June 26

5 Steps to Prep Your Content Marketing Strategy for the Enrollment Cliff


If colleges and universities are going to survive the enrollment cliff in the coming years, then shifting to a proactive content marketing strategy will be essential.

This strategy is about more than just producing compelling content. It’s about getting your entire content marketing house in order.

Higher ed marketing teams can’t afford to find themselves constantly reacting to challenges thrown their way, especially when the biggest test they’ll ever face is yet to come.

A clear, well-structured plan can help you stay ahead of the curve while thoughtful leadership guides your team toward making meaningful connections with your target audiences.

Your Proactive Content Marketing Strategy Roadmap

Shifting your focus from a reactive to a proactive content marketing strategy won’t be done overnight. It will be a journey that your higher ed marketing team must coordinate together.

This journey will require a strategic plan, or roadmap, to outline the milestones your institution will need to reach.

Each step will draw upon foundational leadership principles to shape an effective, efficient, and dynamic marketing strategy.

It’s time to get your content marketing house in order — let’s get started.

1. Embrace a Shared Vision

I know this sounds a bit prosaic, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that every stakeholder in your content marketing efforts is on the same page.

That’s true for any organization, large or small, and it starts at the top with leadership.

Dr. Mark Jobe, President at Moody Bible Institute, said it best in our conversation on The Higher Ed Marketer podcast in 2022:

“When I look at leadership, I have a limited responsibility. A good leader has to narrow down their primary responsibilities… Number one is clarifying vision.

Above all else, college and university leaders need to ensure their school’s vision aligns with their larger goals and objectives.

Once you know how you’re reaching your ultimate destination, your marketing team can successfully implement a long-term plan for delivering useful content.

2. Strategize With Purpose

Once you’ve collectively outlined your vision, it’s time to transform it into an actionable content marketing strategy.

I touched on this already, but if you haven’t done so, now is the time to identify your target audiences and their preferences:

If you want to engage your audience effectively, you need to know who they are, where they are, and what they want.

3. Develop a Content Calendar

A well-organized content calendar is a must-have resource in a proactive content marketing strategy.

Now is the time to get into the specifics of what type of content you want your team to focus on and schedule publishing dates on target platforms.

A good content calendar should also clearly delegate roles and responsibilities to your marketing team. By doing so, you’ll optimize your resources and avoid last-minute scrambles because you forgot to schedule someone to write that Homecoming blog!

Here are some examples of regularly scheduled content pieces and moments you’ll want to focus on:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Email campaigns
  • Special events and key dates
  • Admissions cycle phases

Don’t forget your most valuable on-campus resource when planning for new content — your students!

Nobody knows better than them what kind of content speaks to Gen Z, so pick their brains as much as possible.

4. Review and Adapt

The whole point of a proactive content marketing strategy is ensuring your school gets the most bang for its buck from the get-go.

That said, proactive marketing doesn’t mean “set it and forget it.” You still need to keep an eye on how your content is performing and make any necessary adjustments:

  • Track Performance: Use every bit of aggregated data to track your content marketing metrics the second your content goes live using tools like Google Analytics.
  • Collect Feedback: Ask your target audience for their honest thoughts about your content. You can do this indirectly through surveys and polls or directly through focus groups with current and prospective students.
  • Stay Responsive to Changes: Adjust your plan when necessary. For example, ChatGPT completely altered the content marketing landscape when it went live in late 2022, and most schools should have adapted their strategy accordingly.

When used together, these methods will paint a picture of your content’s effectiveness so you can refine it whenever your strategy needs to take a detour.

5. Build Partnerships

Collaboration will be a critical component of your proactive content marketing strategy, and I don’t just mean with outside parties.

The strength of your external network will impact your reach, but your internal network will help enrich your content by seeing its potential through a different lens.

You should consider teaming up with these partners to get the most value out of your content:

  • Internal Stakeholders: Faculty, alumni, and current students all have unique perspectives that can enrich your content. Reach out to these individuals for blog contributions, interviews, and testimonials.
  • Influencers: Connecting with popular personalities can give your content marketing a boost. They could be well-known alumni or even student influencers who can then promote your content on their respective platforms.
  • Community Organizations: You could sponsor local events, contribute to community projects, or partner with local businesses. These partnerships can give your institution positive visibility and reinforce its connection to the community.

Remember, successful partnerships are mutually beneficial, so always approach a potential contributor with that in mind.

Then you can establish long-lasting relationships that will be essential to deepening engagement with your target audiences for years to come.

A Proactive Content Marketing Strategy Is Your School’s Way Forward

A shift to a proactive content marketing strategy isn’t a sprint. It involves dedicated planning and optimization.

Moreover, it requires strong leadership to shift a reactive culture to a proactive one.

It will be a challenge, but nothing worth doing is easy. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone.

At Caylor Solutions, we specialize in transforming your marketing approach, moving from firefighting to fireproofing.

If you’re ready to make a shift and safeguard your school against the enrollment cliff, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Together, we can create a future-proof content marketing strategy for your institution. Contact us today! 

Looking for Enrollment Marketing Content that Works?

You’re in luck! We’ve curated 25 awesome ideas inspired by top higher ed institutions across the country and put them in one handy guide: 25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content.

25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content In this popular resource from Caylor Solutions, you’ll get…

  • 25 enrollment marketing content ideas you might never have considered before
  • Guidance on how to use each one for best results
  • Brief discussion on why they work to help you sell these ideas to your team

Get inspired.
Get enrollment results.
Get 25 Ideas for Great Admissions Content.
Download your copy today!

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The Enrollment Cliff Is Real

Explore strategies for tackling the enrollment cliff and finding mission-fit students with insights from Bart’s book, Chasing Mission Fit.