Build Higher Education Marketing Champions. Not Campaigns.

On many of the nearly 5,000 colleges and universities across America, Admissions and Marketing staff often share a building and sometimes an office. Regardless of where the two teams sit, they always share an institutional charge — enhance the product/experience, engage a wide community of prospects, parents, alumni and partners, and build reputation.

What’s much less clear on many campuses, is the working level of mutuality and respect.

When I first took a job in Higher Education Marketing, I learned that it wasn’t the building of a budget, team or sophisticated toolkit from scratch that mattered. What was most important was building partnerships between Marketing and Admissions. Finding and cultivating champions in Admissions was essential to success on all fronts.

Now, I’m not talking about “wowing” our colleagues with clever and fun marketing programs. No. I’m talking about face-to-face, heart-to-heart sharing of mutual business goals, insights and advice to develop a collaborative strategic plan. Learn their business from the inside out. Walk a mile in their shoes.

To do that, you have to get up out of the day-to-day trenches and look forward — together. Where do you and your Admissions partners have to take enrollment?

Need more inquiries? Want to expand enrollment geography? Do prospects convert at the expected rate? Where do parents factor into the enrollment decision for your institution, if at all? After they apply, are prospects still fence-sitting? If so, sounds like you need to have the “yield” conversation. Are accepted students “melting” too often? What’s your retention marketing effort look like?

Heard all that before? Ok. Here’s the big news…

You’ll need the deep and long-term commitment of your Admissions partners to meet those institutional goals. Pulling in those colleagues to show them a creative approach or media plan that you’ve settled on won’t cut it.

Think about this… At some point, you’re going to have an epiphany without the budget to launch a game-changing strategy. If you’ve cultivated a true partnership, you can tap the well of their budgetary generosity. Even more importantly, you’ll have built enough trust with those partners that you’ll have advocates in the room before you even pitch the idea. Finally, our Admissions partners often control the enrollment metrics. If you want to prove ROI on any enrollment marketing initiative, you’re going to need their help and support.

Remember, if you really want a marketing champion in Admissions, take off your own hat and put on theirs.