How Far Is Too Far in Admissions Marketing?

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Published by Inside Higher Ed

Craig Goebel, principal of Art & Science Group

When a college is considering how to best differentiate itself from the competition it needs to know the answers to at least three questions. First, which colleges do your prospective students attend instead of your college and to what degree? The majority of colleges are not competing head-to-head with only one or two other colleges for the majority of students and so directly trying to position yourself against them will fall flat for most of your prospects.

Second, who is it you seek to appeal to? Understanding the strategic goals of your institution is key to focusing your marketing efforts.

Third, what is it about your institution that could be appealing to these students? Moving beyond a catchy tag line and concentrating on the substantive offerings of your college will do more to strengthen your competitive position than a snarky mailing. With thoughtful internal planning and rigorous empirical evidence of actual effects on prospective students behaviors an institution can best position itself for long-term success.

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