Posted: August 19, 2015
We’re back from another successful year at eduWeb! This year’s conference gave us yet another opportunity to really listen and learn about some of the most pressing challenges commonly faced by higher education marketers and technologists from institutions across the country. Out of everything we heard, a few major themes persisted throughout the conference.
Challenge # 1 - Defining and Protecting the Brand
We weren't surprised to hear that brand challenges are keeping a lot of folks up at night. A cohesive, compelling and clearly-defined brand platform can play a major part in an institution achieving its marketing and business goals. From laying the foundation for all marketing efforts to catalyzing university-wide cultural change, a solid brand can make a big difference. Unfortunately, memorable and lasting brand platforms aren’t always easy to define and protect.
We’ve encountered this challenge a number of times over the years and even documented several best practices, lessons learned and processes on our blog. The posts are a good starting point when taking on your branding challenges.
- Applying the Brand: Colleges, Schools and Departments
- The Higher Ed Love Triangle: A University, Its Brand and Athletics
- The Branding Process
Challenge #2 - Reaching Target Audiences
Reaching target audiences with the right content is another major theme we heard at eduWeb this year. For example, several eduWebbers expressed their struggles to capture (and keep) the attention of prospective students, spread the word about their online programs, market effectively to several distinct audiences and show students of the relevance of their institution’s unique opportunities. These specific examples all point back to creating the right content and getting it to the right audiences at the right time.
It’s no secret that content strategy is a hot topic in higher education marketing. In the last year alone, we’ve had the opportunity to speak on the subject at conferences and even conduct a full blown content strategy workshop drawing from our experiences developing and implementing content strategies for several higher education clients. In addition to client projects and presentations, take a look at the posts below for some creative strategies to reach target audiences through compelling content.
- 5 Tips to More Genuine Audience Connections with Content Marketing
- Top 5 Things Higher Education Marketers Can Learn from Buzzfeed
- Everything You Need to Know About Website Content
Challenge #3 - Getting Everyone on Board
Countless attendees described the challenge of not having full support from institutional leadership on marketing initiatives. Support includes everything from time and money to approval and appropriate prioritization. Even with an incredible marketing strategy, the right marketing staff and the budget to execute, no marketing plan or initiative can succeed if the key stakeholders aren’t aligned and engaged. As many in higher ed know, getting everyone on board can be much easier said than done.
We’ve learned a lot about what it takes to gather institutional support over the years (our proficiency and process for building consensus is one of VisionPoint’s core competencies). In our process, gaining consensus isn’t a final hurdle, it’s a first priority. To see some of solutions we’ve uncovered, check out these blogs:
- Building Successful Teams for Website Governance
- Selling Upward: How to Convince Your Boss to Invest in a Website Redesign
While there is no magic answer or single solution to any of these issues, we hope you’ll find solace in the fact that you are not alone! Other institutions just like yours are overcoming these challenges, and you can too. We believe that a little creative thinking and collaboration goes a long way and we hope that the tips throughout this blog will prove useful to you and your marketing team.