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Powering Up: Enrollment Leaders battle the great resignation

Powering Up: Enrollment Leaders battle the great resignation

FUEL Concludes Online Training Program for Admission Counselors

FUEL Concludes Online Training Program for Admission Counselors

In the last few years, I’ve been debunking several higher education recruitment marketing myths. I’ve talked about the unthinkable—that the biggest budget items within most admissions shops admission shops usually result in their two biggest disappointments—the performance of the CRM/ERP installation and the performance of their Student Search marketing campaign.

Today I’m going to focus on Student Search. To the frustration of one college graphic arts professor—I’ve learned that response rates aren’t really all that important—especially in the area of recruitment search campaigns. What’s more important is statistic called enrollment. It’s THE statistic in higher education admissions! In fact I’ve learned that defining a response too loosely and trying to hard to increase response may in fact be hurting your team.

I’ve also learned that the personalization many feel they need for an effective campaign is perceived as a gimmick by Millennials. It’s overdone and its overrated. I see it done very well by some out there. And I also see it done very poorly. I really like seeing it done well. When it’s done too well it can even feel a little creepy.

(So if you feel you need to increase the salutations on your next mailer and that you need to double your number of responses hold on…)

Why do we feel we need to plaster someone’s name on everything and if we do? Why do we think we’re then penetrating some kind of barrier to prove to the mail or email recipient that we really know them when we use their name over and over on three places on the mailer. My own recent qualitative discovery is that poorly done personalization is a bit hokie to suspicious Millennials.

I can even remember one of my sons sharing with me a few years ago, “Dad when I see them use my name everywhere it tells me immediately that it is junk mail. It says to me that you don’t know me.”

"It says to me that you don't know me."

Recently a small focus group gathering has revealed this to me again. When we try to show personalization in our marketing message our effort is actually producing the exact opposite. We are appearing even worst than being impersonal. We’re posing as something we’re not and with this generation, that’s an even worse place to be.

So what’s the solution? I think it is to really try to be what you’re trying to pretend you are. Be real. Be genuine. I think we forget that enrollment is so influenced by face-to-face experiences. The importance of a good campus visit experience has never been more important. We keep learning this over and over yet we continue to pour money into saturation mailings and cramming the top of the funnel with more and more, hoping that something pushes through magically.

In future blogs, I will share about how to start on a path toward no longer being a “poser.” The world and especially Gen Y are looking for real personalization and not the kind that Mike, Mike, Mikes me to death. Okay Mike? Hey Mike! Are you hearing me Mike or worse yet blunders that really show your hand.

Don’t be a poser. Be real and focus on getting to know those in your inquiry pool who are genuinely interested in you. Want to know how? Email me at the address below and I’d be glad to help.

Mike Wesner is the co-founder of enrollmentFUEL. He believes in finding more effective and efficient ways of being genuine to your audience. You can reach Mike at or 919.228.8122.