Are Your Media Efforts Disjointed and Unfocused? Part 2

What to Look For with Your Media Management

In the highly competitive higher education marketplace where marketing budgets are stressed, a college can’t afford an advertising initiative that is under-performing. This is part 2 of a 3 part series.
If you missed part 1, read it here. Now we will share common missteps and how to identify them.

How are different media channels working together?
Today’s enrollment marketing environment is very different than it was even five years ago. The variety of paid media channels available (especially on digital platforms) is unprecedented. And of course each of them promises to be the “magic bullet” that will solve all of the your problems. The reality is, there is no single solution. Enrollment marketing campaigns must incorporate a “multi-media” strategy. The challenge is in coordinating and measuring the performance of the different components as well as determining the overall success of the campaign measured against enrollment goals and benchmarks.
Are we using the right media mix and budget?
With so many media options available, how do you know the media mix you’re utilizing is the most effective? Is your budget properly allocated for individual media? It’s important to consider that not all media channels serve the same purpose. Some are effective at brand and image awareness, while others are more effective as call-to-action vehicles.
Ask these three important questions to see if you have the right media mix:
  1. Is your current media mix helping you accomplish your goals?
  2. How well do you understand your media market and its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to how your target audience uses media?
  3. Are you “flighting” media to reach predetermined “reach and frequency” ratios?
If you’re having a hard time answering these questions, there’s a good chance your media plan and campaign is not as “fine-tuned” as it should be.
Are different vendors assigned to different staff?
By itself, this is not a bad thing and it’s common. Staff can have different areas of interest and expertise. Many marketing departments have many vendors they work with; each vendor brings an expertise or service to the plan. Where the problem occurs most frequently is that staff and vendors work well together but the overall initiatives are not integrated. Let’s be fair, it’s tough enough to be in close collaboration with your vendor partners much less the person down the hall!
How can our efforts be this uncoordinated?
We observe several contributors to this. Turnover in marketing offices is a common factor. Sometimes plans are shared or they get lost in the shuffle or the person taking over just needs more time to get caught up. This is where shared planning calendars and budgets noted above can be helpful (Google sheets or Excel on shared drive will work).
Second, and this one smarts a bit, is that the plan and operations just don’t make this information sharing a priority. When combined with multiple vendors and multiple budget lines it can’t be expected to organically happen. Operational plans have to be established to ensure this happens. When we’re working with clients one of the first steps in our engagement is pulling all this information together. It takes time but the sooner you start the sooner you’ll have it under control.
These are a few items to be looking for in your marketing and advertising programs. Learning that some of these issues exist in your operation might indicate there is room for improvement. Higher education marketing offers many challenges and your ability to minimize internal ones can be a significant step forward.
In part three of this series we will present ideas on how to work through these challenges and present answers to the question, when is it time to have a strategy and operations assessment completed by an impartial third party?
Picture of Page Author

David Black,

With nearly 30 years experience in educational marketing, enrollment management consulting and staff development, Dave directs market research with a focus on imaging and perception research, branding and positioning studies, market sizing assessments, and feasibility studies. He also leads focus groups and authors research, assessment reports and consults on enrollment management, marketing, organizational development, and collaborative team development.