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UND officials present overview of $3 million marketing plan

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Andrew Haffner2 / 2

A trio of UND leaders presented last Wednesday a general preview of the strategy behind the university's announced $3 million marketing overhaul

Sol Jensen, assistant vice president for enrollment services, Jennifer Stoner, an assistant professor of marketing, and Timothy Pasch, chair of the university's Communication Department, delivered the report at a campus budget forum and discussed marketing in the context of student recruitment. Jensen started the presentation with a statistic.

According to a national survey of higher education admissions directors, he said, about 63 percent of all colleges and universities failed to meet enrollment goals by May 1, 2016. More than 80 percent of those surveyed reported being "moderately or very concerned" about meeting those goals. Jensen was quoted in a UND news release as explaining those levels represented "the state of higher ed."

"That's just setting the stage for where we are, and why marketing continues to be such an important initiative moving forward," he said.

Last week's presentation laid out the scope of the plan, which would reach from institutional branding through the creation of a more responsive university website, as well as increased digital advertising and stronger landing pages for the school's individual units.

Some of the goals identified in the UND marketing push were identified in the report as completing a thorough research plan to identify unique, "brand-building" characteristics; establishing a market position to set UND apart while pulling together university stakeholders; developing a delivery system with wide appeal for the university's message; and creating a "visual identity package" that carries the school's "brand promise."

The report states outcomes of meeting those goals would include the coalescence of a "One UND" brand, a more defined university image, a "true buy-in" from UND stakeholders and, ultimately, enrollment gains among high-quality students.

Actually hitting those goals, the report states, would require a more responsive, user-friendly UND website with a stronger showing on mobile devices. The actual marketing campaign would make use of a more robust digital marketing push with advanced targeting aimed at prospective students. The tactics for that digital approach were broken down in the report into a four-pronged effort divided among social media ads, display ads, "pay per click" ads and retargeting, which would direct advertisements at individuals who had previously visited the UND website.

To judge the efficiency of that approach, the report states, marketers would make use of weekly performance updates and long-term trend analysis. Though the report did not include a hard breakdown of the reallocated $3 million, Jensen said most of that suggested budget would be used in the digital advertising side. Some of the remaining funds would be used to produce video content and conduct website maintenance.

Other news

• John Quinones, host and creator of ABC's "What Would You Do?," will speak at 7 p.m. March 27 at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. The lecture is part of the Delta Gamma Foundation/Everson Family Lectureship in Values and Ethics. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the event is free and open to the public.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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