University of Oregon

When the reporter from Inside Higher Ed (IHE) interviewed me last week for the jaw-dropping University of Oregon story you may have seen in Wednesday’s edition, she seemed surprised when I said the president made a win-win-win decision. It’s a critically important case study for higher ed marketers and senior leaders, so I encourage you to study it carefully. Be sure you check this version of the story as well as the IHE account.

Except for the few marketing professionals whose jobs may be casualties of what appears to be a forthcoming marketing organization restructuring, UO’s senior leadership team did its stakeholder community a great service by critically assessing the efficiency of its current decentralized marketing operation. In this economy, and for the foreseeable future, identifying operational marketing redundancies is an exercise most of the nation’s colleges and universities simply must embrace for any number of reasons.

Decentralized marketing operations on college and university campuses are inherently redundant (a.k.a. inefficient), both strategically and tactically. I see it every week in my consulting work with schools across the country. Consider the old adage, “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.” Unless administrative oversight is very aggressively managed by a supreme brand authority on a campus, too many marketing strategists managing their assigned pieces of an institutional brand ultimately put institutional brand management at great risk. Sprinkle multiple creative teams (writers, designers, project managers) across the same campus and the risk is heightened even further.

While I’m not terribly proud of some of the grammar the IHE reporter attributed to me, she did accurately capture my “take” on UO’s decision to tighten the reigns on marketing management across their campus. Economies will be realized, efficiencies will be bolstered, and portions of recovered budgets can be directed to strengthening academic programs that are, after all, the stuff and substance of compelling marketing messages.

Let me know your thoughts. Comment below or send me an email: eric.sickler@thethorburngroup.com.

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