Don't recruit without a compass!

Posted by Keith Jolie on Thursday, May 30, 2013 Under: Higher Education
This article is directed to recruitment and marketing professionals at colleges and universities, however the concepts presented here can be easily applied to any business as they look to establish a plan to focus their marketing efforts.

What value does a Recruitment and Marketing Strategy provide?

First ,  your Recruitment and Marketing strategy will act as a yardstick and a framework for assessing the suitability of the marketing and student recruitment activities that you might consider  marketing. It will serve as the benchmark by which you assess both your internal activities (resources and tactics) as well as the external services that you may consider from partner organizations and vendors.
By evaluating to what extent an initiative, partnership or service addresses your strategy, you will be able to quickly streamline your efforts and avoid time and money wasting efforts that will not advance your desired outcomes.

What are the key components of your strategy?

A recruitment marketing strategy will articulate the specific goals for your department by answering key questions about what you want to accomplish, where and under what constraints you want to accomplish them.
The most obvious component of a recruitment marketing strategy are the goals and objectives you have for your department. These goals should be realistic, specific, and have timelines associated with them.
When you identify your goals and objectives, it is useful to identify the marketing challenges you’ve faced in the past related to those goals.

Understanding your target market

Understanding what it is that motivates the students you are hoping to attract to your institution will help you to avoid making costly assumptions. One way to better understand your target market is to interview them.  Asking  prospective students about what they are looking for what motivates them, and why they are pursuing higher education at all will help.

Consider things like family issues, financing, degrees offered, housing options, religious communities, and as many other factors as is practical.
Talk to current students that fit your profile and research schools that already receive students like the ones you would like to target. The more you understand about the students the better you will be able to tailor your marketing strategy to address them.

How will you measure success? What is the definition of ROI for you?

ROI can be a difficult thing to measure depending on the strategic vision for your institution as a whole.  Too often however there is no effort made in advance to identify targets and to determine the outcomes that will be regarded as success.   As a result, inadvertent outcomes are reported as successful outcomes when the truth may be that they would have occurred regardless of any actions taken.
It’s difficult to quantitatively measure an initiative like ‘moving to a more internationally focused campus’. However asking yourself what would define failure may give you a starting point for your discussions.

For example:
  • Is representation by students from 5 new countries a success or failure? How about 10?
  • If the international student population grows from 5% to 6% next year will you celebrate or evaluate your strategy?
Setting realistic targets and goals is critical to measuring success and ultimately to measuring ROI.  When you evaluate your efforts in the following year, you will ask yourself If your efforts made you successful.  If they did, then there was a return. The value of that return will help answer the next question…

How much should you invest in various marketing and recruitment activities related to your strategy?

The more important question to answer before this is what are your priorities. If you have set 5 goals for the coming year, which one is number 1 and which is number 5.   For the most important goal, ask yourself what the cost would be if you did not meet that goal, and what the benefit will be if you meet or exceed it. Evaluating your priorities in this way will help you to assess your resource allocation.
Finally, It’s important however to remember that simply because a goal is your number 1 priority does not mean that it necessarily commands the most resources – it may be a critical goal,  but also one that is simply accomplished.

For a complimentary review of your college's recruitment and marketing strategy, send an email to

by Keith Jolie 

In : Higher Education 

Tags: recruitment marketing strategy international domestic goals smart 
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