melior education higher education marketing

College Brochures (And Traditional Marketing Strategies) Do Not Cut It

Is your marketing to prospective students modernized? The answer might be “Yes” if it involves much more than just brochures. I recently watched a webinar on marketing strategies for prospective students. Aimed towards admissions professionals and delivered by a data collection firm specializing in enrollment marketing and information for printed materials, it was no surprise they presented the brochure as the central focus of a college marketing campaign.

However, the overarching conclusions were simple – and known to smart marketers for some time:

  • Colleges that want to maintain or increase their admissions and enrollment numbers need to think like marketers.
  • The mentality of “build it and they will come” and “of course they’ve heard of us” no longer applies.
  • It’s important to take stock of your institution’s strengths and its reputation/brand identity, the landscape of prospective students and the factors that impact both of these.
  • Colleges that are using multiple channels (i.e. more than brochures) to reach prospective students see a higher ROI than those that use a single channel.

In essence, the webinar presenters noted what The Melior Group has been seeing for the past five years — with budgets being slashed and demands to meet admissions and enrollment targets increasing, traditional marketing strategies no longer cut it.

  • Broad-based generic messages in all formats (brochures, mailers and across social media) only work for institutions with large budgets and little regard of ROI.
  • ROI on segmented and targeted marketing strategies is much higher, but it means getting more sophisticated in how various marketing techniques are used.

I was reminded of the adage “know your customers.” In this case, it’s “know your prospective students,” but it still applies.

  • Understanding the type of student your institution attracts is critical. But even more vital is understanding the type of student you want to attract and ensuring you develop strategies to recruit them specifically.
  • Parents’ opinions are very important to millennials and colleges should have targeted strategies to reach this audience. We wrote a blog post about this just last year. Some colleges have created “parent-to-parent” groups on facebook and other social media that will allow prospective parents the chance to ask questions they might not get the answers to from their children or from a brochure.

The webinar did provide a few interesting statistics I thought I would share.


The prospective college student’s attention span is decreasing while channels increase:

  • The average attention span for a high school student is 8 seconds… down from 10 seconds just five years ago… so there’s less time to make that all-important first impression than before!
  • High school students tend to have more than one email address (typically 3-5!) and they don’t use email all that frequently; but social media reigns supreme… and if you’re not using social media to target prospective students (and parents) you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Marketers of prospective students fall into three big categories:

  • One-third of college marketers have a segmented approach to marketing.
  • Another third used personalized marketing or communications plans.
  • One third are still using a mass marketing strategy to reach prospective students and are likely missing out on opportunities.

For years, The Melior Group has been supplying in-depth information and working with university clients to help them to think strategically about their marketing efforts.

We have found that marketing strategies are most successful when they include: assessments of brand equity and reputation among key audiences, intelligently designed research to develop messaging that will resonate with prospective target segments and critical insights on how to target and attract the students they want.

To learn more about our work with colleges and universities, visit our Education page or please contact Elizabeth Foley at / 215-545-0054 x111 or Linda McAleer at / 215-545-0054 x104.

The Secular/Cultural Jewish Segment: More Than Meets the Eye

Ever since the publication of the Pew Study on American Jewry in late 2013, there has been a lot of hand wringing over findings that suggest a Jewish community in decline. Headlines blasted the dire news – “1 in 4 Jews are losing their religion!”  “Intermarriage rates continue to rise!”  “Major shift in Jewish identity noted as number of Secular/Cultural Jews grows!”  

For many community leaders, the last point is particularly troublesome.  When viewed on traditional measures of engagement – synagogue affiliation, raising their children as Jews, marrying other Jews, supporting Jewish causes and communal institutions – it is clear that Secular/Cultural Jews are less engaged in the community as a whole. And while that is all true… let’s not write off this growing segment just yet.

You Might Be Surprised To Learn…

Melior’s recent research reveals some surprising, if counter-intuitive, insights into the relationship this growing segment of American Jewry has with the established Jewish community.  In one community we studied, for example…

  • 35% donated to their local Jewish Federation in the past year
  • 30% belong to a religious institution (synagogue/temple/shul)
  • 22% send/sent a child to Jewish Day School

Strategies to Strengthen the Connection

And, in our experience, these results are not unique. Given this, what actions can community leaders take to strengthen the connection between Secular/Cultural Jews and the established Jewish community? Here are some strategies to consider:

Segment. Recognize that not all secular/cultural Jews are alike, and develop outreach strategies tailored to the sub-segments (i.e., those who are connected to traditional communal institutions vs. those who aren’t).

Simplify. Meet Secular/Cultural Jews ‘where they live’ – both figuratively and literally. Offer events/programs tailored to their interests (e.g., food, books, social causes, etc.) and bring these programs to more convenient locales.  Our research shows that secular/cultural Jews often live on the outskirts of a community so make it easy for them to participate.

Stay the course. Like many others within the Jewish community, the relationship of Secular/Cultural Jews to Jewish communal organizations and causes may wax and wane over time due to changes in personal circumstances, interests, and experiences. Keeping lines of communication open yields opportunities to deepen the connection when the opportunity presents itself.

For more information contact Susan J. Levine at / 215-545-0054 ext 107 or Linda McAleer at / 215-545-0054 ext 104.

Community Policing

President Obama Commends Camden: This “City Is On To Something”

In The Melior Group’s line of work, it’s always encouraging to see the results of our research put into action by our clients. It’s even more gratifying when just two years later that President Obama is touting your client for its innovative policing model.

Such was the case, when President Obama visited struggling Camden, New Jersey, to commend the community policing model that the relatively new Camden County Metro Police have been using for the better part of two years. This new model was implemented when the County replaced the city’s police force with a new county-run force.

Before moving forward with hiring the new force, The Melior Group engaged with Camden’s residents, civic leaders, and area law enforcement to learn what was working relative to policing in the city and what wasn’t – and how they could envision the members of the new police force interacting with members of the community. Our work contributed to the community policing model – the results were incorporated in a hiring plan for new Metro police officers, emphasizing themes of cultural awareness and sensitivity, community engagement, and compassion.

See more about our work:  Case Study:  This City Is On To Something

A sitting U.S. President last visited Camden in 1940 – when Camden was in its prime. Now the city has given our current President a reason to return and pay closer attention to the city that, for decades, has been in trouble. Its issues are numerous, among them an aging infrastructure, failing schools, and broken relationships between police and the community. Despite the challenges, Camden has started to address these issues and is repairing police-community relations, to national recognition.

Take a look at two recent articles for more information:

This City Is On To Something – May 2015

Obama To Recommend Camden Policing As National Model – May 2015


For more information on our work, please visit our Government/Civic page or contact Elizabeth Foley at 215-545-0054 ext 111/ or Linda McAleer at 215-545-0054 x104 /

College marketing logo

Who Manages The Relationship With Area Employers? Hint: It’s Not Always Career Services

In our previous post in the series – “Closing The Perception Gap: Are Students Trained to Put Theory Into Practice?”- we briefly touched on the importance of advancing communications and partnerships with employers to improve the general perception about a college or universities ability to deliver on career preparation. The focus was primarily on strategies that enable students to put theory into practice. When you consider developing partnerships at the executive level, doors can open that lead to true innovation.

While internships, hands-on training and job placement opportunities are vitally important to hiring rates and alumnae career trajectories, this aspect of the employer to institution relationship is largely handled in career services departments and is almost entirely student-focused. If this is the only way the institution is engaging employers, it’s likely that significant longer-term growth strategies have been missed.

Especially important to regional public universities and small private colleges are the following questions. What local or regional challenges exist that your graduates may be highly qualified to resolve? Will they be able to develop specific skills or knowledge that give them the competitive advantage in the hiring process?

Put Market Research To Work

The Melior Group worked with a quasi-urban school district in helping them to develop and enhance partnerships with universities who, with some tweaking, could develop programs that would deliver top-notch teachers who were ready to step-in and work in the type of environment where the district is located. A true partnership, the school district worked directly with faculty to make a direct and significant positive impact on area schools.

Along the way, The Melior Group made an informed pivot in their research design and adjusted geographic parameters to discover that there were nearby rural area school districts that could also benefit greatly from the same innovative techniques. The graduates, armed with the know-how to handle challenges perceived to be urban would also be well suited to assist specific rural populations.

Original Innovation Serves A Second Purpose

Universities that are new to this type of partnership development will want to re-examine the relationships they currently have with area employers by proactively asking insightful questions. What are these employers looking for from a partnership with a university? What unique quality can the university offer an employer to make the relationship valuable?

Buy-in from the top of the administration – with accountability and responsibility at the Vice Presidential level – to develop healthy relationships with employers can significantly increase hiring rates, elevate the school’s image as an innovative partner and substantially improve the longer-term vitality of the community.

The Melior Group works with large research institutions, regional public universities and small private colleges to improve the perception of their schools’ effectiveness by discovering where gaps in perception exist and drilling into what strategic mix of programmatic, communication and partnership initiatives can allow institutions to more easily deliver on expectations.

To learn more about our work with colleges and universities, visit our Education page or please contact Elizabeth Foley at / 215-545-0054 x111 or Linda McAleer at / 215-545-0054 x104.

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