Thursday, December 2, 2010

Higher ed marketing lessons from my Disney vacation

Note: Sorry for the temporary hiatus in blogging. I'll be catching up on some posts over the next few weeks and returning to my weekly schedule in the new year.

After surviving an intense blitz of fall publication production, I spent a week in November with my family at Walt Disney World in Orlando. While I did manage to set aside all things internet, it was hard to turn off the marketer inside—especially when you're immersed in an experience designed by some of the most creative minds in a generation. Here are a few tidbits:
  • Have you hugged your physical plant today? If you're charging a premium for your services (private universities, I'm talking to you), your visitors expect your campus to be attractive and well-maintained. A dedicated grounds/maintenance staff, with the funds to do their job well, can make an important difference in recruitment during the all-important campus visit.
  • Every employee represents the brand. From the first security officer to the switchboard operator to your campus CEO, each employee plays an important role in representing your brand. How each staffer treats others is immediately noticed by those who visit. It doesn't matter what your marketing materials say about being a friendly, accessible campus if your front-line staff don't live it out through their daily interactions.
  • Measure for continuous improvement. Even if you're at the top of your game, how do you stay there? Research. Disney systematically places researchers at their entrance/exit to survey visitors. While it's tough to afford high-end professional research on a regular basis, there are low-cost options for measuring opinions if we make it a priority.