You work tirelessly to attract prospective students. Getting your current students involved in your enrollment marketing can help you craft messaging and stories that better resonate with your audience.
Enrollment marketing teams face challenges every day trying to motivate their audiences to the next step in the comm flow, especially to get them to the campus.
Most schools would say, “If I can get them on campus, there’s a good chance I can get them enrolled.”
Nowhere is this truer than with Jacksonville University. That beachfront view is hard to turn down!
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Sounds easy enough, but the reality is that it’s a lot of hard work just getting students onto your campus…
Whether you’ve got a beachfront view or not.
They did it by actively getting students involved in enrollment marketing and encouraging them to share their stories with the community.
In this Higher Ed Marketer podcast episode, Teresa shares how her school’s administration is leading from the front to elevate the student experience.
Celebrating the Wins
For a lot of schools, the pandemic accelerated an already declining enrollment trend.
But for Jacksonville University, they’ve seen some exciting successes in the middle of these difficult times.
We have been fortunate to be able to increase our first-time freshman enrollment, as well as grow our graduate programs.
And we feel very good about those [results] during this demanding and stressful time with lots of things happening obviously in our country and worldwide.
I think our “key to success” has been showing who we are authentically.
[Another key has been] using techniques to reach out and reach students all over the country and all over the world.
Depending on the year, we have anywhere from 45 to 50 states as well as 54 different countries represented [among our student body].
We work hard to get students and families on campus so they can experience that for themselves. We can show great pictures and show videos, but it’s nothing like being in a location.
Having a campus like JU is definitely a competitive advantage.
But it takes work, though, to get prospective students to that step of the funnel on a campus visit.
So how does JU’s marketing work to get students onto the campus?
Makeup of JU Marketing Team
Jacksonville’s marketing is made up a lot like many other teams in other schools.
We have an internal marketing and communications team, then we have a communications team that’s embedded within admissions. Our marketing team is part of the university, but we have a dedicated team to admissions specifically.
I like the fact that they not only have a core communications and marketing team, but they also have embedded members of that team to work in the admissions office.
We find we can tell our story best because they are embedded in the university in the culture.
They understand it—They live it every day!
So we’re very fortunate to have that setup [because] it gives us an advantage.
That advantage can’t be understated, and it can’t always be quantified.
Enrollment marketing team members can understand and relay the culture of your school to prospective students in an intuitive and authentic way when they’re embedded in these different teams.
How Big Is the JU Marketing Team?
You might think that a lot of the success JU is seeing in their enrollment numbers comes from the number of marketers they have on their team.
That’s not necessarily true. Teresa gave us an idea of just how big their team is.
We actually have a very small team being a smaller university.
We work together. We don’t work in silos. We all come together.
[There are] two people embedded in admissions that [are a part of] our communications team. They handle the communications for both the undergraduate and the graduate population.
Then we have about four people on the marketing team who work with admissions. But they also carry some other responsibilities as well.
In this sense, Jacksonville University is like a lot of colleges and universities.
Small marketing and communications teams are the norm. More than likely, your own marketing team is about this size.
So how can such a small marketing team have such an outsized impact on admissions?
Getting Students Involved in Enrollment Marketing
Teresa attributes their success to intense focus, messaging coherence, and authentic storytelling.
Even though we have a very small team, we are all really, really focused in on what we’re doing.
This is largely because they bring their admissions, communications, and marketing teams together.
They take advantage of the fact that all these teams are small, so they can meet regularly to discuss messaging, strategy, and results.
But then there is the idea that they are able to articulate who they are beyond beautiful beachfront views.
We’ve been able to be successful in producing great marketing materials that just show who we are.
We’re able to speak with one voice so that when students and families come in, the voice that they hear during the admissions process is going to be the same that they have throughout their time at the university.
“Speaking with one voice” goes all the way to getting their students involved in enrollment marketing.
It’s not just the marketing staff that are united in this effort, they actively recruit students to create content for their marketing publications.
We also use our students to tell our stories.
So the marketing team or the communications team can reach out to a student walking by and get something spontaneous.
[They might also] have a student take a spontaneous video of something happening on campus.
We utilize all of that. We think it’s really important.
Beyond getting students involved in enrollment marketing, Teresa and her team also have the active support of their senior leadership.
Our leadership team is keenly aware that when we are out, we are always talking about the University.
It’s not unusual at all for the provost to come back and say, “I was in Atlanta last week, and this person is going to be contacting you about a niece or a nephew coming in.”
Because we are a smaller institution, we take a very individualized approach to our recruitment in admissions.
This idea of student-centered focus is really infused in every aspect of our culture of the university.
In fact, this student-focused approach goes so deep that at their matriculation ceremony, the president gives out his personal cell phone number to every student in the incoming class!
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 Teresa MacGregor to get even more insights into:
- Encouraging campus visits through a culture of storytelling (6:54)
- An individualized approach to student recruitment (18:42)
- The value narrative brewing around higher education (26:25)
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Featured image via ju.edu