Limited budgets and limited staff—challenges that every marketing team can relate to. How can you expand your efforts without necessarily expanding your dollar spend or employee count?
Consider an often-untapped resource: faculty. (Yes, faculty!)
Our friends at Teachers College, Columbia University have some tips and tricks they use to engage their faculty in student recruitment efforts. Taking a cue from Brooks Terry, director of enrollment marketing—and adding a few of our own ideas—here are seven suggestions about how your marketing team can work with faculty to optimize engagement with prospective students.
Sit down with faculty and walk through their program websites. Is the published content (program information, curriculum, course descriptions, and bios) up to date? As concise as it can be? Have they had any recent conversations with students that might translate well to testimonials? Are there clear and easy calls to action for students who want to apply, contact the department, or ask a question?
Ask faculty members to collaborate with you to develop a marketing strategy and campaign that will raise program awareness and target the right audience. They might have insight into what potential students will want to hear and see about the program, as well as know about untapped channels to reach these students.
Personal social media channels can be good places for faculty to share clips of their work or student/alumni success stories they hear about. Ask them if they’re willing to try this. If so, provide some guidance on what/how to share, as well as dos and don’ts—and how to follow and share content featured on your university’s main channels.
Once they buy into the strategy, the content they share will often give your department good fodder for your social media channels as well. There will be lots of stories you can share with your followers.
To prepare faculty to respond to questions from potential students, work with them to create an email message they can easily personalize and send out as needed. Consider developing an FAQ document—whether it’s posted online or kept as a PDF—that faculty can share with prospective students, too.
Including faculty in panels or program-specific events during open houses and info sessions is a great way to start the relationship-building process with students. During an open house or info session, make faculty easily accessible for networking and questions. Share their contact information afterward so potential students can reach out later.
It’s very possible that there are faculty members on staff who excel at things like photography, videography, etc. By asking them to put their skills to work for your department, you’ll save time and resources while also helping them get involved in something they love.
People don’t often recognize the stories woven into their daily jobs and interactions. Every once in a while, ask faculty members a question about what they’re up to, recent student interactions they’ve had, or alumni they’ve heard from. You can even create a quick and easy story sharing form to start the conversation. The stories they share will give you ideas to follow up on for social media, marketing collateral, testimonials, alumni magazines, and success stories.
Once you’ve implemented some of these ideas, start collecting data for benchmarking purposes. What’s working and what isn’t? Are faculty responsive to sharing content on social media but don’t want to participate in open houses? Are there early adopters who can help coach/engage other faculty members in the cause?
Based on what you notice, there are opportunities to make adjustments—or to have an open dialogue about how they prefer to assist with recruitment and enrollment. Be sure to share positive results with faculty, too, so they know their time and efforts are truly making a difference!