Big Communication: UNA needs marketing strategy

Bill Gates once said the Internet changes everything. The quote reigns true in the world of higher education.

Last fall UNA outsourced Big Communication, a firm tasked with assessing university branding and marketing, to offer its recommendations of improvement. The firm visited campus Jan. 15 and confirmed UNA is in need of a sound marketing strategy.

“Higher education is much more financially dependent on enrollment these days, and marketing has been ratcheted up to a very important piece,” Interim President John Thornell said.

Founder and President of Big John Montgomery and Chief Brand Officer Mark Ervin led the discussion.

Ervin said improvements in UNA’s marketing strategy could help increase enrollment after the university’s five year decline.

Big has worked with schools including Jacksonville State and the University of Montevallo and seen enrollment spike.

UNA faces many challenges with its retention rates, which could be in part to the seismic shift in mobile and tablet-based interaction from the Generation Z crowd, Ervin said.

The firm offered several suggestions for a UNA marketing strategy, and also affirmed the university possesses the skills to conquer it internally.

Big’s marketing recommendations are as follows:

  1. “The university marketing department needs a champion, a leader.
  2. Develop an admissions strategy that reflects market shifts like expand its geographical footprint, assess adding admissions staff and overhaul CRM software.
  3. Create and implement a marketing budget and an annual marketing plan to provide vision needed to clearly communicate UNA brand.
  4. Develop an annual media plan and strategy to articulate the right message to the right person at the right time.
  5. Establish a widespread, long-term internal engagement around marketing, because each department within the university utilizes marketing.
  6. Determine the ideal student profile (target audience) to govern all marketing and recruiting.
  7. Discover and clarify a long-term brand strategy to articulate UNA’s unique selling proposition.
  8. Analyze and improve digital experience to communicate the defined UNA voice.”