Content marketing is a powerful strategy to attract and cultivate new students, but can it also help you diversify your student body?
Unfortunately, this benefit doesn’t get enough attention.
By adjusting the kinds of content you are producing, you can amplify the scope of the kinds of students you are attracting to your school.
As a marketing strategy, content marketing is flexible in that you can attract and cultivate many different kinds of students.
However, when evaluating a school’s content marketing system (CMS), it’s easy for higher ed marketers to get tunnel vision when defining their target audience.
This is where diversity efforts tend to stall out. However, higher ed marketers cannot afford to give up on their diversity goals.
That means marketing teams need to get with the times and bring a diversity of voices into their CMS strategy.
In this episode of the Higher Ed Marketer podcast, Kat explains why colleges and universities need to start appealing to a broader array of personas, including the people who influence young students’ choices the most — their parents.
Fewer Contributors Equals Lesser Diversity in Content Marketing
Earlier in our conversation, Kat mentioned a trend that she is seeing in higher education that she feels is going to hurt our schools in the long run: cutting down on the number of content contributors.
There are a lot of reasons that a school would engage fewer content creators.
The complexity of managing the content production process, the economic strain of producing the content, or even the lack of people available to create the content can cause marketing teams to tamper down on the amount of content they publish.
But the decision to cut down on content is going to come back to haunt higher ed marketing teams.
We check in with all of our customers multiple times a year to see how they’re doing, know what their strategy is, see where they are going, and understand what their challenges are.
I’ve heard the same thing [among many of our clients] that there is some thought about paring down the number of content contributors.
This is [a decision] that I don’t necessarily agree with, because higher education has definitely recognized that it has to appeal to a broader audience more than ever before.
The pool of college-bound high school students is greatly diminishing. It’s a trend that’s going to continue at a very steep level. Because of that, most colleges and universities have to focus on additional personas, not just high school graduates.
They also need to appeal to people looking for continuing education, military veterans, career changers, and international students.
Since your web content really needs to resonate with all these different types of visitors, it absolutely needs more diversity of voices and a diversity of messages.
If you then add the fact that diversity in itself is something that your audience (specifically Gen Z) values these days, they need to see proof of [diversity] on your website.
Considering that storytelling and presenting your college or university in the most authentic ways possible, tends to render better results, it’s very clear that your content needs to come from more than just the marketing department.
So paring down [on the variety of content contributors] is not going to be the answer.
More Voices Lead to Greater Diversity and Greater Results
To achieve an authentic level of diversity in your content marketing, you’ve got to have a variety of content contributors from a variety of backgrounds.
These diverse ethnic, cultural, and philosophical backgrounds will naturally come out in whatever they produce from your content marketing efforts.
That’s why Kat recommends going the opposite way of cutting down on content contributors.
In fact, I think you really should consider scaling up [on the variety and diversity of content contributors].
When I hear higher ed marketing teams trying to pare down the number of contributors, it makes me cringe a little bit.
That’s because it means they are foregoing a huge opportunity to tell very personal stories that, in my opinion, can be more memorable than even something like employment statistics, as important as they are.
Prospective students really want to hear from current students, they want to hear from alumni, and they want those stories [to come from] authentic voices.
It’s not even just students [who represent diversity on college campuses].
Look at the brain power [such as researchers and cultural thought leaders] that higher education institutions have at their fingertips. There are so many [diverse] people at the university who change the world on a daily basis, people who are so passionate about their field, and who come from so many different walks of life.
There are so many awesome stories [available for your content marketing]. So let those stories shine! Let them inspire and empower your audience.
Producing highly diverse content marketing by including a variety of content contributors can help colleges and universities find mission-fit students for their institutions.
As prospective students recognize themselves among the diversity of voices in your content marketing, they’ll be able to see if they can fit in at your school.
Discover more when you listen to the podcast!
Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.
Listen to our interview with Kat Liendgens to get even more insights into:
- Incorporating improved diversity of voice in school websites and CRMs (5:09)
- Setting content contributors up for success in your CMS (11:53)
- How higher ed content compares to other industry verticals (18:23)
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