Recently, I have heard a lot of people and media sources throwing around the term, “first-world problems.” According to Wikipedia, first-world problems (or FWP for short) are “issues perceived as difficult to those residing in the more developed nations (i.e., the First World), but which are banal when compared to the difficulties encountered by those in the less developed Third World.” I think this term has become more common as people use their Facebook status updates and Tweets to complain about things.
We’ve all heard or seen something like this:
Ugh. My phone is dead. AGAIN. I called my provider and I am eligible for an upgrade to the iPhone 4s, but they are back-ordered and I won’t get it for four weeks!!!! How can I live without my phone for a month?!?! Maybe I should just get the crappy iPhone 4? My life sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Clearly this is a first-world problem.
Now, when it comes to higher education, I like to think of the first world as the “top tier institutions.” That leaves the rest of the pack in the third-world group—let’s call them the “rest of us.” While there may beU.S. News Rankings,Carnegie Classifications, accolades, and awards that distinguish the institutions among the “rest of us” group, my thinking is that if you’re not in the “top tier,” you are all dealing with similar issues in your own competitive sets.
So here’s a marketing problem for a top tier institution:
Grrr. I just found out that our football game is going to be on ESPN Thursday night. Now I have to figure out which one of our 30-second spots to use for our allotted advertising. Ugh. Just one more thing to add to the to-do list!
And here’s a marketing problem for the rest of us:
Oh no. The VP of Development just called me and he wants a 30-second video clip for a presentation to the Board of Trustees. The only edited video I have was made by a student for a class project and it has an interview with that professor whose work is kind of controversial these days. What am I going to do?
So while the top tier problem is probably one that most of us in higher ed marketing would like to have, I contend that it is still a real problem. If you are the VP of Marketing who is entrusted with making that decision, it can be stressful and you probably want some help in figuring out how you want to convey your brand and message to a national audience. As for the VP from the “rest of us group,” the problem is certainly real and again having some people to help you figure out what to do would be beneficial.
In a perfect world, you would have our talented staff on retainer and be able to call us on a whim to get some help with your marketing problem whether it be first-world or third-world material. Knowing that this probably isn’t the case for most of you, we are offering our assistance as these problems arise. So, when you need to run something by a sounding board or get a second opinion, send us an email to email@example.com. Our team of experts will try to help you figure out the best course of action, and if we use your marketing problem for our blog, we will send you a Starbucks gift card as a thank you.
Sitting back, enjoying a free coffee, and letting someone else solve your problems sounds very first world-like, doesn’t it? And we think that every institution should feel like a first-world, top tier school every now and again. As for the decision on which iPhone to get—you’re on your own!