May 24

How to Work with Marketing Stakeholders


No education marketer is an island unto themselves. In this post, we explore how to improve collaboration among marketing stakeholders to improve campaign results.

Something I like about working in the education space is how much people value expertise. 

Different colleges specialize in certain sciences. Faculty are chosen based on their prior research and/or publications.  

Administration departments build their teams by hiring candidates with expertise that matches the job.

If you’re lucky, that’s how your marketing team was assembled!

But with a team of crack shot marketers ready to go, it’s easy to miss the added step of including your marketing stakeholders in the process.

Marketing stakeholders slow things down and sometimes need lots of hand holding. 

But they also can make or break your marketing efforts. 

So it’s important to find ways to get them involved without derailing the publication process.

But first…

What are marketing stakeholders?

A stakeholder, by the official definition in the landmark work Stakeholder Theory, is “any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organization’s objectives.”

So a marketing stakeholder is “any group or individual who can affect or is affected” by your marketing activity.

For a for-profit business, primary stakeholders normally are customers, employees, suppliers, and shareholders.

But in the educational sector, primary marketing stakeholders could be… 

  • Prospective students, 
  • Student families, 
  • The marketing team, 
  • Interdepartamental colleagues, and 
  • School executive staff.

Another way to think about marketing stakeholders is if you look around your office (and you’re not working remotely) you’ll probably see all of your marketing team mates.

Graphic designers, photographers, writers, editors, web developers — all of these are the normal titles you’ll see in a typical marketing team.

But these amazing people aren’t the only ones on your team!

Marketing stakeholders are the teammates you don’t see in your marketing department. 

You would never think to do your job without your marketing team! 

In the same way, I recommend including all of your marketing stakeholders in your work to get the very most out of your efforts.

How do you work with your marketing stakeholders?

One of the first things you’ll notice when looking at my list of marketing stakeholders is that you don’t have control over most of them.

You probably have influence or control over the members of the marketing team, but it’s very hard to control your prospective students or school executives, for example. 

In fact, many of these marketing stakeholders aren’t even in your physical location or department.

So how do you work with them on marketing strategies and campaigns?

Introducing Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholder mapping is an exercise where you map out the various groups and individuals who should have a say in how you do your education marketing.

It also helps you prioritize each stakeholder so you can distribute your time and attention well among them all. 

There are many different graphics and layouts that you can look up online for stakeholder mapping, like this one below.

Using a stakeholder map like this one can help you manage your marketing stakeholders.

But this really doesn’t have to be a complicated task.

And your stakeholder map may even not have all the people I listed in my bullet points above. 

Conversely, yours might have people I didn’t include. 

That’s why I recommend you try out this exercise and see which groups and individuals are a part of your marketing stakeholders. 

Here are the two main marketing stakeholders I think education marketers should focus on.

School Executives

For me, the first marketing stakeholders that every education marketer should communicate with on a regular basis are school executives. 

Depending on the size of your institution, this group might be made up of many or a few individuals.

If your school is larger, you probably won’t be able to speak to the top executives often. 

In this case, try to get as close as you can to the VP executives across the team.

It is helpful to get the perspective of various VP’s — not just the VP of marketing and enrollment. 

Remember, they are marketing stakeholders, even if “marketing” isn’t in their job description.

Their department or program is touched in some way by what your marketing team does, so it will go a long way for them to see your efforts to reach out to them for their perspective.

Now if your school is smaller, you have the advantage of a lot more facetime with the president and CEO of your institution. 

This first-hand information is a major benefit! 

You’ll hear from the source just where the school is going and what values are driving the decisions of the school. 

Both of these are powerful ingredients to use in your messaging strategy

Interdepartmental Colleagues

While they may not have any marketing training or experience, your colleagues from other departments in the school can be valuable assets to your team. 

Getting a coffee, eating lunch in the cafeteria, or even a more official meeting with your peers in other departments can bring a fresh perspective to your messaging.

Here are some examples of colleagues who can really help with your institution’s messaging:

  • Alumni Relations 
  • Development or Advancement
  • Student Services
  • Campus Life and Events
  • Finances and Accounting
  • Facility Management

Each one of these marketing stakeholders has a unique viewpoint on the direction of the school, what makes your institute different from the others, and how things are continually improving.

Each one of these groups is a part of your larger marketing team. 

They are the teammates that you won’t see in your marketing offices.

For more strategies, tips, and insights into improving your enrollment marketing results, contact us today!

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Featured image by Howtogoto via Adobe Stock

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