August 14, 2007
Posted by Sam Jackson
I don't think sales and marketing go hand in hand with teaching, and I question whether they are the best match for honesty in college admissions.
That's why I'm a little annoyed when I read through old posts like this one, delving into the past some: TargetX mentioned in an Email Minute back in January that NACAC's annual report essentially put marketing at the top of the list for desired skills in chief enrollment offices.
Marketing and sales go hand-in-hand in the corporate and commercial worlds. It’s increasingly obvious that they go together in the academic world as well. Admissions needs to rely on the marketing expertise of its chief officer to support the sales efforts of its recruiting staff.
In today’s state of college admission, marketing and sales are no longer dirty words.
In context, I don't suppose I really take issue with what is being said: it's relating to a survey question which resulted in sixty-eight percent of colleges saying that "marketing was the most important professional qualification for chief enrollment officers at their institutions." What gets me frowning is the notion that marketing and sales tactics are necessarily ideal for college admissions. I don't generally like the whole concept of "selling" a college as a brand, whatever currency that may have today--it can detract from the student goals of making a good fit and ensuring a good match (which should be the college's goals too!).
'Sales and Marketing' reminds me of US News rankings, deception, etc. Fair? Not really. They can just as well be leveraged for good, informing students far and wide about the wonders of under-appreciated schools and programs. If marketing and sales skills are utilized in ways more suited to college admissions from the student perspective, then I'm all for them. If, however, they're used to create branding and marketing schemes that are more traditional and, shall I say, unhelpful to the end viewer, then I'm upset by the additional 'noise' put into the field.
Oh, and for those non-industry types who hadn't heard about it before but are interested in the NACAC annual report, download a copy here: NACAC’s 2006 State of College Admission. I don't know if I would describe the 90+ page document as a 'fun' read, but it's definitely interesting.
I was on vacation for a week with my family in Provincetown (same as last summer!) and was so rushed to leave that I didn't put up a post. Back now!
edit note 2:40pm: a couple slight edits for clarification made to respond to commented concerns.