I spoke to my father, who is a 30+ year veteran of the advertising industry, about marketing Shimer and about the IIT move. He does not specialize in advertising campaigns for colleges, but he did do a campaign for Creighton University, which is a very different place than Shimer (what isn't?) but shares some of the same strengths and drawbacks -- good academics, little reputation in the general population, arguably dreary location. When he had finished working with them, their enrollment jumped way up.
* His initial reaction to a possible IIT move: "Has a lot of potential. If the numbers work out, a location in Chicago could be a huge plus for attracting students. Very few people know where Waukegan is, and those who do usually don't want to move there."
* The Creighton campaign ended up costing them around $20,000. He reckons that a similar expenditure could yield dramatically improved enrollment results for Shimer.
* The biggest problem with advertising Shimer is that Shimer students are very self-selecting and hard to pigenhole. There's no one magazine, TV show, etc., that you can buy advertising on and reach a large number of potential Shimer students.
* Selling the school is not a lost cause. Chicago has some virtues as a location that Waukegan does not, but there's always room to improve the website, collateral materials, etc., regardless of where the school ends up.
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2 months ago