Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On Marketing and Such

Here's my thinking so far about the move.

If alums have any interest in working over seas, some countries (now including Korea) require sealed official transcripts mailed by the college in order to grant a foreign worker a visa to work in the country. Not sure how many other countries require this but Korea is not alone. But any job or school requiring this (sealed and mailed by the college) would in the future be off limits to Shimer alum. For this issue, the survival of the school is essential.

The date. I understand that the school must decide within 1 month whether or not to move. This gives me the impression that ITT wants rent not partners. Why such short notice and such a quick deadline. That by itself would make me work against the move.

The Shimer as we know it. Shimer is for the Waukegan alum an isolated distopia of mental rigors and emotional catharsis which seems hard to preserve in the midst of another larger and not particularly separate university. Simply having the proximity of such a large number of "others" would completely destroy the sense of isolated safety in which many Shimer students thrived for 4,5,8 years.

My guess is that the real problem with numbers is the isolation within Waukegan. And Marketing/recruiting practices. Shimer as a school has or had little interaction with Waukeganites or Chicagoans (little local recruitment, community interaction, community programs etc). A lot of people are only vaguely aware that it is there.

Marketing is expensive, but it seems that Shimer has no real marketing scheme or identity aside from hit or miss instances. And no market research. How do they find anybody? It seems to me random. What is the school’s target audience and do they make any effort to find them? How hard could it be to find 40 people? Fine, it's a strange thing to sell but whom are they selling to?

If the problem really is numbers, are there enough dedicated alums who could figure out a market or marketing for the school? It seems that the alumni may be the best people to explain and "sell" the school to others. We seem as a whole to have been "converted" to the school and most of us probably evangelize the methods, etc., given the chance.

Christopher McGlynn


shimerbard31 said...

FYI, everyone. There was a marketing plan just completed by 2 of the Trustees in October.

Anybody who would like to take a look at it should email Joni Garcia at, or myself at

I also think that most of Shimer's "problems" could be solved by some creative marketing, and I'd like to see a dialogue among the alumnus about how to solve our perennial marketing issues.

The market research that has been done clearly shows that it is the constant evangelizing of the alum that has sustained our enrollment, even at it's low level.

Right now, I'm working with a friend of mine, who is an independent film producer in Chicago to see what could be done about creating a documentary about Shimer College, and what Shimer has to offer in the field of Education.

We need to think much bigger, and more creatively than we have been. We also need to find a way to pay for some of this marketing. Marketing is an investment for the school, and it's an investment that could pay off if it's done well.

Sarah Kimmel

Behind Dish said...

I'm currently working on my MFA in Digital Cinema and would be interested in the project. I do editing and production work.

Behind Dish said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Behind Dish said...

Good comments. Seems as though Shimer isn't reaching a vital, active audience at all. Playing in a band for several years we learned to do a lot of free, mostly internet marketing. We researched magazines and sites that sort of fell into what we thought should be our audience. We submitted our stuff to Venuszine, bust, queer papers, trans sites and organizations as well as anarchist co-ops etc. We wanted to see 'wierdos' like us at our shows. It worked! Perhaps Shimer comes off as Stodgy and conservative, rather than a really special place. I've met a lot of people who'd benefit from a Shimer education. There are students out there but perhaps Shimer needs to be a little more 'rock n' roll'about it. Maybe it needs to be more welcomming.

Snorey said...

Think you've hit the nail on the head there, Chris. I just wanted to mention this thread on the topic, just in case anyone wanted to, for instance, talk about different ways of raising Shimer's profile. Since I don't know from marketing, my initial ideas are fairly amateurish. However, I'm that if we can pool our ideas, we can come up with some things that will make a difference.

Albert Fernandez said...

YES, ALUMS WOULD STILL BE ABLE TO HAVE SC TRANSCRIPTS SENT. I believe Chris is assuming that we're contemplating a merger with IIT, but only a rental agreement is under consideration. Shimer would retain its name, institutional independence, stationery, etc.

Snorey said...

However, that wouldn't be the case if Shimer were to go under, either in Waukegan or Chicago -- which may not be in prospect at the moment, but the possibility is always there.

Anonymous said...

Hrm... you know, one frustration that *my* generation of alums has consistently expressed is Shimer's lack of responsiveness in the area of "you should think about marketing here."

In my personal experience, this includes refusing to let me buy a banner on various websites (including _Goats_ and _Brunching Shuttlecocks_, but also "respectable" ones); donate ad space in science fiction convention programs, 'zines (okay, one 'zine, but _Lady Churchhill's Rosebud Wristlet_ has an excellent reputation); or small-run magazines such as _Sage Woman_, which hits our "target demographic" rather nicely, *I* think. When I asked them if it was possible to correct a glaring grammatical error in their _Onion_ ad, they did not even respond to say, "Thanks, we'll ask for a correction," or "Yes, we know, but it's too late to change it," or "What the hell is your problem, lady? We don't need no steenking Strunk & Whites."

I was told that the best response to advertising has been to flyers left in Evanston coffee shops. I asked if I could take some down. The person whom I spoke to at Admissions declined.

Instead, I understand that the only place we advertise in lately is _The National Review_, and that this has not brought us a single prospective student.

This is all anecdotal, and some of it second hand, but I would love to be smacked down and told I'm incorrect and none of the above are true.

Noah Kippley-Ogman said...

Dear Anonymous,

I've been talking to Anne, the new director of admissions since the semester began and while I'm not sure she "got" Shimer initially, she at least now knows that she doesn't have a grasp of what Shimer is and has joined the rest of us in not being able to quite articulate what Shimer is. She's getting closer than I've even been, for the record. Her descriptions of Shimer to me in the past few weeks have been right and better-put than I've said.

I think now would be a great time to send her polite reminders of your offers.


Alan Iliff said...

It is standard procedure when a school closes that a contract is made with another school to continue to handle the first school's records, including transcript requests.