Ideas, insights and inspirations.

Great content is the lifeblood of successful brands. However, creating great content is a labor of love. It takes both an investigative mind (that discovers and uncovers brand evidence and proofs) and an imaginative mind (that infuses brand romance) to create persuasive content. Two quick reminders before I dive into the content ecosystem. First, the best college copywriters and storytellers uncover truths about an institution that it may not have even known about itself. They instinctively know that the real hero of their story is the student, the alum and the faculty member — not the institution. They tell the stories of the challenges the brand heroes faced and how they creatively overcame them to realize their personal destinies. As my colleague Todd Erkel would say, a college becomes the story it chooses to tell. Second, before you embark on your content journey, I would strongly encourage creation of a SEO Keyword Lexicon that’ll guide all future content creation. It’s comprised … Continue reading

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. It’s naive to think that everyone associated with the college is a prospective donor. It’s equally naive to expect that alumni who show up at glitzy events or receive slick campaign marketing materials will end up donating. A college can, however, increase the chances of receiving donations from various constituents by following sensible guidelines. Jim Langley, of Langley Innovations, buckets them into (a) Affiliation, (b) Agency, (c) Appreciation and (d) Accountability. Alumni likely to donate are those who: Worked on campus when they were students. Recommended Action for Colleges: Invest in work study, student research, student experience and student wellness initiatives. Remained actively engaged/involved with the school after graduation. Recommended Action for Colleges: Invite them as volunteers, interviewers and feature their accomplishments in university publications. As students, benefited from special relationships with an exceptional faculty … Continue reading

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. There are hundreds of ways for capital campaigns to go wrong, but these five characteristics define all successful ones: Consequential: They set goals for lasting, measurable impact and for improvements to community, society and the human condition i.e. goals that transform the institution into a school of consequence.  Ambitious: They aspire for attainable, ambitious goals, not institutional survivorship. They propel the organization from great to extraordinary. Strategic: They build on strengths rather than overcome institutional weaknesses. They deepen competitive advantage. Heroic: They widen the margin of excellence. Investable: They generate positive impact and returns. My next blog post will outline characteristics of various types of donors. Learn more about Elliance philanthropic marketing services.

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.” – Abraham Lincoln. This sentiment specifically applies to vice presidents for advancement when planning, launching and implementing capital and comprehensive campaigns. They create a culture of giving, increase gift size and improve gift productivity by playing these five crucial roles: Embrace the Right Mindsets & Skillsets   Understand the distinctions and relationships between strategic planning, advancement, development and fundraising. Know the difference between capital campaigns and comprehensive campaigns, and deploy them appropriately. Understand student and alumni appreciation for the faculty, staff and the institution. Possess the skillset and experience in not only planning and launching a campaign but also sustaining complex operations in the field for a number of years. Lay the Groundwork Know whether … Continue reading

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This post was informed by our agency experience with clients and partially inspired by my reading of Jim Langley of Langley Innovations’ books on fundraising. College presidents, vice presidents for advancement, and board members form the trifecta for envisioning, executing and consummating a successful capital or comprehensive campaign. Board members do far more than simply fundraise. They also quietly direct and choreograph the fundraising dance by playing three crucial roles: Strategist & Visionary As institutional visionaries, they: Ensure strategic planning is based on objective institutional assessment, not naive and self-serving assumptions. Apply a strategic, evidence-based, milestone-driven approach to all aspects of the campaign. Serve as sounding boards for the overall purpose of the campaign. Act as venture capitalists to ensure that campaign priorities are sensible, business plan-like and investable. Help select talented fundraising consultants and hold them accountable. Demand that funds raised are invested quickly in designated initiatives. Donor Every board member must be a lead, major or a supportive … Continue reading

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Consumers are now used to interfacing with things in bits, bytes and and bite-sized chunks. When it comes to reeling in a broad audience, marketers are using vanity URLs to do exactly this by shortening lengthy, confusing URLs into readable and accessible links. What are Vanity URLs? Vanity URLs: Are short and clean, easy to remember and easy to read website URLs Are seen as more trustworthy than long links and perform better in terms of clicks Can increase rankings on search engines if keywords are embedded in them Can be monitored so that you can track where traffic is coming from, and which advertisements or platforms are performing best What are The Two Types of Vanity URLs? Vanity URLs are very useful for a variety of purposes, but depending on the need they can be utilized in two places within a URL. A subdomain (prefix) occurs at the beginning of a URL (e.g. xyz.college.edu) while a subfolder (suffix) occurs … Continue reading

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In serving over 100 colleges and universities, we’ve learned that it takes a coordinated effort on three mutually enhancing fronts to create enrollment success: To help new vice presidents of enrollment succeed in their new consequential roles, we’ve distilled our key learnings and developed the following checklist: 1. Key Strategy Questions What’s our unique position in the marketplace? Uniqueness and distinctiveness make a brand stand out. What’s our institutional brand? In the sea of sameness, brands always win. Which students generate foundational revenue for our college/university? Undergraduate, graduate or online students? Are our marketing budgets allocated proportionately? Enrollment best practices vary for undergraduate, graduate or online students? Are we deploying the appropriate best practices for each? Signature and stalwart programs bring an unfair share of revenue? Are we defending our core revenue while trying to grow the rest? For undergraduate admissions, what’s the breakdown between traditional, non-traditional, online, transfer, Pell and full pay, athletes and international students? Are our marketing … Continue reading

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2021 is finally here. Here are some of our predictions for this coming year. Covid’s drag on students and colleges will persist at least through the summer. The previous administration’s negative impact on international recruitment will begin to ease. Celebration of diversity will be in vogue again due to continued growth in underrepresented students. Paid media prices will continue their meteoric climb. The absence of high-school travel and standardized test-takers will continue. Due to economic uncertainty, the decline in number of high school graduates enrolling in college immediately after high school will continue. In this time of volatile change, here is our advice for higher education marketers to overcome the challenges and make the most of emerging opportunities: 1. Celebrate Diversity Gen-Z and Millenials are race-blind, faith-blind and gender-blind. As part of the most diverse generation in U.S. history, they take diversity for granted. They accept, not just respect, others for who they are – irrespective of their race, religious … Continue reading

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Imagine a college or university making a capital campaign pitch with this kind of clear return-on-investment data: every $1 given to scholarships generates nearly four times the amount in lifetime student earnings. That’s the case with Macomb Community College, which raised more than $10 million for its largest-ever fundraising campaign concluding in 2018. The campaign, called “Mission Macomb: Creating Opportunities & Channing Lives” exceeded its goal by 8 percent and doubled the number of private scholarships available to students. While capital campaigns have traditionally been associated with four-year institutions, robust fundraising efforts are gaining momentum in community colleges around the country. The data from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) shows that over the last decade, the average community college endowment grew by 76 percent. This data suggests a big opportunity for community colleges that are not already running a capital campaign. Successful capital campaigns can help community colleges fund their educational missions, diversify funding sources so … Continue reading

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Google page 1 is destiny. 90% of users never go beyond page 1 of Google results. Organic rankings (i.e. the 10 natural search results) are trusted more, and convert three-folds better than paid ads. Here are a 10-step plan for colleges, universities and higher education institutions to secure coveted Google page 1 rankings. 10-Step SEO Plan for Colleges, Universities and Higher Education Institutions 1. Identify Your Goals and Objectives Here are a few common goals: Grow enrollment in undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, or online programs Strengthen Brand Reputation locally, regionally, nationally — in new areas of expertise, strategic priorities, and centers of excellence — all in service of positioning the institution as a school of consequence Expand Fundraising to serve students, secure high caliber students, secure talent, or to fulfill the vision of the strategic/master plan Improve External Relations with trade groups, foundations, corporations and government partners Recruit Talent personified by great faculty, staff and students Your tactics should change depending on your selected goal(s). 2. … Continue reading

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