There aren’t many brands I’m completely loyal to, but Nike would definitely be one of them. Almost every sports related thing I own is Nike. I could spend hundreds of dollars on clothes, shoes and stuff I don’t even need online or at a store and still want to go back for more next week.
Why? It’s not because of the brand, or the brilliant marketing they do…and goodness knows it’s not the price.
It’s because, for me, Nike puts out a better product than any other company I’ve tried. Their clothes and shoes fit my body and work the way they say they are going to. They are consistent and I feel confident that, even if I order something online without having seen it in person, it will be OK.
Yes, I do actually have a point here that applies back to colleges: Are you putting out the best product you can for your audience? Because if you’re not, no amount of brilliant marketing will be enough to get people to enroll and retain at your school.
Ultimately it’s what you deliver that matters.
In conversations about how to frame a university, I think this is a point that often gets overlooked. Marketing materials are created to be aspirational rather than inspired by the existing reality at the school. They are thought to be the end all, be all of what recruits students…but the real world is far more complex than putting together a viewbook.
If your school is too expensive compared to primary competitors, it’s going to have an impact.
If your school has had bad press, students looking at it will see it (Google, anyone?)
If your school doesn’t offer the programs that students are interested in, no amount of good marketing will get them interesting in programs they don’t want.
If you don’t have the product to back up your fancy marketing materials, kids are smart. They are going to see through it.
So take a step back for a second and look at what you’re offering. If it’s not the high quality that your audience is looking for, then fix that first…then concentrate on your marketing.