Make the Most of Your Higher Ed Marketing Agency

You’ve realized the need to turn to outside marketing minds for help with a new initiative, a university rebrand, or a critical degree launch. These are exactly the situations where help from a marketing agency that specializes in higher education marketing is a good idea. Hiring an agency is an investment.

Make the most of that investment by really leaning on your agency in some ways and backing off in others. Here’s what we’ve learned about how to help clients get the most out of their agency partnerships.

Priority projects first

Clients generally approach higher ed marketing agencies when they have a big, hairy, audacious project ahead that they realize needs some love from the outside world. This type of work is what keeps us coming to the office every day (not the free coffee). At Rowland, we love sinking our teeth into large initiatives or campaigns, like Penn State’s diversity and inclusion initiative or a corporate rebrand for HigherEdJobs. If you’re only looking for a brochure, you might save money and time by working with a freelance graphic designer – unless that brochure points to bigger, brand-level questions in the future.

Get out of the office…

Every once in a while, go work for a few hours at your higher ed marketing agency. Sound weird? We promise you’ll love it. At a minimum, getting out of your office for a bi-weekly or monthly project status meeting at the agency will be a breath of fresh air for your creativity and motivation. Even the best office atmosphere can feel stale if you’re working through a tough challenge or feel stalled in a project. A change of scenery – and a helpful comment or two from your project manager – can work wonders.

…but minimize meetings

We love seeing our clients. No question about it. We also love it when clients trust us – and working within that trust usually means we don’t need constant meetings. Scheduling unnecessary meetings can clog the design process, extend timelines and blow through budgets.

If you’re reviewing higher ed marketing agencies, find one that you really believe in, and let them do their best work. In a best-case scenario, your agency will have a project management system (we’re big users of Basecamp) that will allow you to check in on a project easily and quickly. No meeting necessary!

Quotation marks
As much as we need meetings to keep projects moving, we value the work that happens in between them. There's a client/agency trust that matters here. When we all go off and dive into the work, beautiful things happen. Progress happens."

Dan Rowland President

Rely on expertise

When looking at agencies, you’re attracted to them based on an amazing piece in their portfolio, right? Maybe it’s their stunning UX design for higher education websites or their copywriting skills on an important report. Lean on that expertise! Choose an agency that is rocking the types of work you foresee doing. Maybe the big agency in town isn’t a good fit for you because they’re champions of a particular tactic that just doesn’t fit with this year’s marketing plan.

For instance we have particular expertise in video, and creating these pieces for clients is happening more and more. That said, no agency should force you into a tactic just because it’s worked for other clients. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve!

Happy hunting!

Working with an outside higher ed marketing agency isn’t something to take lightly. Ideally, they’ll be great partners, advocates for you, and talented at marketing. By making the most of that relationship, your overall marketing strategy will have a bigger chance of success.