Our Higher Education Strategy

CMG partners with higher education organizations to develop strategies that will help them differentiate, engage, fundraise and recruit. Whatever pressures an organization may face, marketers are expected to provide solutions. Solutions thare are cost effective, innovative and most importantly genuine.  We help higher education marketers develop actionable strategies by combining our knowledge in the field of higher education marketing with the innovative marketing techniques of Fortune 1000 companies.  This unique approach has helped us discover new strategies that enable higher education marketers to meet their goals.    


A few of the institutions we have had the privilege of working with:


The growth of higher education, particularly today, begins and ends with innovative marketing.  I personally believe our work helps institutions focus on what is important: sustaining their mission.

Erin Hyatt Higher Education Lead

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Marketing Communications Strategy

Students and alumni are inundated with communications while in school and post-graduation.  Reaching them today requires more than execution of the traditional marcom calendar, it requires an innovative approach to traditional marketing communications efforts. Organizations should:

  • Assess marketing campaign effectiveness by leveraging digital analytics
  • Identify communication preferences by understanding their audience through persona development
  • Develop a comprehensive and targeted marketing communications strategy that accounts for both school and university brand value
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Marketing Strategy

Higher-learning institutions, particularly for-profit, often have a mandate to support organizational growth.  Marketers must identify and prioritize markets and products that best represent attractive expansion.  Success requires agility and dynamic learning.  No longer can institutions wait for a month long study on consumer preferences or quarter long in-depth understanding of market trends. Marketing executives must quickly:

  • Encourage an agile mindset to marketing activities
  • Identify potential expansion opportunities by constantly monitoring both the current and aspiring student registration journey
  • Conduct low risk and cost effective omni-channel experiments
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Alumni Engagement

Alumni play a significant role in the continued success of upholding an institutions mission.  Understanding when and how to genuinely engage with these institutional evangelist is critical to sustaining success.  Marketing executives should:

  • Continually measure the attitudes and preferences of each alumni group across the various stages of their gifting journey
  • Personalize content at each milestone and stage of their post graduate experience by leveraging social analytics
  • Understand the effectiveness of in person events both in frequency and geography by developing smaller more personal engagement
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Brand Assessment 

Knowing and tracking an academic brand extends beyond the university or college and into the individual school.  The ability to understand brand and program attributes has implications that reach into recruiting academic staff, attracting students and fostering ongoing stewardship.  Marketing executives should:

  • Cleary align overall brand strength across all elements of the university or college
  • Constantly track brand health, cohesion and strength with research that goes beyond simple survey techniques.

Contact Erin to Learn More!

Frequently Asked Questions

[fa icon="plus-square"] We need to do more to engage with students and alumni, but my team is under-resourced. How do we do this?

Focus on quality over quantity.  Today, it’s not about doing more to reach those audiences, it’s about reaching them more effectively, with a message that resonates with their current relationship with your institution.

[fa icon="plus-square"] How do we better engage with key target groups, particularly students and alumni?

Start with Personas and Student Journeys.  Spend the time developing a detailed understanding of these audiences (Personas) including their attitudes and behaviors, motivators and communication needs and preferences.  Build their journey, whether enrollment or stewardship, and identify the stages and unique needs within each.

[fa icon="plus-square"] How is higher education marketing different from marketing in other sectors?

It’s really not all that different.  Just like marketing a product or service, whether B2C or B2B, marketers need to find a way to differentiate themselves and more genuinely engage.   Whether competing for new students or donor support, a marketer's ability to stay up to date with the latest available trends and technology, combined with consistent measurement and an agile strategy is critical to success.

[fa icon="plus-square"] What is one of the biggest challenges with implementing a higher education marketing strategy?

While not insurmountable, misalignment among stakeholders tends to be a common hurdle in implementing a new strategy.  Institutions are often very siloed in the way they operate.   Traditionally schools and programs have dedicated teams working on individual marketing and communications efforts.  Although efforts at the Institutional level appear unified, an approach to engaging with overlapping audiences across schools is not always clear – which can lead to competing priorities and communication fatigue.

[fa icon="plus-square"] What does a partnership with CMG look like?

We focus on collaboration and co-creation.  We can coach and lead, or we can do the heavy lifting and then work with you to refine and adjust.  We bring a diverse team to every engagement, leveraging experience that includes strategy, commercialization and performance analytics.

[fa icon="plus-square"] What process does CMG follow for developing a higher education marketing strategy?

We customize our approach for each client to ensure we develop a strategy that is both actionable and sustainable.  While the foundation of our strategy has been built over time we recognize the diversity of each institutions marketing culture.  Our typical process takes approximately 8-12 weeks depending on the scope of the engagement and starts with an in-depth analysis of the stakeholder landscape and the various goals and objectives that exist. We then formulate ideas of what strategies may work and subsequently try to identify the headwinds and tailwinds the team will face when trying to implement the new strategy.  Finally, we build an agile plan and highlight immediate steps to accelerate the deployment of the strategy.