Marketing is what I do. It’s what I love. And this topic is one that is, for me, deeply personal.
The value of marketing being supported from the top.
I’ve seen both sides — when a leader doesn’t support marketing and when they do. It creates a different culture and a different campus expectation and experience.
One of the findings from my dissertation is that marketing should be supported from the top of the university to help best position the university for long-term success. This was something that most of the participants in my study said was important for marketing and communication teams to be successful.
Now the Disclaimer
I am the same in that. I think marketing is one of the most important things. If you were to ask five departments heads on a campus which program mattered most, chances are these department heads would share a program in their department. They should. Everyone should strongly believe in the work they do.
However, I think the support of marketing is bigger than that. Data from Simpson Scarborough’s recent Chief Marketing Officer Survey showed a significant shift in movement of the chief marketing officer to a more senior role on campuses, suggesting that more and more campus leaders see marketing as important, valued members of the university.
What Does Support from the Top Mean?
The answer: it means different things to different people, but there were some similarities that emerged in my dissertation.
Here are Three Common Themes
Seat at the Table
Several dissertation participants indicated that leadership support involved being invited to the table on a regular basis to discuss more than just promotion of the university. Instead, a seat at the table included being invited to discuss the university products, the pricing structure, and the campus experience.
Participants also noted that leadership support meant finding budget to maintain current marketing efforts but also finding resources to invest in new efforts like branding and testing of marketing strategies and tactics. Participants also noted regular access to resources also allowed marketing teams to negotiate better rates.
Leadership support helped generate buy in across campus for the work of marketing teams. Participants shared that leadership support opened doors across campus to talk about marketing and help integrate plans. Participants indicated that when leadership valued marketing others on campus were more open to collaboration.
Why that Matters
With the enrollment cliff that is coming in the next few years, it is going to be critical for universities to:
- Articulate what they do well that is different from others
- Understand students they serve best
- Explain how they ensure students are successful
Having leadership support of marketing can help to engage all of campus in thinking about these core needs and developing a way to talk about them in organic conversations but also in marketing efforts.
The Good News
It’s starting to happen.
The data from Simpson Scarborough shows a significant increase in marketing leadership having a seat at the table.
Later this summer (2022) Simpson Scarborough is also releasing data about marketing compensation and budgets, so I think we will have more data about how budgetary support has changed in recent years.
Marketing as a field has professionalized, and there are many great marketing and communication leaders across our country having these conversations and working to ensure we are doing everything we can to support our universities.
Leadership support from the top helps us to do this important work better and and faster.