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Big Ideas in the Big Easy, Part 1

Marking its 40th anniversary, the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations is the leading professional development organization exclusively serving two-year college communicators.

NCMPR provides regional and national conferences, webinars, a summer institute, relevant information on emerging marketing and PR trends, and connections to a vast network of colleagues across the country. An affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges, NCMPR today serves more than 1,600 marketing and PR professionals in the United States and Canada.

I recently had the pleasure of attending NCMPR’s national conference in New Orleans on behalf of Triton College (River Grove, IL). Conference-goers included over 400 top-level community college administrators, marketing directors, designers, teachers, industry leaders, and other marketing and PR personnel; a collection of individuals making a difference in higher education.

Once we had our fill of fresh crawfish, beignets and chicory coffee, it was time for three days of jam-packed content (buzz word), including round-table discussions, industry-leading presentations, vendor exhibitions, keynotes and hashtags.

A common theme at the conference that resonated with not only community colleges but all businesses and organizations alike was the notion that people buy the “why,” not the “what.”  In other words, communicating your story in a way that students (customers) buy in to the experience. Many of us in higher education see the impact that our schools have on our students and communities at large. We witness first-hand the adversity that our customers face when going to school for the first time, or are just getting back to education after years away. In any business, those with direct contact with customers have a firsthand understanding of those experiences and success stories. How do we use this information to attract new customers and perhaps more importantly, keep our existing ones?

One of the many breakout sessions offered at the conference was How to Boost Enrollment With Personalized Marketing, presented by Leslie Tennant, Director of Communications at Community College of Beaver County in Pennsylvania. I will share a full report of Ms. Tennant’s session in part two of this blog, but one of the greatest pieces of content shared was the following video. It features a TED Talks presentation with leadership expert Simon Sinek and his “Golden Circle” concept.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” explains Sinek. When developing a marketing plan, whether a simple postcard out to the community or a Facebook campaign, we should ask ourselves “Why do people need our product or service?” Connecting the experiences and success stories of current customers with our own mission can be the most powerful advertising strategy.

In everything we do, we are committed to student success. We promote your success with engaged and experienced faculty,  student-centered programming, and a learning environment for a diverse community.  Summer registration is now open. Call us today at (708) 456-0300 or visit www.triton.edu.

Accompany your message with a video or image of a real person and you have successfully told your story. After-all, YOU know how important your product or service is, but others won’t until YOU tell them.

Part two of this blog will feature highlights from the conference, including an analysis of various breakout sessions, ideas and tips shared by industry leaders, and of course a photo of those delicious beignets. Stay tuned…

Note: The content of this blog and related comments do not reflect the official opinions of Triton College.

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