Lessons from 3 Universities Doing Content Marketing Well

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To differentiate from competitors, more and more universities are embracing content marketing. Creating valuable content helps define a brand to the general public and establishes them as a trusted resource. The goodwill created by bringing thoughtful, useful, authentic content can really pay off for these universities.

Below are examples of who’s using content marketing to provide value to their audiences, and the lessons you can learn from them:

The Pillars from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology


A platform for news impacting the ever-evolving world of professional psychology, The Pillars sets out to inform first and foremost. With the target audience keenly in mind, the blog establishes TCSPP’s trusted voice in a crowded field. And, by offering up not just news but links and information pertaining to resources from beyond the confines of the school, The Pillars makes it known that it is far from just a tool for recruitment.

ValuED from Colorado State University


It’s no secret that higher education can cost a pretty penny. So, when it comes to deciding what kind of education is right, the task can seem daunting to say the least. But fear not, CSU’s ValuED microsite is here to help provide answers to common questions like “Should I pursue a ‘practical’ degree?” and “Is it too late for me to head back to school?” No hard sell here, just practical information for those considering college from those in the know.

PreparedU from Bentley University


At the opposite end of the spectrum from ValuED, Bentley University’s PreparedU exists to provide information and guidance to students as they graduate and enter the workforce. The site is replete with blog posts and shared articles (from Bentley sources and beyond) coaching recent graduates on a host of issues like:

  • What skills employers are seeking in high-demand fields
  • How to make the most of your internship
  • What retirement plan is the right fit for millennial entrepreneurs

The mission of the site is simple enough to understand – how to make the most of your college experience and navigate the transition from college life to work life, but the subtext speaks volumes: Bentley University has your back!

What makes these examples stand out? They’re offering a helping hand in the form of expert advice. Do they move people’s minds in the direction of their university? Sure, but that’s not the overt mission statement. By casting a helpful (and wide) net, these institutions are pulling in everyone from prospects to parents.

So, what can you do at your institution?

Creating a well-oiled content marketing strategy is an exercise that any college or university would find useful, whether they plan on executing on it or not. Why? Because it calls for taking a good long look in the mirror.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Who are we? What is our place in the larger higher education landscape?
  2. What is our brand story and how are we telling it?
  3. Who are we looking to attract? Who makes up our target audience?
  4. What value do we have to offer to our perspective students/faculty?
  5. How can we answer their questions? What information can we offer? How can we build a trust and loyalty that translates to matriculation?

Now that you’ve evaluated your university and what it has to offer in the way of content, you can decide for yourself how you want to proceed. When it comes to the actual production of content, universities and colleges have a distinct advantage: they are chockful of experts. And, don’t just think that posts have to come from deans and professors. You’d be wise to tap the knowledge of your marketing staff (Go Team!), admissions department, and students, who can speak directly to your audience’s needs as they are still a part of your audience.

Remember though, that just as no two marketing campaigns should be alike, neither should two content campaigns. Really take the time to find out what sets you apart and what audience you feel will benefit the most from your expertise. That’s probably going to align pretty closely to the audience you want to attract. Just be honest, be helpful, and be consistent.

Questions on starting or revamping your content campaign? Find us at @StoriedU on Twitter or sign up for our newsletter (above) to get our best inside tips and tricks.

About John Tolley

John Tolley is an editor for StoriedU, concentrating on the fields of content marketing and social media strategy in the realm of higher education. He is particularly interested in how schools leverage their various... More about John Tolley »

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