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Market Research

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In Spartans They Trust
CURRENTS Article What's the essence of your institution's brand? When Heather Swain, Michigan State University's vice president for communications and brand strategy, presents on branding in higher education, she includes a slide displaying ice cream cones with various flavors of ice cream. Why? "Our job as marketers is to project our university's flavor out into the world," she says. What Michigan State does, Swain says, isn't that different from what other land-grant or large research institutions do, so it's essential to differentiate and distinguish yourself from the pack. At MSU, that work began with the "Spartans Will" branding initiative, which launched in 2010 and has taken on new life with the "Who Will? Spartans Will" brand marketing campaign. Marketing research has been key to helping Michigan State understand its special flavors. Understanding the complex motivations behind how and why required a different kind of research—a process that taps into people's emotions, an assignment that went beyond the typical focus group.

Thanksgiving, with a Twist
CURRENTS Article How three institutions put a unique spin on celebrating Thanksgiving.

What’s the Idea?
CURRENTS Article A student advisory committee helps the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign assess ideas for planning and promoting online and in-person campus events.

Market Research Key to Effective Institutional Marketing
Article,  BriefCASE Article A community attitude and awareness survey is one of the best ways that communications and marketing professionals can measure the effectiveness of their efforts, says a practitioner.

Market Research Key to Effective Institutional Marketing
Article,  Community College News Article A community attitude and awareness survey is one of the best ways that communications and marketing professionals at community colleges can measure the effectiveness of their efforts, says a practitioner.

Marketing Lessons from Madison Avenue
Article,  Community College News Article 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.

School Marketing Expert: There's No Marketing without Marketing Research
Article,  BriefCASE Article You think your institution’s viewbook needs updating because enrollment is declining—but are you addressing your real problem? Asking the right questions is the first step toward successful marketing research, says an independent school marketing expert.

Alumni Surveys
Sample Collection The Library maintains this collection of alumni surveys, reports of survey results and magazine coverage for all members.

Alumni Surveys
Good Question We are preparing to conduct an alumni survey. Do you have sample surveys that can be emailed to me?

QR Quandary
CURRENTS Article According to a survey, college students have the capacity to use QR codes but have little interest in doing so.

Getting to Know U
CURRENTS Article How did American University develop a brand strategy (the "KNOW/WONK" campaign that launched in fall 2010) that was original, authentic, and representative of AU's distinctive personality? This article explores how AU guided the brand campaign through the critical approval process, intact, with leadership's support and enthusiasm.

Michigan State of Mind
CURRENTS Article This article looks at the efforts of the Michigan Colleges Foundation, a collective of 14 of the state's small independent colleges and universities, to encourage students to stay in Michigan after graduation by educating them about the quality of life and employment opportunities in three of the state's largest metropolitan areas. After conducting market research and surveying college students, MCF plans a multiplatform marketing campaign geared to seniors.

Putting on a New Game Face
CURRENTS Article The University of Mississippi recently introduced Rebel Bear, the new mascot that replaced Col. Reb, the previous controversial mascot that the university banned in 2003. In this article, Michael Thompson, senior associate athletics director for communications and marketing at Ole Miss, discusses the challenges of creating and developing a new mascot and introducing it to the university community.

The Value of Market Research
Podcast Carlos Barroso from Saint Andrew's School discusses how institutions can use data to solve their marketing challenges.

Espacio de oficina: No pierda el enfoque
CURRENTS Article Los grupos de enfoque pueden ser una buena forma de obtener retroalimentación útil de los miembros de una escuela. La consultora de mercadotecnia, Carol Cheney, explica cómo formar y dirigir con éxito un grupo de enfoque. Ella hace hincapié en que las opiniones negativas y las positivas que proporcionan los que participan en un grupo de enfoque se pueden utilizar para fortalecer a la institución.

Office Space: Don't Lose Focus
CURRENTS Article Focus groups can be a good way to get helpful feedback from a school's constituents. Marketing consultant Carol Cheney explains how to set up and carry out a successful focus group. She stresses that both the negative and positive feedback from focus group participants can be used to strengthen the institution.

Doing the Math
CURRENTS Article At a time of limited financial resources, institutions are eager to make smart choices with their marketing dollars. Market research can cut through misperceptions and help institutions understand what works.

Advance Work: Face Time
CURRENTS Article Surveying parents in person may take time but can pay off in more ways than one.

Bluffing or the Real Deal?
CURRENTS Article Good research can be a lightning rod for change, imagination, and innovation. It challenges conventional wisdom, questions accepted assumptions, and tests the impact of new ideas. Better not to leave such things to chance or trust them to bluff, which the authors of this article say is common in much of the work that's considered marketing or market research in higher education. They offer insights about getting beyond the bluff; the results of good research, they say, can be hard to swallow because they frequently expose mistakes and contradictions. They include several case studies and strategies for recognizing authentic research.

Tool Time
CURRENTS Article The importance of research in developing institutional messages has become evident to campus communicators, but how best to collect the right information is less clear. Communicators need to explore research techniques that go beyond asking audiences what they think and want--techniques that uncover why audience have specific thoughts and opinions. This article outlines three such advanced techniques--choice-based conjoint analysis, tree-based analysis, and multiple regression analysis--that communicators can use when working with consultants, institutional researchers, or professors.

Reputation Reflections
CURRENTS Article Advancement professionals increasingly view media coverage as a gauge of institutional credibility, which can play an important role in defining reputation. Campus communicators need to combine internal research and effective public relations to build and maintain their institutions' reputation. This article, part of CURRENTS' yearlong series on advancement research, describes one Canadian institution's efforts to improve its reputation through these two strategies.

AdvanceWork: Seeing Is Believing
CURRENTS Article Today’s college-bound students are more inclined to read unsolicited e-mails from colleges and universities if those messages are personalized, according to Stamats’ recent “2004 TeensTalk Study.” Among the findings: One-third of college-bound students read all unsolicited e-mails from colleges and universities; another third read the “from” and “subject” lines to see if they are interested in reading further. Less than 3 percent delete the e-mails outright.

Finders Keepers, Users Reapers
CURRENTS Article Communications pros know how important research is to positioning their institutions, but many think they don't have the time or the expertise to conduct custom research. This article outlines various sources of external research and ways to use them to market the institution or pitch stories to the media.

The Science of Attraction
CURRENTS Article Annual fund directors are starting to use market research to better understand what populations of donor prospects will respond to, target more accurately, and cut the cost of mail and telephone campaigns. This article covers what well-crafted focus groups and surveys can uncover and steps to doing research. Also included is a short article on how to get valid research results. This article is of interest to annual fund directors and advancement services staffs who work with development communications.

Tech Support: Online Surveys
CURRENTS Article Online surveys can be less expensive and more flexible than traditional direct mail and telephone surveys. They offer greater reach and better response rates, and they enable you to analyze responses immediately, without the costly and time-consuming step of data entry. Levine describes the steps involved in conducting an online survey and offers tips to improve results.

Signs Point to Yes
CURRENTS Article As director of market research for Stanford's development office, Jerold Pearson studies a wide range of advancement programs and their constituents. In an interview, he discusses his work, some of his key findings, and why he thinks other institutions don't invest in market research.

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