March 20, 2023
Higher ed marketing and communications (MarComm) has a unique perspective for strategic planning that is rarely duplicated on campus. MarComm has the potential to work across departments, colleges, and programs at a university level, and with Student Life to alumni and the foundation office. No other team work with an equally diverse cut of the campus.
Because of this unique positioning, MarComm should be involved in conducting a situational analysis (SA) prior to your strategic planning meetings.
Conducting an SA at the MarComm level—rather than at the institutional level—can uncover thought-provoking initiatives. Through this practice, you can discover potential, identify risk, and provide a holistic plan to leverage the institution for something greater on the other side.
Situational Analyses are similar to SWOT Analyses where one can take inventory of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In contrast to SWOTs, an SA groups these into two buckets for organizing and taking inventory: Problems and Opportunities.
Problems and Opportunities can originate from internal or external influences. Create your short P and O list before you try to start collecting data. This will help you understand where to focus energy on the analysis and dive deeper to analyze the situation.
Once Ps and Os are identified, data collection is the next step. This data will aid in developing theories and identifying trends that will point you toward a more robust and actionable strategic plan.
Use our handy guide to gather secondary (pre-existing) data, like institutional or competitor trends and government data, as well as primary data such as faculty, staff, and student interview responses.
Start your strategic planning session off right—and give marketing a seat at the table—with this Situational Analysis planning checklist.
As you form your SA team, include marketing professionals who have higher ed research experience to help complete the picture, move the process forward, and wrangle and analyze the large volumes of data that naturally occur when completing this kind of work.
Adding an outside entity to the process also helps deliver insight to what the data is telling the reader AND provide comparisons to national or industry specific data.
Want to learn more on how to incorporate marketing and communications into strategic planning efforts? Email me to talk about your challenges and goals.
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