All digital all the time

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The country’s advertising elite just got a lesson on the dominance of digital.

Ad Age magazine hosted a conference in San Francisco devoted to the rise of digital marketing tools and techniques. On the opposite coast, Advertising Week filled five days of a New York conference with digital, mobile and social media marketing events.

There were several common themes that are worth remembering whether you’re recruiting students, engaging alumni or cultivating donors.

Digital is transformational. The many tools of the web don’t just represent another communication channel. They are a transformational force that requires organizations to rethink their entire marketing strategies.

Authenticity is paramount. It’s more important than ever to be honest, candid and authentic. It’s better to show your true self — warts and all — than to try to be something you’re not, or to pretend you’re a perfect institution. To the “net generation,” said the chief marketing officer for Lenovo, “coolness comes from authenticity.”

Sameness gets lost in a digital world. Colleges often fall into the trap of highlighting the same features and benefits as their competitors, to the point where they sound too much alike. Use digital tools to tell stories about students, alumni, faculty and staff that make you stand apart.

People and culture are as important as technology in data-driven marketing. Building a powerful database and the infrastructure to support it is critical. But the key to true success is getting your administrators and staff to use the technology and data to create better experiences for students, alumni and others.

Read “Thriving Amid Transformation: Lessons From San Francisco” and “At Ad Week, the Vital Role of Digital Marketing

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