The Higher Education sector must step back and assess their part in the current marketing climate.
In light of the recent news warning ‘universities are going to face a crackdown on how they advertise’, it is imperative the entire sector takes a moment to step back and assess their part in the current marketing climate.
In an environment where measure of marketing effectiveness is mainly reduced to student numbers, it is inevitable that marketers will employ any reasonable shortcut to get there.
As a result there is a proliferation in Higher Education marketing of homogenised tactics that has resulted in a wall of noise clouding the landscape of choice in the sector. It has become virtually impenetrable in the last few years with reliance on phrases that start with ‘Expand, Discover or transform’, bridged by ‘your’, and finished with an aspirational noun of choice – ‘life, future, horizon’, etc…The problem is that it is easier to join the noise rather than stand out.
So what’s the antidote? A good start would be if more universities took the time to really examine their point of distinction and to truly understand the relevant students they want to attract. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.
In our 30 years’ experience working with Higher Education clients, universities that start with an authentic proposition based on their earned reputation and the ‘people’ results of the university find it easier to communicate, recruit and convert.
This is because a proposition based on what the world sees in you, rather than how you want the world to see you, this is the easiest thing to explain to someone standing in front of a wall of noise. It is truth and, as they say, the truth will always out.
This proposition becomes a single point of light that aligns everything the university says and does, internally and externally. It changes perceptions and it can change cultures - because it does not have to become true. It is true.
Higher Education clients who approach marketing in this way continually hit and exceed their student numbers, and they also have the strongest brand metrics as well, resulting in consistent performance and growth.
At Hunterlodge, the news today only reinforces what we and our clients already knew, we ALL have a legal obligation and duty to ensure all our communication materials and activity are legal, decent, honest and truthful. Which is why we require ALL staff to be accredited with their IPA legal and regulatory certification. We feel passionately that advertising agency staff should not be allowed to deal with clients unless they hold this for precisely the reasons the Advertising Standards Authority have highlighted.