How to Run a Speed Marketing Session on Your Campus

Randy Burge

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If you’re one of the 1,200 or so of us who wandered through the exhibit floor at the AMA’s Symposium for Higher Education last month, I’m sure those were the exact thoughts that ran through your mind. Digital solutions. Search solutions. Content solutions. Email solutions. Advertising solutions. Public relations solutions. It was a dizzying array of parts and pieces—all claiming to be THE solution to your enrollment marketing challenges.

Paul Roetzer puts it succinctly in his book, The Marketing Performance Blueprint:

“The future of your business and your marketing career depend on your ability to meet increasing ROI demands and continually adapt to new marketing tools, philosophies, and channels. But the rate of change in the marketing industry is accelerating, and the challenges for marketers seem to be multiplying.”

ROI and risk aversion in higher ed

The situation is, of course, exacerbated in a risk-averse environment
such as higher education. When your institution is looking for you to
fill next year’s class you can’t afford to cash in your old programs and
hedge your bets on some new, highly touted approach. After all,
something is better than nothing, right? At the same time, the returns
for the status quo are diminishing quickly year over year. And we all
know that institutions that are able to respond more quickly, plan
faster, try new things more efficiently, and adapt more readily to
changing conditions gain a clear competitive advantage. Does the
University of Southern New Hampshire come to mind?

Learn from other industries to improve marketing performance

So how do you improve your marketing performance, quickly and
effectively? Honestly, simply exploring all the options currently on the
table would take months of research, discussions, trials, planning, and
debates with your purchasing department. And meanwhile, the market has
surged ahead without you!

Roetzer, working primarily with B2B companies, has devised what he
calls the “marketing growth hackathon.” It’s based loosely upon how
computer programmers come together to solve software development
quandaries, but I think that the process holds great merit for higher
education. I call it speed marketing.

He gathers together a group of people who have a shared interest in a
marketing issue (in our case, enrollment, communications, marketing,
financial aid, etc.). In a workshop format, they take one SMART goal and
leave the workshop with at least three campaign ideas that the
institution can execute within 90 days.

I’m sure you already know this, but SMART goals are those that are
specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. SMART goals can
apply to any objective. For example, a SMART goal may be to increase
inquiries by 25% in January and February. Or to increase yield for the
2017 class by 11%.

Run a speed marketing session on your campus

Here’s how it works…

Prior to the speed marketing session, the group leader defines the
SMART goal, identifies the appropriate audience, builds personas, looks
for existing assets and environmental opportunities, and establishes
milestones. The day of the event, participants break into small groups
to brainstorm ideas, which they bring back to the full team for sharing
and debate. In-depth discussions vet the best concepts based upon the
institution’s ability to execute the concept and upon the probability
that the concept will significantly impact the institution’s ability to
reach its goal in the next three months.  Three of those concepts are
then moved into the planning stage. And you’ve accomplished all of this
in less than a day! Not only that, but you’ve put “marketing and sales”
together to work to solve their shared objectives.

Got a thorny marketing issue that can’t wait for planning and more planning? Try speed marketing to accelerate your planning process. For more detail on how we can help you kick start your enrollment marketing, call me in our Albany office at 518-591-4640 or send me an email.

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