Education learns to sell itself

Teaching a class on Writing for the Web today at Cleveland State University’s new East Center campus in Solon, Ohio today. All of the schools of higher education are competing with each other, growing themselves in every direction. After all, the millionaire (billionaire?) who started University of Phoenix taught them some lessons about what solid, consistent marketing can do–and having the money to provide convenient locations for people in every area of your target region. DeVry has joined the fray with frequent radio ads recently. Bryant & Stratton, as I know from my experience working there long ago, uses a large, well-trained and highly money-motivated sales force (they conduct telephone and in-person sales) to handle responses to its widespread direct mail campaigns.

Yes, it’s all about marketing and sales. And it doesn’t matter whether your school is non-profit and otherwise, the game is about getting the word out–something most academicians have not had much training for–and for which many have a profound distaste. But they’re having to learn now–as, by his own admission, so did the originator of CrainTech, who discovered good journalism wasn’t enough. He had to become the salesperson as well in order to find the advertising to support the publication–a function most journalists have looked down upon in the past–and been enabled to do that by the publication’s separate and hard-working advertising sales staff.

It’s all different in today’s world–with the expansion of the Internet and the globalization of everything, few people are able to escape participating somehow in the sales and marketing process.

Anyway, I hope to once again have the pleasure of seeing participants get that “ah-ha!” look in their eyes when we finish the class.

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