Lately, I’ve had quite a few community college marketers ask me how they can get buy-in for digital at their college. They’re having a hard time getting administrators and leadership to approve of them investing more into digital marketing strategies and tactics.

So many college marketers feel immense pressure to execute marketing tactics that leadership sees, and/or that leadership understands.

I’ve seen marketers spend a portion of their budget on tactics that they know won’t generate anything positive, but they do it only so that their leaders will see it. While this is frustrating on many levels, it is also sad, as these marketers typically have low morale, and feel as if they are trapped at their job. Not to mention, they’re not able to spend their precious marketing dollars in the best possible manner.

I obviously don’t want you to be in that position, so today, I want to share with you my two preferred ways to handle this problem. Two ways for you to discuss this with your leaders, so that you can do the digital marketing that you know you need to perform, while still having the trust and approval of your leadership.

The first approach is to offer to help them, leaders, understand how digital works, how it differs from traditional, and what its benefits are. Offer to teach them, and to help them understand.

This isn’t for the faint hearted, I understand. But I know marketers that do this, and they absolutely rave about it. They get buy in on their marketing, and they get face time with their president—both great things. At a recent Workshop, one of our attendees mentioned that she had an appointment scheduled for when she returned, with her president, to literally share everything she learned.

Now, I know not all of you answer directly to the president. But, regardless of who your direct leader is, I think this is a great approach. When you learn something new, regardless of where or how you learned it, share it with them. And more importantly, share how it relates to your college, and your ideas for implementing it.

Another angle to this is to share what you’re seeing other colleges do. If you see another college killing it with their marketing, or you see a case study for what another college is doing (let me know if you need one!), then use that as a talking point. I’ve found that this can touch on a competitive nerve, and seeing firsthand that other colleges are doing something you’re not doing, or doing something more effectively, can wake them up and get them onboard.

I’m not a big fan of acronyms like FOMO, but FOMO, or fear of missing out, is absolutely a real thing, and can be very powerful.

The second approach I recommend is a straight dollars and cents approach. Simply focus on the money!

Explain how you can generate impressions (except you won’t use ad lingo, you’ll use layman terms) and leads for a lower investment than with traditional methods like television. But don’t just explain this—show them the actual math!

I recommend approaching this subject, and handling it, just like a business would. At a business, marketing comes down to a cost per acquisition. All sound businesses know what it costs them to acquire a new customer. You need to calculate what it costs you to acquire a new enrolled student.

You can work backwards to calculate this… Determine the percentage of applicants that enroll, the percentage of persons that contact admissions or financial aid that apply, and then the percentage of people that you reach with your marketing that contact the college. Work backwards like that, and calculate your cost per prospect, and ultimately the cost per new enrolled student.

Granted, your percentages may not be precise, because there are a lot of moving parts, but you should be able to get rather close. You should be able to go to your leader and say something like this:

For every $1,000 we invest into digital recruitment marketing, we generate X enrolled students.

This works well for several reasons. One, no other marketing method allows you to truly calculate your cost per acquisition like digital does. Two, you’re making your case in ways that they easily understand: money and enrollment.

Instead of discussing abstract topics or strategies, you’re making a clear and simple case that they can instantly understand. Deep down, they probably don’t give two bits about how digital works, or about what you do every day. They just want butts in seats. That’s why I love this approach so much: it strips away everything else, and focuses on what they care about most to make your case.

So, next time you want a budget increase or special funding, or you need to get buy in for doing more digital at the expense of a traditional method, pick one or both of these approaches, be direct, and stick to your guns.

I’d love to know how the conversation goes, so be sure to let me know!

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