Colleges focus on marketing departments to boost enrollmentUniversities nationwide are struggling to attract new students, as low job-placement rates and the high cost of college deter potential pupils from enrolling. University funding for state schools has been cut, and private colleges are no longer seeing the amount of donations they once did. Because higher education has become less affordable over the years, schools are working hard to bring in more students to boost revenue.

Bringing in marketing experts
With enrollments slipping, colleges are spending more money than ever on their marketing departments. While large corporations have long relied upon chief marketing officers to run their advertising campaigns, universities are now beginning to hire their own CMOs. The Wall Street Journal reported that at the 2011 American Marketing Association's Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, attendance was up to 727 people, compared to just 393 in 2001.

The source revealed that colleges are bringing in marketing experts from the corporate world to attract new students to their schools, and run their marketing departments more like businesses than universities. Purdue University has marketing executives who came to the school after working with large companies such as State Farm Insurance and Limited Brands.

'Branding' a school
Rather than just selling a school's good points, college marketing departments are creating unique identities for their universities. Their job is to connect the messages from each of the school's departments and create a coherent, clear marketing strategy to boost the university's reputation.

These departments are responsible for creating a message that reaches across the entire campus. Marketing plans often have to include a variety of platforms to reach potential students. They usually include strategies such as updating social media pages, mailing brochures and creating commercials.

Creating an identity for a school has to do more than get potential pupils interested in the university's culture. Marketing departments need to work to get parents involved, while assuring students of their independence. Trying to lure in pupils is sometimes a difficult balance because students want to make their own decisions, but parents want to stay in the loop.

The backlash
There are some who feel that academic institutions should not be treated as businesses and have no need for marketing departments unless they are providing their customers with a faulty product. Entrepreneur Peter Thiel told The Wall Street Journal that universities are no longer focused on higher education, and instead are worried about sales.

"If you need large marketing budgets, it suggests that something has gone wrong with the substance of the product. many nonprofits spend this much on marketing?" he said to the source.

While some may dispute the need for university marketing departments, many colleges are finding that big-budget marketing efforts are working. By creating a special identity for their school, colleges are able to draw new pupils into the university's unique culture.
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