I’m working on a review of a new book from CASE titled University Marketing Mistakes: 50 Pitfalls to Avoid. The authors, marketing profs Roy D. Adler (Pepperdine) and Thomas J. Hayes (Xavier), bring plenty of higher ed experience to the discussion. They also got a lot of help from the higher ed community, as each of the pitfalls outlined in the book are based on real-life examples from the trenches.
Adler and Hayes were kind enough to respond to my pre-book-review Friday Five questions for this blog. I gave them the option of combining their comments into a single response for each question. The responses are below.
1. Why did you decide to write this book?
As marketers, we saw the same mistakes being made again and again at different institutions across the country. Part of the problem is that marketing is not yet fully integrated and understood within the Academy. The result is that schools continue to make mistakes that are violations of the most basic marketing principles. That said, we noticed that even experienced marketers can become overwhelmed by their responsibilities and allow things to fall through the cracks. So the dual purpose was to boil Marketing 101 down for those new to the job so they would avoid mistakes, and to remind experienced marketers of potential pitfalls that may require attention. In the end, we can all learn from each other.
We thought that a book of short, humorous, based-on-real-life cases would be a good vehicle to involve the reader and create some aha moments. All of the cases were based on real situations, and each case concludes with a “marketing lesson” so that a similar situation can be avoided. We’ve found that important life lessons can best be learned if leavened with a dose of humor, and we hope our readers agree.
2. Spoiler alert: You actually describe 53 pitfalls, rather than the advertised 50. Of those 53, which one do you believe is the most common pitfall in higher ed?
There are about 3,600 4-year colleges in the U.S. and each one would place a different set of pitfalls among their top ten. But the biggest category of pitfall is probably lack of research. In terms of payback-per-dollar-spent, investment in quality research is probably the best investment a university can make. That is why we devoted eight of our 53 cases to that area. By the way, we presented 53 cases instead of 50 because we always try to exceed expectations.
3. I see you’re planning a second edition, so I guess that means we have even more mistakes to learn from. Care to give us a hint of one of the “new” pitfalls?
The content of the new book is being kept under wraps, but a good portion of it will be dealing with issues created by the encroachment of new, flat-world technology on universities. Universities, on the whole, have have historically been very resistant to change, and we will add some insight on the issues of if, when, and how to incorporate specific changes into your school.
4. This is a bit off-topic from the book, but what single piece of advice would you each give readers who are interested in a career in higher ed marketing?
Study marketing, and especially the marketing of services across industries! Education is a very expensive service in terms of both time and financial investment, and every service needs to manage expectations and over-deliver results. No industry is like education, of course, but many of the challenges other industries have met are surprisingly like the ones we are facing in education today. Learn from the experiences of others.
5. Which college or university really is the best-kept secret in higher education?
After an extensive analysis of all 3,600 American universities, the authors have determined that there is a tie for first place between Pepperdine and Xavier. By coincidence, those are the two schools where the authors teach.