After four years my morning routine is pretty normal; I arrive at 8:00 a.m. and enjoy my second, or third, coffee while doing some daily monitoring. When I do my first daily check of trends, our sources and competition has never changed but over time I have definitely changed my tools. Working with prospective students I’ve learned that they often are not the first to ask questions, so rather than waiting to hear directly from them we need to anticipate their needs. Each morning I go straight to Hootsuite and using a number of plugins I track conversations about our brand, hashtags and the posts and conversations about our closest competition. In my mind, if students have a question about our competition, there may be those wondering the same thing about us. Or better yet, if someone doubts my competition’s ability to meet their needs, we should probably show off the fact that we meet or exceed those same needs.
What’s changed over time is my secondary resources. These days my go-to tool is not one but two sources of analytics. A quick flip through our Google Analytics and our Dashboard functions on our website helps me look at recent search results that have either led students to our website or helped them find what they’re looking for once they’ve arrived. Again, my simple theory, if one person is looking for it, perhaps someone else is too. More than my regular ‘what’s popular’ review of our searches I love looking through misspellings and searches with have yielded no results. Identifying new areas we need to satisfy for prospective students helps me identify new projects to plan or previous content which needs to be repurposed for our audience.
I prefer turning to these sorts of tools because they help me stay connected to what is trending or current among our market. Each year deadlines stay the same, and we know which messages we need to provide and when, so the challenge is keeping up with students changing interests, playing off current trends to show our strengths and really keeping up with what is hot. Understanding our audience as they change, faster than the wind it seems, also means I need to look beyond our window on the web. Regularly, I keep up with changing trends by referring to Inside Higher Ed. While I receive a number of daily emails from sources about Canadian universities, these rarely scratch the surface on global trends. Inside Higher Ed works as a global window into what is occurring at universities around the world and really helps me find new ways to identify our strengths. Personally, the Admissions section is one of my favourite places to check out.
From a more direct marketing standpoint I love to have my nose into what bigger brands are trying. The weekly SocialBro updates are great for that. The weekly newsletter provides some of the hot topics from their blog and makes for a great reminder to seek new ideas when I’ve may had my nose too deep in other things. This week I was refreshed to read about a few new marketing trends including the return of Colonel Sanders at KFC. I can’t lie, whether I’m a runner or not, there is something about seeing the Colonel that makes me want to cuddle with a big bucket of chicken on a Friday night!
The Colonel is back to make sure his Kentucky Fried Chicken is still delicious. So he made this commercial about it. https://t.co/MeidfhZpf0
— KFC (@kfc) May 19, 2015
It’s tough to stay cutting edge, especially when your background isn’t in marketing, but I find these sources give me a leg up, and sometimes even one to eat too!