Is It Fall Already?

Deb Maue shares six ways you can improve your marketing efforts for the upcoming school year.

August 23, 2016

If you’re like me, you imagine all of the things you will get done over the summer – the long list of things you never got to during the school year. Now the cold, hard reality of mid-August sets in, as you realize you didn’t get to most of the things on the list.

But never fear. Whether your school year has already started, or whether you still have a few precious weeks left, it’s not too late to put some things in place to improve your marketing efforts for the upcoming school year.

1. Make a list of key issues you want to tackle in the upcoming year. What are the top problems you face as a department? What are the biggest challenges for your institution? You have them in your head, but writing them down can help you identify creative solutions.

For my team, the biggest challenge is rolling out our new brand strategy in a consistent and compelling way across all of our recruiting materials.

2. Fix your work processes. Gather your team for a process discussion about what’s working and what’s not working within your team. Then expand it outside your team by meeting with the deans and other key leaders about the processes your team uses with them; the start of the year is a good time to talk about how Marketing will work with deans and other senior leaders throughout the year.

For my team, which is still relatively new, our process challenges are identifying the right processes to make sure we know about great faculty and student stories, and building editorial collaboration tools and processes to make sure we’re fully using that great content across audiences and platforms.

3. Do a quick audit of your key recruiting pieces. Spread everything out on a table and start asking questions. Are they on brand? Are they all communicating the same key messages about what your school is and what it offers to students? Are the calls to action clear? Looking at everything together can help you see opportunities you might miss when you look at things one by one.

Our team has done this as part of our brand roll-out, but this is a step that may be missed if you’re not doing a complete overhaul.

4. Make a plan for the year. This seems really, really obvious, but often we put off developing a plan because it’s a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply identifying the top things you and your team want to accomplish in the coming year will help to ensure that you stay on task.

5. Think about how to reward success in the coming year. How can you recognize great work and keep the team informed about progress against the big goals?

Our team has the “Golden Boot” (a spray-painted boot mounted as a trophy) awarded every other week to an employee who’s done great work.

6. Take a moment to celebrate. Have a potluck lunch (they’re not just for holidays.) Go out for a beverage after work. Thank the team for their hard work. Drink a toast to the students and the renewed energy they will bring to campus.

Here’s hoping that you all have a productive school year!

Deborah Maue is the Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications at Columbia College Chicago, and is a leading voice in higher education marketing.


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