There Are No Quick Fixes in Higher Education Marketing

There Are No Quick Fixes in Higher Education Marketing

When partnerships between schools and higher education marketing vendors yield suboptimal results, the reason can often be traced back to a lack of clarity about the root of the problem that needs to be solved.

Schools want a quick fix for their perceived problems. There are plenty of vendors who claim to have an easy solution. But if neither party has dug deep enough to uncover a problem’s actual source, the school will inevitably end up disappointed. 

Here’s the uncomfortable truth no one on either side wants to acknowledge: there are no quick fixes in marketing for higher ed.

A “Quick Fix” for Declining Enrollments?

One of the most pervasive mistakes I see is that schools tend to make incorrect assumptions about the root cause of declining enrollments. Let’s say a school dealing with this problem lacks access to data from different stages of the enrollment funnel. If they can’t identify a clear connection between the top and bottom of the funnel (i.e., the journey from application to enrollment), they may be able to infer the root cause of the problem. However, they have no way of knowing it with certainty. 

Suppose that school then tasks a higher education marketing vendor with helping them grow enrollments. The vendor will likely take a similarly short-sighted approach—in most cases, promising to deliver more leads. They, too, are making an incorrect assumption, or at least an unproven one: that increasing enrollments is tied to obtaining a higher volume of leads

But leads do not always equal enrollments. If the root cause of declining enrollments can be traced to some other, less obvious factor in the enrollment funnel, then adding more leads will be no more effective than pouring water into a bucket full of holes. The vendor will deliver leads, but the leads won’t convert to enrollments. And the school won’t meet its objective. 

Worst of all, there’s a good chance neither party will dig deeper to find out why the objective wasn’t met. The school will be disappointed with the vendor, and the vendor will probably lose that piece of business. No one wins.

How to Get the Most from a Higher Education Marketing Vendor 

Schools want lasting partnerships with vendors who will deliver real results. To accomplish this they should, first and foremost, be open to investigation and discovery. Before filling out an RFP, take time to think about the root cause of the problem you want to solve. The more clarity you have up front, the faster you and the vendor can begin making progress. If you haven’t identified the root cause, be transparent about it and avoid making assumptions about how to solve the problem. 

Another piece of advice is to consider a strategic advisory engagement. The right vendor will provide education and guidance during the sales process to ensure no engagement moves forward on the basis of unfounded assumptions. For example, MindMax offers short-term advisory services that allow us to create a strategically sound plan before proposing any marketing or enrollment services.

Real Higher Education Marketing Solutions Aren’t Fast and Easy  

Unfulfilled promises lead to unhappy clients. That’s why, at MindMax, we opt for radical transparency right out of the gate. We know from experience that real higher education marketing fixes aren’t fast and easy. 

Schools might not like to hear that effective solutions take longer and cost more than they’d prefer. But complex problems demand careful consideration to pinpoint the root cause and develop the right approach. 

Rather than implementing “quick fixes” that lead to undesirable outcomes and broken partnerships, we seek to build long-term partnerships with schools that are willing to dig deep with us. 

Connect with MindMax to discuss effective strategies for growing your school’s enrollments.