Data Driven

As part of the brand development process, Hope has completed a set of perception research studies with the help of EM2, our integrated marketing partner.  The results of these studies were shared at a meeting in Haworth open to the college community.  If you missed the meeting or are looking for more information, below is a brief summary:

  • In February an online survey was sent to three groups: current students, prospective students and faculty/staff.  Over 2,100 responses were collected and each group has a margin of error of 3-4%.
  • Current students and faculty and staff are very satisfied.  On a five-point scale, 90% of current students and 82% of faculty and staff rate their experience with the college as a 4 or a 5.
  • Some of the aspects of the college that current students like most are small classes, friendly and welcoming environment, close faculty-student relationships, the Christian environment, academic quality, downtown Holland, the beauty of campus, preparation for success in career and the ability to get involved.  This list is very similar to what aspects appeal to prospective students.  
  • What students like least are cost and financial aid, lack of diversity, parking, housing options and weather.  Current students would also like to see more name recognition for the college.
  • 77% of current students said the Christian atmosphere influenced their decision to attend Hope.
  • 71% of prospective students are applying to at least 4 schools. The top sources in their college search are campus visits, college websites, printed materials and parents.
  • The most important challenges identified by faculty and staff include sustaining enrollment, affordability, economic challenges, creating a more diverse campus and building the endowment.
  • Faculty and staff identified faculty relationships, the quality of the academic program, and the supportive Christian environment as the biggest advantages or benefits to students.
  • Most faculty and staff felt comfortable talking about Hope and the value it offers.  21% said they would like some help.

Overall, the research affirmed much of what we already knew (from a variety of different studies completed over the past few years) and gave us an even stronger foundation to build the brand promise and brand attributes on (more to come on these).  We will use this information, including our strengths and challenges, to better articulate our value to those considering Hope.

— Submitted by Scott Travis, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations

Another acronym: EM2!

Phew! The marathon of firm selection has come to a close and we are extremely excited that Hope has selected EM2, an education marketing firm from Atlanta, to assist us in coordinating integrated marketing efforts on campus. We appreciate their style and believe they can assist us in better and more widely promoting the Hope experience.

What is it we like about them? Well, it’s more than the fact they say “ya’ll” a lot (although it is fun to listen to). They have more than 20 years of experience with roots in marketing, communication, design and branding. They have Fortune 500 experience in their past, however they now focus entirely on education, with a national client base.

Their capabilities are cross-discipline (expertise in branding, admissions, fundraising, and alumni relations), cross-media (dual focus on print and web), and they’re all around creative people who are fresh thinkers with innovative solutions. Also, they’re a lot like us at Hope. Private, personal, select, and small (in a good way!).

We are excited about their direct experience in development, brand, and faith-based education institutions, fresh research-informed creative directions, and focus on determining criteria for success and measuring results. They are going to push us to research to understand and build consensus, build tools based on strategic objectives, and track and measure for effectiveness.

Oh, and did we mention that their Sr. Marketing Consultant, Lynn Donham, teaches Okinawan Shuri-Ryu karate as a 1st degree black belt. That’s just cool.

— Submitted by Jason Cash, Campaign Associate for College Advancement

Can we get some info, please?

One of the objectives of the IMC outlined in our previous post was to improve and integrate both the content and design of Hope’s print and online communications. Therefore, a new working group has been formed called the “New Media Redesign Team” or web team for short.
This team is comprised of:
Jason Cash, Advancement
Andrew Meyers, Admissions
Lynne Powe, Public Relations
Becky Robrahn, CIT
The group was initially tasked with developing a comprehensive Request for Information (RFI) to be submitted to various marketing/web agencies specifically relating to improving Hope’s website college-wide. Of course, as many of us have experienced, this project has grown in scope. It now includes print and institutional branding.

The RFI includes information about Hope’s current marketing presence, timeline, as well as an outline of the project and areas of most need. The RFI was sent to 20 firms across the United States and we received 13 qualified response proposals for branding, web, and print work. Through a search process, five firms were invited to present on campus to an interdepartmental team of faculty and staff.

This process allowed all of us involved to better understand certain areas where Hope could benefit from an external partner. It has become apparent that institutional branding needs to be brought to the forefront of this project before our other priorities such as web and print can be tackled with the level of quality necessary.

One firm stood out to us as being a great fit for this adventure: EM2 located in Atlanta, Georgia. With that, we’re strapped in, because we’re about to embark on a wild ride!

— Submitted by Jason Cash, Campaign Associate for College Advancement

What is Integrated Marketing, anyway?

In the course of working in higher education, we all come across buzzwords that are often used but only occasionally explained: “Student Centered Learning”, “Social Media”, “Knowledge Economy”, “Globalization”, “Distinctive”, “Synergy” and of course, “Integrated Marketing”. We even have an appointed cabinet to work on that last one.

So what is Integrated Marketing, anyway? In order to move from cliché to common language, consider the following analogy: each division and department at a college is like a musician in an orchestra. Playing individually, we may occasionally reach our intended audience with positive results, but only when the orchestra is tuned and playing from a common score, will the results move an audience to tears.

Since that analogy is itself a bit cliché, here’s the textbook definition of integrated marketing as Dr. Robert Sevier puts it: “a listening-first, database-dependent approach to marketing that includes a willingness to segment and coordinate such strategic assets as product, price, and place, and to develop effective promotion strategies for key target audiences.”

For us, this means coordinating our efforts to communicate the value of a Hope College education to our students, their families and other key audiences.

Realizing a need for this type of communication, President Bultman has appointed an Integrated Marketing Cabinet to work towards the vision set forth in Chapter 2 of the Hope College Strategic Plan, approved by the Board of Trustees in 2006. The vision stated in the plan is that “all areas of Hope College succinctly communicate a consistent message that accurately reflects the vision and values of the institution in both the content and the design of the communication.”

Meeting since September of 2008, the group has begun both strategic and operational dialogue in the following areas:

  • Identifying what we currently do in the area of marketing as well as the target audiences we would like to reach
  • The role of marketing research in our decisions and identifying what research we currently have available to us
  • Overall branding and integration within the institution, including the possibility of seeking input from an outside agency
  • Better utilizing positioning outcomes, including a placement report and an economic impact study
  • Improving and integrating both the content and design of Hope’s print and online communications

This blog’s aim is to keep you up-to-date as the college moves forward with these initiatives. In the process, we will try to avoid the clichés.

— Submitted by Scott Travis, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations