5 Takeaways From The AMA ConnectEd Conference

In its 29th year, the AMA ConnectEd conference is a go-to learning experience for marketers and communications officers in higher ed institutions of all kinds.  Touting itself as “higher ed marketing’s premier event,” the conference promises to “make [marketing in higher ed] easier by connecting you with 1200+ peers who are working through the same challenges” – it did not disappoint.  

Over 3 days, we got to network with fellow higher education marketers and agencies, and learn about the latest and greatest in strategies, techniques and case studies covering everything from boosting enrollment, student engagement, increasing alumni giving and much more. So, what are the top 5 things we learned from AMA ConnectEd

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1. It is time to stop talking about Millennials.  

In the opening keynote, Wayne Connell of the Washington Post stressed the need to “retool our thinking about generations.”  Pew Research defines Millennials as being born prior to 1997, making the youngest millennials 21 this year. The youngest of this cohort is getting ready to graduate college, with the oldest of this generation in their late 30s. While Millennials may be a target for graduate programs, it is crucial for higher education institutions to understand Centennials, or Generation Z. The first generation of true digital natives, who do not remember a time without internet. There are a number of surprising trends arising with the coming of age of Gen Z, such as a resurgence in brick and mortal retail and a high priority placed on privacy (which is surprising for those that grew up in the age of social media). 

2. Content is king, and video is its queen.  

Content marketing has been a trend for some time now, and it appears to be here to stay. Former US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, in his keynote address, discussed the need for honest, organic storytelling relating to the different student populations that are looking for higher education. While the creation of long form videos may be appealing, being able to convey a message in a brief video can be quite powerful, especially in reaching younger audiences. 

3. There is such a thing as too much data. 

Andre Moraes, Principal Analytical Lead at Google, spoke about the difference between data demonstration (“look at all this data I have”) and data visualization (“here is an interesting insight I found”). The job of a marketers is to synthesize this data and use data visualization to break it out into actionable insights that the audience can quickly understand and act upon.  

4. Marketing has become a very technical profession. 

Since students approaching college age are digital natives, gone are the days when the marketing department’s job largely consisted of wordsmithing and laying out mailers and viewbooks. These elements are certainly part of the marketing mix, but students are exposed to so many touchpoints and messages from so many different institutions, how can you stand out from the pack and help prospects understand what makes your institution different? This is where the technical part comes in.  Institutions collect a wealth of data and using this data to understand your best candidates is the key to developing dynamic nurturing campaigns and personalized web experiences. 

5. An agency should be a partner, not a vendor. 

One size does not fit all, especially in higher education. While there are certainly some similarities, overlapping target markets, and shared challenges, a large state university can have upwards of 40,000 undergraduate students, while a small liberal arts college can have as few as 1,000. The marketing and recruitment strategies and tactics that work for one do not always work for another. An agency should take the time to understand your enrollment funnel, your offerings and your challenges and devise a customized solution, rather than a standard package used across various clients. It is important that the agency be agile enough and with the breadth of experience to work with your institution’s unique goals, to use the right strategy and tactics to convey your university’s unique culture to your ideal target student population(s).  

For Higher Ed Marketers, It’s Time To Get To Know Gen Z

For years, everyone's been talking about Millennials, the largest generation since the Baby Boomers. But what about Generation Z? While the oldest Millennials are approaching their late 30's as of 2018, Generation Z will make up almost 40% of consumers by 2020. Now that they are reaching college age, it is vital that institutions of higher learning focus on getting to know Generation Z better.

Generation Z defined

According to Pew Research Center, Generation Z (also known as “Post-Millennials”) includes all individuals born between 1997 and 2010. Their early lives have been impacted by far-reaching circumstances such as the Great Recession, the rise of ISIS, the election of the first black president, and social movements that support populism and marriage equality. Members of Generation Z are true digital natives, comprising the first generation born into a culture completely dependent on technology. Leaving the house to pick up groceries or take out cash from the ATM become rarer as these interactions move online.

It is vital that institutions of higher learning focus on getting to know Generation Z better.

Best Practices for Marketing to Generation Z 

In order to launch successful advertising and recruitment campaigns for Generation Z, companies and institutions need to approach this cohort differently than when they advertised to Millennials. By getting to know Generation Z, you'll find that they're more future-minded and financially prepared than many of their Millennial counterparts. Furthermore, having grown up in the digital age, Gen Zers are accustomed to conducting online research and are looking to engage with brands they determine to be authentic and socially responsible. Finally, although they may largely lack financial independence, Gen Z is poised to become the largest generation of consumers, in addition to the impact they currently have on household expenditures (with more than 90% of parents reporting that children have influence over family purchases). In short, these "post-Millennials" are already promising to harness tremendous spending power which they will invest in their educational futures, their lifestyles, and their livelihoods -- so the time to get to know Generation Z is now.

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The Parents Pool: Why Market Higher Education to Parents

Parents of today's college-age children are highly involved in many aspects of their life including their choice of school, the admissions process, and the entire college experience. Parents often hold great influence over their student's decisions and expect to have open lines of communication with their child concerning significant choices.

Families represent the largest consumer group today and Generation Z, children born between 1995 and 2009, account for nearly 26% of the U.S. population. This segment of the population represents a consumer market with a current spending power valued at $44 billion a year and will account for 40 percent of all consumers in the U.S. by 2020. The parents of Generation Z, like the Millennial generation before them, are highly involved in the lives of their children and are likely to act as advisers, providing opinions and recommendations.

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While Generation Z is the first generation to grow up in a digital world, parents continue to be a major influence on their life decisions. Generation Z generally gathers information from various sources when making a decision, but still relies heavily on their parent's recommendations and recognizes them as the perfect resource.

According to CNN, the funding for a students college education is a combination of scholarships, income, savings, and loans.

Approximately 23% of a student’s tuition cost comes from their parent’s income and savings.

Parents spend an average of $5,500 annually on their child's college education with most of it coming directly from their income, while 13% of them use money from a college savings plan, and 8% using money from other investments or savings plans.

Parents of today's college-age student have a tremendous amount of sway in their child's decisions. Open lines of communication and a willingness of students to seek out and accept their parent's opinion makes parents a prime influencer. Parental investment in the education of their child gives them significant control over the students choice of school, program, and living arrangements, making parents a prime marketing demographic target.

Stemming Tuition Sticker Shock

Regardless of the size, rank or location of a college or university, sticker shock is a very palpable and common concern for prospective students and their families. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

Affordability is among “the most influential factors when students develop their college consideration lists.

Stamats 2016 TeensTALK study, confirms affordability is among “the most influential factors when students develop their college consideration lists.”

So what are enrollment marketers to do when undiscounted tuition and fees are published out of context and outside competition is at an all-time high? Don’t hide the ball. Run with it.

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Address finances early and often in recruitment campaigns. Direct students to easily digestible information about awards, work study and federal loans in an easy to find section on your website. Invite questions. Communicate directly with parents. Consider communications specifically about completing and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—a top enrollment predictor that takes approximately 20 minutes to complete—during recruitment and even throughout yield.

In 2016, Nerdwallet.com reported high school graduates missed out on as much as $2.7 billion in free federal grant money, mainly because of incomplete or unfiled FAFSAs. Confusion about the process or perception about not being eligible for federal aid are cited factors that led to the lack of applications.

Don’t hesitate to make use of a number of free resources made available in the DOE online Financial Aid Toolkit, including handouts, videos and infographics. There’s even more educational content available across DOE Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts that’s designed for social sharing.

Refer students and parents to your cost of attendance calculator so they gain a better understanding of their estimated net price—the important number. The reported "cost of attendance" is rarely what students actually pay.

Let them know—more than once—because confusion about costs shouldn’t stand in the way of recruiting the best class possible.

How To Do Higher Ed Diversity Marketing The Right Way

Recruiting a more diverse student body is one of the more common priorities popping up on universities' strategic plans today. In the latest in a series of published reports, this month an article in The Atlantic shined a light on how high school graduate demographics are shifting from being around 70% Caucasian today to closer to 50% by 2030.

Huffington Post, Inside Higher Ed and numerous others also confirm that, while demographics are changing, universities should be very thoughtful about how they adapt to enroll a more diverse student population that reflects of our broader society.

Luckily, modern enrollment marketing is as nuanced as it is complicated. Big data allows for very creative segmentation, while the expansion of digital media enables colleges to target prospective students that were difficult to reach before.

Universities should be very thoughtful about how they adapt to enroll a more diverse student population that reflects of our broader society.

But if you want to recruit a student body that’s more inclusive than the one you have today, think about how you want to address diversity—ethnic, racial, economic, geographic, etc.—in your messaging and on your campus.

How have you positioned diversity on your website? Are your faculty and staff diverse? What services do you have specific to those students who are the first in their families to attend college? Will minority students actually feel at home on your campus? The answers to these questions and more can shape a very powerful narrative and, more importantly, one with greater potential for success. 

The goal of a more diverse and culturally rich academic environment is a noble one. Just be thoughtful and authentic when you have great stories to tell.

Furman Roth Wins Big in National Higher Education Ad Award Competitions

Furman Roth has won several advertising awards from two renowned national educational marketing competitions, including two 1st place Gold wins from the Higher Education Advertising Awards and 2nd place Silver awards from both The Higher Education Advertising awards and from The Collegiate Advertising Awards, in categories including print, out-of-home, social media campaigns (including Facebook and Instagram), student viewbooks and collateral. These 1st and 2nd place awards were won from a pool of over 2,250 entries from hundreds of agencies throughout the country.

“These wins are a reflection of the great work our creative department is doing,” said Ernie Roth, President of Furman Roth.  “Our broad experience in higher education has really helped us take our work to a new level.”

“Working with so many prestigious colleges and universities has really helped us become immersed in the category and the higher ed marketing environment, and has ultimately helped us do better work for our clients,” added Creative Director Jake Rabinowitz. “It takes breakthrough thinking to stand out amongst these major schools and universities in today’s marketing environment, which has become extraordinarily competitive.”

ABOUT THE AWARDS
The Educational Advertising Awards, of which this was their 32nd annual competition, honors exceptional and innovative creativity in education advertising and communications. The finalists and winners are determined by industry peers and the editors of The Higher Education Marketing Report.

The Collegiate Advertising Awards, that accepted more than 900 entries from schools across the United States, “honors excellence in marketing and advertising specific to the field of Higher Education.”

ON RADIO, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE (RADIO MERCURY AWARDS)

This hilarious video piece from The Radio Mercury awards perfectly illustrates the creative advantages of using radio advertising. For decades, copywriters have referred to radio as "The Theatre of the Mind," and this video sums it up perfectly: On radio, there are no rules. A must-watch for anyone considering using traditional or streaming radio as part of their media mix. 

 

Furman Roth Promotes Jake Rabinowitz to Creative Director

New York, N.Y. (January 5, 2017) – Ernie Roth, President and CEO of Furman Roth Advertising, has announced new creative leadership at the agency, with the promotion of current Creative Supervisor Jake Rabinowitz to the position of Creative Director.

Rabinowitz joined Furman Roth in 2013 and brought a strong combination of creative management experience and executional skills. Since then, he has put his mark on many of the agency’s client brands including B&H Photo & Video, New York Methodist Hospital, Nassau Community College, Windham Mountain Resort, The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science and Golden Blossom Honey.

“We’re very excited to put Jake at the helm of our creative department,” said Roth. “We’ve always been a strong media agency, but we’re also an idea agency – and Jake is a proven ‘ideas guy.’ We’re also particularly eager to tap into his experience in the digital, mobile, and content space. Jake’s leadership will enable us to expand upon our history of growing brands in innovative ways, to better serve our clients.”

Rabinowitz started his career in web content design and production. He was on the forefront of influencer marketing, working and building brands with some of the first social titans like @thefatjewish before moving on to head up marketing for a pre-PokemanGo augmented reality startup. Now, after three years in the Furman Roth creative department, he’s prepared to take the agency in a new creative direction

“Furman Roth has a rich history of turning brands into household names,” said Rabinowitz. “Krazy Glue, Mapquest, B&H… these brands are more than household names, they’re part of our culture – and Furman Roth was instrumental in the development of these brands. I’m looking forward to building on that history, combining it with my vision and creating culturally pervasive brand stories to help our clients thrive.”

University Apps: a Campus in Your Pocket

Time magazine recently proclaimed smartphones "the new backpacks.”  Indeed, with note-taking apps, recording apps, and research apps, today’s college student likely feels as naked as a campus streaker without his or her smartphone.  Nearly gone are the days of massive physical textbooks and backpacks bulging with papers.  

While some voices of academia continue to bemoan the ever-presence of technology in the classroom, universities have begun to embrace the medium of smartphone apps.  They can range from simple homework and grading platforms (think “Blackboard” to go), to university-wide social media sites.  In some cases, the social media apps are too popular among co-eds: Florida A&M’s app “Yeti – Campus Stories,” has recently come under fire for a lack of regulation of explicit sexual content, including an assault.  

Of course, plenty of campus apps find a balance between the cachet of a social component and the functionality of a class component. Many universities have successfully cultivated a smartphone presence, offering the benefits of a campus community with pocket-size portability. Here are a few worth noting: 

University of Virginia: UVA’s “The Good Old App” employs “augmented reality technologies,” in order to create a comprehensive experience for users.  Users on campus can tap into restaurant listings, directions, and even security escorts back to the dorm.  Arguably the coolest feature is that you can snap a photo of a building or landmark on campus and receive information about it.   
 Ohio State University: The Buckeyes were early on the trend, and their mobile app has, for years, offered all sporting event information, course communication, campus announcements, and a photo sharing feature that has become popular for alumni across the globe. 

MIT: As you might imagine, for a school that offers courses in app creation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has an expansive app that provides the usual services (courses, restaurants, announcements), but also offers a self-guided campus tour, top news, and access to campus librarians and maintenance help.  

Harvard University: Harvard actually has a slew of mobile apps, from the standard campus app, to Harvard Virtual Tour, to the Arboretum Explorer (featuring plant identification tools), to Shoestring Strategies, a budgeting app created by Harvard undergraduates.  Ever the overachievers!  

…And there are many more.  It’s worth a quick search to find if your current academic home or alma mater offers an app of its own. 



Dr. Phil Vs. Doc Martens - Why Retail Therapy WORKS.

Hi, I’m Deb, and I’m a compulsive shopper.

Or at least I have been. But then again, haven’t we all?

It happens when you just know that everything will fall into place if only you have that perfect pair of boots, fall coat, or new phone. You think to yourself, let me just pop into this store. I’m just going to look, you promise yourself.

Never mind the novel you promised yourself you’d start, or the meditation class you’ve been meaning to try, or even the pipe under the kitchen sink that needs to be replaced. Because those things take time, and nothing – I mean nothing – can compare to the high we get from a short-term or impulse buy.

Are you retailers getting this?

We want to buy your stuff. Not because we can’t live without it, but because we believe we can’t live without it. That’s what we think: our lives will be complete once we have this or that. The truth is, most people don’t need that new dress or pair of boots, but no one who has ever impulsively shopped will admit that.

Now, I hate to encourage businesses to prey on those compulsive shoppers, but I assume you’re just trying to increase sales and make a profit. Heck, we can think positive, that maybe you’re even helping people in the end. So how are you going to get people into your store, or onto your commerce site?

By helping them feel complete, that’s how. Thread counts are great. Non-stick is great. But are they going to make you crave getting under the covers every night, or help you create the relationship-clinching omelet every morning? They better.

So start thinking about how your products are going to make me feel. Stylish? Pampered? Cutting-edge? Savvy? More confident about both myself and my life? Because that’s what I want. And the faster you can get this feeling to me, the better.

There’s a reason for that. In order to survive and pass their genes on to the next generation, every animal is equipped with a “Motivational Triad.” This triad includes pleasure seeking, pain avoidance, and energy conservation. We seek to enhance pleasure, we seek to avoid pain, and we seek to do all that with as little effort as possible. That’s why Fifth Avenue is so popular.

In advertising, reaching this triad is often promised through a visual image.

Remember when car ads always had a beautiful woman leaning against the sports car in question? We’ve moved beyond that, but not far. It’s still the same message, just altered for a new era. In the end, it’s always about pleasure seeking. Because for humans, it’s instinctual. Eventually, the guys who gave up on finding the beautiful woman from the car ads settled down and started a family. Now our compulsive shopper’s pleasure comes from seeing their child have everything, instead of that sports car they once lusted over.

As you can tell, this post isn’t about media spending, or incentivized unit pricing. It’s about feelings, and if you’re not tapping into people’s emotional capital, you’re not tapping into people. 



Customers Are People Too

What do you see when a customer walks into your store?

Income? 
Sales?
Dollars?

Now let me ask you another question. What color are their eyes?

That’s right, customers are people. So it might help to ask yourself, and them, a few questions. Are those champagne glasses you are selling him the ones he is proposing to his girlfriend with? Is that the jacket she’s going to wear to go snowboarding for the first time? Is that the mobile phone she’s going to FaceTime her parents with while away at college?

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You may be done with your customer after they pay for those running shoes, but if you know how they’re going to use them, it will help you sell more of them. You can find out if people are using their new sneakers to train for that marathon, or if they are using them to take their dog for a walk in the park.

If you’re a big business, you’ll probably do market testing and blind focus groups. If you’re a small store, you may be gleaning anecdotal information, or just applying what you already know. If you’re into social media, you can gather those insights from your business’s Facebook page. That’s the interesting thing about social platforms—it doesn’t work in just one direction. You can find out just as much about them, as they can about you.

In any case, knowing how your products are actually being used is useful for advertisers.

One of our longtime clients B&H Photo & Video, is in Midtown, Manhattan. They’re known for being the ultimate store in the city for cameras, along with all the accouterments. We do a fair amount of radio for them, and it generally (and humorously) focuses on how helpful and knowledgeable the B&H staff is. They’ve also done something incredibly helpful: they’ve set up a fantastic Facebook page with detailed product reviews and helpful how-to videos. It also acts as a live feed for their customers to ask questions and give input. You can really feel the human element behind the page.

So they’ve covered quite a swath of customer engagement: traditional advertising, in-store customer service, and a social media platform that delivers consumer insight.

Now, that mix may or may not be right for your business. But the more retailers, and their agencies, can find out about business prospects, the better. With that insight, the marketing and advertising strategy can then become a lot clearer and direct to your target consumers.

Remember, they’re not your customers, they’re your friends.

How is your business going to befriend people?

6 Tips for Email Marketing

Yes, we’re perfectly aware of the irony of writing about the efficacy of email marketing via a marketing email. But, that aside, here are 5 ways you can improve your email blasts:

 

1. Subject Lines Are Everything
An old rule, yet one that still holds fast and true. And if you’re reading this, chances are it worked.

 

2. Keep It Hyper-Niche
Even though you’re sending this email to a lot of recipients, it’s important to make sure you’re covering something that hasn’t been covered ad nauseam. So make it specific. Make it unique. And make it quick before it becomes irrelevant.

 

3. Keep It Short
“When browsing the web, the average adult has a shorter attention span than a goldfish.” –Statistic Brain

Attention spans are getting shorter. And if you don’t hook someone into your content within the first few seconds, you’re toast. So don’t write dauntingly long-winded pieces that require your audience to work. You’re supposed to be giving something to them… so make it easy.

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4. Use Visuals
Any visuals. Gifs, memes, video clips, icons or plain old pictures are what draws the eye and gets attention. Treat an email blast as if it were a children’s book. If you would not read it in a jam, then no one will, even Sam-I-Am.

 

 

5. Make it Mobile Friendly
According to the latest US Consumer Device Preference Report from MovableInk, 66% of emails are opened on a mobile device. And that number is only going to go up. So it’s important to not only make sure the email is formatted properly for mobile, but also if there are any external links (to a blog or a website), make sure that those are mobile-friendly as well.

 

 

6. Be Persistent
Even if you follow all of these tips, chances are approximately 80% of recipients won’t open your email anyway (and that’s on a good day). The idea is to continually provide valuable content to the people you’re trying to reach. Think of it like free samples at the mall, once people know what the Bourbon Chicken tastes like, they’ll be back for more… that is, if it’s good.

IN STORE VERSUS ONLINE – WHO REALLY HAS THE MOST CUSTOMERS?

No one can deny that online shopping has grown faster than Justin Bieber’s social media following. So what does the future hold for brick-and-mortar retailers? And has online shopping reached a plateau? Research conducted by various sources* tells us that, finally, online versus in-store purchases are beginning to balance each other out.   

STANDING IN-LINE VS. SHOPPING ONLINE

First things first: What are people buying online? Tied for the highest percentage of online commerce are the electronics and music/video industries, both at about 74%.  The latter comes as no surprise, with songs and movies so easily downloadable from companies like iTunes and Amazon. There is little chance that this arm of the entertainment industry will ever return to the brick and mortar marketplace. Sorry Sam Goody.

Following these are office supplies (68%), clothing (63%), furniture (66%), toys and games (60 %) and books and magazines (58%).


With discounts as well as free and fast shipping options, companies going online for purchases is a simple option that brings their needs right to their door.

Clothing retailers often have shipping discounts, or no shipping fees policies, after you spend a certain amount. But, if the clothes don’t fit right it can be a somewhat tedious process to return/reorder a better size, etc.

Amazon carries almost everything, and they have put retailers, specifically bookstores, in danger (and even some out of business).  Toys and Games as well as Books and Magazines having a larger percentage of sales online is no surprise considering how large Amazon has become.  Simply put, Amazon offers almost everything at rock bottom prices – so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete. 

 WHAT’S THE MOST POPULAR IN-STORE INDUSTRY?

The most overwhelming preference for in store shopping is Drugs and Health Aids, at 91.2%.  This has the highest preference out of any category, making online purchases scarce in this industry.  Maybe it’s the fear of identity theft when insurance is involved, or health products or too personal for the Internet.  Whatever it is, there seems to be no threat to brick and mortar operations in this industry.

INDUSTRIES THAT ARE TOO CLOSE TO CALL

With the emergence of online grocery stores and services, some are beginning to wonder if traditional supermarkets will soon be in danger.  However, many consumers have reported that they won’t buy any fresh products from online services (such as meat, produce, dairy and fish).

When it comes to Computer Hardware and Software 52% tend to shop in store.

Online and in-store shopping both have unique aspects that neither can replace.  What drives a consumer in-store or online depends on the product, the person and the need.  While they each have their own benefits and disadvantages, for now they’re both here to stay. 

* US Census Bureau, Marketing Daily, CSA 

When Choosing a Hospital, Patients Follow Their Heart

What factors are influencing patients to choose one hospital over another?  Is it word of mouth, ratings and reviews, or maybe just a gut feeling?  Learning how patients make their healthcare decisions can help hospitals effectively advertise themselves by shaping their message and knowing when and where to reach audiences. 

These days most patients go online to Google their symptoms and research about potential illnesses before making an appointment. Let’s face it, we’ve all gone on WebMD and convinced ourselves we had something at some point.  In fact, according to Google & Compete*, approximately 77% of patients conducted some sort of Internet search before making an appointment with a doctor or physician. 

After they do this initial “research”, patients consider two major convenience factors:  Location and insurance. Traveling to a top rated hospital on the other side of town, in the next city or even outside of the country is financially unrealistic and hugely inconvenient.  And it’s no secret that Hospital visits can be expensive, so it stands to reason that a patient’s desire for a facility that accepts their insurance plan would rank high on their list of priorities, in order to keep out-of-pocket costs to a minimum.

But interestingly, then come emotions. According to a study conducted at Stanford University, patients are more likely to choose a doctor that they feel emotionally connected with on some level.  During this study, patients ended up choosing doctors whose practices represented a “emotional fit” to their needs.  Those who wanted to feel more relaxed choose doctors whose care promoted a relaxed and calm lifestyle.  Patients who wanted an end result of being more energized and active chose doctors that focused on increasing patients’ well being through activity.

So what’s the takeaway from this for marketers? Well, it’s clear that patients are looking for the best care that suits their emotional needs. And that’s good news, because communicating emotion is a discipline in which marketers and advertisers excel (if they’re doing it right). It’s their job to convey the emotions of a healthcare facility in a way that the facility itself may not be able to do on their own.

It’s our job to understand the culture of a facility and the culture of the patients that they are trying to connect with. But it’s not enough to understand who your patients are… you must also understand how your patients feel. 

*Google & Compete, Hospitals Study, 2012

 

    According to a Google & Compete study, emotion is the most important factor for patients when it comes to choosing a healthcare facility. 

 

According to a Google & Compete study, emotion is the most important factor for patients when it comes to choosing a healthcare facility. 

4 Ways to Reach Prospective Grad Students

A smiling, polite High School scholar brandishing a diploma and flanked by Mom and Dad may be the ideal target audience for undergrad admissions marketing, but creating a clear picture of the prospective grad student is more challenging.  While plenty of graduate applicants are still fresh-faced twenty-somethings, many are seeking a second career, juggling children at home, or pursuing a passion that they’d previously shelved.  Here are key points universities would be wise to consider when creating marketing content to attract the amorphous grad student audience: 

 1)    Know thyself:

 

With an understanding of a university’s strengths and weaknesses, you can better allocate money in the budget to bolster certain programs.  A Harvard MBA sells itself, but often schools continue to mail out literature about their most famous programs at the neglect of their unsung academic heroes. 

Cross-promoting less illustrious programs at the same university could attract a greater number of applicants.  For example, if the Iowa MFA webpage provided links to information about the school’s PhD in English Lit, applicants would be enticed to apply to both. 

 2)    Clearly shape the conversation about finances:

Prospective grad students have been consumers longer than undergrads, and further, they are much more likely to be spending their own money rather than their parents’. 

 Give premier real estate in web content and advertising to the most promising scholarships and fellowships the program has to offer.  Offer to assign prospective students individual financial counselors for further questions.  If the program in question isn’t well-funded, have confident answers at the ready and the data to back them up. “Yes, while the program costs $30,000 a year, the average graduate of our program lands a job making $60,000 their first year out, so any loans could reasonably be paid off in a couple of years.”  Avoiding financial conversations makes savvy consumers wary.  

3)    Consider target audiences:

 

Whether it’s a specific field that is particularly prone to having turnover—like publishing, for example—or a specific demographic ripe for considering higher ed—like recent veterans—do your homework on not just who may be a good fit for your programs, but how they might finance it.  While the new GI Bill is often used for undergraduate education, it is also applicable to grad school doing the research for specific prospective student groups makes them all the more likely to apply.

4)    Promote your University’s lifestyle:

Certainly, adding flavor and color to the landscape of the university does great work to woo undergrads and grad students alike.  For example, some undergrads are drawn to Tulane University for their emphasis on New Orleans itself: the restaurants, the music scene, the surrounding regional charm. 

Grad students are more likely to ask questions like: Is the university in an area with good public schools for children?  Is grad student housing available for couples and families?  Is this a program that can largely be completed at night, or remotely?  Could I feasibly finish the coursework while working full time? 

Consider the myriad lifestyle concerns that will impact the choice of prospective students when drafting marketing content.  The program may be ranked impressively by the Princeton Review or have a celebrity visiting professor, but certain applicants will be better swayed by the campus fitness facility and the flexible hours. 

Marketing Tips for Winning With Millennials

We recently came across an article that might be of interest. It lays out principles retailers should know about engaging with Millennial shoppers.

From the article:

The millennial influence on the market is so dramatic that it has altered the language that brands use when discussing target audiences...Millennials want to be consumer partners — not a target audience — with their favorite brands, and because of that, franchise professionals must shift their thinking to engage this influential group.

Why Digital Marketing Has Become the Health-Care Industry's Rx for Revenue

We recently came across an article on Ad Age that takes a look at why more and more healthcare organizations are going digital to fulfill their marketing needs.

From the article:

Admissions are falling as higher insurance rates prompt patients to seek more affordable care outside of hospitals and crimp the demand for elective procedures...Many are turning to search, mobile and social for cost-effective marketing that reaches the growing number of consumers who look online for health-care information. Paired with advice from referring physicians, the internet is helping patients make more informed hospital choices.

4 Tips for Higher Ed Content Marketing to Millennials

The problem of marketing to a younger generation isn’t a new one.  While millennials only make up about 10% of general consumers, they (and their parents) are the primary market for Higher Ed marketing.  So, how and where do we reach them?

 1)    Strategy across social media platforms:

While everyone is familiar with Facebook, millennials actually have been leaving it for other, newer, mediums: Instagram and Snapchat, among others.  Facebook can still be useful marketing tool, but a stagnant university “fan” page and typical ad content isn’t going to do the same work as a more personal approach.  (Native content is a buzzworthy phrase for a reason.)

 Also consider how product placement can benefit your brand, whether in traditional outlets like television, or in the form of viral videos or web shows.  Studies show that millennials are especially susceptible to product placement, because they are so used to its ubiquity.  So, while there’s a 98% chance somebody paid a celebrity to wear that Yale hoodie in their music video, millennials are likely to simply take in the image, rather than question its authenticity.  

 2)    Don’t try too hard:

 Learn from missteps made by others: young people have a curated concept of “cool” and will call out brands that are phony.  When McDonald’s tried to coax an indie band to play free under their banner at SXSW, they were blasted on social media and lost a lot of millennial customers. The same holds for schools: if partying is your “thing” (I’m looking at you, LSU), then by all means, make that clear to your prospective students.  But if your institution is better known for excellence in the arts, don’t try to sell millennials on its “coolness”: you’d fare better being straightforward and true to your culture.

3)    Money talks:  

Millennials, and of course, their parents, are more aware of the danger of the student loan crisis than any previous generations.  Devote valuable content space to explaining scholarships and fellowships available, built-in benefits, and plans for students to finance their degree.  (Initiate and control the conversation about finances so that prospective students and their parents realize their options when they look up your university’s tuition.)

4)    Diversify your strategy:

Focus on reaching millennials where they live: on the internet.  Social media, TV, and non-traditional media outlets are all necessary to reach prospective undergrads.  But if their parents are footing the bill, it may make sense to additionally mail traditional promos to homes, knowing it is more likely to reach the parents than the students.  The same remains true for outlets like NPR and newspapers.  If the message of your university is carefully planted in the minds of students and parents alike, your university won’t only have an enthusiastic upcoming freshman, but a mom and dad who are happy to foot the bill.     

Connecting to the Community

Using Social Media to Reinforce the Consumers’ Decision in the Hospital and Health Care System.

Reaching out to the public and creating an open line of communication allows a hospital to tailor services specific to patient wants and needs. By giving the hospital a voice, community members will learn that their opinions and concerns not only matter, but are being heard. Each interaction strengthens the image of the hospital and builds trust among patients.  Connecting frequently through social media deepens the relationship and reinforces the patients’ decision. Almost all US hospitals now have multiple social media accounts.  But are they hitting the target?

People love to talk about their experiences, good or bad. Rely on feedback from patient surveys, social media comments, and word of mouth to know what topics need to be addressed to improve public image. Don’t avoid harsh complaints. Listen to your patients and implement customer services initiatives. Being mindful of patient privacy, respond and comment directly to the individual who complained and let them know you understand their frustration and discuss what steps the hospital and staff are doing to correct the issue.  

In addition to responding to comments, use social media to promote patient education and public health programs. Free clinics, job training, back-to-school immunizations and so many other programs are the heart of communities. By addressing the basic needs of everyday life, the hospital promotes long term health and wellness. Have a record turnout at a women’s health event? Posting pictures will not only enhance visibility of the program but 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)

Patients often are searching for answers. They are also looking for something else rarely talked about: hope. They want to see positive outcomes, feel inspired and have a reason to feel good about choosing a hospital.

By opening the line of communication, the hospital becomes a friend that is by your side during life’s celebrations and can be depended on during emergencies. Healthcare marketing can be complicated but creating a well-executed social media presence can produce meaningful and measurable results and leave healthcare consumers deeply engaged with your brand while also feeling validated and heard. 

4 Reasons to Consider Newsfeed Advertising

Social media has become part of most people’s daily routine. Wake up, check Facebook and Snapchat; make coffee, scroll through Instagram. Time to cook dinner? Time for Pinterest. Want to vent, head to Twitter. Going to bed – why not stay up for 2 gratuitous hours going from link to link on YouTube. Seeing how dependent we’ve become on social media, it’s unlikely for someone to go more than a few hours (and in many cases, minutes) without checking one of the many, if not all. 

With social media addictions comes a more distracted audience. Commercial breaks turn into phone breaks.  Advertising, and selling, on consumers favorite social sites may be the best way to reach distracted eyes. With a more targeted approach, brands shouldn’t just be heading online – they should be heading directly for the newsfeed.  Here’s why:

 

1. Buy Buttons: Within the last year, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have added buy and shop buttons to their interface. Mobile shopping has rapidly increased and around 1/3 of online shopping now occurs on mobile. With the new buy buttons implemented on suggested and branded posts, it makes it much easier for a consumer to turn a “like” into a purchase.

 2. We live on our phones: In a day and age where some of us are on our phones more than we sleep, and when we do sleep it’s next to our phones, it makes sense to move to mobile.  College students spend almost 8 hours a day on their phones, meaning that while they’re awake you can likely reach them on mobile.  Almost 80% of internet traffic now occurs on mobile, taking the lead from desktops and laptops.  Online browsing on phones has become a filler for when we’re commuting, waiting for our morning coffee, or just plain uncomfortable.  Smartphones are with us wherever we go, and it’s the place where most people are reading their feeds.

 3. Visually Appealing: Most social media is set up as a visual platform, which is an ideal format for displaying retail advertising. An interesting product image will catch the consumer’s eye, and stand out against the everyday status updates.  Creating branded and relatable posts on social media will make the ads less “ad like” and more like a cool story on their newsfeed. Relating to consumers on the interface they understand may help ads be noticed rather than avoided. 

 4. It’s Native: Reach them where they’re already going. 74% of those online have and use social media, and nearly 3 hours a day is spent on all of the different sites or apps.  Each site can also provide insight on the users likes and interests, clicks, searches, etc.  With this information, advertisers can create a more targeted approach and hopefully a more relatable one as well.