Sometimes it takes a little extra muscle and an outside spark to achieve the short-term results you want to achieve — Verge Pipe Media’s higher education marketing team works with administrators, faculty, staff and students to create robust digital strategies and turnkey solutions that get people talking.
We help our clients move from overwhelmed to flat-out ecstatic about emerging technology and new communication tools. And while our team can talk your ear off about segmentation, social media marketing, capital campaigns, MOOCs, flipped classrooms and any “buzzword” that catches your fancy — we know it all boils down to getting the following elements right:
1. Strategy & Understanding Your Stakeholders
If you don’t know where to start with social media, email and/or website design, we’d recommend you allocate modest resources towards better understanding the people you are trying to reach. What was true 10 years ago — even 5 years ago — isn’t necessarily true today:
* 83% of American adults would like to see more innovative practices being used by higher education.
* Based on a survey of SEC business school alumni, 90% of recent alums use Facebook. And that includes late-career alums! According to that same survey, 85% of higher education’s older constituent groups are on social media.
* ~90% of all alumni want to hear from their college or university on a monthly, if not weekly basis, in the form of an email or digital magazine.
Good marketing and communication is rooted in data. So for the most part, we start all of our relationships with a thorough “getting-to-know-you” phase. We’ll survey the Dean, Associate Deans, Development leads, Communication Managers and Department Heads to get a handle on sentiment and internal needs, fears and desires.
From there, we help design surveys and market research tools to better understand the media consumption habits and communication preferences within the college. Once we have a better understanding of what people claim they need, it’s our job to determine what they really want and what is feasible.
We’ll develop a report of our findings and give recommendations for a graduated test + learn strategy that hits a broad spectrum of communication channels.
Bottom line: we want to help campus leaders and administrators better understand digital media as a complement to traditional outreach efforts (publications, mailers and in-person visits). Whether your institution is starting from zero or you need fresh direction, we’ll tailor a roadmap for your team and provide all of the numbers you need to back up policy changes and a fresh approach!
2. Content Marketing & Coordination
The gas that makes any digital communication effort “go” is fantastic content. In the case of higher education, this often means more content, on a more regular basis and in a much more accessible format.
The days of reading press releases and glossy magazines are largely over. When was the last time your local news outlets cared about an award-winning research paper by one of your faculty members? But plenty of people — in, around and surrounding your college — do care. The power to get the word out, is at your fingertips. The beauty of the digital world is that no niche is too small and, in this mobile, hyper-connected world, someone is always searching.
Approach #1 – Social / Creative + Auxiliary Support: Our team is available to assist your internal assets with content marketing strategy and execution. We can help you design editorial calendars, content schedules and templates that can be used to make the info-gathering process more streamlined + efficient. We’ll participate in regular meetings, give direction, share analytics and help produce high-value concepts.
Approach #2 – Partners: If your internal assets are thin, you may consider bringing Verge Pipe Media aboard to help with the day-to-day content generation and account management. We can help Deans and Communication Managers build and then execute a robust content strategy — we’ll do the research, design interviews and generate copy, graphics, photography and video. Once the foundation is laid, our team will help and advise through the transition, as internal hires are brought on-board.
3. Data & Accountability
Verge Pipe Media provides regular reports and Quarterly Business Reviews for all of our clients, consisting of analytics, suggestions for campaign optimization, benchmarks and review.
Every piece of digital communication is measurable, in some regard. We count impressions, record interaction rates and note feedback trends – rolling all of this data into an overview of what sort of content plays well with your constituent groups and what sort of content falls flat. We’re also attentive to timing, design, format and a slew of other variables that impact how information is received.
If you can’t measure it, it isn’t marketing and smart communication. With Verge Pipe Media, you’ll always know how our joint efforts are performing, where you rank against other universities, and where there is room for growth.
Beyond the content cycle, the success and failure of digital communication efforts can usually be traced back to successes or failures in leadership. Higher education is a well-entrenched industry, steeped in tradition. Faculty members and administrators are thought leaders in their field; but when it comes to adopting innovative practices outside that comfort zone, there is a definite spectrum of personality types. At Verge Pipe Media, we start with early advocates and use quick wins to spread support. Change doesn’t happen overnight — it’s won over time, through smart marketing strategy development and eloquent design.
For leaders, we understand it’s hard to be decisive and firm with policy when your personal understanding of what must be done is (at best) incomplete or (at worst) negligible. We’re happy to work alongside Deans and Communication Managers that need suggestions on rollout, faculty buy-in and social media policy design. It works to everyone’s advantage. Your leaders look knowledgeable and confident, and the communications team faces less resistance when it comes to execution. We can help with:
- Social Media Policy
- Digital Style Guides
- Email Templates
- Effective Content Calls
- General Deskside Consulting
- Promotional Strategy
Strategy consulting aside, our team is happy to setup training sessions for administrators, faculty members, alumni and students. We’ll help everyone better understand the inbound marketing ecosystem and show them how their individual contributions will not only serve them, but also the greater good.
- Executive Training
- Introduction to Inbound Marketing
- Social Media for Use in Higher Education (LinkedIn for Development and lead generation, Tumblr for Admissions, etc)
- Best Practices for Non-Academic Communication
- Custom-tailored Modules
Verge Pipe Media is proud to be able to provide a complete service, including tech design, development & support! For more on our technical capabilities, check out VPM Labs. Our resources on higher education are collected here.