So how does one market to ME?
The I'll Manage my own Experience thank you very much Generation?
Well, to some extent, you don’t. Not in the old sense of marketing. Not using the old marketing 101,
That can be done with some of the technology we have today. For example, your college’s web site. Without even looking at it right now I can assert that it is probably killing sales…I mean applications. Your web site was designed by the people at the school for the people at the school and not for potential students. The home page is all cluttered with stuff that make the internal community feel good about but does not respond to the needs or wants of the customer. That by the way is a classic definition of poor customer service. Not listening to the customer and then telling them what they can have and that’s it.
“Your Website Hoovers” (a verb)
Now I know, as you do, that the homepage was a compromise anyhow to try and keep people happy. And the marketing people felt they needed some control too so the Campus of Dreams image comes across because that is how they6 want to see their school. So we end up with the same bland homepage as every one else. In fact, it is so compromised that it could represent any college in
And the internal pages!!!!!! They are often done by everyone. “Let’s not offend anyone so we will let each department create its own page to make sure it is happy.”
”What about the students? Do they have a say?”
“Huh? On the college’s website?”
Right. Why should they be involved? How about because it is a primary point of contact for them and potential students? Therefore it should speak to them and what they want. Moreover, remember this is a generation that wishes more control itself – not be controlled or given reheated, old marketing to eat or go hungry. They won’t go hungry though. They’ll go somewhere else.
So Step 1. Ask students what they think of your web and how you could make it better for them. Not just the students you’ve got either. The students who might apply. Go to high schools and get some focus groups going, surveys or get someone to do it all for you with a national audience.
LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.
Then, step 2. GIVE UP CONTROL. How about providing an IPod homepage. A homepage that allows the visitor total control over what will be on it. That’s right. A homepage you don’t design but the visitor does. Just as a student decides what he or she wants to download onto an IPod, the student downloads what he wants on your college homepage thereby making it his own. It can be done.
CoreDataCenter (our technology partner) has been working with us to develop a webpage that has a cluster of graphic images with simple captions to allow visitors to assemble their webpage of your school. They get to select the information they want and not what the college wishes to give them (or actually itself). This places the control in the mouse of the visitor.
Granted they still get to choose from images and information that you may provide but you can also open up the image and information to students who can create videos and information for other students.
“OH MY G-D! YOU WANT TO LET STUDENTS POST WITHOUT OUR MARKETING CENSORS VETTING WHAT THEY SAY? ARE YOU MAD?”
Not yet, but your students and I will be if you don’t place some trust in them. And in the fact that they can talk to your potential students much, much better than you can and will ever be able to. As for the danger and marketing potential, read the WIRED article “And Now a Word from Our Customers” by Frank Rose in the December 2006 issue. (BTW, if you aren’t reading WIRED, you are missing the boat that has already sailed. A must read for college marketers for certain and most everyone else too if you want to have an inkling what your students are doing, thinking and going to do and think.)
Okay, so here is how what is currently being called LeadWiseWebs™ works.
The potential student comes to your landing page. That was your boring, overly wordy homepage. Clicks on some areas that interest him or her like a graphic or picture of a diploma for academic programs, a dollar sign for tuition costs ,a mob picture for adjunct faculty, or a football helmet for administration decisions………That leads to some other graphic-based choices to click on. For instance, if she clicks on the diploma, that moves to a page of a group of graphics representing the majors. A briefcase for business, an apple for education, a jail cell for criminal justice, and so on. They in turn guide other choices like scholarship information (a hand giving you money maybe). So if a student clicks on the jail cell and also scholarships, only scholarships that relate to CJ majors show up. That eliminates the dreaded list of all the scholarships for left handed nursing majors from Podunk which only turn visitors off and wear them down since they have nothing to do with their interests.
The end result is that LeadWiseWebs™ generates the student’s homepage for the school with just what he or she wants. And since it is an offshoot of our already prize and enrollment-winning Leadwise™ personalized view book generator, everything can be fully personalized with the student’s own information like his name. Then the student can save that homepage and even change or update it later.
This would also be a fantastic portal creator tool too. Ever wonder why students don’t use the portal you created for their use? Because you created it actually for your use. To let students do what you wanted to let students do to make it easier for the school.
Did you know for example, that we found that students would rather have their grades mailed to them than have to go to your portal and get them. That’s why some of them never see their last semester grades and sign up for wrong courses.
But, let students generate the portal they want and they may actually use it.
The college can still maintain full control in the classroom if it wants to. It can also lose more students by doing that as I have written before but let’s face it; academia is a control-focused universe. But as long as we realize that finally it is the students who are in full control of his or her decision to enroll and stay, we will focus on them and work to provide them the customer service they need and deserve.