I recently attended a higher ed marketing conference hosted in downtown Boston. It was an informative three days, and I wanted to share some of my key takeaways and favorite presentations:
- Goal, goals, goals. Everything has to tie back to a goal. Social media is great, but if you don’t go into it with a goal, you might as well stay home. And goals aren’t just about what the institution wants. It’s about what our users want. Those two sets of goals, when it comes to the web, should be one and the same.
- Content, content, content. Even if you can justify delving into social media, what are you going to share/link/tweet about once you’re there? Content remains king. (Non-conference related, but as a corollary to this, some good reading is Chris Brogan’s recent blog post about how content is just currency, and we — the content stewards — are the kings, and Copyblogger’s post about how context is king.)
- Mobile is gonna be big, and we’ve got to be prepared. Raven Zachary, who developed the iPhone app for the Obama presidential campaign, spoke about trends in the mobile marketplace, and West Virginia University developer Dave Olsen gave a great overview of mobile in the higher ed sphere.
- Stewart Foss of Edustyle did a great presentation about incremental redesign.
- I liked the idea of avoiding “random acts of marketing.” We need to tie our decisions to data and goals.
- Presence is key. Listening is critical. Relatedly, crowdsource, ask for feedback, solicit ideas — tap the wisdom of the crowd.
- A concept we applied in our homepage redesign that I heard echoed here: more utility, less stuff. Heck yes.
- Agility and sustainability. Progress over perfection.
- If people can’t find you, you might as well not be there. Get found.
- We’ve been hearing about how top-down communication is out and two-way communication is in, but I heard that concept articulated in a way I really appreciated at this conference: the community is the co-author of our brand narrative. How are we enabling them to tell their side of the story?
- I appreciated hearing more about information aggregation and curation. I blogged about this here before, and I am glad others in higher ed are echoing this idea.
- Presenters touched on the notion of the “post-homepage era,” looking beyond the .edu to where our content lives out on the social web. The importance of understanding feeds, readers and deep-linking grows more and more critical.
That’s a lot, but that still just skims the surface of the great material presented at the conference. Thanks to all the presenters and attendees for making it such a valuable experience.