Campus Marketing Trends

Higher Ed Branding, Recruitment, and Marketing Communications

90-120 min keynote presentation, half-day or full-day marketing workshop

As colleges and universities increasingly compete for attention and enrolment in a national or global market, they are pulling out all the stops and experimenting with a wide range of traditional and new media. Many are launching memorable national brand campaigns, often utilizing newspaper, outdoor, transit and cinema advertising. Some have developed powerful brand promises that arouse key stakeholders, while others have taken a page from the political playbook and launched negative attack ads aimed at their competitors’ weaknesses. Worldwide, some institutions have positioned themselves well for international recruitment, while others have concentrated on stemming the tide of students leaving their local catchment areas. Quite a few institutions are leveraging social media through contests, music videos, or paid advertising on a range of platforms. Others have ramped up the effectiveness of personal outreach, campus visits, or communication with applicants in the conversion process. To appreciate the unique challenges facing higher education marketers, and to understand the broader landscape in which they need to develop distinctive messages, an up-to-date survey of higher education marketing is an excellent start.

Ken showed up on our BC campus at 8PM after a flight from Ontario and didn’t lose a minute — working a faculty gathering for information all evening. He then plunged into a day and a half of meetings with a perspicacity unmatched in my experience, emerging with a thorough understanding of who we are and what we needed. His tactical and strategic recommendations helped lead to a 51% increase in enrolment this fall, and he continues to help us spread the word about our new University long after his contract was up.

Dr. David J. Helfand, President, Quest University Canada

Ken Steele is Canada’s leading higher education monitor and futurist. After an award-winning career in marketing, he co-founded Academica Group, created the Academica Top Ten, manages Eduvation Inc, co-authored Canada’s first book on enrolment management, and hosts a weekly webcast, Ten with Ken, that reaches thousands of subscribers on a dozen platforms. Ken brings his unique perspective and insight to a broad range of audiences, from faculty and instructors, boards and senior administration, to information technology staff, concerned parents, and Canada’s most powerful corporate CEOs.

Drawing on extensive research on the effectiveness of college and university brands and marketing initiatives, Ken will provide a dynamic, rich media survey of brand strategies, recruitment marketing, and outreach efforts across Canada and around the world. Campus audiences will gain an appreciation of the unique challenges of positioning a college or university to its markets – particularly to youth markets, who share few of the characteristics, tastes or preferences of faculty and staff. Marketing and recruitment professionals will be stimulated by hundreds of examples of good, bad, and ugly brand campaigns, recruitment and outreach activities, conversion strategies and more. Those involved in communicating the institution’s brand will gain an appreciation for the broader landscape in which they need to differentiate.

Ideal Audiences

  • Marketing and Communications leadership and front-line staff
  • External Relations leadership and front-line staff
  • Advancement leadership and front-line staff
  • Communications Committees
  • Recruitment and Enrolment staff
  • Executive Teams
  • Deans & Directors
  • SEM Committees
  • Launch for Branding Process

Optional Extras

  • You could schedule this as a full-day retreat, a half-day workshop, or a keynote presentation followed by Q&A.
  • You might consider 2 or 3 presentations, possibly for a variety of audiences, drawn from Ken’s hot topics.
  • Optionally, Ken can conduct a concise audit of your traditional and digital marketing efforts, and even survey the efforts of your competitors, to provide marketing recommendations in a written report or presentation.

Related Resources:

These articles and white papers reflect some of Ken’s ideas, and could potentially be used as pre-reading for workshop participants:


Here are some relevant episodes of 10K, for a sense of Ken’s approach and as potential examples to share with participants in advance:


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