What Makes Your Institution Unique?

What Makes Your Institution Unique?

Honestly sit back for a second and ask yourself this one simple question.  What makes your school different and unique? What do you offer that is so special that makes your institution stand out from your peers and benchmark competition?  Why is a student going to pay tens of thousand dollars to get an education from you when there are literally thousands of other options out there to choose from?

This simple question needs to sit at the very front of your marketing efforts even beyond the web.  It is driving home the benefits of your unique offerings that are the fundamental challenge of every marketing department in any industry or business.  What and why should someone purchase X from us instead of your competition?

But we’re just web people Kyle.  In 2009 it’s more important than ever for the web people to understand the full marketing plan and mission of the institution.  You do know what your mission statement says right?  Being web people today we play a central role in marketing efforts and will continue to in the foreseeable future.  In fact I would argue that the web is going to continue to revolve into a more central and critical role going forward.  Yes that’s job security, but it’s also an increased burden that if your not aware of you need to wake up now!

It’s Not as Easy as That Kyle

Trust me I know that it’s not that easy.  If your school is known as an excellent school for architecture and this is one of your unique benefits you still need to plug your struggling nursing program because you still have faculty working in that department and it is an offering of the institution.    So now that we have established this important step in marketing let’s look at some ways that you can stay focuses on this mission in a Higher Education setting.

  • Get Top Down Buy-in - If you can get the support of your president and cabinet that marketing your strengths is beneficial to the big picture of the institution it can go a long way in the political challenges of moving forward with a narrow and focused marketing strategy.
  • Stay Focused - It’s so easy to get sidetracked and as I just mentioned keeping your focus narrow allows for you to push certain directions that split resources might not of had the ability to achieve.
  • Challenge Your Weaknesses - Faculty at an institution can be quite competitive so turning this political nightmare from an unfocused nightmare into a challenge of excellence can be a great way to stimulate your other not nationally renounced and recognized departments into a frenzy to strive for excellence.
  • Communicate and Work Together - It is not why or how communication between departments seems to break down but it’s all to frequent that we forget to talk to each other and share our strengths and weaknesses. Although they might be completely unrelated there are always some knowledge that your successful brands can share with your struggling ones. Communicating your victories along with your failures and struggles is a powerful way to move forward.

Finally remember that we are all in this together and every single person associated with an institution is a potential marketer of your institution.  If everyone is aware of the true strengths and weaknesses they can work together to make your institution a special and unique place that builds relationships and educates individuals.

This post was written by:

Kyle James

Kyle James - who has written 227 posts on .eduGuru

Kyle is currently the Customer in Residence at HubSpot, a Co-Founder at nuCloud and  formerly the webmaster at Wofford College. Kyle is an active contributor in the social media spectrum. Although his background is technical, he claims to know a thing or two about marketing, but mostly that revolves around SEO, analytics, blogging, and social media. He has spoken at multiple national conferences and done countless webinars on topics ranging from e-mail marketing to social media and Web analytics. He's definitely a fairly nice guy.

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3 Responses to “What Makes Your Institution Unique?”

  1. Avatar image
    Jim Littlefield Says:

    Thanks Kyle, A fellow fellow internet marketer a few weeks ago shared these points:

    Tell what you got
    Tell what it will do
    Tell them what do to next and why?

    The points seem deceptively simple yet too many marketers loose track of the goal… understand THEIR problem and offer a solution at an agreed price. To do that you must start the conversation.

    The internet offers ways to start a conversation before you ever speak. It could be a blog post/comment or other form of social media. From there it can lead to a conversation over the phone or in person to further establish credibility and trust.

    What I find so powerful about social media platforms like LinkedIn and facebook are the referred relationships. Creating virtual communities of people who not only have shared interests but also a basic level of trust.

    So all that to say, yes, I agree, internet marketing is important. The organizations and people who get it will be better for it.

    Reply

  2. Avatar image
    Ron Says:

    Very instructive post, Kyle. Thanks for keeping it on people’s minds. It’s a message we can’t repeat enough!

    Great tips, too.

    Reply

  3. Avatar image
    Gordon Says:

    Kyle, this is just what I needed to start my day. I’m working on a communication plan and your points are at the front of my mind as I’m hammering through it.

    I think the ideas here are applicable below the whole university level (meaning, at the department level, as I do) as well.

    Reply

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