In my travels to campuses across the nation, I’m regularly reminded of a chronic, ironic reality: higher ed marketing success is usually compromised by a lack of the same three foundational educational elements that form the bedrock of what we’re committed to helping our students acquire:
I want to explain in a few short sentences what I call the Sriracha effect. I think there is a marketing lesson there for us. Huy Fong Foods is a hot sauce company based in Irwindale, California. It is named for a Taiwanese freighter, the Huey Fong, that carried founder David Tran and 3,317 other refugees out of Vietnam in December 1978. Huy Fong produces 20 million bottles of hot sauce a year. That’s some 54,000 bottles a day.
Most colleges and universities are doing some kind of content marketing. They’re blogging, they’re posting to Facebook, they’re tweeting, and they’re posting pics to Instagram. At the same time, when I talk to the marketing or enrollment people, they just aren’t satisfied with the results they’re achieving.
“Randy’s going to tell us all how to fix our problem with nontraditional students…” Thus began the introduction to my presentation, “Innovative Ways to Recruit Nontraditional Students” at a conference of community college enrollment marketers in Biloxi. “No pressure!” I thought. Community colleges, like many four-year institutions, are facing shortfalls in enrollment this year, after seeing record numbers of students not so long ago.
Earlier this year, I was working with a client (a mid-sized East Coast university) that had a deep and high wall between its content marketing program and its social media efforts. The content marketing piece, managed by the enrollment division, focused strategically on building awareness and engagement for key majors. Their social media effort, managed by external affairs, focused on pithy “quotes of the day” and photos of students doing whacky things on campus.
Not so long ago, I was presenting a content marketing plan to a group of enrollment marketing professionals at a struggling law school. As I outlined an approach that included retargeting, geofencing, IP addressing, and a host of other outreach tactics, all designed to get prospects to some really great content, two of the clients looked at each other with mock horror on their faces and commented, “That’s really creepy.” I turned to them and responded, “It’s also fantastic.”
Increased competition for prospective students means you need to stand out in the blur of the same-sounding, same-looking recruitment practices. Here are three shifts that can set your recruitment effort apart:
“Going native.” The term conjures up images of walking barefoot on the beach, doing the limbo, or haggling with merchants in a street bazaar. But for enrollment marketing professionals, native advertising offers an exciting, innovative way to reach prospective students. First, let’s get the terminology down.
It is not unusual for chief marketing officers (CMO) to be hired with great fanfare and bold expectations. Too often, however, the marketing initiatives fail to deliver, and the overall marketing effort becomes part of the landscape of failed ideas.
I’ve thought about this scenario quite a bit over the years and have come up with four “must haves” that will increase the likelihood that a new CMO will be successful.
If you’ve ever been to a beach along the East Coast, you’ve experienced them. Just as you’re enjoying a beautiful day of surf and sand, you suddenly notice something—a burning feeling. You look around, and you see nothing, but red welts begin to appear. You’ve just met the famous genus Culicoides, otherwise known as the no-see-um bug.