Top performing higher education marketing agencies help their clients deploy the following best practices:
1. You become the story you choose to tell.
It’s how institutions make meaning from the arc of their history, and operate with a sense of destiny to create purpose that propels them into the future. This story is what students, parents, donors, funders and partners buy into. A brand rarely exceeds the size of its ambition.
2. Students, not the institution, are the real heroes of your story.
Colleges and universities are generative when they feed their students’ passions to enable them to realize their personal hero’s journey.
3. Invest in brand. Speak with one brand voice.
Know your core promise, values, ideals, distinctions and what you stand for. Articulate your brand value cheerfully irrespective of whether you are a liberal arts college, STEM university, research powered, experiential brand, college of access, online educator or an integrative brand. Speak with one brand voice to all audiences, but strike different notes for each segment of students, donors, partners and influencers.
4. Prove your brand claims.
Buyers are smart and skeptical. Persuade them by providing proofs in the form of stories, stats and third-party validations. In this day and age, it’s better to be long on proofs and short on claims.
5. Invest in first impressions.
First impressions matter.
- Brand your college because in the sea of sameness, brands win. Speak with one brand voice to all audiences striking different notes for each audience segment. Tell a better story.
- Fortify every touch point – including websites, social media channels, your Wikipedia entry, email signatures, newsletters, tours, information sessions, and all your presentations.
- Celebrate your star students, alumni and faculty because they, not the institution, are the real heroes of your story.
- Claim your Google page 1 rankings – ensuring the information that appears on search engine results is persuasive and inviting.
- Make your facilities and grounds beautiful because beauty engenders confidence.
6. Romance prospects with high-fidelity academic program pages.
They are the “money pages” on a website used by value-minded prospects and their families to make their college choices. Build them with the right balance of persuasion architecture, argument construction and beauty.
7. Pursue right-fit students.
Invert the admissions funnel by marketing your students and alumni heroes to attract like-minded prospects. This will create admission pipes, not funnels. Leads generated here out-convert paid advertising leads by three-folds (which in turn out-convert purchased names by three-folds).
8. Surround and engage prospects and influencers where they hang out.
Fish where the fish are. Allocate marketing investments in digital channels where students roam. Invest marketing dollars in both traditional and digital channels where influencers live.
9. Claim your mountain.
If you are ranked on US News & World Report, then secure your Google page one rankings too. Don’t surrender top search rankings for your star programs to competitors, lead aggregators and commoditizers.
10. Reimagine your publishing potential. Claim your thought leadership.
Weaponize your content based on your college’s natural wellspring of ideas, innovation, and intellectual capital with a thoughtful Keyword Lexicon, search engine optimization, social sharing and automation.
Leads generated from high-fidelity content out-convert paid advertising leads by three-folds (which, again, out-convert purchased names by three-folds). The best prospects prefer to “discover” the college of their choice through word-of-mouth on social media and via “accidental finds” on Google page one.
11. Stand for something. Win battle for meaning.
Stand for a societal or global cause that is meaningful and consequential yet rooted in your institutional core strengths. Actively participate in it and promote it. In a fragmented world where there are competing voices and narratives, it’s vital for a brand to win battle for meaning – with intentionality – by owning mindshare, social shares and Google rankings for your distinct point-of-view.