“Marketing Integration” with Elizabeth Scarborough of SimpsonScarborough

Scarborough Elizabeth

Elizabeth Scarborough

Looking back on 2012, what overall marketing tip do you have for enrollment managers?

In working with college and universities throughout the country, I still find that a lot of institutions manage their “recruitment marketing” out of the enrollment management division and their “image and brand marketing” out of their marketing department. Unfortunately, it is common for there to be absolutely zero relationship between the two. Can you imagine this strategy working well in a corporate setting? Take Best Buy for example. Imagine a scenario in which you see Best Buy commercials on TV and then go into a store to find a completely different image and identity….and a completely different set of marketing messages being communicated in collateral materials and from the sales team. That’s crazy, you say? Yes it is. But, that’s the approach many institutions are using, by default.

Why is marketing integration important, especially in 2013?

By integrating the recruitment marketing strategy with the overall image- and brand-building efforts of the institution AND also integrating the fundraising marketing strategy, an institution is maximizing the effectiveness of its marketing dollars across the entire enterprise. It’s good to remember that when it comes to marketing, every institution is stronger united, than divided. The more you can integrate and coordinate all the marketing that is occurring around your institution, the more effective your institution will be as a whole. In most cases, the reason integration is so difficult is because of the politics and power struggles we have going on within the organization. Every office or division wants to implement their own strategy; one they believe is “right” for their audiences and goals. It’s the same problem we are having in Washington right now. We should take a look at what’s going on in Congress and do the opposite. More collaboration and more focus on the larger picture. These are the elements that will lead to greater marketing integration on your campus. If you have ever complained that your institution has “no brand” or a weak brand strategy, ask yourself what YOU are doing to help your institution work toward a simple, focused message that can serve as the foundation for communications with all internal and external stakeholder groups. When undergraduate recruitment, graduate recruitment, fundraising, alumni relations, marketing staff members and others around your campus can work together to develop a coordinated approach to marketing, your effectiveness will skyrocket.

How can you help foster such integration at your institution from your role in admission?

Integrating does not mean you have to give up your authority or your budget, nor does it mean you have to add lots of meetings to your plate. What it does mean is that you need to come together as a team. Reach across the aisle to understand the objectives of the advancement division, the marketing department, and other critical units of your institution. Be a part of the solution that bring greater integration and more marketing coordination to your campus. Get on board with a strategy that can work for the entire institution as opposed to remaining fiercely committed to just your little piece of it. Your piece will be stronger and more vibrant with greater marketing integration. When your entire institution is working from the same play book, your job will be easier.

One of my favorite experiences of the year was presenting they opening keynote address at GEAC on St. Simon’s Island in November. The session was titled, “Why College Can’t Brand.” The moral of the story, of course, was that colleges CAN be effective in branding themselves. But, there are certainly hurdles to get over and they are listed in the powerpoint.

If you would like to learn more about SimpsonScarborough, Elizabeth can be contacted at ES@SimpsonScarborough.com or by phone at 703.403.0547.

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