Organizational leadership by the marketing mix: Promotion (part 4 of 4)

Notre Dame College’s president used the marketing mix as a framework for leading the institution through remarkable enrollment and revenue growth. The previous three parts of this series explained program, place, and price. The fourth P of the marketing mix, promotion, is the most visible. Promotion involves both personal selling and mass communication.

In the case of Notre Dame College, promotion involved personal selling—often called a “personal touch” approach—emphasizing recruitment staff outreach to prospective students via mail, email, and telephone, including helping students and families with financial aid, which had not been a standard practice before Dr. Roth’s presidency. During my interviews on campus, one administrator explicitly stated the importance of building personal relationships with school counselors, high school coaches, prospective students, and families.

Advertising played an important role in the college’s promotion plans despite limited financial resources. The college engaged the services of consultants to help promote its online learning programs and identify candidates for its traditional program. Notre Dame administrators also took a novel approach to media buys in the Cleveland market by advertising small amounts in many media channels, creating the appearance of having a much larger media presence.

Notre Dame’s president and senior administrators in enrollment and communications carried out its promotional activities. Interestingly, the college did not have a person with the word “marketing” in his or her title through most of the period of tremendous growth.

The focus on organizational leadership by the marketing mix underscores that marketing is an activity that takes place across functional divisions and at the highest levels of the institution. It also underscores that promotion is only one part of the marketing mix. My case study of program, place, price, and promotion at Notre Dame College shows that higher education leaders can respond to a tumultuous environment through an application of marketing practices in organizational leadership.

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