Monday, May 18, 2009

How Will the Message Be Consumed?

Last week, I helped present a new brand story to a great university. The story was very well received and everyone around the table was excited. Then one member of the client team asked, "But how will the message be consumed?" Indeed.

Certainly, you want a great story to tell but moving prospective students from one phase of their decision making to the next, in my view, has always been the hardest part. I've seen many admission offices struggle with the management and timing of message delivery. Even when we were only talking about a one-dimensional paper communication flow (search to viewbook to application to yield) that pushed prospects through the traditional admissions funnel from inquiry to visit to application to matriculation. Now with a longer recruitment cycle and social media in the mix, prospectives have seemingly endless jumping in and jumping off places. "How will the message be consumed?" can be a perplexing and anxiety-producing question for many admissions teams.

While some have decreed the traditional admission funnel and its accompanying communication flow all but dead, Brad J. Ward has come up with a brilliant take on the admission funnel a la social media. It is the best visual and explanation I've seen yet of how an admission office might channel their stream of communications in consideration of all the tools now available. He and other higher ed social media experts caution against a one-size fits all view of this funnel. Still, it's a great starting place for any admission team to think about moving prospects from bite to bite of their message and keep them coming back for more.

Photo by theogeo

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