The eduWeb Conference was well done. I’m not entirely sure I learned super-duper amounts of usable stuff, but I absolutely met some great people and gained a stronger understanding of digital mar/com within the realm of higher education.
One of the presentations I enjoyed the most was from @rachelreuben. She is the Associate VP of Marketing Communications at Ithaca College.
She detailed her experience during a major re-branding exercise at the institution centered around the idea of preparedness. Ithaca’s ads use the word “Ready” as a tagline along with a phrase like “to hit the high notes” or “to fight poverty.”
Conceptually the “Ready” campaign seems to work and I like the design, but I couldn’t help wondering what was so differentiating about the concept? Couldn’t or wouldn’t any college or university proclaim their students are “ready” for the real world? Jeez… that’s the idea, right? I think the notion of differentiation is very difficult in higher education. Universities are careful not to undersell a particular component of the education by over-promoting a strong department which ultimately results in the cardinal sin of brand strategy – being all things to all people.
Sarah Sykora @ssykora and her colleague Gene Bergin from Babson put together a cool presentation about how they used a micro-site and asked alumni to supply definitions of the word “entrepreneurship.”
The concept yielded both alumni engagement through “crowdsourcing” and increased school spirit from faculty, staff, and students due to a rallying point behind a unique selling feature of the school. Babson is ranked #1 in teaching entrepreneurship and has held that ranking for the last 19 years. I’m very appreciative of concepts in higher education marketing that seem so simple yet intensely strategic.
Of note: QR codes were crushed by multiple presenters. I saw a great tweet (retweet from @stevehj) from @NickAlexopulos that captured the sentiment perfectly. When I look at a QR code I just can’t figure how that ugly thing is going to continue making an impact on marketing strategy.
For my own presentation I discussed how Washington and Lee University has put together a unique alumni engagement strategy. You can read more about the approach in previous posts. I was very excited to have a room full of attendees, some of whom were live tweeting under the #eduweb hashtag, despite being given the final presentation spot on the last day. The audience had a great questions!
All in all I learned quite a bit and had plenty to think about on my delayed flight back from Boston. Thanks US Airways! See you next year eduWeb.