Here’s a secret you can take back to the board room,
Successful content marketing needs two things:
Digital marketing is a complex field, but content marketing is really as simple as the name implies – It’s taking what your school does best and developing content around these strengths to cultivate interest in your ideal audience. Content marketing, done right, drives interaction with your website, develops a strong back-link profile and helps with a wealth of other SEO opportunities.
I know you have heard this all before, but universities often associate content marketing with complicated development projects and shy away from the idea. They overlook the amazing things they have going on right at home that would make great ammunition for content marketing campaigns.
What is content marketing you say? Let’s start from the basics. I think the best way to describe the process is marketing content. Really… I am not joking, Content marketing can literally be anything. Do you have a blog centered on your engineering school? Boom…that is content. Do you have videos taken around campus about athletics, specific colleges or campus activities? Boom #2…more content. Get the picture? Universities around the nation have plenty of great content internally just waiting to resonate in the minds of potential students. The real question lies in the second part of the term, the marketing stuff.
That’s what we do.
Getting students interested in your school can be done a million different ways through a million different channels. When taking advantage of content marketing, we need to ask two important questions: What are potential students looking for, and what separates my school from the rest? Think about why current students chose your school over the others. It could be your nationally-ranking sports teams, famous alumni, or the world-renowned research happening in your labs. Great content marketing comes down to having the right content on the right digital channels at the right time. When these three areas are combined successfully, the sky is the limit for the potential reach of great content.
Take Stanford University for example.
While Stanford University needs no introduction, Professor Andre Linde might. Professor Linde is the founding father of the cosmic inflation theory. This theory is all about the Big Bang, and speculates that the very early universe went through a period of accelerated, exponential expansion during its first moments. About a year ago, assistant Stanford professor Chao-Lin Kuo and his team of researchers found evidence supporting Professor Linde’s theory.
Forgoing a simple phone call or congratulatory email, Chao-Lin Kuo made the journey across the Atlantic to Professor Linde’s door to surprise him with the news. What followed was a pretty emotional video.
Recent skeptics have called into question the legitimacy of the thesis, and I won’t get into who is right and wrong, nor will I attempt to explain the semantics of Linde’s theory, because honestly….I can’t. (I was a lowly non-STEM marketing major) Yet the true beauty of this pivotal moment in modern science was how Stanford saw it as an opportunity for content marketing.
I am sure Professor Linde would agree with me.
This emotional video was not some expensive, complicated commercial design project. It was just a video camera and a play on the world class research going on every day at Stanford. And from the looks of it all, it was a wildly successful move. Just take a glance at the metrics, almost 3 million views on YouTube and countless links around the web to the story and video. Ask yourself, what are the chances some kids interested in gravitational physics, or just research going on at Stanford, were impacted by this video? I would posit that they are probably pretty high.
This piece of content marketing legitimately accomplished everything an advertising campaign could want without directly advertising! In a world where more and more kids are adverse to direct forms of promotion, content marketing, like the look on Professor Lende’s face when his life’s work was confirmed, is a truly beautiful thing.
Your university may not be researching the innate riddles of space and time, but every school has accomplishments to be proud of. Research, big or small, is enough to make a potential student stop and say, “Hey that looks pretty cool, I should check this place out.” It is the unparalleled ability of great content to spark interest in the minds of the consumer that makes content marketing the efficient marketing tool it is.
We can’t all be the prestigious Stanford University, yet when it comes to content marketing for higher education, we all can play on our strengths and develop world class marketing.
Learn more about the importance of content strategies in our upcoming webinar – Social Repair, Content Replace: How Fathom Helped Safelite AutoGlass Create a Documented Content & Social Strategy to Shatter Their Goals. Register now.