As we continue to look at the predictions circulating for 2013, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about marketing and branding. By the way, if you missed my first post in this series about Marketing and the Customer Experience, you can access it here.
So let’s dive in. A conversation about marketing that doesn’t touch on branding is like a conversation about your Thanksgiving feast that doesn’t include turkey. Forbes recently published its 10 Brand Marketing Trends that Should Dominate 2013. I’ve listed them here with a little added commentary:
- Brand Accountability: manage your reputation and be ready to respond
- Brand Trust: give students a reason to sing your praises
- Brand Flexibility: embrace change to keep pace with your target market
- Brand Experience: influence action through compelling storytelling
- Brand Visualization: use visual content to tell a great story
- Brand Crowdsourcing: maximize opportunities through the collective voice of brand advocates
- Brands as Social Influencers: use your reach to its fullest capacity
- Brand Data: make data actionable to drive your campaigns and initiatives
- Brand Behavior: shape campaigns based on how students will and do act
- Branded Content: position yourself as an identifiable expert through credible content
So what do these mean for our customer institutions?
The bottom line is that your brand either makes a prospective student inquire, or not – plain and simple. It is how they know you and determines whether or not they want to know you better.
One of the best pieces of wisdom I was ever given about branding was “If you don’t tell your target audience your story about your brand your competitors will—and it will not be a happy ending.”
Every touchpoint along the decision to enroll journey is an opportunity to interact with your brand. With social and mobile now part of the mix, having a voice and sharing your brand platform everywhere is critical.
One exercise that we love to do is a customer touchpoint map. Map out the decision to enroll journey. Identify where the touchpoints or potential touchpoints are (including phone calls, emails, etc.) Rank them in priority order and give each touch point a grade. Now you have a basic roadmap for improvement.
When it comes to branding, be open and honest in your messages to prospective students. Put your messages out there where they are. Give them new and different ways to connect with your message. Analyze their actions so you know if, where and how you should change or evolve your message.
Stay tuned for my next post on Marketing and Big Data. Thanks for following along!