It's About The Journey, Not Just The Destination

Carnegie Higher Ed Jul 14, 2015 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” — Jacob Riis

Our sales staff was sharing our favorite motivational quotes recently, and this one is mine. But this quote also got me thinking about how it applies to college admission.

In the world of college admission, many people are hyper-focused on “first source” leads, using only that measurement to determine the performance of their recruitment services. However, there are many touch points between the first contact and enrollment that should be recognized as instrumental in moving that student through the funnel.

If we aren’t measuring first touch, how do we determine if a service is working? I will be the first one to tell you there is no magical, silver-bullet service that will yield 100% with absolute measurable results. However, it is critical that admission personnel recognize how multiple recruitment services work in harmony to create a “surround strategy.”

Students today have an unprecedented amount of control over their college search process. Most importantly, they control how they want to get their information. There are also more ways than ever to reach students, in terms of type and variety of channels, and we only expect this number of channels to increase.

So how do you reach these students on their own terms? The answer cannot be to continue increasing the number of search names purchased—there are only so many students out there. Instead, admission teams need to fully embrace the multichannel marketing approach. This means giving more credit to the actual journey students are taking in their college search, rather than just the first and last touch.

Whether your school participates in a multi-platform recruitment service like PC&U, runs an integrated student search campaign, has billboards on the local highways, runs a robust digital marketing campaign, or uses additional lead generation services, you have a series of invaluable opportunities to put your brand message in front of prospective students. Each of these touch points benefits from the previous touch point, and each provides a benefit to the future touch points. Why is this important? Because while it is easy to only credit those strategies that are response oriented and directly measurable, you may be eliminating services that directly contribute to a student’s enrollment. It is important to remember that many of these touch points are happening when you are not involved or maybe not even aware. However, each interaction with a student is another opportunity to drive home your brand message.

They’re all points in the student’s journey where your brand is creating awareness, consideration, and ultimately interest. It’s their cumulative effect—what’s happens from the beginning, middle, and end—that ends up splitting that rock. Or in this case, your institution making the class.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JLawnchair

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