Enrollment management marketing partnerships… For some, the mere statement brings about the negative connotation of Darth Vader and his legions as they combed the galaxy looking for the rebel forces. They don’t call it the dark side for nothing. (But is that perception accurate?) For others, these partnerships mean the flexibility to have an extended team with additional research, perspectives and industry insights. Who wouldn’t want help developing sound strategy or troubleshooting processes and procedures? What about having help defining and understanding current and upcoming trends in higher ed? Partnerships should be about creating efficiencies and optimizing your team’s performance all while maximizing yield. After all yield is the true measure of ROI, right?
One of the main reasons for the gloomy thoughts about vendor/partner (AKA the dark side) relationships in higher ed is the transactional nature by which some of these partnerships operate. A trustworthy vendor/partner understands the difference between transactions and trust. He/She/They also know that the partnership starts with the individual and extends to the company, which means everyone has a part to play. If every conversation you have with your vendor/partner ends with you trying to uncover ways to pay for another product or service, you, my friend, have a transactional relationship. If interactions with your vendor/partner involve innovative ways to expose prospective students to your brand and create an affinity for your institution without an upsell each time you talk… You might have a good partnership.
Integrity, strategy and experience are the cornerstones of any good Enrollment Management vendor/partner experience. With that being said, a good partner should provide customized marketing solutions suited for each individual institution. There is no one-size-fits-all model, so the cookie cutter approach is not the way to go. Don’t fall for it. The ultimate benefit of a partnership is having the honest and critical feedback necessary to assist with strategic short- and long-term planning and meeting enrollment goals. Being trustworthy and doing what is right for a partner is without a doubt the single most important thing that any vendor should have in mind. So, being on the same page with your vendor/partner is critical to keep transparency on both sides of the equation of the utmost importance.
With changes like COVID, declining birth rates and host of other things, effective partnerships in enrollment management must include the ghosts of enrollment past, present and future (data, data, data). Knowing the story that your data tells is key in any enrollment scenario and understanding how timing affects that data is oh so important. Is it better to launch a student search program in August or January? Yes, this is a silly question, but do the key players at your institution understand how delaying initiatives like this will affect your enrollment numbers? This could be the very moment when your vendor/partner becomes the voice of reason for those outside of the Enrollment Management division and your external champion at the same time. Higher ed partnerships should always be about the end goal for the college or university and never about the “credit” or the company outshining the institution. It is not our job to take yours, however it is our job make you look good. This is not about taking credit and it never should be. If you don’t look good we don’t look good…
Our client-partner Dr. Tracey Sheetz gave us a recent pat on the back that meant the world. We aim to fully prioritize our client-partners and help them shine. We’re so happy when that partnership reaches its full potential.