Ideas, insights and inspirations.

With the holiday rush upon us and a new year quickly approaching, taking a moment to reflect on past victories and envisioning future endeavors is a welcome pause. Changing behavior, enacting new ideas and nurturing relationships should be at the forefront of all businesses this holiday season and into the new year. In fact, it is pretty much the story line for the redemption of infamous businessman Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. If you aren’t familiar with or need a refresher on the tale then here’s the lowdown. Scrooge was a shrewd businessman with a bad attitude who made his fortune managing a London accounting house. A full-fledged curmudgeon with quite a few nasty quirks like rudely hovering over stacks of coin, brow beating his sole employee Bob Cratchit, hoarding the office coal and frequently venturing on profanity laced tirades of “Bah!” and “Humbug!” To take it a a step further, he likened taking a vacation day … Continue reading

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I’m an average guitar player. Some might say very average. But I can play in a support role to almost anyone. Why? Because I have enough basic knowledge about music theory that if someone says to me, “We’ll be playing this is in the key of C,” I know that I’ll be safe playing a basic C-F-G (I-IV-V) chord progression. Or if I really want to impress someone I could possibly add the minor 6 (Am) for a C-G-Am-F (I-V-vi-IV) progression. And I can do this same thing in any key. But of course, none of this makes me a musician. Far from it, I’m just a guy who can get by playing in my neighbor’s backyard with friends. But the cool thing is, it also makes me part of the band whose members are all way better than me. They are the musicians. They’re musicians because they have gone beyond the basic knowledge of scales and chords – and … Continue reading

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Higher education institutes are generating data from a variety of sources: CRM data, web analytics, enrollment data, student data, LMS data and alumni data. All this information is causing a data glut where data is being gathered, stored and forgotten due to a variety of reasons. According to EDUCAUSE, data in numerous cases is only being used to satisfy reporting requirements and neither being actively used for strategic purposes (this includes marketing, enrollment and resource optimization) nor is it being used effectively for making predictions or triggering proactive decisions on imminent issues. Purchasing a few tools for data analytics is easy however the real value lies in having the curiosity to ask the right questions and the skill to delve into data to find answers. Here are a few strategies when looking into higher ed data. Social Media Look at the insight dashboard of your social media platform. Analyze which posts had the most engagement rate (a combination of likes, … Continue reading

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Last Thursday, we had an interesting monthly performance report (ROI) meeting with a client. In that process, we made several observations about traffic downturns on a particular program, which defied the historic trend data. At the same time, there seemed to be an across-the-board decline in leads, which also ran counter to seasonal data for this time of year. On one hand, one could consider the marketing activity to be a failure. But, with ROI analysis is always best to avoid a snap judgment, given the number of moving parts in any integrated campaign. Life in the marketing fast lane is more complex than ever. So, we began asking more questions. First, we queried the client to see if they had seen anything similar in their own sales reports. No joy. In fact, it was just the opposite. Sales (based on internal tracking) were generally up over the previous month. Que? Second, we asked about a recent in-house update to … Continue reading

I have four pieces of advice. Pilot then scale First, follow the timeless principle of pilot then scale. Take one course online rather than offer an entire degree online. Then take one degree online instead of taking half a dozen degrees online. Start with unique programs Second, build early successes by piloting with a unique program that has a chance for enrollment success. For instance, taking the MBA in Sustainability program online is far easier than competing in the ferocious MBA market. Make them remarkable Third, make your first online course remarkably strong and visually stunning. It will set the tone for others who will follow. Bet on champions Fourth, start your journey with a faculty champion who wants to make a mark. Remember change is hard. You want to be smart, set the tone, and forge a path for others to follow. Learn more about our higher education marketing services.

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The question of whether MOOCs pose a threat of extinction to brick-and-mortar institutions is akin to the argument of whether digital music destroyed, is destroying, or will destroy the music industry. The answers to the latter questions are no, no and no, while the answer to the former is still no. MOOCs are goosing the educational landscape today the same way Napster and mp3s roused a coasting music industry in the early aughts. “The paint is barely dry,” wrote Laura Pappano about emerging MOOCs in 2012, “yet edX, the nonprofit start-up from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has 370,000 students this fall in its first official courses. That’s nothing. Coursera, founded just last January, has reached more than 1.7 million — growing ‘faster than Facebook,’ boasts Andrew Ng, on leave from Stanford to run his for-profit MOOC provider.” The appeal of MOOCs, much like the appeal of Napster and other music-sharing sites, is affordability (sometimes free), access, speed, … Continue reading

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As a firm steadily building a reputation for higher education marketing and branding, we often receive phone calls and RFPs from colleges who quickly disclose a sense of urgency — “we need help” — without necessarily understanding what they want to buy or how a firm like Elliance can make a difference. Given the sandstorm of confusion that accompanies any mention of higher education branding, it’s understandable. Much of the blame falls on those who claim to be branding experts. Too often they use doublespeak and proprietary methods to dazzle and distract buyers from their own better judgment. In my experience, the tools and habits of brand work are simple, albeit not that common. Here are 8 simple rules or things you should expect from a quality brand firm or professional: They should ask good, hard questions — dozens and dozens. They should avoid their own confirmation bias or any other form of group think. They should measure some, but … Continue reading

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In the era of declining college applications, how does a college gain an outsized share of a shrinking market? Here are 10 strategies that visionary college presidents and their teams are continually deploying to fortify and turnaround their institutions: 1. Invest in Branding. Babson has positioned itself as THE college for entrepreneurship, American University as THE supplier of “wonks” to the political and governmental establishment, Drexel as THE university that mandates coop experience, and so on. Investing in a strong brand can lift a college from obscurity to national prominence. 2. Focus. Palo Alto University offers psychology degrees only, Wheelock College offers child development programs only, Florida Polytechnic is the sunshine state’s STEM university, and Thunderbird School of Management specializes in International business only. Inch-wide, mile deep. 3. Offer guarantees. Whether it is a graduate-in-four-years guarantee (e.g. Randolph-Macon College), a job guarantee (e.g. Capitol Technology University) or a tuition lock (e.g. William Woods University grad and online programs), parents and … Continue reading

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If you don’t know the answer to this simple question, you might as well postpone the web redesign project. Answers could range from increased sales of key product lines, growth of right-fit clients, expand geographic reach, define a distinctive position, align with new business strategy, relaunch the brand, to widen the sales funnel. If you are interested in redesigning a new website that is a conversion machine, contact us.

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