Sizing Up a Marketing Department at Professional Schools

This checklist is designed for new deans sizing up a marketing department and prospective vice presidents for marketing as they evaluate a new job opportunity or performance of their marketing department.

1. What’s Your Brand?

In the sea of sameness, brands win. A brand is the sum of all experiences. It attaches a memorable idea to your school.  It creates expectations and a core promise while creating strong to impenetrable differentiation in the marketplace.

  • Can you articulate your brand and its core promise?
  • Do you speak with your distinctive brand voice, striking different notes for each segment of students, alumni, donors, partners and influencers?
  • Are your website, social media, print materials, brand anthem video, and campaigns curated with the same brand voice?
  • What is the meaningful societal cause your brand stands for?

2. What are the First Impressions of Your School?

First impressions matter.

  • What message is conveyed by your architecture, entrance, grounds, signage, classrooms, admission office décor?
  • Do your key marketing touch points (web, search and social) merchandise hope and opportunity? Or are they utilitarian?

3. Do You Back Your Claims with Ample Proofs?

Buyers and partners are both intelligent and skeptical. Remember, it’s your people, not the institution that is the real hero of your story.

  • Do you provide ample proofs in the form of stories, stats and third-party validations?
  • Do you celebrate your students, faculty, alumni and partners?
  • Do you amplify your outcomes?

4. Do You Romance Prospects with High-Fidelity Academic Program Pages?

Getting a professional degree may be one of the most expensive decisions prospects will ever make. They want to be assured that the value of their degree far exceeds the cost of their education.

  • Are your signature program pages built like Ferraris – with the right balance of romance, persuasion architecture, science of conversions?
  • Do you address head-on why a prospect should seriously consider your school?

5. How Well Are You Managing Your Reputation in The Digital Age?

You become the story you choose to tell.

  • Do you bring a “content is destiny” perspective to the school, and turn all publishing — academic, research, alumni, general audience — into a reputation-building, Google-dominating cooperative enterprise that powers enrollment, reputation and fundraising.
  • Do you have a Keyword Lexicon that contains clusters of thought leadership, innovation and intellectual capital keywords that you can rightfully lay claim to?
  • Do you weaponize all new content with the Keyword Lexicon?
  • Are you making your school magazine content productive so each story is ranked on Google or is it cloistered away in the walled gardens of ISSUU, PDFs and mobile apps?
  • Are you empowering various teams — communications, development, alumni, recruiting, corporate/government relations — so they can transcend outdated silo thinking and embrace the integrated nature of reputation-building in the age of digital channels and content.

6. Are You Pursuing and Enrolling Right-Fit Students?

Right-fit students will go on to become engaged citizens, brand ambassadors, recruiters, partners and donors.

  • Are you using AI techniques, big data smarts, A/B testing to precision-target the kinds of students you want more of in your traditional admissions funnel?
  • Are you leveraging the stories of your student and alumni heroes to attract other like-minded prospects essentially inverting the traditional admissions funnel? This should create admission pipes, not funnels.

7. Do You Have the Right Marketing Team and Partners?

You are as good as your team.

  • Do you have a talented VP of marketing, director, writer, designer, and PR director?
  • Are you partnered with the right agency of record who provides strategic counsel and tells your story with verve and clarity?

8. Do You Know Your Numbers?

As management guru Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

  • Do you know your cost-per-lead and cost-per-enroll?
  • Are you on top of your website metrics like bounce rate, lead generation rate and number of page one Google rankings?
  • Do you measure your brand strength every two to three years?
  • Do you benchmark the school against your peers?

If you are seeking higher education marketing agencies to grow enrollment, endowment and reputation for your college, view our higher education marketing capabilities and consider partnering with us.