You’ve heard it a thousand times — Be distinctive; stand out from your competitors. You can’t do that with your faculty/student ratio, no matter how impressive. Or with your small class sizes, no matter how important. Or with the personalized attention your professors provide their students, no matter how beneficial.
Start your story with something that cuts through the college marketing clutter, say all the experts. But perhaps no one has said it quite like advertising executive Angie Jones.
“I have a Bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing,” Jones writes in a recent blog post. Pretty good, but unfortunately millions of people in America have the same degree and emphasis, she says. “Education-wise, I don’t stand out from the pack.”
Which means she’s not going to lead off her resume with her educational credentials. “If I want to tell prospective employers something that might be deemed interesting about me, my degree shouldn’t be my opener. It’s not distinguishing and memorable enough.”
Her advice to colleges? Think of your marketing messages as a resume you are submitting to prospective students. “To get that interview with prospects, you are really going to have to set yourself apart.”
And most schools are still not doing that, she says. “If I had a dollar for every time I heard, ‘our students receive personalized attention’ or ‘our campus is stately and beautiful’…. Don’t get me wrong, these are all great things to be proud of…. They just don’t move the needle in a prospective student’s mind because the student hears the same thing from all the other schools.”
Identify the unusual and distinctive aspects of your institution — they’re all around you — and put them at the top of your school’s resume.
Read more about our authors. Ray Ulmer, public relations director at TargetX, has been involved in higher education marketing for more than 25 years, including serving as executive director of communications at La Salle University and director of public relations at Drexel University. He has also worked in corporate marketing and advertising.