Many community colleges only have one or two people on their marketing teams. That’s still enough to make a difference.
One of the most common struggles many community college marking departments face is a lack of budget, staff, or other resources. It’s easy to suggest pie-in-the-sky solutions to help community colleges grow their student enrollment, but if the marketing team doesn’t have what they need to make those ideas happen, then it’s just so much wishful thinking.
The good news is that, if marketing teams make strategic choices about where to allocate their resources, they can not only attract more students, they can also make the case for growing their budget for the next year.
That said, marketing strategies are not created equal. Some have a better record of success, and others provide better metrics to help marketing teams demonstrate their value. Here’s four suggestions for how to make the most of your budget, even if your community college marketing team is only one or two people strong.
1. Choose one or two programs to promote at a time and get teacher buy-in.
Community colleges are full of educators who are passionate about their subject matter and have first-hand professional experience to share with their students. Many of these teachers are eager for students to sign up for their courses, and would welcome an opportunity to give their work some extra publicity.
Consider what the economic situation in your area is, look at what programs could use a boost, and choose one or two programs to highlight during each marketing push. Talk to your educators to see what they can do to highlight their programs, and involve them in your marketing plan as much as possible.
You may even be able to find a teacher who is willing to put some extra effort behind your marketing campaign. See if they would have the bandwidth to write an article discussing their program and the benefits it offers students, and ask them to share it on their social media profiles when it gets published. Not everyone has the time, but many people are willing to make time if they can see the value in the work you’re trying to accomplish.
2. Reach out to students directly to share their stories on social media.
Another benefit of involving professors at your community college is that they may be able to connect you with students who would be willing to share their own stories and experiences. Students love recognition for their hard work, and even a short profile about why they chose their program and what their experience has been can go a long way.
Ask your students if you can share their stories on your social media page, and encourage them to like and share with their networks. Be thoughtful in the questions you ask so that you can draw out some of the details that will be most useful to others who might be on the fence about enrolling. A few questions to ask might include:
- What attracted you to this program?
- What was the final factor that helped you make your decision?
- Are there any programs or resources at the community college that have helped you out?
- What advice would you give to someone you know who was considering community college?
Prospective students will always be more convinced by stories from their peers than any other source of information. Reading about students who have made decisions similar to the ones they are considering will give them more confidence in their own choices.
3. Find measurable markers of success to demonstrate your value.
Many traditional forms of marketing, such as billboards or print ads, are hard to track. Community colleges may spend a lot of their budget placing a big sign next to the highway, but then have no idea how many students saw that sign, or how many enrolled because of it.
Because of this, it’s easy for many who are most familiar with these old school methods to assume that marketing value can’t be proved. This only makes it easier for them to cut budgets when times are tough.
However, that’s not the way marketing works anymore. Now marketers are empowered with a range of tools that can help them track and measure the success of their hard work—metrics like social reach, page views, and clicks. Many of these can be tied directly to new enrollments.
Take time this year to think about which metrics will have the most impact in demonstrating the value that your marketing team provides. Then track those numbers so that you can bring them with you the next time you have to ask for a bigger budget.
4. Bring on professional support to help your campaigns go farther.
Finally, your marketing team can accomplish a lot more if you bring on some extra support. While it may sound counterintuitive to allocate part of your budget for outside help, if the team you’re working with has the right experience and tool set, they can work strategically with you to get the most from your marketing efforts.
Our own expertise is in developing content marketing campaigns for community colleges. We offer specific tools that our clients have used to grow their enrollment. To be successful, we need to show marketing teams that the boost they gained in enrollment more than covered the cost of our marketing team—and we’ve done that dependably, year after year.
Aperture has years of experience proving the value of content marketing for community colleges.
We know the challenges that small community college marketing teams face, because we have worked with so many ourselves. We’ve also watched those teams succeed by following strategies that empower students by providing them with the information they need to make informed decisions about their education. And because we are such firm believers in demonstrating value through transparent information, we also direct our clients toward marketing strategies with traceable ROI.
Whether you’re sharing your posts on social media, posting content to microsites, or even sending out print mailers the old fashioned way, we can help you collect metrics and make sense of how well your marketing campaign worked.
Your marketing team may be small, but we can give you the boost you need to achieve an outsized impact. Contact us today to get started.