The Rules and Roles: What Is ‘Student-Centric’ Marketing?

What is “student-centric” marketing? Personalization, says LeAnn Hughes, vice president for enrollment and marketing at Illinois Wesleyan University. And that requires a change in admissions culture.

Along with Beth Keserauskis, vice president of enrollment services and marketing at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Hughes gave a presentation at Capture Higher Ed’s first-ever Resolve Enrollment Technology conference in January titled “Student-Centric Marketing: The Rules and Roles Have Changed.”

enrollment and marketing

Among other things, the two talked about how to compete with schools that may have a better price point than your institution. Make it about the student, Hughes says. Be more personal than the competition — know what the student’s needs really are.

Like Capture, Hughes knows that the old-time admissions funnel model doesn’t work anymore. Universities need to know what the student needs when the student needs it most. It looks more like a “glob,” as she says, than a straight line.

What the admissions tribe has to do now is create a new value proposition for the students through “creating opportunities for them to see themselves at your institution.” It may be the way you write your emails, or how you set up a visit day.

“When we’re thinking through the messaging and the way that we’re marketing ourselves to prospective students,” Hughes says, “what we need to think about is what is both relevant — what they care about — and what is distinctive about what we’re doing. [What are we doing] that’s different from anyone else?”

That’s the sweet spot, she says, “and if you don’t know that sweet spot for your institution, or sweet spots, then it’s time to be figuring that out.”

In her presentation, Hughes discusses Illinois Wesleyan’s experience with asking students directly about how they feel in the communications process. How they’re weary of postcards. How they don’t want to be pigeonholed. The communications they prefer.

And to do all this, you need an admissions team that resembles a school of fish moving together, not with a “leader,” but with a single-minded purpose. That’s the paradigm shift and the culture change Hughes wants.

Learn more by watching the full video.

By Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed