Tag Archives: market research

Research Can Help Cut Through COVID Uncertainty (updated July 13, 2020)

As we watch colleges, universities, and schools struggle with decision-making around the fall, one fact looms large: there is an unprecedented level of uncertainty that, for many, is paralyzing.

Some of this is completely outside everyone’s control: Will the infection rate surge again? Will there be public health directives that affect campuses? Will there be travel restrictions? Can international students even get a visa?

But another significant portion is because all of our well-constructed planning models are off. What does it mean if a student participates in a virtual campus visit? Do enrollment deposits mean fall matriculants? And what’s going on with fundraising, anyway? All of our formulas for estimating yield, financial aid needs, or annual giving are completely blown out of the water in the midst of the pandemic.

One thing that can help with the second category of uncertainty is to gather fresh data. Many schools are doing just that: surveying students about their online experience, parents about their views on cost and value, faculty and staff about their experiences pivoting online and the support they need to deliver instruction and services in the fall. While these data can’t completely lift the mist, they might help you get out of the “dense fog” you’ve been driving through, to quote a recent Chronicle article.

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A More Sophisticated Definition of Branding

A story about the cancellation of a contract for branding work at the University of Oregon sparked my thinking about how often leaders in higher education misunderstand the concept of “branding.” Branding is not the efforts you make to market and promote yourself to students or other constituents. Nor is it the visual identity (i.e. logo) or the collateral you produce, such as a flashy video.

Here is the definition I offered in a recent presentation: “Your brand is the sum total of people’s experiences with your organization and what they believe about its value and relevance in their lives.” Continue reading