Straight A’s as an education marketing agency
There’s much more to marketing educational institutions than recruiting students.
Innis Maggiore has a wide range of experience and accrued expertise as a leading education marketing agency.
Innis Maggiore has a wide range of experience and accrued expertise as a leading education marketing agency. We’ve advanced from elementary and high school clients like Canton Country Day School, North Canton City Schools, and Plain Local Schools and graduated to higher education marketing clients including Bowling Green State University, Kent State University, Kent State University Stark, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stark State College, the Universities of Akron and Toledo, Walsh University, and Youngstown State University.
Innis Maggiore has also helped healthcare-specific institutions Aultman College and NEOUCOM (now NEOMED), as well as educationally related organizations Case Western/Wright Fuel Cell Group, Early Childhood Resource Center, Greater Stark County Urban League, Kent State Alumni Association, National Association of College Bookstores, Stark Library, Stark State/Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems, and SUPER Learning Center.
Yes, that’s a lot of experience and many educational marketing relationships, but the one thing that binds them all together is Innis Maggiore’s devotion to making positioning central to all marketing for any client. As America’s #1 Positioning Ad Agency, Innis Maggiore understands that marketing an education brand benefits from differentiation, focus, and a careful use of limited advertising budgets.
Promoting educational institutions requires communicating the value of education
To be a leading education marketing agency like Innis Maggiore requires navigating inherent complexity.
Educational institutions must attract prospective students, yet during a time of diminishing recruitment prospects. Additionally, it entails competing against other modes of education or entirely different choices, often within a subcategory. For instance, a public school system is up against charter schools and homeschooling; colleges and universities compete for their student body with vocational and trade schools, or those who choose to enter the workforce directly.
Furthermore, relevant constituents go beyond prospects (for recruitment) and current students (for retention) with the need to reach parents; municipalities and communities; boards of education, PTAs, and other political entities or advocates for particular educational causes; as well as local media and “watchdog” groups. That’s a lot of stakeholders — and a lot of people to keep happy!
Beyond the competitive landscape, your education marketing agency has to help you show the value of the education that you (and the system overall) provide. From the time a student must invest in order to attend to the long-term burden of student loans, skepticism about educational return on investment continues to grow in force, particularly in relation to higher education. Innis Maggiore knows this requires a more nuanced approach to marketing that’s more content heavy (and itself educational in nature) and includes an ongoing process of outreach.
Educational institutions need positioning, too.
One might associate brand positioning with consumer packaged goods, but any category of business — whether product or service — can benefit from having a clearly differentiated brand in order to stand out in the marketplace against competitors.
Simply put, brand positioning strengthens your marketing while saving you money. Your marketing is focused around one consistent position, which coalesces around one message rather than many disparate messages.
As America’s #1 Positioning Ad Agency, Innis Maggiore puts positioning strategy first and then bases tactics on a brand’s differentiation. Innis Maggiore is the only full-service agency with decades of experience as an education marketing agency. We do this by starting with the perfect balance of the right strategy with the right delivery methods.
For instance, content should be created to both educate and engage audiences, using a combination of long- and short-form videos (though short-form platforms like TikTok best appeals to Gen Zers), livestreaming and social media, blogs, podcasts, and virtual discussions and tours. This process can be enhanced by taking advantage of student content and campus ambassadors to connect with lookalike audiences.
We also see value in collaborating with relevant influencers; employing a mobile-first approach; segmentation (for relevance) with personalization (for better open rates); voice search optimization; all based around an authenticity that comes from conversational marketing and interaction — designed to not only maximize enrollment but also to enrich the diversity of students and faculty.
Stark State College
Now's the best time to differentiate
After a series of Appreciative Discovery® sessions with a variety of constituents (including students, faculty, and staff) in order to identify the client’s best brand position, Stark State College asked Innis Maggiore to develop a fully integrated advertising program to express the college’s newfound position to the market. The campaign repositioned the college away from its inherited position as a “fallback” school to that of a premiere two-year, fully accredited college offering solid degrees and a direct path to career success in today’s “now economy.” The resulting campaign, “NOW,” promoted how Stark State’s accelerated career courses provided students with the most direct line to the most needed jobs in the region.
A medical education can be inspirational
Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy’s objective was to increase awareness about opportunities for donors to support the school. The strategy was to combine the aspirational (providing a medical school education) with the inspirational (saving lives in “your neighborhood”), using emotion to connect NEOUCOM with future advances in healthcare. The school turned to education marketing agency Innis Maggiore for guidance and execution.
The only answer was heavy media with strong reach and incredible frequency to drive name recognition and expand the donor base. We developed a television image campaign and created marketing materials that gave the appearance of a “feel good” campaign, but that supplied an underlying message: Attending or supporting NEOUCOM could help answer the “What ifs” in medical breakthroughs and affect all of us.
The result: Name recognition soared, along with the number of donors and requests for information. Before our campaign, NEOUCOM averaged about 4,500 Web hits a month. In the first 30 days after our campaign broke, the NEOUCOM site received more than 50,000 hits. What’s more, the campaign had more prospective students demanding information about the school and donors opening their checkbooks. As our client pointed out, “People don’t give money to people they don’t know.”
Canton Country Day School
Turning around perceptions is possible
In light of steadily declining enrollment, Canton Country Day School approached Innis Maggiore for help. After several meetings with their administrative board, the education marketing agency developed a marketing strategy for the coming year. In addition to enrollment problems, the board was aware of some negative reputation issues.
In order to ascertain and quantify the negativity, as well as delve into other issues, Innis Maggiore recommended beginning with a community quantitative survey, followed by focus groups to clarify the issues. Both studies were demographically targeted to individuals within income brackets that would make attendance at this school feasible.
Objectives were to understand awareness, attitudes, and perceptions of area schools, from Canton Country Day School to other public, private, and parochial schools in the Canton area; determine the educational needs, priorities, and expectations of families meeting specific demographic criteria; develop a marketing message for Canton Country Day School; and identify the most appropriate and cost-effective tools and techniques for communicating the marketing message to the target audience. We learned that indeed there were negative issues in the community towards the school. However, there were many benefits within the school such as class size and offerings.
We created a direct mail piece designed as a set of flash cards highlighting these strengths. As a result of this campaign, applications for enrollment were up 150% in the year following. The creative design won best of show and the prestigious judges award in the local and regional awards sanctioned by the American Advertising Federation.
Kent State University Stark
The appeal of home is strong for new students
The university came to Innis Maggiore seeking positioning guidance. An Appreciative Discovery® with the university’s dean, faculty, and staff gave us the insight we needed. Kent State Stark now offered four-year degrees. This meant a major university was offering major degrees right in Stark County. The idea aligned the campus more solidly with the Kent State brand and at the same time, drove home the news that prospective students and parents were likely to find both meaningful and desirable.
When Kent Stark needed to research its prospective and existing student bodies to determine what made it a compelling choice for young people, Innis Maggiore developed the program. We conducted four focus groups with current students, local high school students, and students who had been accepted to KSU-Stark but chose to go elsewhere instead. Then we used those results to craft a 15-minute phone survey to 400 people in our target groups.
The results were for the most part, not surprising. We knew the campus was an inexpensive place to start schooling. And while that tested very high, we learned more importantly, the campus was the choice of many who just didn't feel ready to leave home. Not every 18-year-old grows up the same and some just aren't ready for the responsibility of living on their own, or they want to stay with their younger siblings for another year or two. The learnings allowed KSU Stark to tweak their marketing message and remind students college doesn't have to start in some far-off locale, it can start right at home.
Canton City Schools
A record bond issue campaign
The Canton City School District was faced with ongoing maintenance of old buildings. The Ohio School Facilities Commission offered the district $129 million in state funds for rebuilding and renovating the schools IF the voters in the district would pass a local bond issue to provide a portion of the funds.
In light of recent school levies and other state and county tax initiatives, the district was concerned that voters would focus only on the size/cost of the bond issue and overlook the long-term benefit to the district, city, and county.
As the school district’s education marketing agency, Innis Maggiore conducted 3 focus group sessions with registered voters, which revealed a potential groundswell of support. The research also showed that opponents to the bond issue were basing that opposition largely on misinformation and assumptions. These results were used as the basis for the entire bond issue campaign which included development of a “7 Great Reasons to Vote Yes on Issue 19” campaign brochure, direct mail campaign, yard signs, and a 17-minute video shown at neighborhood meetings and public events.
The bond issue passed overwhelmingly, with a 67% of 14,000 votes cast. It was a record margin in the district’s history. This allowed every single building in the Canton City School District (21 in all) to be either rebuilt or totally renovated.
Learning a trade is well within reach
The Tough Soils division of Akron’s GOJO® corporation wanted to identify a way to reach the next generation of workers who will use their hand cleaning and hand hygiene products. This includes students in vocations such as mechanics, construction, manufacturing, etc. But it also includes those pursuing a high level of technical education, with specialized branches like robotics, computer networking, environmental technology, and the like.
We recommended that the company become a sponsor of an organization called SkillsUSA and participate in its annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC), a showcase of career and technical education students. More than 16,000 people — including students, teachers, and business partners — participate in the annual weeklong event. GOJO went on to become an enthusiastic supporter of SkillsUSA for several years, with the first three years showing an escalating company involvement.
This is your next education marketing agency
No matter the level of educational institution, the goal and results sought, or the audiences in need of persuasion, Innis Maggiore is your leading choice for education marketing agency. The advantages of positioning, combined with our depth of experience and knowledge, make us the agency partner your school, college, university, or trade instruction organization needs. Contact us today and we’ll use our education to augment yours.