SIU’s marketing efforts differ from other regional schools

As SIU continues to revamp its marketing campaign, other universities in the region are taking a different approach.

In her Sept. 5 State of the University Address, Chancellor Rita Cheng said SIU should continue to tell the university’s story and learn more about what goes into the decision-making process for prospective students.

To help with these efforts, SIU’s Board of Trustees decided to hire the Chicago-based marketing company Lipman Hearne in fall 2010. Rod Sievers, university spokesman, said Lipman Hearne works alongside SIU’s internal marketing department to make marketing decisions.

SIU’s contract with Lipman Hearne was renewed in July for $2 million. In her address, Cheng said it is standard for schools to spend this much on marketing.

However, some regional school representatives disagreed.

Western Illinois University in Macomb recently approved a $300,000 marketing budget for 2013, said Darcie Shinberger, the assistant vice president of advancement and public services at WIU.

Previously, WIU spent $100,000 on marketing annually, but the university decided to increase the budget for the upcoming year. WIU has around 13,000 students enrolled this semester compared to SIU’s 18,000.

“Our marketing budget is a drop in the bucket compared to the school’s overall budget,” Shinberger said. “We do a really good job on a limited budget.”

Shinberger said all of Western’s marketing efforts are handled within the university. She said the university’s television department produces all of the school’s TV advertisements, and the school’s marketing department distributes them.

She said an outside firm advises the school on when and where to run its ads, but that money is handled through a fund separate from the marketing budget.

“We hope our efforts translate to persons applying and looking at Western,” Shinberger said.

Illinois State University in Normal has seen enrollment rise in recent years and has just over 20,000 students enrolled.

Last year, ISU saw enrollment climb to its highest total in 20 years.

Brian Beam, executive director of university marketing and communications at ISU, said the school’s marketing budget is flexible and helps target more students when needed. He said no clear budget is set, and it changes throughout the year.

“At Illinois State, we do not use a 1 percent metric to establish our marketing budget, but adjust the budget to fit the need,” he said. “Most of our marketing efforts are targeted to individuals who have been identified as potential Illinois State students.”

Beam said ISU handles most of its marketing on campus as well. An outside agency is hired from time to time, but Beam said no long-term contracts are established.

“Marketing is as important to universities as it is to other organizations,” he said. “Marketing is an important way for universities to shape their brand and communicate why students should select them over all of the choices available to today’s college students.”

Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also do not designate marketing budgets for the universities as a whole.

Instead, each university leaves it up to the colleges within the university to market themselves.

“Within limits, our various departments are able to allocate budget dollars to best meet their needs,” said Karen Grebing, director of marketing and university relations at SEMO.

Grebing also said all the school’s marketing efforts are handled internally by the school’s news bureau, publications and public services department, web design and support department and the department of photography and video services.

“By presenting a consistent, targeted message, marketing allows universities to enhance their reputation and visibility and differentiate themselves in the marketplace,” Grebing said.

U of I, which saw an 8.5 percent enrollment increase this semester, also handles its marketing internally, said Robin Taylor, associate chancellor for public affairs. However, she said all schools should place an emphasis on marketing.

“Unless you have all the students you can handle and they are the very best in the world, then you can always attract more students and higher quality students,” she said. “You can also attract more supporters for your university.”

Taylor also said marketing efforts should differ from university to university.

“You are trying to prepare for the new generation and you can always do better,” she said. “But if you don’t get the word out for those who can support you and those you want to be a part of your organization, that’s not going to happen. And the competition is fierce.”

A representative from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston said the university did not want to share its marketing strategies with THE DAILY EGYPTIAN because SIU is a rival school.

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