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Carly Hanson: Marketing Higher Education To Students

December 7, 2021

Carly Hanson: Marketing Higher Education To Students

Carly Hanson: Marketing Higher Education To Students


Education is more than just gathering a collection of facts. The same can be said about the career opportunities the education market can provide students seeking higher education. As professional as any student would like their resume to appear, having a greater understanding of the opportunities higher education can provide on a fundamental level helps show its true value. Carly Hanson illustrated this point from a marketing perspective that took into account both the digital and traditional forms of marketing and how they can be approached when tackling students both online and on campus.

Who Is Carly Hanson?

Carly Hanson is the associate VP for Marketing & Communications at Morningside University. Morningside University is located in Sioux City, Iowa. In her interview, Carly spoke on how the institution she represents prioritized education in order to enhance the marketing outreach made to specific students. This outreach included programs/degrees the students were pursuing. This essentially gave the university’s advertising program a very flexible approach to marketing higher education and the opportunities provided beyond just adding an extra bullet on a person's Linkedin page. Carly clearly sees that as merely a formality in comparison to the long-term benefits students should be presented with outside of the economic benefits their particular field offers.

Growth Opportunity In Adult Learners: Making "Non-Traditional" More Traditional

When making suggestions for marketing and growth leaders, Carly Hanson explained the opportunity Morningside utilized with students she termed as “adult learners.” This approach was determined by the question of how Morningside could fulfill the needs of those specific students. But because the needs of the students vary, then that only puts Morningside in a position of creating a diverse range of marketing strategies from which they can advertise to students and help them further achieve the education goals they are pursuing. Part of Carly’s formula involved factoring in the numerous degrees, and this discussion wasn't limited to students simply pursuing a Master's degree. She also spoke about how these same adult learners could easily have been students pursuing a bachelor's degree or a backdrop. Carly went on to support this by clarifying that many of these adult learners who would've been seen as "non-traditional" learners essentially gravitated more to what is considered a traditional learner. She believed that this was due to the fact these adult students recognized greater opportunities for acquiring higher education. That meant Morningside could help better formulate strategies on how to provide more affordable forms of education. This is currently under heavy discussion and served as a highlight of the Covid-19 pandemic, following the massive transition to an online oriented culture. This fact brought Carly's interview to the subject of data.

Data Analytics And Higher Education

Factoring data has become essential to marketing. Anyone working in digital marketing will have to factor analytics into their strategy given the massive transition people have made to online. Social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Snapchat have played a major role in this shift. Carly Hanson understands the fundamental impact education has and how it must be marketed. The analytics must come from more than just social media platforms.

In her interview, Carly discussed how Morningside was reaching people online through the use of data. The information collected focused on search results from specific web pages from the University website, the specific degrees being looked at, and whether or not they enrolled in a program or simply scheduled a campus visit. This management of data played a major role in helping Carly and the Morningside marketing department in determining what particular approaches could be used in a particular education program. One example Carly used was health care and how the number of hospitals situated in Sioux City made room for marketing campaigns targeting students interested in pursuing nursing degrees. That was just the first  step. Additional steps also included a focus on other education subjects, as well as the cultural integration that played a significant role in the marketing process.

Marketing Education Through Culture

In addition to Morningside University using the prospect of affordable education, the cultural aspects of Sioux City played a major part in their ability to target students. By using a cultural aspect as part of the marketing strategy, Morningside could appeal to the community oriented mindset that is already a natural component of the college experience. This doesn't necessarily have to be limited to just an onsite setting when digital communities are already being formed around the very same social media platforms mentioned earlier. Carly addressed this as an additional aspect of their marketing strategy in relation to their data analytics.

How To approach Marketing Moving Forward

When asked about her take on traditional vs digital marketing, Carly Hanson was very open-minded in recognizing how both have a place in the space. In the focus of traditional marketing, she mentioned how there are still a sufficient number of tv stations and local newspapers within Sioux City. Although an argument can be made about digital  taking over the majority of the space, Carly still recognized how traditional marketing can work as a diversification for the variety of marketing approaches Morningside uses when marketing a particular type of program or degree a student is interested in. This recognition further illustrated the significance of Carly's advice for marketing leaders and how they develop their strategies based on the ways in which they identify with the industry they are working in. In the case of education, it's more than simply experience or knowledge. The opportunities with a long lasting effect both financially and culturally are what really works for students and helps them further gravitate towards pursuing higher forms of education. Marketing to people who still rely on traditional marketing is a window into educating and essentially helping them integrate themselves into the digital sphere. In the end, marketing is an educational experience, one Carly has shown a great understanding of when it comes to helping students determine their academic lives more effectively.


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