The Fine Line Between Higher EDU Marketing and Admissions

Pete Schauer

Marketing Director

All businesses have departments that are in charge of promoting and selling products and services. It’s common for some departments to experience tension, even though they both have the same top line goals.

In the case of higher education, the marketing team is responsible for raising awareness for the school and its programs through branding, advertising and content marketing. The admissions team has the role of selling the institution to prospects through campus visits, mailings and other touch points.

So why does hostility between the two departments arise? Let’s find out!

Why Marketing and Admissions See Themselves Separately

Much of the interdepartmental tension has to do with misconceptions. Admissions believes that marketing is responsible for the design, font and logo of the promotional materials. The marketing team, on the other hand, tends to think that admissions is only responsible for filling seats.

Another issue has to do with lead quality. Admissions often complains that the prospects they are given are not qualified. The slow and inconsistent follow-ups frustrates the marketing team.

Unfortunately, when the two teams work separately from each other, recruitment and enrollment are impacted. This can hurt your school’s image and make it more difficult for students to convert. If your two teams can’t get their messaging consistent, how can your institution deliver a quality education?

Connecting the Two for Improved Enrollment

The good news is that there are effective ways to connect your marketing and admissions teams for the better. When these departments share the same vision, your institution’s overall enrollment goals are better supported. Let’s explore some of the ways that you can bridge the gap between departments.

  • Create an SLA. An SLA, or Service Level Agreement, ensures that your school meets its obligations to prospects. The SLA should clearly define each department’s roles and expectations in the lead generation and conversion process. Also, decide what makes a lead “qualified.” Some things to think about include demographics, a volume of actions and expressed interests.

  • Use a Consistent Hand-Off Strategy. The hand-off process should be streamlined so that it doesn’t become the weak link in the relationship. With your admissions team, outline the process step-by-step so they know what to expect. What criteria will turn a soft lead into a qualified lead? How will marketing alert admissions of a lead? How often will handoffs be sent?

  • Make Communication a Priority. For admissions and marketing to run smoothly, communication is vital. Hold regular meetings to review everyone’s metrics and why you’re meeting/ahead/behind your goals. Now is the time to resolve potential problems (Was admissions sent too many leads that weren’t qualified?).

Marketing and admissions are both responsible for meeting your school’s recruitment and enrollment goals. Working together - not separate - is how business gets done. By clarifying the responsibilities of each team, establishing a clear hand-off policy and holding regular meetings, you can improve efficiency with the enrollment process and see improved enrollment numbers.

About the Author: Pete Schauer

Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Pete Schauer is the Marketing Director at SEMGeeks. He holds a M.A. in Digital Communications from William Paterson University and has 8+ years in the digital space with companies such as Bleacher Report and Social Media Today in addition to SEMGeeks. His background includes creative and professional writing as well as strategic digital marketing communications and management.

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