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When embarking on a new “agency of record” relationship with a college or university, we encounter many configurations of client teams.

Organizational structures vary in composition, size, and experience. Some are part of a dedicated institutional marketing team, others represent admissions or enrollment, and others oversee communications or public relations.

The teams we work with can be all of these or none of these. Sometimes the “team” consists of one very dedicated, overworked individual who wears all the hats.

No matter the configuration, there is a common thread we hear at onboarding: “We would like to feel as though you are an extension of OUR team.”

There will always be barriers of budget, timing, access to information, and of course physical distance that challenge the ideal unified team across organizations.

As a lead account manager, I take this expression to heart. What can I control to ensure a positive, mutually rewarding, effective relationship for all involved, regardless of circumstances?

  • Maintain open, transparent communications. Be honest with one another.
  • Recognize, respect, and reflect the culture of the institution. Know the brand inside and out.
  • Have a consistent, reliable, unified team fully prepared to deal with the challenges at hand. Lead the team and keep everyone informed of their role and expectations.
  • Awareness of and empathy for the institution’s current news, health, competitive environment. Be proactive and forward-thinking with new ideas and solutions whether requested or not.
  • See the pain points and respond proactively and positively. Fill that niche that the college is unable to fill on its own.

With all of these factors in place, a college can expect a satisfying relationship, one that establishes that sense of the agency being “an extension of OUR team.”

But the biggest driver for an agency partnership isn’t team-building, it’s results. Results emerge from perspectives that identify real problems and actual solutions. Shouldn’t the agency serve as an expansion of your team and your thinking?

We are outsiders. We likely have some skills and experience that your team does not have. We also have objectivity. We can be the partner that pushes back and offers a point of view that goes beyond the project or campaign at hand, thoughtfully.

Ultimately, having a positive impact on enrollment is the measure by which we will be judged. No number of clicks, form fills, impressions, or cool videos will be the final decider in whether a prospective student comes to the college, nor will a single campaign or viewbook.

It will be the totality of their experience – from the first time they hear the name of the school mentioned at a neighborhood cookout until day one as a first-year student. The journey is long and filled with many touchpoints. Having awareness of this journey and helping our partners recognize any gaps or disconnects along the way, could create the solution no one could see until an informed outsider looked in.

Empowering marketing teams at colleges across the country is how we build momentum and deliver positive outcomes. Would your school welcome an agency partnership to help drive your enrollment goals? Reach out to us. We are always open to real conversations.

About the Author

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Glenside, PA 19038

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