ad plan as effective as possible.
Vaccine Mandates: Most students will stay at their campus

Most college students support “strongly” or “somewhat” a requirement for a COVID-19 vaccination to attend in-person classes this fall. Of the 15 percent who say they do not plan to get vaccinated, less than half said they would “definitely” or “probably” transfer to avoid a vaccine requirement.

The survey was done in early May. More details in an infographic at “The Campus Vaccine Scene.”
Enrollment Planning: Ethnicity and age by state and region

Jon Boeckenstedt once again has drilled into the stats to give us data important for enrollment planning, in this case ethnic and age diversity by state and region.

Jon notes that “In the US, as you look at older populations, you get more white people; as you look at younger populations, you see more diversity. Thus, it’s not just the makeup of the state; it’s the makeup of the people in the state who are most likely to go to college that we might want to look at.”

Check your state and others important to your enrollment plans at “A look at the states: Ethnicity and Age.”
Personas: Not worth the investment to develop?

Despite the results from an “exquisite” $1M research project, Matt Lerner decided that developing personas did not contribute much value to his marketing efforts. His detailed review applies as well to potential students as any other group. He describes the results as “fascinating but inconsequential.” In other words, a tempting trap.

Matt provides an alternative: a “Jobs To Be Done” interview template to determine what people most want from an organization that interests them.

Read Matt’s reasoning (and download the free template) before you invest in “exquisite” persona research at his Twitter thread.
Pro Tip: Faculty and Social Media

Do your faculty profiles include links to their social media sites? If yes, check to see if there is current activity. If a person has not, for instance, posted on Twitter since mid-2019, encourage that person to remove the link.
Most Popular in June Newsletter: “Back to normal” in a post pandemic world

Tom Fishburne’s cartoon reminds us that “50% of US consumers expect brands to retain and improve upon pandemic conveniences… from e-commerce to online education to remote healthcare.”

Spark discussion on your campus about where a “back to normal” approach might have a negative impact on enrollment efforts when everyone reads “Back to Normal.”

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