What Audience is Your Institution Focused On?
Seth Godin recently wrote a fantastic blog post about Six Audiences and how the focus on any one of these audiences significantly changes your business direction and ensuing results. The take-aways from the post, while focused on the private sector, are certainly applicable to higher education marketing.
Clearly, not all of higher education 's vast array of audiences can receive equal attention at any given point in time. Depending on the leadership of the institution, the belief in deriving revenue from fundraising or enrollment, whose voice is loudest on the cabinet and if a strategic plan is in place the area of focus may be different. Some of these audiences include:
- Prospective Students/Enrollment
- Current Students
Many colleges and universities are currently focusing the majority of their time, efforts, and budgets on driving enrollment. The tough economic times and declines in state and federal support force them into focusing on prospective students as a primary audience. How has an increased focus on recruiting changed the feeling of the institution?
Similarly, a focus on alumni and prospective donors (i.e. - fundraising) typically accompanies the current environment. Does your President spend more time talking to prospective donors and alumni then with current students and faculty?
Some institutions are focusing more and more on the current student experience and realizing how much less it costs to retain a student than to recruit one. In this regard, we have seen an influx of student-coaching programs, new student centers, and enhanced career services offerings at many institutions. Are we spending as much on our current students to ensure student success as we are to get them in the door?
Faculty/staff satisfaction is a key component of maintaining a successful institution that creates an outstanding student experience and brand identity. Focusing on faculty and staff can be a key initiative from the recruitment process of new members to providing incentives via recognition programs, and benefits for jobs well done, etc.
Colleges and universities may shift their focus depending on current priorities or the same underlying priorities may have existed for years based on the goals of the institution and the leadership team. Ultimately this focus dictates how administrators and higher education marketing professionals spend their time, and works in subtle and not-so-subtle ways to define institutional brand.
Questions for you:
How much of your budget is spent on recruiting students? Retaining them?
How do campaign goals (annual fund, planned giving, etc.) inform choices that are made at your institution?
What audiences are currently the focus of your institution? Why?