Student Marketing for Colleges and Universities

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Student Marketing for Colleges and Universities BY RICHARD WHITESIDE AACRAO, 2004; 262PP.; $60, AACRAO MEMBERS; $80, NON-MEMBERS

To most academics, the idea of applying the principles of marketing to colleges and universities is akin to selling your soul. However, many in higher education have come to terms with the idea that marketing is not only necessary but is an important tool to help institutions reach their institutional goals. Call it student recruitment, student retention, or institutional image; it is marketing just the same.

Student Marketing for Colleges and Universities, edited by Richard Whiteside of Tulane University, introduces marketing theory to the higher education setting with application specifically to student recruitment. As a marketing professor and a former enrollment manager, I related very well to the content of the book. However, I also found that the authors make appropriate presentations and sound explanations for those not familiar with marketing concepts.

The text smartly addresses several basic areas of marketing including the marketing environment, marketing information and technology, consumer behavior, market segmentation, and branding as well as some areas of integrated marketing including direct marketing and advertising. The editor states that the book is "intended for those in leadership positions who are interested in or responsible for marketing the institution to prospective students." Enrollment managers will likely embrace the text as much of the advice within it supports the position taken by those in the field. Other campus administrators will benefit from examining the section that makes the case for having an institutional marketing plan as outlined in the final chapter. Faculty are also introduced to how they can have a role in student recruitment and how the governance of colleges and universities has a significant impact on enrollment issues.

Each chapter reflects the stance of the author from a commercial profession or enrollment management perspective. The introductory chapters highlight the need to establish an effective mission, vision, and marketing statements from which an institutional brand identity can be created. Clifford Lull and Bernice Thieblot's chapter on branding then lists the elements of brand positioning, suggests several tools for creative direction, and poses many poignant questions that college administrators should ask creative consultants before contract negotiation.

The text continues with many noteworthy contributions to student marketing. For example, David Crockett, in his chapter on strategic priorities, wisely recommends that "setting clear and realistic enrollment goals is a key fundamental to achieving enrollment success."Jim Black accurately describes the academic culture on most campuses as "terminally collegial" in his chapter on integrated college and university marketing. The text closes with guidelines on how to institute a marketing plan with a sample plan included in the appendix.

Although issues of pricing, product, and distribution are given a cursory overview, they likely do not merit further exploration for enrollment managers given that those decisions are usually beyond their scope of their decision making authority. However, topics worthy of further exploration for all colleges and universities include social responsibility and marketing ethics. With so much emphasis on corporate responsibility in business, it is appropriate to address ethics and responsibility in marketing colleges and universities. For example, one can legitimately ask whether it is ethical to admit a financially endowed student who is not adequately prepared for the academic rigor of the institution. …