Fundamental Media Insights

Education & Careers
23 November 2023

Our key takeaways from the 2023 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education

Fundamental L&D’s Robyn Davidson looks back at a successful event

Last week Fundamental L&D attended the 2023 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education in Chicago. It was no hardship that the event was held in one of my favorite cities, and being able to spend some time with colleagues and clients in the unseasonably good weather was a definite added bonus!

This has been a premier event for more than 30 years and is looked at as not just a conference but as a community. Delegates from higher education institutions across the U.S. and the rest of the world shared peer-reviewed content and painted a vibrant picture of the evolving higher education landscape.

This really is a huge event with over 1,000 delegates and exhibitors over four floors, with a jam-packed agenda over four days. This year the agenda included high-level strategic considerations like AI, equity, and the future of higher education, through to marketing-specific topics such as podcast and content creation, the partnership between marketing and enrollment, and ways of reaching the new generations of applicants.

I was able to attend several sessions which provided some interesting new insights.

A Win-Win Partnership between Enrollment and Marketing

This session focused on Rochester Institute of Technology where these departments remained siloed from each other, until a new marketing lead joined the school and pushed to bridge the gap, improving collaboration and sharing information to achieve an overall goal.

The key results they achieved were:

  • Increased awareness and perception of quality
  • Positioning and messaging align with motivations to apply and deposit
  • Accelerating rate of increases for applications, admits and deposits
  • Highest quantity, academic quality, and diversity for incoming class in the school’s history
  • Increase in rankings
  • Doubled the marketing budget the following year

Shaping the Future: navigating students, Gen Z and Generation Alpha Preparedness in 2023

When Covid hit Generation Alpha was ten years old or younger. Tech became a teacher, movie theater, babysitter, storefront and a connection to the world beyond their bubble. They were in control. Tech is vital for this upcoming generation.

Generation Alpha is immersed in video. When asked what their favorite activities are, the top three were watching TV, watching movies at home, and watching funny videos. For Gen Z, on the other hand, social issues are a top priority. The top five are mental health, improving healthcare, reducing crime, anti-racism and women’s rights. Furthermore, 35% of Gen Z surveyed said that they are unsure if college is worth the cost. This needs to be addressed and answered.

Not Your Parents’ Youtube

This session explored the development of YouTube from a hub to share funny videos to a powerful marketing platform. Teens are using YouTube as a search engine, second behind only Google!

It’s extremely important to take an ‘audience -first approach’ to decision making. This means defining who the audience is (e.g. prospective students, parents) and who it isn’t (e.g. staff, faculty, board members, current students).

AI Marketing: Because Who Needs Human Connection?

During this session some guiding principles were discussed that are needed for using AI: Fairness, Reliability & Safety, Privacy & Security, Inclusiveness, Transparency and Accountability.

Schools are already taking advantage of AI as an answer to additional support for content creation, script writing, and individualized outreach. In just a few years AI has grown immensely, and this is a continual process of advancement. We all need to stay up to date on regulations and new developments.

When speaking with a few schools it seems that a common roadblock tends to be the silo that can exist between marketing and admissions. Both departments have different surface-level goals and objectives but ultimately working towards the same overarching goal of generating interest in the school and building a qualified cohort. When both departments work more closely together (as admitted by a few schools) the results speak for themselves.

This is just a snapshot of so many insightful sessions which will all help contribute to the ongoing consultancy we enjoy with our Business Education and Higher Education clients. If you’d like to learn more, please just get in touch at [email protected] and I’d be delighted to chat.

I’m already looking forward to what the 2024 Symposium will bring, and to another fabulous city – Las Vegas.

Robyn Davidson

Insights Education & Careers Our key takeaways from the 2023 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education