Trends and Challenges Impacting Higher Education
We recently spoke to the board of trustees of a university client about some of the trends and challenges impacting the education industry. We talked about some of the marketing insights we’ve developed recently through our work with university clients and partners, and gave our observations of what’s been happening in the market.
Your competition has stepped up its marketing communications efforts…and those efforts can be seen in a variety of places.
- In the Philadelphia region, we’ve certainly seen the trend move from a simmer to a low boil in terms of marketing and advertising, not just from local institutions, but from up and down the East Coast. In fact, our recent edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal arrived with a gift — a glossy 100+ page “magazine” from High Point University in North Carolina touting its graduates and the academic features of the university.
- Universities are looking for multiple ways to get the word out to prospective students, and we’re seeing not just overall branding efforts changing, but targeted marketing of specific programs (it’s not just the MBA anymore) and towards specific markets – both geographic and demographic.
Higher education audiences are savvier than ever.
- We’ve learned that prospective students want to see outcomes (not data because they don’t understand how to interpret it) — stories they can see themselves in, specific examples of their possible future.
- Prospective students and their parents want to know that their college education will lead to a “good job” after graduation. It’s incumbent on colleges to show this in stories and in data.
- Information about colleges is coming to prospects from many sources, both traditional and non-traditional… and social media is changing the face of information delivery.
Social media continues to grow (and dominate)… and it’s not just Facebook.
- Smart college marketers are meeting students “where they live” – online via a range of social media sites. A social media marketing strategy that includes your web presence is just as critical as a strategy for producing your print materials. It’s time to find out what messages students want to hear about you on social media.
- Mobile devices use to access college information continues to grow and includes video. Think about it: the trends of screen sizes of our mobile devices over the past few years are actually getting bigger – and that’s to accommodate video. One of our agency partners is convinced that within 5 years, everything on college websites will include video.
Branding is the buzzword dujour when higher ed professionals talk about marketing their institutions these days.
- Remember that your “brand” is not your logo, the font or the color. And it’s not what you say about yourself. IT’S WHAT PEOPLE THINK AND SAY ABOUT YOU. Knowing what each of your target audiences (prospective students, faculty, key stakeholders) think and say about you now, will help you to craft future messages that are honest and truthful and attractive.
- Brand differentiation is becoming more important – what makes the experience at your college distinctive and worth considering? If you sound like everyone else, why enroll at your institution over another?
To learn more about our work with colleges and universities, visit our Education page or please contact Elizabeth Foley [email protected] / 215-545-0054 x111 or Linda McAleer [email protected] / 215-545-0054 x104.