Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 2


Marketing Lessons from Madison Avenue

Community colleges shouldn't be afraid to adopt some of the marketing tactics of corporate advertising firms, says a team of marketing experts from Ohio.

"U.S. companies spent about $163 billion last year in direct marketing and more than $3 billion on data and data services," says Alan Moran, vice president of marketing and communications at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. "We need to be looking to them and looking at the tools they use. There are all of these new technologies and services out there to help us garner information about our alumni and donors."

Moran works with GBS Corporation, a local company specializing in financial software and systems for information and commodity management, to purchase access to public background information about Cuyahoga's perspective donors. He uses that information to strategically communicate with subsets of donors about what is most important to them.

"We have a list of about 20,000 prospects, and we can get back a dossier of public records on them for about $2,000," Moran says. "You can find out everything from how many cars they drive to if they belong to a country club to what magazines they subscribe to."

Moran also uses this information to reach out to individuals in the area who are not on the college's prospect list or may not be familiar with the institution. For example, when the college opened its hospitality management center, Moran used public records to find those in the metropolitan area who had an affinity for cooking and might be interested in taking courses. In another example, when the college recently helped the United Way with a cycling fundraiser, Moran used records to find those in the area with an interest in cycling.

"We need to raise the level of sophistication at community colleges and make more data-driven marketing decisions," Moran says. "The more you know about someone, the better."

John Lane, executive vice president of GBS, will join Moran at the Conference for Community College Advancement in October to discuss how institutions can take advantage of these publicly available data lists.

"The large organizations and large colleges have access to these tools," Lane says. "But just because you don't have access to a large budget doesn't mean that you still can't benefit from these things. We want to help bring Madison Avenue to Main Street America. Community colleges shouldn't be afraid of this information. It's easy to get, and it'll empower you in your marketing efforts."

Please share your questions and comments with Marc Westenburg via email at mwestenburg@case.org or +1 202 478 5570.

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This article is from the August 2012 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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