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4 Ways to Create More Collaboration Between Admissions and Marketing
“When enrollment is up, praise marketing. When enrollment is down, blame admissions.”
If you’ve heard this quip on your higher ed campus, chances are there is a strained relationship between those two offices. At most colleges and universities, the admissions office and marketing department are separate, having two distinct functions.
The main goal of the marketing office is to generate awareness and interest for the institution’s brand. The focus of the admissions office is to engage with prospective students and cultivate those relationships throughout the recruitment and enrollment process. Despite a clear connection in both methodology and the people they go after, admissions & marketing departments frequently get siloed from one another, leading to this bitterness and making collaboration more difficult.
Some institutions have worked to correct this problem of division, either establishing a recruitment marketing function within the enrollment management division, or having the vice president oversee both admissions and marketing. However, even with this setup, there can still be friction between the two offices.
In order to hit new student enrollment goals, though, your higher ed institution needs both departments functioning optimally and working together for the best possible return on your admissions marketing.
4 Tips to Bring Admissions and Marketing Together
If there’s tension between the marketing and admissions teams at your school, try these four tips to help break down the silos, create more collaboration, and affect new student enrollment positively.
- Meet regularly. The admissions and marketing teams must meet regularly, at least every two weeks, but preferably weekly. It is important that each office provides transparency and shares what each is doing to further the enrollment goals of the institution.
These meetings will cover topics like inquiry and app numbers, top feeder areas, website visits, campus visit numbers, upcoming recruitment events, upcoming TV/radio ads, and more.
Schedule a day-long retreat to hit on specific important items that need to be addressed.
Meeting together is an unofficial way to hold each other accountable and the easiest way to get on the same page and begin to break down the silos that commonly form in admissions marketing.
- Involve marketing in SEM. If your institution has a Strategic Enrollment Management team, this is a no-brainer. It is crucial that a high-level marketing officer have a seat at the table to provide guidance and insight as to how the institution positions itself, both internally and externally. Their buy-in and feedback are critical.
If your institution does not yet have an SEM imperative, then start one and make sure the marketing office is included.
- Encourage marketing to attend recruitment events. One of the best ways for a marketing person to understand admissions and recruitment is to put them in the action firsthand.
Invite a marketing person to shadow a recruiter for a day, take a campus tour, or even attend a national/regional college fair. College fairs give marketers a chance to hear the types of questions being asked, see the college fair booth setup, and “beg, steal, or borrow” new and interesting marketing designs from other institutions. It’s a marketer’s dream!
- Involve admissions in marketing tactics. Likewise, it is crucial to invite admissions staff to focus groups, social media takeovers, engagement events, and any other marketing opportunity so they can hear what is being said about the institution.
Recruitment staff need access to these types of events in order to see the bigger picture. Student staff in admissions are great for social media takeovers, as they are typically campus leaders and understand what campus activities are great for promoting a fun and engaging environment. Focus groups with college counselors are a great way for both marketing and admissions to understand how prospective students see the institution compared to others. Admissions staff should have a hand in all of this.
Eliminate Silos at Your Higher Ed Institution to Increase New Student Enrollment
These are some basic opportunities to help eliminate animosity between admissions and marketing. Remember, the end game is to break down silos and promote a more open, transparent relationship. The sooner you can create this symbiotic partnership, the sooner you will start to see enrollment success.