Marketing Is Now A Major Focus Of University Plans

Malcolm Woodfield

It’s been said that “every company is now a tech company.” The underlying truth in that statement nods to the necessity of staying competitive in a landscape of whirlwind change. The advent of cloud computing, data analysis, and other key technologies has forced enterprises to innovate to remain viable.

Higher education is no exception. It’s one of the more competitive industries across the globe. In the face of increased market competition, institutions must use the full array of tools at their disposal, technological and otherwise.

Marketing is one of the most essential of those tools. Now, more than ever, the ability to effectively manage marketing can prove crucial to the ultimate success or failure of an institution.

Why a new approach to marketing is critical for the modern campus

Successful institutions share many attributes. They cultivate a positive reputation. They offer a compelling narrative for public consumption. They promote research effectively. They recruit students, build relationships in the community, and maintain a unified brand and message.

Strong marketing is essential to accomplishing all of these things, and that’s why institutions are focusing more effort and resources in this area. Institutions have increased their marketing spend by more than 50% since 2000. The most forward-thinking schools have realized that selling a school shares much in common with selling a consumer product. Defining your brand – and differentiating yourself in the market – are critical to success.

This shift toward more intensive marketing is a natural evolution. After all, marketing works – a great brand and reputation attracts customers and skilled workers like a magnet. Now that universities are acting more like companies, those that don’t keep pace are likely to be left behind.

This raises an important question: What is the best way for today’s institutions to market effectively? One part of the answer involves the adoption of data analytics. Today’s most powerful platforms can deliver personalized, contextualized marketing at scale.

And that is a real game changer for today’s schools and universities.

Using data to produce next-level marketing outcomes

Personalized marketing is powerful for two reasons. First, it’s simply more relevant. When marketers cast a net that’s too broad, we tend to regard it as noise to be ignored. If something isn’t relevant, we don’t even look at it, never mind act on it.

Second, personalized marketing appeals to basic human nature. We respond favorably when people say our names, for example – a trick known on every sales floor across the globe. When we see that a marketer has taken the time to make a personal, relevant appeal, we feel more positively disposed to act.

The best marketing goes a step beyond personal and into the contextual, however. Contextual marketing offers deeper insight into past behavior, then uses predictive analytics to gain a window into future actions. This ultimately helps gauge the present intent of a customer or potential client.

The takeaway

Higher-education institutions have doubled down on their marketing efforts in order to remain competitive. The most forward-thinking schools understand that effective marketing is a necessity and a key market differentiator. Great marketing helps recruit students and attract high-quality workers. It’s also essential for maintaining a compelling public brand.

For more insight on digital leaders, check out the SAP Center for Business Insight report, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, “SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart.”


Malcolm Woodfield

About Malcolm Woodfield

Malcolm Woodfield is the Global Vice President, Head of Industry Business Unit Education & Research, at SAP. He manages a global team accountable for the overall business, market, customer, and revenue success of the Higher Education / Public Services portfolio (including all Applications, Analytics, Mobile, HANA, and Cloud) globally.