3 Most Common Obstacles in Higher Education Marketing and How to Overcome Them

Pete Schauer

Marketing Director

Higher institutions of all sizes struggle, to some degree, with marketing. While platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow you to introduce your higher institution, the competition among schools is fierce. How do you encourage qualified candidates to apply to your school? How can you keep current students in the loop? How can you develop strong relationships between students and educators?

Let’s discuss three of the most common obstacles in higher education marketing and ways to overcome them. Let’s bring your school to the top!

1. Lack of collaboration between departments

Think about your current departments: admissions, marketing, public relations, athletics and alumni. Do these departments work together to build a cohesive image for your school, or do they desire their own footprint?

If you’re like many higher institutions, your departments fall into the latter group. While it’s understandable that each department has its own agenda, it’s important that your teams collaborate. Your school needs a consistent brand image that supports your main objectives. If you treat each department as a separate entity, your messages may overlap or sound disconnected.

2. Keeping all audiences engaged

One of the trickiest parts about higher EDU marketing is that there are many audiences to engage. Colleges and universities have:

  • Current students (i.e., transfers, international, part-time, full-time)
  • Prospective students
  • Parents of students
  • Alumni groups
  • Educators
  • Community at large

These audiences are very different from one another and require unique content. Many higher institutions do this by creating separate tabs on their website. This way, visitors can find relevant, targeted information in one central place. You can also categorize your blog posts according to the audience and show highly targeted ads to users. As always, proofread these tabs to make sure they all present a consistent, unique narrative of your school.

3. Standing out

The higher education industry is flooded with communications, making it hard to stand out. How can you draw attention to your college or university while keeping prospects engaged?

Start by identifying two or three distinguishing factors about your school. Use these factors to lead your school and separate you from others. Even things that may not seem like a big deal - hybrid courses, convenient college town, flexible financing - can be turned into a major selling point. Consider everything you have to offer - nothing is off the table. Remember, students don’t choose your school based on what it has in common with others; they choose it for the unique perks it provides.

When you know what defines your school, you can work with a digital marketing agency to produce more content and increase your rankings. When trying to stand out, it’s best to form memorable connections with your audience. Start by:

  • Telling stories about current students
  • Asking students to provide their experience and intelligence
  • Filling in the gaps that other schools are missing
  • Sharing your school’s history and growth

Higher education marketing can be confusing. Get it wrong and candidates might see your competitors and apply there first. But get it right and you can leave an imprint that draws prospective students into your system. Follow our tips and you’ll be a pro at marketing for higher EDU.

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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