How Colleges Can Gain the Most Value from Marketing Partnerships

How Colleges Can Gain the Most Value from Marketing Partnerships

Partnering with an experienced marketing provider is an excellent way for schools to increase applicants and enrollments. But a successful marketing partnership, like any relationship, is only as strong as its foundation. 

I worked in communications at MIT before joining MindMax, so I’ve been on both sides of a marketing relationship: in-house and consultancy. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. I can tell you that effective marketing partnerships are always rooted in three core values: communication, openness, and trust. 

As a trusted partner and advisor to many of the nation’s top universities, MindMax embraces these values. Schools that do the same typically have the strongest business relationships. 

The following guidelines will prepare your institution for a successful marketing partnership. 

Streamline Communication 

Choose one person to own the relationship. 

Streamlining communication between teams builds trust and rapport. It also helps avoid unnecessary confusion. Select one person on your team to speak as the voice of the institution. They should serve as the point of contact for all communication with the marketing agency. 

The ideal person for this role doesn’t need to be the highest stakeholder, or even a marketing expert. But they should be: 

  • Available for regular emails or phone calls
  • An excellent communicator who can liaise with internal and external teams 
  • Closely connected with key stakeholders
  • Adept at consolidating feedback 

Corral feedback and deliver it concisely. 

With one single point of contact, gathering and sending information to a marketing and enrollment partner is much easier. The assigned person should be able to receive feedback from multiple stakeholders and reconcile it strategically before passing it on. 

Empower the person in this role to access key stakeholders and make final decisions on behalf of the institution. Your marketing and enrollment partner can better execute on shared objectives when the feedback is clear and consolidated. 

Be Open to New Methods and Ideas 

Get internal buy-in and sort out politics in advance. 

Does everyone on the team understand the value of the partnership? Seeking internal buy-in up front helps position a new engagement for success. Before hiring a marketing and enrollment solutions provider, colleges should:

  • Clarify the purpose of bringing in the partner
  • Determine how the partner will align with internal teams
  • Reconcile any areas of overlap

Schools should expect to offload tasks to their marketing and enrollment partner. Make sure everyone understands this idea in advance to help avoid hurt feelings and obstacles to execution. 

Welcome unexpected feedback and discoveries. 

Differing perspectives can feel disruptive and maybe even uncomfortable. But it’s all part of the value of this process.

Prepare for surprises—especially in the beginning. It may feel like we’re not on the same page, but we’ll get there. It’s your marketing and enrollment partner’s job to make that happen.

Trust the Process 

Provide complete transparency. 

Transparency is key when working with an outside consultant. At MindMax, we’re deeply invested in our partnerships. Keeping us in the loop as much as possible allows us to better serve as an extension of your team. 

We don’t need to know about every conversation your team is having, but we should be aware of any internal factors or circumstances that can impact marketing and enrollment initiatives. It’s always better to provide your partners with too much information than too little.

Anticipate a learning curve. 

It’s normal to go through a getting-to-know-each-other phase. What matters isn’t that this phase is conflict-free but how well both sides iron out any kinks that arise at the beginning of the relationship. The right marketing and enrollment partner will be responsive to feedback, quick to learn, and committed to solving problems. 

Expect the best and you’ll get the best. 

It’s human nature to trust others, so lean into that instinct and lead with a gesture of good faith. Begin the relationship with trust in your marketing and enrollment partner and let that build as the relationship deepens. Approach each conversation with the attitude that we’re all going to collectively solve the problem. 
Mutual commitment to a set of shared goals is an important part of any successful partnership. At MindMax, we don’t expect the colleges we work with to adhere to anything we don’t practice ourselves. We’re fully committed to the core values of communication, openness, and trust.

Contact MindMax today to learn how we can partner with your institution to increase enrollment.