Live Blogging AMA: Reinvention

By Karlyn Morissette - Tue, Nov 17, 2009-->


Conferences, General

Speakers: Teri Lucie Thompson, Purdue University and Elizabeth Scarborough, SimpsonScarborough

If you are reinventing, you need a poster child (one that is not controversial and one that is very easy to see transformation in). At Purdue, it was a broken pay telephone that was the first thing people saw at the visitors center - the first thing they saw on campus was broken technology. That lead to a $100,000 investment to renovate the visitors center.

The Journey

  • Central vs. decentralized
  • Funding mechanism
  • Staff marketing competencies
  • Logo proliferation
  • Legacy, not strategy
  • Measuring success
  • Brand?
  • Separate plans for news and marketing
  • No customer research

These were the obstacles. Which ones do they need to engage?

The strength of the organization was in the news services - they were masterful at pumping out news releases. The MarComm group was functioning more as a print shop. “Creative brief” was non-existent. There were no folks really focused on marketing.

They developed a digital footprint - what’s being said about you, over what channels, and what’s the quality of mention?

They were getting considerably less traffic than their peers - sites were blocked that were crawlable. There were huge opportunities for search engine optimization.

Karlyn’s Note: Presenter said that they compared “Google Analytics” data, and another attendee said “since it was a public school, that’s public knowledge” - while its possible to compare the traffic on your site with others, you can’t get access to Google Analytics data unless someone gives it to you. You can use services like Alexa and Compete, but let’s be careful not to make Google Analytics a general term for ALL web traffic data. (a) It’s much more than just web traffic volume and (b) it’s a specific tool.

Though they were great at producing news, once it made its way to the web, it was taking journalists up to six clicks to find something.

They dumped thousands of articles into Wordle to see what message people would get from them. Huge disconnect between what they thought they stood for, and the news that was being written.

Organization Reorg: They switched over to a centralized marketing group and completely restructured the organization. They are six months in…still honeymoon time.

Overhauled website and navigation. Hates beauty shot of campus. Banner on their website rotates and it all relates to stuff that’s in the news.

When a press release didn’t work, they put a video on YouTube and it took off.

The Identity Initiative

People can identify with identity universally at an institution.

Your brand is the sum total of all associations made with your institution.

Your positioning is your researched, documented, agreed upon desired brand association.

Logos, visual identity, and/or tagline are simply reflections of your brand.

SMART brand strategy:

  • Specific
  • Meaningful
  • Accurate
  • Reinforced
  • Tangible

Your brand shouldn’t just last for a few years….it should last until you’re dead. The campaign can change…new taglines and such…but the brand strategy should stay the same.

Guiding Questions for Purdue:

  • What level of baseline awareness of Purdue exists among key constituents?
  • How is Purdue perceived among key constituents?
  • What are the perceived competitive strengths and weaknesses of the University?
  • What misperceptions, if any, exist?
  • What are opinions about Purdue (and other Big 10 and/or lang-grant institutions) shaped and influenced?
  • What is Purdue’s  most powerful and compelling differential advantage?
  • What motivates key constituents, including alumni and donors, to seek a relationship with Purdue?

Project Scope

  • Identity Assessment
  • Qualitative Research: 20 Focus groups
  • Qualitative Research: 40 In-depth interviews
  • Quantitative Research

Karlyn’s Note: One of the best presentations of the conference!

This post was written by:

Karlyn Morissette

Karlyn Morissette - who has written 45 posts on .eduGuru

Karlyn Morissette is a thought leader and innovator in higher education. With over 12 years of web experience (half spent working exclusively on higher education web marketing initiatives), she helped pioneer many of the web strategies considered best practice today.

Today as the Director of Marketing Communications at Fire Engine RED, Karlyn works with colleges around the world to execute integrated marketing campaigns as a part of student search. She also teaches courses on Internet marketing and strategy at Champlain College as adjunct faculty. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from Boston University and a Master of Business Administration from Norwich University.

To quote a friend of hers: "Karlyn is a super rad ninja marketing genius who will make your target demographic submit to your every whim through sheer willpower. Oh, and she's smarter than you."  We're not sure about the smarter part, but "super rad ninja" is true enough.

Compulsory disclaimer: The views expressed in Karlyn's posts are hers and hers alone, and do not represent those of any company she's affiliated with. Yes, it's true - the girl has a mind of her own. 

4 Responses to “Live Blogging AMA: Reinvention”

  1. Avatar image
    Black Katz - flats to rent in London Says:

    Great use of Wordle to see how you’re perceived elsewhere. It’s easy to get blinded by what you write or publish about yourself and not realise what others think of your brand.


  2. Avatar image
    Rick Hardy Says:

    It’s not an easy thing to reinvent an organization and program. In higher education, to do it the right way takes immense planning, and a commitment from the top. Thanks, Karlyn, for sharing this presentation. Good stuff!


  3. Avatar image
    David Poteet Says:

    Karlyn, great notes. I wish I had been in this session! One correction, I think it’s supposed to be “Your brand shouldn’t just last for a few years…”

    I’m curious since this was something of a theme this year - what role did senior leadership play in this process at Purdue? Who were the flag carriers?

    Thanks for sharing your notes with us!


  4. Avatar image
    Karlyn Morissette (author) Says:

    Spot on David! Thanks for catching that :-)

    The person presenting from Purdue was the CMO, so senior leadership DROVE the process.


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