In the academic world, marketing is often seen as a necessary evil. Leaders in higher ed tend to view marketing as confusing, opaque, disingenuous, and generally distasteful.
But when marketing is done well, its underlying principles are closely related to the ideals that drive education.
The word “educate” comes from the Latin “educare,” meaning “to draw out” or “lead forth.” Naturally, drawing out fresh ideas and unique perspectives is at the heart of education. We learn by modifying our previously held conceptions, placing them in conversation with new information as we acquire it.
Marketing also aims to “draw out” a person’s needs and desires, then leads or invites them to consider a new idea or make a new choice (by purchasing a product, buying a service, or enrolling in a college course). Like education, marketing works best when it cultivates and supports an individual’s ideas, hopes, and interests—instead of forcing a specific worldview.
Where Marketing Often Goes Wrong
Good marketing begins by considering the prospective customer’s frame of reference. Unfortunately, most marketing campaigns take the opposite approach: they begin by finding ways to push their product onto the market without consideration for the potential customer’s reality. This approach is so common that many people believe it’s what marketing should look like.
In reality, marketing works best when it identifies the potential customer’s needs and desires, connects with them where they are, and draws them out. Good campaigns identify what an individual wants and present a valuable solution. When people see how a product or service can fulfill a need they already have, they’re intrinsically moved to take action—there’s no need to push.
Create Campaigns that Drive Curiosity
Students take Chemistry 101 before enrolling in Organic Chemistry; likewise, successful marketing starts at a basic level and ramps up based on a prospective student’s level of knowledge and emotional investment.
Drawing out a prospective student early in the relationship starts with small, easy actions: inviting them to click a link for more information or having them visit your website. As the relationship progresses and the prospective student becomes more invested, the actions become larger: filling out an application or enrolling in a program.
Academic institutions intuitively know that nurturing curiosity is an important way to cultivate learning. Apply the same principle to your marketing to create campaigns that are authentic, compelling, and responsive. If you have the right strategy in place, students who are a good fit for your programs will naturally take the next steps toward enrollment.
How to Learn About Prospective Students
In order to give prospective students relevant information that draws out their interest, you have to understand who they are. Does your school offer a program that intrigues them? Do they relate to an aspect of your school’s identity? Is there a financial aid option that makes their education goals possible?
A few years ago, it would have been impossible to determine information about prospective students at this level of specificity, but today, we’re both blessed and cursed with a glut of data about people and their behaviors. Unfortunately, not all data is created equal, and it can be difficult to separate meaningful information from mere measurement.
At MindMax, our Enrollment Intelligence (EI) platform does that work for you. EI organizes your marketing data into a customizable dashboard, so you can easily see your data in real-time and in one place. EI allows schools to make data-informed calibrations and adjustments to tailor and refine their marketing campaigns.
If you’d like to learn more about what EI can do for your school, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.