The Return to Art: A Post-Data Approach to Higher Ed Marketing

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It’s important we don’t mistake the data-driven revolution that’s taking place right now in Higher Ed for something it’s not.

It’s not marketing.

By no means am I dismissing the importance of our laggard adoption to quantitative accountability at a campaign-by-campaign level. There is nothing more exciting than getting to know what’s working, how well and by how much – and re-allocating your marketing pie based on proven performance.

These systems keep us accountable for the art we make. But the art is our challenge.

How do we answer the question of whether or not college is really worth the cost?
How do we explain the importance of the liberal arts in terms of a comprehensive education?
How do we accurately convey our unique experience to the students most uniquely well-matched for our school?

Answering these communication challenges requires intense creativity, beautiful storytelling, and the ability to bring back emotion to a pitch that has become far too emotionless.

Now, thanks to this data-driven revolution, we will be able to test and track everything to see if our art works. Because as marketers, we are responsible for quantifying our art, yes. But, the quantification should be a given. Utilizing all available information in order to make more strategic decisions should be a given. Let us not praise ourselves for now holding ourselves accountable. Let us simply consider it immoral to no longer do so – especially now that it has become so easy to do.

The art is our challenge. So, let’s get back to it.

About the Author
Eric Olsen is Director of Enrollment Communications for Lewis University, a mid-sized Catholic and Lasallian University near Chicago, IL. Follow Eric on Twitter.

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  • Anonymous

    Good thoughts, Eric. Totally agree that if the content isn’t there, then there’s not much point in measuring it.

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