Higher Ed Content Strategy: The Plot Twist

content strategy is all about asking the right questions

Detective Spooner: Is there a problem with the Three Laws?
Dr. Lanning: The Three Laws are perfect.
Detective Spooner: Then why would you build a robot that could function without them?
Dr. Lanning: The Three Laws will lead to only one logical outcome.
Detective Spooner: What? What outcome?
Dr. Lanning: Revolution.
Detective Spooner: Whose revolution?
Dr. Lanning: *That*, Detective, is the right question.
from I, Robot

I love movies with a plot twist, especially one I didn’t see coming. In the movie I, Robot Detective Spooner suspects a robot is behind the murder of someone close to him. As it turns out, the murder was committed by a robot, but not the one the detective thought it was. The detective could have solved the murder sooner had he asked the right question first. Higher ed content is much like a movie with a plot twist. Most schools have a lot of great content written to tell their story. The problem is the story they tell is written to answer the wrong questions.

Recipes for Marketing?

Create a secret sauce that works for you!

Do you feel hesitant or confused about where to start with your marketing? Many small business owners and marketing managers I’ve worked with feel this way. We need marketing to create the appeal that will attract our customers but sometimes we aren’t always sure where to start or how to sort out what we may have inherited on the job. For whatever reason, we decide to do nothing, or worse, plunge in and spend a lot of money with little or no return!

I did that – tried many different things and spent a lot of money for nothing other than the experience of learning. Not a good business practice. I knew I needed to find the right tools and learn how to use them in order to be successful. But how?

Metrics and KPIs in higher ed

how to define a useful KPI

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The job of most websites is to provide sufficient information to answer the visitor’s questions and compel them to do something.  In higher ed, the action we want them to take is tied to enrollment – a business objective. The problem is, prospective students don’t visit a university website and apply as if they were buying a shirt. Their journey to that decision often travels a convoluted path. They may speak with a recruiter at a college fair, visit our website and those of other schools dozens of times, email back and forth with admissions, engage the university via social media, etc. It’s very difficult to accurately track the entire sales funnel for every prospect. So how then do we measure the effectiveness of a university website? I think we need to do it by creating a yardstick we know and trust – the KPI.

2017 Higher Ed CMS Survey

What does your school use?

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A survey of higher ed institutions to learn and share what CMSs are in use and what was in use before. This survey will close March 31, 2017. Please spread the word and share this survey. If you have updates to make, please contact me. Last updated Jan. 20,2017

Take the survey!

Think Emotionally

Engaging content is content that informs, entertains, and adds value. Start with the emotion your audience is feeling. Are they scared? Frustrated? Skeptical? Now ask what’s the opposite of that emotion? Poke at your audience’s emotions to motivate them to take action, whether that action is to look for more content from you, pick up the phone and call, or talk to someone face to face.

The Building Blocks of Engaging Content (Ann Gynn for Content Marketing Institute)

Every university has story. Tell it.

Skip the brochureware and tell your story.

More often than not content on a website – especially in higher ed – is rather dull and uninspiring. The closest we get to creating emotion is through news posts, stories about students, alumni, faculty and staff. We can do better. The meat & potatoes of a university website is where we introduce a prospect to our schools, our programs, and administration. Rather than present content like a brochure, why not tell a story? Our story.

Mobile & Local: Using beacon technology

Reach & inform when they're close enough to act

Image of proximity marketing ad

Long ago I wondered about those global positioning satellites above us. I thought about how they can pinpoint where we are and how we might use that technology for more than just targeting systems. Then mobile phones came out and not long after Google Maps showed us how to get around. When Bluetooth came about, our phones suddenly became part of a hyper-local tool kit that didn’t need a satellite and is far more accurate. Bluetooth gave birth to wireless headsets so we could talk hands free.  It allows our phones to talk with our computers or our car. And as soon as we were able to download apps for our phones we had advertising to go with them. Then someone realized advertising could take advantage of that hyper-local tool kit and proximity marketing was born.