Capture Blog

Time for Marketing To Take A Stand!

My background says I know a lot about marketing — my schooling, jobs, passions — and I apply that to the field of Enrollment Management. So who is my target audience? Well, directors, deans and vice presidents of enrollment management. And university marketing departments. And communications departments. And financial aid offices …

OK, that’s a lot of stakeholders.

So what really is Enrollment Management? In this instance, it’s any stakeholder in the management of enrollment at an institution — or in other words, those who control the “who” of your institution. These important managers have many levers to pull (scholarships, financial aid, academics, sports, alumni) to get to that mix, but it’s all about the “who.”

Marketing is all about the “who” too.

Question No. 1 in any creative brief: Who’s your target audience? That will tell me what to build and how to build it. If I don’t know the “who,” the rest is irrelevant. So I guess in a sense — enrollment managers are really just marketers of their institution. Actually everyone is in marketing. (Or as New York Times Best-Selling author Daniel Pink says, everyone is in sales! His book To Sell is Human remains one of my favorites.)

Along with the constant pressure of selling and marketing our products, enrollment managers and marketers share in the resounding question from our presidents and CEOs: “What’s the ROI on that?” We sit across from our leaders and say, “You want me to generate additional leads/sales or prospects/students with my same budget? At some point, I am going to need more money.”

And they say, “Tell me why. I need to see the ROI.”

Well, up until recently, the ROI was harder to prove. And let’s be honest, the running joke was that marketing was comprised of a bunch of three-martini drinking, party animals.

Enrollment Management

But that’s not really it anymore (too bad though — looks like fun!)

It’s about the data. And now, nearly every marketing tactic that’s worth anything is track-able — and the ROI questions are answered.

One of my favorite articles addressing this change in marketing is in the February 2015 edition of McKinsey Quarterly, “The Dawn of Marketing’s New Golden Age” by Jonathan Gordon and Jesko Perrey.

“The resulting expansion of platforms has propelled consistent growth in marketing expenditures, which now total as much as $1 trillion globally. The efficacy of this spending is under deep scrutiny. Marketers ‘are always asking for more money but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate’ … Paradoxically, though, CEOs are looking to their CMOs more than ever, because they need top-line growth and view marketing as a critical lever to help them achieve it.”

In the article, the writers go on to explain that, yes, it is achievable, and why they believe we’re on the cusp of a golden age for marketing. I feel this connection when I’m meeting with enrollment managers across the country. These departments are charged with delivering bottom-line revenue to stabilize/grow/shift their colleges and universities — and often completely under-resourced to get what they’ve been asked to get.

So, now with more data, I believe university marketers, aka enrollment managers, will be armed with this ROI response. I want more money — because with this $60,000 investment, I will deliver $1 million in additional student revenue. And here’s how …

“Advances in data, modeling, and automated analysis are creating ever more refined ways of targeting and measuring the returns on marketing investments, while generating powerful new clues about why consumers behave as they do,” Gordon and Perrey write. “Long gone is spending guided mostly by intuition and focus groups. Instead, organizations are seeking greater precision by measuring and managing the consumer decision points where well-timed outlays can make the biggest difference.”

They dive into the five items they see as catalysts for great marketing:

  1. Science: Data modeling and analysis of consumer behaviors
  2. Substance: Utilizing new technologies, you can shape your customers experiences better
  3. Story: Your story will generate deep social interactions, so help shape those brand interactions
  4. Speed: Your product life cycles will change dramatically faster than ever before, be ready to move swiftly
  5. Simplicity: Complexity is the enemy of speed — simplify your media/advertising relationships and eliminate communication silos

When these five elements are in action, marketers are aligned well to meet the rising demands of their customers and their institution. The digital economy is allowing a faster-paced, opportunity-ripe environment that smart marketers will take advantage of.

What does this mean for me and my enrollment management kin? It means we now have a seat at the top of the table … and it’s about time if you ask me.

Ellen Stubbs, Vice President of Marketing, Capture Higher Ed

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