As higher education institutions look ahead to 2024, the significance and importance of extensive marketing preparation cannot be overstated. Planning for 2024 needs to include a diversified mix of media channels to help each college meet and exceed enrollment goals.
Drawing inspiration from industry leaders, here’s a comprehensive guide to help higher education institutions construct their marketing budgets and plan for the upcoming year.
Marketing Budget Planning in 2024:
The fiscal landscape for higher education is becoming increasingly challenging, especially with inflation indicators expected to continue through 2024. According to Moody’s Investors Service, rising costs in various sectors like labor, food, and utilities force educational leaders to rethink their marketing spending. In such a scenario, effectively creating a marketing budget is not just advisable but imperative.
Navigating the Inflation Challenge:
Inflation is not just a buzzword; it’s a reality that colleges will have to grapple with. Operating marketing costs for colleges increased by 5.2% in the 2022 fiscal year, which is expected to rise. With employee compensation becoming a significant concern and other operational costs also on the rise, colleges need to be extra cautious with their marketing management and budget planning for 2024.
The Employee Factor in Higher Ed:
Labor costs form a substantial part of most college budgets. With employees advocating for better wages and terms, especially for part-time and non-tenured faculty, the financial strain is palpable. This scenario makes it even more crucial for colleges to plan their marketing efforts effectively to ensure they can allocate sufficient resources to other pressing needs.
1. Harnessing the Power of Historical Data:
Before diving into the future, take a moment to reflect on the past. Analyze the performance of previous marketing strategies, considering metrics like student engagement, application rates, and overall return on investment (ROI). By understanding what worked and what didn’t, institutions can make data-driven decisions for 2024.
Action Step: Review the KPIs of past campaigns, mainly social media posts and ads, and adjust strategies accordingly.
2. Embracing the Future with Clear Objectives:
Setting clear marketing budget goals becomes even more crucial in the face of rising inflation and operational costs. What are your institution’s primary business goals for 2024? Whether enhancing online education platforms, increasing international student enrollment, or launching new academic programs, your marketing budget should be tailored to support these objectives.
Action Step: Engage in cross-departmental discussions to ensure that marketing objectives align with the broader institutional goals for 2024.
3. Staying Ahead with Industry Trends:
The higher education landscape is evolving rapidly. From technological advancements to shifts in student demographics, institutions must stay updated on marketing trends to ensure their content marketing strategies remain effective. This is especially true in a climate of rising costs, where every marketing dollar needs to count.
Action Step: Allocate a portion of the budget for market research, professional development, and trend analysis. This ensures that your marketing team remains informed and agile.
4. Prioritizing Effective Marketing Channels:
With financial constraints becoming more evident, getting the most out of every marketing initiative is essential. Identify which marketing channels, like SEO, PPC, social media ads, or trade shows, have historically provided the best ROI and focus resources on those.
Action Step: Use data analytics to assess the effectiveness of different marketing channels. Prioritize those that align with your target demographics and institutional goals.
5. Seasonal Planning Amidst Financial Strain:
Certain times of the year, like application seasons or alumni events, demand heightened marketing efforts. With the added challenge of inflation, institutions must be strategic about when and how they allocate their marketing resources.
Action Step: Develop a detailed marketing calendar. This should highlight key events and campaigns, allowing for budget adjustments based on seasonal demands.
6. Balancing In-house Expertise and Outsourcing:
While in-house teams offer a deep understanding of institutional values and goals, external digital marketing agencies can bring specialized skills and fresh perspectives. In a time of financial challenges, deciding what to manage internally versus what to outsource becomes a pivotal decision.
Action Step: Regularly assess the capabilities of your in-house team. Determine areas where marketing automation or external expertise might offer better value for money.
7. Continuous Monitoring for Optimal Results:
In an era of financial challenges, there’s no room for complacency. Regularly track the performance of your marketing campaigns, ensuring that you’re achieving the desired results and making necessary adjustments in real time.
Action Step: Invest in robust analytics tools. Schedule frequent performance reviews to ensure marketing strategies align with evolving institutional needs.
8. Embracing Flexibility in Uncertain Times:
The only certainty in the coming years is uncertainty. While meticulous planning is essential, institutions must remain agile, ready to pivot their strategies based on real-time data, evolving circumstances, and unforeseen challenges.
Action Step: Maintain a contingency budget for unexpected opportunities or challenges. This ensures that the institution can adapt quickly to the changing landscape.
Charting the Course for a Resilient 2024
The challenges of 2024, especially with the looming shadow of inflation, require higher education institutions to be more strategic, agile, and forward-thinking than ever before. By embracing meticulous planning, continuous monitoring, and a willingness to adapt, institutions can navigate these challenges effectively, ensuring a bright future for their students, faculty, and the broader community.
Need Expert Guidance? Let Higher Level Education Help!
Having an expert by your side can make all the difference in these challenging times. At Higher Level Education, we specialize in assisting colleges and universities with strategic budget planning, ensuring that every dollar is effectively allocated. Our team of EDU professionals understands colleges and universities’ unique challenges, especially in the wake of rising inflation.
Whether you need insights into the latest industry trends, assistance with data analytics, or a comprehensive marketing strategy tailored to your institution’s goals, we’re here to help.
Reach out to Higher Level Education today, and let’s build a brighter future for your institution together!