Relief. Delight. Pride. Our clients feel all of these emotions when they see the content strategy come to life. It’s the result of a process and a product, both done well. Our disciplined process identifies and prioritizes story ideas, adjusts work assignments, shifts mindsets away from selling and toward serving the needs of the audience. And our product — in the form of a compelling collection of stories, think pieces, and videos — enlivens the brand and connects to people in numerous ways to establish a relationship with the institution.
So, where does it all begin? Let’s take a look.
When did content become a thing?
It all started way back when marcom departments at schools began to manage websites and social media feeds. Today, content is a critically important part of building brand awareness and is an essential part of your integrated marketing plan. Content that connects with audiences for the long haul isn’t easy to develop. It takes a shift in the rhythm of your marketing team and how it collaborates with enrollment. It’s also about how advancement communicates to alumni and donors. And how senior leadership represents the institution out in the world. In short, content is any message that represents your school and that resonates with those who seek a school like yours. Everyone has a role to play.
How to shift your team to a content-driven model.
Like most schools, your marketing team maintains a list of stories to publish on your website, in the magazine, and on social media. That will always matter. But with a content-driven model, it’s about quality, not quantity. If you want your brand (and your enrollment) to reap the benefits of content marketing, cross-campus cooperation is key.
Start with some pointed questions:
- People who produce content need to adopt the point of view of the audiences to which they are communicating. Is it possible to share audience data between distinct departments?
- Using this data, can you envision successful, facilitated meetings among enrollment, advancement, marketing, and others, during which profiles (a.k.a. personas) of different audiences and their needs are created?
- A content model requires not only the writing of compelling stories, but both the deployment of them across multiple media channels and the monitoring of how well each story engages with the intended audiences. Can your institution sustain the staff and the outside resources necessary to do this as a matter of routine?
The most successful content marketing programs we’ve seen have featured close collaboration and disciplined monitoring of progress. A consistent commitment to the initiative over the long haul yields the best results.
How one small, private college reaped the benefits.
The team at Juniata College is a great example of a content-driven marketing model. Collaborative by nature, departments across campus routinely come together to build personas, evaluate stories, and call on our team as needed to assist in coordinating deployment—and to maximize performance by tracking cross-departmental goals. Use your brand to fuel your content and your heart to tell a great story, provides some tips to keep the creative content fires burning.
Amplify your school’s unique voice.
Sustain the power of your brand and celebrate your strengths.
Reach people where they are today.
Build enduring relationships with every audience by responding to their needs.
Personas? Audience journeys? Analytics? Let’s do this!
At Cognitive Marketing, we’ve worked with colleges and independent schools of all sizes, each at their own stage of brand development and marketing, and we’re here to help.
Talk to us about how we can custom-fit content services to wherever your institution may be in achieving its communications goals.
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