February 10, 2022
Several years ago, Stamats produced a white paper on how to manage your academic portfolio. It was one of the most popular white papers we ever produced.
One of the strategies we outlined was to build a brand around a handful of signature academic programs.
This strategy is based on a handful of realities.
As you consider which programs to more aggressively promote, consider programs that:
While it is unlikely that the programs you identify will meet all these criteria, the more they meet the better.
As you think about building and marketing keystone programs, you must be willing to allocate a disproportionate level of strategic resources to maintaining or enhancing the quality of these programs. This often includes investment in staffing, facilities, scholarships, and other non-loan based financial aid.
Of course, this also means that you will focus more of your marketing attention and dollars on these programs.
I offer two final thoughts.
First, this is not a strategy to increase enrollment in programs that have little marketplace interest. Rather, it is a strategy that takes advantage of existing demand and marketplace interest.
Second, the signature program idea does not need to be tied to individual academic programs as such. Cornell College in Iowa delivers education via one course at a time. In this case the marketing message and differentiator are not so much what they teach, but how.
Students at Cornell enroll in one course for 18 days and when that period is done, they move to the next course. Most students participate in eight such blocks each year. Colorado College, Knox College, Tusculum College, and Spalding University have similar approaches.
The decision to push some programs ahead of others will be met with cries of “that’s not fair” from programs that were not chosen.
At one level they are correct. It isn’t fair. But neither is pouring money into programs that are failing.
The goal at all times is to benefit the larger institution rather than a handful of faculty and programs.
You must stand firm and weather those cries.
If you’d to discuss strategies on how to best approach marketing your academic programs, please reach out for a conversation. Thanks.