Deploying a successful enrollment marketing strategy in-house can be overwhelming.
Whether it’s because your school’s marketing team is short on resources, you lack experience, or you just need an outsider’s perspective – sometimes, the best decision an administration can make is to call for backup.
I covered several indicators that your institution’s enrollment marketing strategy could use some fine-tuning in an earlier post.
Now, let’s talk about five telltale signs that you should look outside your campus’s walls to get your enrollment marketing strategy up to par.
#1) You Don’t Have an Enrollment Marketing Strategy!
Oh, boy! If you are a smaller college or university, your marketing department is likely limited to a handful of people (maybe fewer). You may be scratching your heads, wondering where to begin building an enrollment marketing strategy.
If so, you are not alone!
Lindsay Nyquist, Director of Marketing and Communications at Fort Lewis College, shared some of her experience with ramping up her school’s enrollment marketing strategy on Episode 57 of The Higher Ed Marketer podcast:
“When I started here fifteen years ago, the marketing department was one and a half people, and it’s slowly grown over time. But because of a lack of resources, both human and financial, we didn’t have a lot of clarity around who we were and what our brand was.” – Lindsay Nyquist, Director of Marketing and Communications at Fort Lewis College
I get it… smaller teams often have to wear multiple hats. So, finding the time to draw the roadmap for your enrollment marketing strategy can feel impossible.
But that roadmap will give your team clear and consistent direction. Without it, you’ll be running an uphill race hampered by confusion and a lack of identity.
You may just need a guide to put you on the proper path. An experienced team can help you establish an action plan to set your school on track to reaching its admissions goals.
Speaking of lack of identity…
#2) Is Your Brand a Mystery?
If you walked around your campus and asked students to articulate your school’s brand in 10 seconds or less, how would they respond?
How about your professors? Administrators?
One of the primary goals of an enrollment marketing strategy is establishing your institution’s identity. So how do you do that?
You build a narrative through content. But what does that mean?
I am a big proponent of inbound marketing. Why? Because nobody likes to be subjected to an endless barrage of marketing materials. People love shopping. They want to come on their terms and see what your school offers for themselves.
You present those offerings by telling a story. But, as John Drevs, Associate Vice President of Digital Marketing and Communications at Loyola University Chicago, explains – it’s not as easy as it sounds:
“Doing content well takes a lot of resources. Telling stories well takes a lot of resources. If you’re not compelling somebody to action through those resources, then you’re being ineffective and inefficient.” – John Drevs, Associate Vice President of Digital Marketing and Communications at Loyola University Chicago
By establishing unique and consistent content like blogs and testimonials, you too can give your target audience a compelling narrative and spread brand awareness.
Ultimately, you want to craft content that answers your prospective students’ questions and will show up in the results they’re searching for.
But crafting a story takes time – and patience! If you’re fresh out of resources to tap into, it might be time to reach for a helping hand. A fresh perspective can do wonders for your school’s brand.
Because if your brand needs a makeover, then it’s likely that…
#3) Your Social Media is a Mess
Social media is the simplest, most efficient way to connect and engage with your prospective students.
Some administrations might be hesitant to embrace social media because it opens the door to potential blowback in a public forum. My colleague John Drevs also addressed this topic during our last conversation:
“We talk a lot these days about the challenge of social media being a not-zero risk platform, that, because you’re in a two-way communication flow, there’s opportunity for people to have dissent. There are opportunities for people to tell you what’s wrong with your institution, but it also is a very authentic experience for our audiences – being able to understand and engage with our brand and understand that not only are we telling a story but that they can tell us a story back.” – John Drevs
There is no denying that Gen Z is hooked on social media. Whether it be your usual suspects, such as Instagram and TikTok, or up-and-coming game-changers, like ZeeMee, social media is the golden ticket to connecting higher ed communities.
Of course, sorting through all the algorithms and analytics that come into play can feel like swimming in alphabet soup.
Taking advantage of social media metrics is an art in itself. However, by bringing in an experienced team, you can gain additional insights into the social media landscape.
Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s possible that …
#4) Your Enrollment Marketing Strategy is Alphabet Soup
Leverage, moving parts, bandwidth, synergy, silos, scalable…
If your enrollment marketing strategy is drowning in business jargon, you need to trim the fat.
Consider that you’ll have to sell your strategy to an administration whose members probably aren’t marketing experts. If they can’t understand it, they certainly won’t buy into it.
Your plan should be clear and concise. It should also have room to breathe and adapt – the digital landscape is constantly shifting, and your strategy should move with it.
If your team lacks the competencies or editing skills to mold your enrollment marketing strategy into consumable content, then it might be time to broaden your bandwidth and punt to a team who can best leverage your core competencies into scalable solutions…
In other words, reach out to someone who can help make your strategy readable. Bringing in an authoritative voice who can make difficult cuts that you might not have considered is also a plus.
Your enrollment marketing strategy may have an even bigger problem, though, if…
#5) It’s Thinner Than Water
What’s worse than a wordy enrollment marketing strategy? One missing more pieces than a used jigsaw puzzle at a garage sale.
This digital checklist is a good starting point to determine if your strategy is hitting on crucial points. But there are plenty of other questions you can ask yourself to gauge your strategy’s effectiveness.
- Does your enrollment marketing strategy focus on mission-fit students?
- What is your call to action for following up on leads?
- Are you incorporating genuine student-made content?
- What is it about your plan that makes your school special?
As Christian DiGregorio, Director of International Recruitment at York College of Pennsylvania, put it while talking about international leads, setting yourself apart from a crowded higher ed space isn’t easy:
“Think of all the schools buying names. And then what happens? We get them, we dump them into our CRM, and then the email onslaught begins. How do you stand out? That’s really hard. You need to lead with your strengths.” – Christian DiGregorio, Director of International Recruitment at York College of Pennsylvania
Take a moment to jot down the strengths of your enrollment marketing strategy.
If you’re not pleased with the results, then it’s time to consider talking to outside experts who can help you craft a strategy that builds off of your college or university’s strengths.
Reach Out For a Helping Hand
Building a successful enrollment marketing strategy can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you need help, we’re here for you.
Let’s chat about how we can help you craft a map that will guide your school to the mountaintop.
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