When you think of a school with a total enrollment of over 21,000 students, a nationally recognized communications department, and an athletics program that plays in the ACC where their men’s basketball team is currently ranked #1 in the country, would you think they have a problem finding students? Well, technically, they don’t. However, even a national powerhouse like Syracuse University realizes that all of these accolades alone can’t fill the seats in their classrooms. (But they do help!)
I recently attended my first Carnegie Communications conference as the “new guy” on the Carnegie team and sat in on the presentation “Marketing and Communications Strategies . . . Decisions, Decisions.” The presenter was David Viggiano (or Vigg, as he told us), the Director of Marketing & Communications for Admissions at Syracuse. It was very clear from the beginning of his presentation that he is Syracuse University, inside and out! His presentation was perfectly branded with all of the proper Syracuse orange that would make his University president proud. His passion and commitment to his work at Syracuse was evident from the moment he started. “I bleed orange” was his battle cry, and I believed every word.
You would think that a school like this could sit back year after year and wait for the students to come to them. Not Syracuse. They keep their foot on the gas and move forward. Keeping their marketing simple yet always integrating something new with the old, constantly measuring how things are working, and always aware of the different metrics to be analyzed for each initiative undertaken. Don’t rest on your laurels, and always try to stay current—this seems to be the path to success at Syracuse. Or, as Vigg put it, “Know what you are good at, and do it.” These simple words had the entire crowd nodding their heads in agreement. How could something so simple be over looked so often?
Vigg also explained how you must be ready and able to leverage something that is current. For example, last year Syracuse had the fortunate experience of making it to the NCAA “Final Four.” What better opportunity to do some built-in self-promotion! So Syracuse and Carnegie Communications were able to work together and capitalize on a digital campaign to promote the University while everyone was thinking about Syracuse. Absolutely brilliant!
In this digital age where our attention span seems to be shorter than the blink of an eye, people are constantly “flipping channels,” whether it’s e-mail, digital publications, online video, social media, or print. (Yes, that’s right, I said print!) Think of your marketing and communication strategy as a “surround sound” approach. If you want to be seen, you have to remember that parents and students are on all of these channels. Your marketing plan should integrate a mixture of all of these platforms, and always remember that print is not dead!
As a former admission professional, I know that admission officers believe that they can conquer the world. No job is ever too big. But sometimes you do need help. In admission, just like life, you can’t do everything on your own, and in most cases you may not have the expertise. Vigg talked about strategic partnerships and how important they are in the success of any marketing plan. “Identify who can do the things that you can’t,” he said, whether it’s tapping a great new staff writer or bringing in a marketing firm like Carnegie. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a strategic partner—the partner that can help you get where you are trying to go.
If you want more info on Vigg’s presenation or to see the deck, shoot me an e-mail and I’d be happy to discuss: firstname.lastname@example.org