The Honest Marketer

​​​​​Content & messaging advice

One version of the truth:The biggest risk for mis-selling is lack of ownership and poor management of content. A shared content library with clear delegated responsibility and a schedule for regular revision/updating not only improves messaging consistency, but also significantly reduces the risk of out-of-date or inaccurate information, as well as time spent making sure claims are valid.​

Content library essentials:Key messaging, advertising templates, straplines, all manner of performance data (league table positioning, student satisfaction, graduate employability, research), market research to be quoted eg. perceptions/likely to recommend, case studies/testimonials/quotes/photographs/digital media (along with details of permission and timeframes for use).

More than a numbers game: While it's nice to have a figure that creates an immediate impact, such as high % employability/satisfaction or impressive # ranking, it's not the be-all and end-all. Statistics can change very quickly and most competitor institutions will perform on a par anyway. Decision-making is more about the overall package and experience.

Do your research:For marketing to hit the spot, it needs to be targeted. For that, you need to know your audience: what they want from you/the experience/the outcomes; what influences their choice; what they like best about your particular university at an institution/subject/course level; your weaknesses; and where you outperform your competitors. If your messages are relevant and get straight to the point (from the audience's perspective), you don't necessarily need clever slogans or complex manipulation of rankings data to make a good impression.

Marked with an asterisk: To comply with the advertising guidance, you should reference sources of claims, such as league tables, national benchmarking surveys or in-house information, ideally linking to the original source online. When you need a lengthy explanation to make sense of how you have interpreted a particular piece of data, you should really think twice about including it. It makes me smile every time I see an asterisk against a claim to be 'the best university' for a particular activity, based on data which only includes universities beginning with an 's' which are located in the south/south west. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point.

Short, simple & sweet: I am not known for being concise, but I am becoming more disciplined when it comes to limiting the length of my editorial (hence, the new bitesize blogs). The truth is people are busy, their time is precious. The quicker they can glean the information they need and the more flexibility you give them in choosing how deep to delve, the better for everyone.