Kicking Higher Ed Marketing Out of the Box

POSTED BY Liz Kennedy - 05.04.16 - Creative, Digital marketing, Video

iStock_College_kids_campus_Higher_Ed_Marketing_Article.jpgWith a wave of commencements making their way into the air, colleges across the nation are launching new graduates into the workforce and higher education marketplace. Fusionfarm has been lucky enough to develop some higher ed marketing campaigns for several small colleges in Eastern Iowa, and it got our team thinking a lot about pushing the box that is ‘marketing for higher education.’

Traditional marketing for higher education is still having an impact on whether a college truly embraces digital marketing. Those who do try digital marketing strategies get results, but come January, how many colleges are still filling up prospective student mailboxes with hefty promotional print marketing?

At Fusionfarm, we don’t put our higher ed clients into a specific box just because they are higher ed- we work with them to get the same kind of results we strive for with all of our clients. One area that has resonated with audiences is a focus on story-telling. Through creative video, we’ve helped small colleges define their student experience for potential recruits, as well as integrate with broader digital campaigns.

Don’t Focus on the Medium

Aside from outdoor advertising, which is less than effective for the budget it demands, working with the client to understand that, “It’s not the medium, it’s the message,” has been key to producing effective campaigns.

For Mount Mercy University - the message needed to be about the familial relationships a small faculty provides to help students make the journey from young adult to graduate. Highlighting these strengths, amenities and services helps recruits decide if this college could be the right fit.

Harmonizing video, social, landing pages and targeted ads to spread that message is an art form, not just a technical execution. Higher ed institutions who wish to embrace an omni-channel approach not only need to pick an agency adept at executing on all fronts, they also need to work at the organizational level to explain the strategy to stakeholders and faculty.

Smaller Colleges More Nimble, Innovative

In particular, small universities and private colleges have a unique opportunity to break free from the confines of a standard college recruiting because they have a smaller administrative team to gear up on the approach.

While it may be harder for alumni and stakeholders to see the campaign in action (no billboards, targeted ads will only show to the correct demographics) it won’t be difficult to show results. Details on the performance of the campaigns will help the marketing directors become heroes by showcasing the differentiators their college has to offer.

To truly kick higher ed out of the traditional marketing box, marketers need to keep pushing marketing decision makers to take risks on higher ed digital marketing strategies while staying true to the brand identity of the college.

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Liz Kennedy

Liz Kennedy

Website Project Manager Liz Kennedy hails from a multi-disciplinary background. Her training in instructional design, multimedia, website development and deep understanding of small business helps Liz bridge the technical divide for customers going through the website development process. And she makes a mean potato salad.

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