Higher education marketing certainly has its hurdles. Things like school spirit and epic content do support higher education marketing, but your campaigns need more than this to be effective. Succeeding in higher education marketing boils down to one very important component: creating experiences for your audience, both on campus and off campus.
As you face the common challenges of higher EDU marketers, it’s important to have strategies for dealing with them. Let’s learn more about the hurdles that marketers in your industry face and how to overcome them.
Diverse audiences. When people suggest that you “write to your audience,” you may find yourself asking who your audience is. While prospective college students are a core part of your audience, you also have current students, alumni, staff, instructors and parents. How can you keep everyone engaged?
Disconnected departments. How well do your departments work together? Most schools have marketing, admissions, public relations, athletics, alumni, etc. that have shared goals but don’t work together. This can cause inconsistencies in your marketing materials, confusing prospects about who you are.
Maintaining a brand reputation. Today’s universities are expected to know what’s going on with their health and reputation at all times. Social media is also a direct route of communication between students and schools, which is a good thing. But, it also means that any problems immediately become public information.
Competing interests. If your teams aren’t working collaboratively, it’s possible that they will end up competing with each other. Let’s say that your school has a big game coming up, but another department schedules an ice cream social. Now students have two events to choose from, when really, your school should be a cohesive unit.
Addressing the Challenges
To overcome these frustrations, there are a few things your school can do. First, it helps to bridge the gaps between various departments. You can find some great pointers on how to align your marketing and admissions departments in an earlier article of ours. This collaboration doesn’t happen overnight, but it helps when both teams understand their shared goals and the benefits they can reach by working together.
Next, you need a comprehensive content marketing strategy that appeals to your different audiences. This content includes beautiful imagery, user-generated content and video content. When it comes to hosting events on campus, use them as PR opportunities. Write a blog post about them, share a short video from those involved and send out reminders.
Lastly, utilize a social listening strategy that allows you to keep a pulse on what people are saying about your school. There are different tools you can use to monitor digital conversations, such as Hootsuite, Buzzsumo or Klout. Get in front of negative reviews and conversations before they change people’s opinions of your school, and engage with those who leave you positive feedback.
Higher education marketing benefits schools small and large. By aligning your departments and discovering the content that best resonates with your different audiences, you will be well on your way to overcoming higher EDU marketing hurdles.