Friday, November 18, 2005

Regarding The Marketing of Shimer

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.

Some highlights:

* 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.


Joni Garcia said...

Hello everyone!

Joni Garcia, Class of 2000 (Weekender) here. I am currently serving on the board as the chair of the marketing committee.

A classmate turned me on to your blog. She thought I would be interested, since you were discussing marketing.

I've been reading the posts here to get a feel for the conversation. You know, Shimer rule #1, read the text...

I see Young's email made it here, too. Good.

Just wanted to say on the subject of marketing, I agree 100% with PJ's dad on all points, so we'll keep plugging away.

I love this blog idea. It's very Shimerian.

Best regards,

Snorey said...

Hmm... somehow blogs don't seem very Shimerian to me. They're so heteronomous. For instance, I have no choice but to respond to the poster (PJ), rather than to the person I am actually addressing (Joni). Furthermore, no one will ever read either of our comments unless they go out of their way to do so.

I have personally found that fora are much more conducive to building community consensus, or just having a friendly conversation. That's part of why I set up -- although at the moment there isn't much conversation happening on that site, so maybe the joke's on me.

Anyway, there is certainly a place for blogs like these at a moment like this, when everyone needs some soapbox time.

Joni_Garcia said...

Hi Snorey,

Well, I would call THIS a forum, such as it is, and the beauty of it is that people from all over the world can participate.

And I think you (we) are having a nice conversation. In fact, BECAUSE the conversations are by topic, we can actually participate in several conversations at once. And there is no time limit.

We do have alum events every once in awhile. We had one a couple of weeks ago in Evanston where the IIT thing was discussed with alums.

If you are an alum, you should have gotten an invitation. If not, I suggest giving Chuck Freilich your contact information so you can get on the list.

D. R. Koukal said...

Before the school goes to another PR professional, it should talk to Admissions (particularly Bill Paterson, who I know is no longer there). The wya I hear it, the College has hired several PR consultants in past, most of whom did not understand the special niche Shimer fills and hence who produced advice that didn't work for the school.

I'm not opposed in principle to hiring a PR professional; it's just that if they're going to tell us to sell ourselves like DePaul, it's not going to work.