By , Head of Research
I remember sitting with the Head of Marketing at a top English university a few years ago talking to her about the challenges she was facing at the time.
One of her grudge bears were technical problems regarding source material. In effect, she wanted the course database to be a single source containing multiple versions of programme descriptions that could be used according to audience and requirement. So for instance, the same source could be used in a printed prospectus, a departmental flyer, on the university website, a departmental website and could be used as the programme specification. Her frustration was that with multiple-person access to this database and in some instances more than one database, descriptions were often changed without notification.
One of her other challenges was an old chestnut that I’d heard before about how to ensure that academics were ‘happy’ with her interpretation of their courses. She cited a conversation with an academic who had asked her to up the marketing-ante with regards to his particular course as his student numbers were low. She said that she wanted to say that it was because “his course was ****, not relevant anymore, and that he had not let her edit in any significant way its description in the prospectus”.
So it was with a sense of revelation that I recently read an article titled ‘Universities Enrol for Marketing Masterclass’ in Marketing Week. It would appear that University of Exeter will have no such problems shortly since at the time of going to press they were advertising for a position which is described by Stuart Franklin their Director of MarComms as follows:
“The new head of marketing role is about a much more considered approach to how we develop academic programmes and drive value from them. We want to look at our programme portfolio so we can come up with a way of assessing performance, look at how we bring new programmes to market and put more rigour into any process than we currently have.
This person needs to be aware of what academic programmes cost to teach, whether it is a declining or growing market, and what competitors are doing. They will help develop programmes that are attractive to the market and manage them in a more organised and overt way than we have in the past.”
What an inspired and forward-thinking appointment that will be. I look forward to meeting the appointee and maybe hearing how the role pans out. Certainly with the need for ever-more sophisticated and targeted marketing activity capable of making one university stand out from another, this is a significant step, and one which I hope succeeds. Maybe my old client will apply for the position?