Content Indigestion Is a Thing

Is life coming at you too quickly to consume as much higher ed marketing content as you’d like? Let’s help each other by crowd-sourcing truisms.

September 19, 2017

Can I share a secret?

I’m having a really tough time navigating the higher ed marketing content overload.

Perhaps it’s a symptom of my age or length of service (I’m no dinosaur, but most of my hair is gray). Maybe it’s a function of the increasing amount of lengthy and beefy content circulating in and out of my life every minute of every day. Probably a little of both.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. For many years early in my career, I was a card-carrying member of the “Stackers Club” with a pile of unread issues of the “Chronicle of Higher Education” collecting dust in a corner of my campus office. And every semester break, sometimes under cover of darkness, I’d wrestle the still-unread copies to the recycling bin.

A quick browser search of “content overload” yields thousands of helpful articles (great…more content) that offer lots of same-sounding tips for wrangling and treating what is obviously a common media consumption malady.

At the risk of piling on, here’s an approach that seems to be working for me: Skim what you can, when you can, and look for the truisms. These are the self-evident, obvious truths that experience and wisdom (mine and others’) have proven time and time again.

Let’s crowd-source a dynamic blog post of higher ed marketing truisms that (1) you live by, (2) need no lengthy explanation, and (3) we can pass along to the generations of professionals who are ascending org charts on campuses across the nation.

Here are a few favorites, some my own and others respectfully borrowed from my esteemed colleagues, and offered here in no particular order:

  • Listen. First. Always.
  • Without a compelling story, a college or university risks being perceived as a commodity.
  • Without data, it’s only an opinion.
  • Manage it, or it will probably manage you.
  • Growth and comfort seldom coexist; you usually have to stretch if you expect to grow.
  • Creative expression without strategy is frivolous; strategy without creative expression is boring.
  • To stand out, you have to stand for something.
  • People don’t buy different; they buy special.
  • The fruits of every great brand are in its roots.
  • If your message isn’t relevant to—and resonant with—your target audience, re-script.
  • Be it, don’t say it.
  • Institutional brands aren’t what they say they are; they’re what the world says they are.
  • If you’re boldly true to yourself, the rest will pretty much take care of itself.

Your turn. What higher ed marketing truisms do you live by? The comments section below will be our repository. (I may smell an infographic in the making.)

Eric Sickler has helped the nation's college and universities clarify and more fully engage their brands for more than three decades. You can reach him at The Thorburn Group, a Stamats company.​


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