Having worked in marketing for many years, I've noticed something in common with many schools and organizations…they all want to teleport.
Let me explain.
In the marketing world, we often talk about the Buyer’s Journey, and in the case of higher education marketing, the Prospect’s Journey. The Prospect’s Journey is the path students take to become aware of your school, consider applying, and then decide to enroll at your school instead of another.
This process of awareness, consideration, and decision looks different for every industry, product, and service - some have long journeys that take months or years, like enrolling at a university, while others happen in seconds, like purchasing a candy bar. Regardless of the product, everyone goes through a journey of some kind.
The Prospect's Journey makes sense on paper, but the problem is that many schools want to ignore the first two-thirds of the student’s journey and skip…or teleport…to the end where more prospects are submitting applications and enrolling. I get it - I’d want that too. Unfortunately, it’s not how things work, and even with the abundance of digital marketing tools, there isn't a quick fix for recruiting students.
Building a brand for your university is hard. Building a brand that students trust and get excited about is even harder...but to be successful, that must be your aim.
For instance, let’s say you see an ad for a brand new running shoe that claims to be “revolutionary,” and uses “groundbreaking,” (pun intended) technology. But, it’s sold by a company called “Crystal Shoe Co.” How likely are you to consider this product? Probably not very likely.
But, let’s say Nike is producing the “revolutionary,” shoe. Now you’re interested! Why? Because Nike has, over the course of 50+ years, built a brand platform that customers trust and get excited about to the extent that people camp outside retail stores to cop the latest shoe release from Nike and Jordan. When customers have that level of extreme confidence in your brand, you’re on the right path.
How to Create an Authentic Brand
So, you can’t teleport through the buyer's journey. Bummer. But what can you do?
First, create a great product. It always starts here. Without a great product, you will be fighting an uphill battle...and the market is rarely tricked. Build a brand around a great product that people want, and you’ll start generating a customer base.
A great college brand includes designing beautiful brochures, compelling marketing collateral, developing responsive website designs, producing meaningful inbound marketing content, and engaging paid advertisements to tell your brand story across every touch-point.
Once you have momentum, then you can scale and start guiding more and more students through the journey!
It’s also important to have realistic expectations. Dream big and shoot for the moon, but don’t expect to become the next USC overnight. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Have patience, hone your products, and listen to your fans - these tactics go a long way in developing a brand that people get excited about.
Teleportation isn’t possible, but growing an exciting brand is – you only need a great product, hard work, and a little bit of patience.
Do you have a great product, program, or course that needs branding, marketing or design? Get in touch!