So you want to be an inbound marketer for higher education? Great choice!
I may be a bit biased, but I think marketing colleges and universities brings the best of both worlds. Not only do you get to use all of your inbound marketing skills but also you get to sell something of incredible value: an education.
Already the way has been paved for you, as people realize what an education is worth. You don’t have to spend countless hours trying to get people to understand and respect your product.
Instead, this type of marketing involves creative, out-of-box thinking and cutting-edge marketing approaches that allow you to help schools better connect with their target audience. When a conversion is made, which in this case is a new student, you can see the impact on many levels!
Below are a few pointers for becoming an inbound marketer for college admissions or strengthening your existing position as one. Let’s begin!
If you were applying for a marketing position at a company that manufacturers wooden swing sets, you would take the time to research swing sets before going on the interview. Even though you may be a great marketer, you would need to show the company that you understood their business and how you could make them better.
The same is true in the higher education sector. Higher education prospects have some of the longest lead times, with average conversion numbers ticking between 2 and 3 years. That’s a lot of nurturing – and a lot of patience – that you must be prepared for. Colleges and universities want to see that candidates not only have excellent inbound marketing experience but also superior lead nurturing techniques.
Another important element for those seeking college admissions careers is to be familiar with the target audience the school is trying to reach. This takes some research, as the school may not even be sure who they want to target. Still, you need to show that you have a specific strategy that you plan to follow rather than just putting stuff out there.
Use your previous experience to your advantage as well. Just because you used to sell office furniture or did your internship with a software company doesn’t mean that your experience isn’t relevant. Demonstrate that your skills are transferable and can bring success for the college admissions department.
Because many colleges and universities are just beginning to define their true target persona, it’s extremely helpful to have a few personas of your own. If the school you’re applying at has a strong liberal arts program, consider what their target persona might look like. Be as specific as possible. Show the potential employer that you have a good understanding of their prospects and how to best reach them.
In this case, you can use your old audience model to find success. If you had a system that worked well in the past, it will probably work well in the education field as well. Just remember that higher education inbound marketing changes on a dime, so it’s important that you keep up-to-date with the most recent trends. Once you have several audiences defined, you can then show the school how you would use content to reach them.
Content development is important for any industry, but it’s safe to say that it’s especially important for higher education. Since the average lead nurturing times are between 2 and 3 years, content written to the right audience and delivered at the right time is how schools connect with their leads.
Before heading to your interview, do your research and generate a loose framework of what content will look like for the different personas. Your potential employer will be impressed because doing this allows you to take advantage of the inbound channels they are already using. This way, they don’t have to pay more to utilize other channels, and you get to make use out of the resources they already have. Score!
Finally, don’t forget to make sure that the content being released shares one message. In other words, use “one voice” on all the marketing materials. Your potential employer probably has a “voice” as of now, but it may not be consistent or even effective. Remember that every interaction a student has with a school leaves a lasting impression.
A final point to consider when applying for a college admissions job is to have a strong understanding of SEO and the impact that paid and organic search has on it. You want to show your employer that you plan on building a community of loyal followers rather than just increasing numbers.
Most businesses have some limitations on how much money they can spend on marketing materials, so being savvy and creative can really pay off. Evaluate who is on staff, what resources are available and how you can use both to your advantage. Employers love to see when candidates are resourceful, intuitive and creative in their thinking.
The higher education field is exciting and constantly evolving. If you are considering expanding your career, it’s never too early to align yourself with the proper thinking and approaches for this field. Colleges and universities are in tight spots with decreased enrollment, new marketing techniques and fewer resources. The inbound marketers that will leave the best impressions are those who are confident in their ability to do more with less and those with strategic game plans in place.
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