April 25, 2010

A Successful Tagline in Higher Education

A recent blog post by Bob Johnson asked if taglines were important in higher ed and whether finding one that resonated internally and externally was an impossible task. I think that you can certainly find one that fits for all of your audiences. It takes a lot of research - primary, secondary, quantitative, qualitative, anecdotal; and it takes a lot of energy. But it can be done.

Making it resonate internally with current students, staff and faculty may in fact be more important than having it resonate externally with prospective audiences. My marketing philosophy tends to lean towards making your current customers happy first. They are in fact your best marketers. If they enjoy, use and approve of your tagline when they are messaging with your audiences, there is your reward.

Our previous tagline, while working for our prospective audiences, was turned into a negative by students and did not have approval by our entire staff. It also was not quite working for a new student experience philosphy, which included shifting programs and initiatives to be more student-led and initiated. Using this feedback from internal audiences, combinining it with branding market research from our prospective families, and understanding the new vision and strategy of a new college president led to the development of a new tagline that has been used for our undergraduate program for the past few years. The tagline and messaging framework are currently being used across the undergraduate school - during the admission cycle, at orientation, by our service departments and through career development programs.

To me, it has been successful. I may be baised.

April 23, 2010


At my institution, we have seen a lot of activity from admitted and deposited students over the past month on our Facebook Fan page. In comparison to past years, the number of unique page views and the number of interactions during these first three weeks in April have doubled.

What I am seeing more of this year are the process and deadline-oriented questions. It has led me to truly expand our customer service efforts and build a model to lean on a variety of departments to help with the responses. During these conversations with my peers, I came to the realization that the credibility pendulum has swung a little bit at this stage of the admission cycle.

Our admitted and deposited students are no longer searching for current student feedback, but appear to be looking for staff or college-sponsored answers to their questions. In prior months, they had been asking students and their peers for their opinions on questions related to campus life, clubs and organizations, dining, etc. Our current students and admits were the credible source. We were just facilitating/hosting that conversation. What is great is that our students are phenomenal advocates and tend to monitor these online platforms on their own. When a post did go unanswered for a little while, I’d simply ask a student to chime in if it was in an area of interest/expertise for them.

At this stage of the game, we need to be more customer-service oriented with our Facebook use and staff need to be their key source of information. Credibility is a powerful marketing tool. Understand who your sources of credibility are and when to properly use them. The prospective student responses and the conversations that have taken place there have been such a great source of public enthusiasm for the incoming class - both when students are leading conversation and when staff and faculty are leading the conversation.

I originally titled this post “authenticity”. It’s a word that is overused when referring to marketing activities and even more so when referencing social media. It wasn’t really what I wasn’t trying to get at either so thank you http://thesaurus.com/ for being my vocabulary source when my intellect could not come through late on a Friday afternoon.