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Recruiting Intelligence

So That’s Your Strategy?

People look smart when they reference strategy. It elevates any discussion to greater importance as soon as the word strategy enters. Often, it gets others in the room thinking, “Right, maybe I’m not thinking about this strategically.” Followed by the thought, “What exactly would a strategic version of this discussion look like?”

The idea of strategy is often misunderstood. I fully admit, it really can be difficult. I can’t tell you how many discussions I’ve been in where people describe their tactical execution plan as the strategy. 

A simple example of why folks get confused, and I’ll use what we know best, the world of marketing: Your marketing strategy to enroll more students requires great marketing content. Content is a tactic you will employ to achieve your strategic goal. Yet, you will need a content strategy to be successful. So, content is not a tactic. It is a strategy, right? No, it is a tactic in this scenario. A tactic that needs its own strategy.

Oy vey.

Our team, of course, lives in the world of marketing strategy, planning, and execution. Today's post shares some insights into how to simplify the discussion and confirm when you are employing a strategy vs. discussing the tactical execution of any given initiative.

Read on and maybe we can shed some light on how to actually be smart in the discussion, not just look smart.

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3 Tactics to Refresh Your Student Marketing Approach, Right Now

You don’t need to be a CMO to know that there’s more to attracting students than coming up with a pithy headline for your Instagram ads and postcard mailers.

And yet, what we often see are institutions full of creative minds doing the same marketing initiatives year after year, not really realizing how they appear to their target audiences.

At the end of the day you want your institution to stand out in a field of sameness, ubiquitous blather, and endless repeats of campus images and smiling students with backpacks and laptops. You want to highlight your institution’s differentiators and deliver the right message to a targeted audience at the right time.

But we get it — whether it’s lack of budget, time, or most likely, both, swapping out last year’s campaign photos, shuffling around your headlines, and hitting a few buttons in Facebook Ads Manager are sometimes the only levers that are in scope. And establishing a feedback loop of performance analysis for continuous campaign iteration and optimization? An even more distant goal state.

So, before you reach for that updated “smiling student with backpack” image to juice your Fall 2021 recruitment campaigns, turn your attention to today’s post: 3 recruitment marketing ideas to help you reach students where they are right now.

We’re talking specifics on topics, audience, tone, and dissemination channels for campaigns that can set your institution apart and attract and nurture those high-quality leads you’re looking for. And what would an Intead blog post be without an insight on  how to use your data better?

Throw these ideas to your creative team and see if something valuable emerges from the brainstorm session. Something that truly fits your institution. 

Read on.

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How to Say 'No' to Ideas That Aren't Good Enough

Brilliant and creative enrollment professionals, we know your pain.

So many great ideas, so little time, and so little budget.

It’s the refrain of higher education (that, and “Don’t talk to me during application season”). And while we know you want to tackle everything with an enthusiastic “yes”, saying “no” more often than “yes” is nearly always required to keep your institution and your strategy on track.

With budget season inching towards the finish line, we know you’re already thinking about putting that budget into action in the new fiscal year. We also know that making the most of that budget will require focus, a concrete plan, and most importantly, that discipline to say “no” to lots of shiny new ideas that pass you by.

Steve Jobs said it best: “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” But with great ideas and options coming at you from all sides, how do you decide what will maximize value for your institution?

With this enrollment cycle murkier than ever and past performance clearly not indicative of future success, turning your gaze on some downhome marketing truths is a good idea.

Read on for five key questions to ask yourself next time that lightbulb moment hits you and your team. Our insights will help you hone your efforts on the ideas that will produce results and justify that budget.

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Slate Users Speak: Getting Real About Technolutions’ CRM Platform Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our Slate series. You didn't think we'd forget about the international student recruitment/admissions perspective, did you? 

But let's stay with domestic student recruiting and enrollment management for just a moment. Intead and iSchoolConnect are participating in a Chronicle of Higher Ed webinar event on Thurs, Feb. 4 that you truly won't want to miss. Colleagues from SUNY Fredonia, U of Richmond, and Robert Morris, along with some special guests all addressing the challenges of technology implementation on university campuses. Register Here.

Now, about that Slate CRM! In Part 1 last week we shared the experiences of a variety of Slate users in universities across the US, including admissions directors, associate directors, specialists, and one CRM manager/power user. We talked all things integration, training and support, and the universally dreaded: getting queries to give you the information you want. 

This week we're talking all things international, as well as sharing our users' feedback on the cost and value of Slate to their institution. 

In our work with institutions on international student recruitment campaigns, we're all too familiar with the domestic/international divide when it comes to resourcing and decision-making influence. And in our discussions with users about Slate integration, some international admissions staff reported a similar disconnect in their experiences with initial training and usage of the platform. 

Again, we are grateful to our interviewees for sharing their valuable time and perspectives with us. Read on to learn how international recruiting/admissions teams are making Slate work for them. 

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Slate Users Speak: Getting Real About Technolutions’ CRM Platform Part 1

Weathering the challenges of 2021 and beyond requires serious enrollment management. And enrollment management lives or dies based on the the team you have in place, and the technology they rely on. So, let’s take a look at the platforms that can help your team do a better job.

Back in a 2019 post, we asked the question — is Slate all that?  That post, in which we discussed the features and benefits of Technolutions’ banner EdTech platform, is among our most-read posts ever.

With Slate now used by over 1,300 colleges and universities (up from 950 institutions in our 2019 post), the answer, it seems, is clear… Or is it?

Recruitment competition is fierce and getting fiercer as the student population declines and generally adjusts to the travel-resistant phase we are in. With the right platform in place, an institution has the ability to segment student audiences and create messaging and content that speak directly to each audience. Oh, and track the results so you can improve over time -- no small thing.

With the Slate buzz growing, so too has the online discussion and questions about integration, ease of use, and customer support. What does this rapid growth mean for the quality of their ongoing user support? Does Slate’s comprehensive range of features offer more complexity than it does value? How does Slate fare in the nuanced world of domestic vs. international student admissions?

To dig deeper, we spoke to a variety of Slate users in universities across the US, including admissions directors, associate directors, specialists, and one CRM manager/power user. Our Slate users ranged from seasoned pros, now on their fourth or fifth admissions cycles with the platform, to new adopters, with just a single admission cycle under their belts. We are grateful to our interviewees for sharing their valuable time and perspectives with us.

Some themes that emerged across universities were surprising, others, less so. Spoiler alert: if you aren’t yet a Slate query master, you’re not alone.

For current Slate users, we hope there is validation and inspiration to be found in the experiences shared by your fellow institutions. And for those contemplating Slate, consider this two-part series a comprehensive alternative to those lengthy product review forums you’ve been combing. Read on.

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Quick Hit Digital Campaigns: Performance Benchmarks (3)

We can’t dive into our digital marketing insights this week without first acknowledging where we are right now here in the US. As human beings, we share an acute craving for security. Such a strong desire for a return to “normal”.

This desire for safety cannot stand in the way of our need for change. We, as a community, stand for diversity of thought, culture, and expression. We stand for academic exploration and shared knowledge.

Our team brings the fortitude and commitment to stand day after day and stare straight ahead. We will continue to embrace opportunities to be in this community together, with each other and for each other.

Remember where to look when you need support and encouragement. Courage grows with numbers. We will be here, standing up for our shared ideals for as long as we are able.

And with that weighty and heartfelt commitment to all of you, we will turn to the business of the day with a much lighter tone—

We don’t usually endorse cheating off your neighbor’s paper, but today, we’re making an exception in the spirit of moving us all forward.

We’re excited to share this work with you: actual digital marketing campaign results from a campaign we recently ran for a US institution targeting international student prospects in Colombia and South Africa. We’re offering you a case study with real, granular detail straight from our marketing dashboards to help you answer digital marketing’s most common questions:

  • Am I doing this right?
  • What should I measure?
  • What does success look like?

Read on for a case study snapshot and to download the full version for yourself. We’re talking real performance data here, including top performing creative assets, actual CPC, CPM, and conversion data, and more.

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Intead's Top 10 Blog Posts of 2020

Traditionally, we kick off this annual post with a “Phew, what a busy year!”-type comment, but in the year that was 2020, that feels like a bit of an understatement.

In a year full of unprecedented uncertainty, ever-churning news cycles, and constantly shifting plans, we kept up each week, delivering Recruiting Intelligence insights and providing strategic and tactical guidance throughout the storm.

Today, we’re sharing the insights that resonated the most —
the top 10 viewed blog posts of 2020.

With many of these top posts containing our advice from various stages of the early pandemic, you may be wondering — what value do they provide now? We’re a whole year (and a whole pandemic) wiser, right?

Great question and we’d venture that these posts are all the more valuable now, as you and your team reflect on 2020 and build for the future. Seeing our past recommendations validated may provide you with an even stronger foundation as you push your colleagues to adopt forward thinking plans in 2021!

Consider the strategic guidance contained in these 10 posts your checklist. Do you have everything in place for 2021 and for the enrollment curveballs yet to come?

Share this with colleagues who can use these insights in the new year. They’ll be plenty more posts coming your way in 2021. Do you know anyone who would appreciate receiving our weekly blog insights? The share button is at the end of this post.

Read on for our Reader's Choice Top Posts of 2020 (links included) and two bonus perennial favorites that consistently draw readers via their Google searches.

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6 Key Takeaways for Smart Technology Investments — Free Download

Our advice from a few weeks back: To survive current enrollment and revenue challenges, institutions must stop cutting at some point and invest in growth.

We know you have questions. How do you encourage a culture of innovation? How do you get a slow-moving institution to make smart, growth-focused investments? How do you manage the risks inherent in these investments? And, most importantly, what are the “smart investments” your institution should be making?

We’ve been doing the research and gathering the experts. On November 16th, Intead and iSchoolConnect hosted a webinar Predicting Revenue, Enrollment & Student Success to address these questions and more, with a focus on how investments in data and technology can help generate predictable revenue for your institution and pave the way for transformational growth.

In the webinar, Ben Waxman (CEO, Intead) and Ashish Fernando (CEO, iSchoolConnect) also introduced the new Intead / iSchoolConnect partnership -- a powerful relationship and suite of end-to-end admissions and student success-focused solutions that combine Intead’s wealth of experience in market research and strategic digital communications with iSchoolConnect’s Google-recognized technology services.

The webinar discussion tapped the wisdom and deep experience of:

  • Lisa Adams, MD: Associate Dean for Global Health, Director of the Center for Global Health Equity, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine
  • Jesus Trujillo Gomez: Strategic Business Executive for Higher Ed at Google Cloud
  • Kerry Salerno: CMO, Babson College
  • Hillary Dostal: Economics Adjunct Professor and Lecturer, Northeastern University and Endicott College

If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording in full right here. You can also play it in the background while you work, but we like to think our bright, smiling faces bring some added value! : ) 

And if you haven’t got an hour to spare, you’re in luck — a new Key Takeaways PDF download is available for free at the end of this post. These insights shared by our panelists are just too valuable to miss. It is a quick and helpful read.

Read on for webinar highlights and the Key Takeaways download link.

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Student Recruitment Insights from AIRC 2020 Conf - Slides Available

We’ve been presenting at the AIRC conference for eleven years now, and while the gathering looks very different this year, the value of connection and the wealth of ideas shared was a comforting constant from years past in Miami. Although we did miss the poolside networking on a warm December evening.

This year, members of the Intead team were honored to present two sessions together with our amazing colleagues from universities and other experts in the field focused on the AIRC 2020 Vision of “Charting the Waters.”

At Intead, charting the waters of this year has meant gathering and analyzing data, developing targeted, clear (and comforting) communications during this difficult time, and strategizing around new markets and tools to help institutions move their enrollment goals forward.

This absolutely gut-wrenching year, we started addressing the radical changes to student enrollment and student success on February 19 with a blog about adjusting the approach to recruiting international students from China. Days later, we convened enrollment management and study abroad experts for two powerful webinars addressing global ramifications (here and here). This year, our team has published, non-stop, with enrollment management guidance in toolkits, case studies, and eBooks (in addition to this weekly blog).

Read on for a collection of our highest value tips and to download our AIRC presentation slides. You'll find that oh-so-happy link at the bottom of today's post. (Making you work for it ; -)

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When the Cutting is Done, the Smart Investing

As we engage with our colleagues at the AIRC virtual conference this week and next, the discussions have us thinking, planning, and doing.

The financial challenges are quite real and the losses in the world of academia will continue to pile up in the near term. Survival and growth are possible, and your team knows that. Your leadership is engaged in some exceedingly difficult decision making right now.

Here are the financial realities: While deep and troubling, many institutions have been here before and frankly, this kind of pain is not all that new. Pandemic or no, institutions were heading for a financial crisis. Current circumstances have sped up the process. Those that have survived these challenges in the past stop cutting at some point and invest in growth.

We all want those investments in growth to be the right ones, but how do we know? Let’s look to our industry experts from our fellow AIRC members working in the trenches, to Moody’s Global Services, and the Chronicle of Higher Ed and make some sense of this. Concrete advice follows. Read on. 

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