Bob Johnson and Market Clutter


I subscribed to Bob Johnson’s blog a couple months ago but didn’t pay much attention to it until a few days ago when a new posting showed up.

I started to skim his latest article on marketing clutter. One hour and 10 hyperlinks later, my brain was full. What I like about Bob’s blog and newsletter is that he focuses on higher education but doesn’t limit himself. He steps outside and looks at what marketing folks in other fields are doing.

For years (hmm, decades) higher education marketing and advertising have been pretty stale. Conservative administrations and copying each other pretty much guarantees dullness.

My colleagues and I have joked for years that all our classroom shots in our admissions pieces and ads are interchangeable. I had a classic example a few years ago when our freelance photographer sent photos from his latest shoot. One shot of a female music student at a piano was so atmospheric and lovely that I had it framed. It hung on our office wall for two years before a music professor visiting the PR office looked at it and said, “That wasn’t taken at Mansfield.”

I asked how he knew. “Because the piano is a Steinway. We use Baldwins.”

I don’t remember if we ever used the photo in a viewbook or an ad, but then, it really doesn’t matter, does it?

I digress. Bob has two postings on market clutter. This is from his April 9 post:

The need for very careful targeting of usually scarce dollars is even more important now than ever before. The main tenet of direct marketing is alive and well: the better you can profile your audiences (defined as those most likely to enroll, not who you wish might enroll in a perfect world), the more successful your marketing efforts are likely to be.

This holds true for traditional students, for adults students, for any type of student you want to earn your degree.

Good insights and great links.

And market clutter? As people we all suffer from it. As professionals we’re all guilty of it.

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