I’ve been sitting in on more and more advertising meetings and still, I dont get it. I see myself as a savvy internet marketer, but when it comes to PPC for our market, I just dont get it. Are we really appropriately reaching students and parents via PPC search engine placements or banners?

The problem here becomes twofold: college choice is very heavily reliant on branding and personal preference. Harvard and Yale have a much easier time getting attention and brand recognition than smaller, lesser known schools. Also, because these schools are so sought after, they can more accurately target their student body by carving out exactly who they want to accept. This also helps elevate the schools status as they only accept ‘the best’ and it can be competitive to get in. Although the current economy has made this a little bit harder for schools with excellent brands, you still cant deny that a final four school will be better off than a little underdog – especially if price is similar.

Second, as mentioned above, college comes down ultimately, in most cases, to cost. How much financial aid a student is given, or how much a family can afford to pay also plays a huge part in college choice. Although you may have a college age child, seeing a Harvard ad doesnt do much if you cant afford the tuition (or dont have the grades, or Boston is too far from home).

With this said, how does PPC factor in? Its a pretty hefty sum for just brand awareness. In my mind, there are other things you can do with that money – like sponsor a local event with great press, put on a contest or build a fun, risky microsite – that may do you so much better. These things build content and buzz. They take on a life. They are a shared experience.

If these all result in names of prospects and the added bonus of good PR, isnt that better than clicks that are mostly wasteful?

2 Comments

  1. Hi Jessica – I shared some of my thoughts on your question on the higher ed marketing ning network http://bit.ly/b0jMrz

    Even I’m surprised by some of the institutions with huge brand recognition that have found success promoting certain programs through PPC. Will it work for all programs at every institution? Probably not because they all have a different target audience and some respond better to certain types of marketing than others. You never know until you test it.

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