The rough draft for the new Eastern marketing initiative was revealed by Eric Sickler, vice president of client services for the Thorburn Group, at open Town Hall marketing meetings Wednesday.
The initiative consisted of many pieces including four pillars, brand character, centering idea and media strategy.
Sickler said the four pillars are made up of Eastern being an active community of opportunity, having fully engaged faculty, staff and administration, being sized for success and being an accessible and inclusive experience.
These pillars lead up to the centering idea that at Eastern extraordinary investments are made in all the individual students who to the university, Sickler said.
“This is going to take time. It’s never done. The best thing we can do is stay focused on the effort and the energy,” Sickler said. “We want to move from this cacophony to something that’s a little more fun, a little easier to follow, and a little easier for us to wrap our arms around.”
Eastern President David Glassman said after working with a marketing workgroup during the vitalization project, they concluded Eastern was woefully under-producing in marketing and attracting students and needed to seek marketing assistance from a professional group.
After working with the Thorburn Group, Glassman said the group has been able to put all the great things he already knew about Eastern into strong concepts that have shaped the branding initiative up to this point.
“This is ours and so we really have to know whether we buy into it,” Glassman said. “This is the time, because when it goes beyond this and then the artwork is crated for the billboards and they’re designed based on that brand, then all of a sudden it’s out.”
Carolyn Davis, a graduate student in college student development, said the way students are being reached by marketing has changed since she completed her undergraduate program at Eastern.
“You can’t necessarily put an ad in the paper and expect a student to see it because students don’t necessarily search for those things anymore,” Davis said. “It’s good that you thought about those things where maybe it goes to Pandora or Spotify so that student that’s never even heard of EIU before, now they can’t skip the commercial if they don’t have the paid version.”
Reaching out to students in this way gets them curious about what Eastern has to offer Davis said.
Davis said this can get students in the mindset of “‘OK, EIU, what’s that about? Oh, I like that I heard that. Maybe I’m gonna go follow up and then go to that thing that is, you know, right there for my convenience.’ So now I’m already all in because I’ve chosen to go a little bit further than just the commercial.”
Honors College Dean Richard England said he wondered why the quality of education was in the details of the marketing plan instead of clearly being a part of the main message.
“You have a sort of core message and four pillars, none of which are about education,” England said. “Is it necessary, and this is just again a marketing question, to sell education primarily (through) messages about community or social life or experience?”
In response, Sickler said the assumption is that every college provides an education.
“If we fall into the trap of saying, ‘If I don’t see it on the screen then it’s not important to the university.’ That’s the higher education marketing trap,” Sickler said. “We have to connect with people in a way that does help us do that ‘stand up, stand out’ thing.”
All opinions and ideas about the marketing plan from the Town Hall meetings can be submitted online at www.eiu.edu/branding.
Chrissy Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]