The Cottey College, Going Places marketing initiative was launched July 1, 2014, with the mission of increasing visibility and the reputation of Cottey College with the overall goal of positively impacting enrollment.
The implementation of an integrated marketing plan came on the heels of A Defining Moment Campaign, the first-ever comprehensive campaign in the history of Cottey. The Campaign goal was $35 million and $40.4 million was raised. Nearly 20,000 individuals and chapters contributed to the Campaign of which 9,000 were first time donors.
During the same time period as the Campaign, a marketing study was completed by Dehne and Associates. One of the recommendations stated, “It is a noisy market out there. Cottey must be heard and seen on several fronts in a concentrated time frame to be remembered and recognized. The one and done approach will not work for Cottey.” Dehne’s recommendations also called for an integrated marketing approach led by a staff person.
This recommendation, along with a successful pilot project in Kansas City to build awareness, was combined with a strong message from Campaign leadership that Cottey must continue to reach out to build visibility and the reputation of the College.
The timing was right. The success of the Campaign focused attention on Cottey through 96 awareness events across the country. The Campaign put Cottey on the path to recognition as a leader among women’s colleges among traditional constituents – P.E.O.s and alumnae. Yet, Cottey remained all too unknown among the general population. It was time to broaden Cottey’s outreach to include organizations that support women’s education and “women of influence” – women who are in positions of leadership to open doors for Cottey.
Utilizing best practices from the Campaign and working across campus units, a plan was put in place. The former External Relations Committee was repurposed to become the Marketing Committee. Representation on the committee is comprised of departments with external marketing responsibilities. This committee was charged with collaborating to implement the initiative.
Marketing Roll Out
This initiative is developed around continued outreach, expanding the base of support, and seeking regional and national media opportunities.
- Cities were identified for the first round, utilizing data that indicated a strong student referral base as well as alumnae, donor, and P.E.O. base. The initiative will roll out in Denver, followed by Kansas City and Northwest Arkansas in fall 2014.
- A series of events will be hosted in each city to “be seen and heard during a concentrated time frame” including a President’s reception, recruitment events, alumnae socials and other local events in which Cottey might partner.
- The Cottey College, Women Going Places Award is presented at the President’s reception to an individual or organization that recognizes an individual or organization that exemplifies women’s leadership, citizenship or scholarship.
- An advisory council comprised of former campaign volunteers is recruited in each city to assist with identifying women of influence and organizations supporting women’s education.
- Public relations assistance is utilized in each city to reach out to the media seeking opportunities to put Cottey in the news as well as connect the President to other opportunities to meet with leaders one on one.
- Social media is utilized in each market targeting parents and students.
- College staff will also use this time to steward major donors, meet with high school counselors, individual alums, and reach out to Annual Fund donors.
- Each event will be evaluated on criteria developed by each campus unit.
- Additional phases to strengthen market presence in each city are being considered.
A strategic partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City has been formed as a result of this initiative to broaden Cottey’s base of support. The Center for Women’s Leadership is working with the Foundation to revamp their high school program with a leadership focus. As part of the partnership, the students in their high school program are invited to a two-day leadership retreat on campus in November. Cottey will continue to be a partner in presenting programming. There are more than 160 women’s foundations across the country which is a source for continued outreach.
During the Kansas City roll out, Cottey is partnering with Girls on the Move to host a day-long workshop for 200 middle school students. These examples of networking are key marketing strategies.
Regional and National Media
Through the Women’s College Coalition, Cottey was presented with an opportunity to participate in a segment on women’s colleges in the August 2014 issue of US Airways magazine. The magazine has a monthly readership of three million. The two-page article highlighted Cottey along with 17 other women’s colleges. Response to the article has been enthusiastic.
With a focus on Kansas City, ads are appearing in the following publications: Kansas City Symphony, KC Youth Orchestra, KC Lyric Theatre, KC Ballet, KC Repertory Theatre, and the Kansas City Educational Guide. Radio ads also ran on PBS.
The Kansas City Star also featured Cottey in an article titled Women’s College Fights a Trend.