Archive for the ‘Summer 2010’ Category

SEEN AND NOTED

Seen and Noted

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Cutting-edge marketing—seeing the light is easier than you think. The tools and the rules are constantly changing. Read the Cram Quarterly to stay ahead of the curve.

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Super SCARY fragilisticexpialodocious

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Super-SCARY-fragilisticexpialodocious Don’t watch this re-cut version of the original Mary Poppins trailer all alone! Using only footage from the movie and adding a bit of editing and music, this videographer succeeded in creating a downright terrifying remake of the original children’s movie trailer. This is a strong example of the power of presentation. All of the clips in the trailer are found in the real movie, but the context in which they’re given here send a completely different message than the movie’s original sentiment. Here’s further validation to the adage: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

Contributed by Domenica and Elizabeth

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Are you smarter than a 4th grader?

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Are you smarter than a 4th grader? Apparently none of the designers, ride operators, or masses of tourists were particularly bothered by a typo on a Walt Disney World sign that was erected eleven years ago. In May, a fourth grader finally brought the mistake to the park officials’ attention, and was thanked accordingly. Perhaps it takes a fresh perspective—someone who has just recently learned to spell, in this instance—to see an error. It seems more likely, however, that many saw the error, but no one bothered to take the necessary steps to correct it. This illustrates an important marketing point: the status quo is not necessarily acceptable simply because nobody has raised an objection to it. Innovation requires someone to speak up and identify a problem.

Contributed by Elizabeth

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Glass half full… of oil

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Glass half full of oil On a recent layover in an airport I searched for something to read while waiting to board. Sitting right next to each other at a newsstand were two magazines with cover stories on—you guessed it—the oil spill. They covered the same topic, but take a look at the headlines: “What the Spill Will Kill,” and “How to Clean Up the Mess.” Which one would you have bought?

This anecdote illustrates a point that applies to more than print media: the tone of a message is critical. A reader only needs to glance at a few words to make a decision about the substance of the article, and as a consumer it took me mere seconds to decide that one article would be more useful than the other without reading a single sentence of either. Even if the content of the message is decidedly unfortunate, the way it’s communicated could make or break a connection with the audience.

Contributed by Elizabeth

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Reading between the lines

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Reading between the lines Finding that perfect restaurant, hotel, or travel destination has gotten a lot easier, thanks to reader reviews available on websites like tripadvisor or Google maps. Here are a few ways to evaluate the raves and the pans to be sure they don’t steer you astray.

Many sites allow you to read all the ratings by any given reviewer. Check them out to better understand why someone wrote a five-star or one-star review. For example, a five-star review of a restaurant in Utah lost its luster when I noticed that the reviewer also gave five-star ratings to Denny’s and Taco Bell.

Read between the lines of extremely harsh reviews. Do you clearly see a justifiable gripe? Or does the reviewer appear to be unfair? Try comparing reviews from different people on the same restaurant. If the same problem occurs repeatedly for many people, it’s a good bet the review is justifiable. Also, don’t just look at the average rating for a given restaurant, because one zero-star can bring an average way down. Instead, look at the ratio of positive to negative reviews and see if there’s a trend.

If you do your homework, you’re more likely to find that perfect restaurant or weekend splurge.

Contributed by Domenica

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Stonehenge vs. Foamhenge:

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Foamhenge, USA

Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge vs. Foamhenge On a recent trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, we happened across Foamhenge—an exact replica of the Stonehenge in England, made entirely of styrofoam. Mark Cline, the creator of this replica, included humorous signs throughout the structure. For instance, the signs make light of the fact that while the real Stonehenge took 1500 years to complete, Foamhenge was completed in six weeks.

Cline says the purpose of Foamhenge is to educate and entertain. Mission accomplished! It may not be the actual Stonehenge, but using a model and adding in his own personal sense of humor, Cline has created a tourist attraction that exists independently but still nods at its inspiration.

Contributed by Theresa and Elizabeth

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Wake up and smell the steak

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Wake up and smell the steak Marketers in North Carolina are taking the idea of appealing to the senses to a whole new level with scented billboards. The jury is still out on whether or not people really want to smell dinner cooking on their way to work at 7:30 a.m.

Contributed by Theresa and Elizabeth

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Welcome to Leisureville

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Welcome to Leisureville I recently visited my aunt who lives in Leisureville, one of Florida’s abundant retirement communities. I was struck not only by the precisely manicured lawns but also by the retro look of the community. It felt like a living time capsule. It reminded me that the physical look and feel of a place can really do a lot to make us feel at home. What are you doing to make your alumni feel warm and welcome when they visit campus?

Contributed by Domenica

REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Always proofread

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Always proofread Oops! They do indeed need some new copy! Looks like whoever was in charge of spell-checking this document succeeded, but didn’t realize there was no content to spell-check.

Contributed by Theresa and Elizabeth

FEATURE : A conversation with Bill Shain—Admissions Consultant

A conversation with Bill Shain—Admissions Consultant

Thursday, July 1st, 2010


Bill Shain knows college admissions. He worked in the admissions office at Princeton and went on to become the Dean of Admissions at Macalester College, Vanderbilt University, and Bowdoin College. Today, he owns an admissions consulting practice, William M. Shain Consulting. We were able to get a valuable perspective on marketing, recruitment, and admissions from one of the most knowledgeable professionals in the industry.

Tell us about your experience in college admissions.
I’ve always been fundamentally committed to what happens to students, and I still believe that you can do well and do good at the same time. I don’t believe this principle is as popular now as it was thirty or even twenty years ago.

How so?
Well, when I started out at Princeton, those of us who worked in the admissions office thought of ourselves to a significant degree as educators. Then I went to Macalester, and soon after, recruitment became much more competitive. First, the Fiske Guide to Colleges came out in the early 1980s, and this was the first guidebook that was widely read that had ratings of colleges and universities. Then the following year, U.S. News & World Report started publishing an annual issue of the top-ranked schools in the country.

Increasingly, the goal of schools was to be better ranked, and this caused admissions to be run more like a business; people started measuring a lot more things. So a profession that started as a balance between institutional needs and educational needs of prospective students and their families tipped heavily toward a focus on institutional needs, especially financial health. Admissions used to have a significant educational function and that is often negligible in comparison to its operation as a business. I think there’s more pressure in that direction every year. These days, deans of admissions whose numbers do not go up every year face the same fate as sports team managers whose won-lost records disappoint management.

It seems like the rankings have really owned some of these institutions.
What’s frustrating is that there are no published ratings that effectively measure teaching and learning. Something that really bothers me right now about the ratings is that the only criterion an institution can really impact is the admissions. Everything else requires a longer and slower process. To me, a better approach would be to ask, “What would be transformational for the institution?” and manage towards that, rather than making improvement in the U.S. News ratings a part of strategic planning.

So what do you think influences a student when choosing a college, and what should influence them?
I do think that recruitment has an impact on students, but I don’t think the amount of materials disseminated is as important as the personal connection the student feels with the school. Finding ways to be effectively personal for an admissions office can make a difference. When I go to a restaurant, for example, it’s important to me that it has character and a distinctive feel. I’d much rather go to an authentic neighborhood chef-owned restaurant than a restaurant that’s a national chain. But too many colleges these days seem to behave as if they’re a national chain.

Similarly, I think admissions offices should be aiming more at core users and preserving institutional traditions, and I think it would be much more interesting and commercially effective if schools were less afraid to be what they are, and say so. I’ve encountered relatively little effective institutional strategic planning in my career. Instead, the idea is just: get bigger numbers. Almost all institutions want more applications, but one does not hear them describe how this change will improve the quality of the institution. There’s a book called The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, which explains the way the internet has changed commerce forever. In short, products aimed at a very small niche that used to have trouble connecting with the market can now do it. You can now be more successful as an idiosyncratic product.

So . . . what are some other positive aspects of change?
These days there is an internal journey, and students who do it thoughtfully benefit significantly. The college admissions process is something that you can learn from in a lot of ways. For instance, for most students it is the first major life decision that involves using your values to determine the best course of action. It’s also an opportunity to organize one’s activities towards a goal for a relatively long period of time.

In addition, the marketing explosion has generated a great deal more information and some of it is good. When I was looking at schools it wasn’t always easy to find the basic information you were looking for.

The point of admissions marketing and recruitment should be real interactions and real values and, for the student, a balance of heart and head. Admissions offices need to resist the tendency to dumb it down because the message will appeal to more people if it’s broader. I would advocate a thoughtful conscious approach towards truthful and distinctive imaging, and question how often this occurs.

You lose some very important things if you lose focus on what makes institutions distinctive and choose instead to promulgate what simply appeals to more people.

Contributed by Brenda

FEATURE : Visualizing Corruption

Visualizing Corruption

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Visualizing Corruption The latest issue of ONE, the semiannual magazine of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, focused on the theme of corruption. We chose a cover concept that illustrates the greed at the core of corruption in business. Katie enlisted Gordon Stebbings to stand in as our model. Photographer Bruce Weller shot Gordon twice—from the shoulders up and close-in on his hand holding a wad of money. The photos below show us setting up the shots in the studio. We performed some Photoshop surgery to combine the two images. The result is a literal representation of how corrupt people think with their wallets rather than with their heads.

On the set of the photoshoot.

The two shots that were used to create the final cover art.

Final cover.

Contributed by Domenica

NOTEWORTHY

Virtual reality

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Virtual reality When I was little, playing video and computer games involved only two participants: me and the console (and perhaps a friend to play against, if we had enough controllers). The days of playing games in isolation are long gone though, as the line between virtual life and real life becomes increasingly blurred. Companies are now offering virtual rewards for real-life actions, and real-life rewards for virtual accomplishments. For example, Zynga, which owns popular Facebook games FarmVille, YoVille, and Mafia Wars, recently teamed up with 7-Eleven on a new promotion which rewards FarmVille farmers for shopping at local 7-Elevens. If you buy a 32-oz. Slurpee, for instance, you’re given a code redeemable for a water slide on your FarmVille farm. See what your neighbors think of that!

Similarly, smart phone applications like Foursquare, which use GPS technology to track where you are and “check in” at your favorite destinations, now have real-life perks. If you check in to a given location more times than anyone else in town, you are crowned “Mayor” of that establishment, and many businesses will provide you with freebies such as a cup of coffee or a jump ahead on the waitlist, in return for your loyalty.

This could be a win-win situation. With over 65 million consumers on FarmVille alone, it seems natural that businesses and marketers will follow us to the virtual world. Businesses are always looking for new direct response tactics to get us to try their product. I know when I’m deep into a game, I’ll try just about anything to move to the next level.

On the other hand, there’s something unsettling about paying real money for rewards that exist only in cyberspace.

One thing that is for certain is that as social gaming and smart phone technology grows increasingly intelligent, marketers will continue to experiment with new ways to reach out to us. Which would you prefer, a free FarmVille sheep, a pop-up ad, or piece of junk mail?

Contributed by Theresa and Elizabeth

NOTEWORTHY

Fasten your seatbelt

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Fasten your seatbelt A small budget does not necessarily have to mean limited results. This public service announcement was created with a simple idea and a powerful message. Marketing is all about making an emotional connection with the audience, which this spot illustrates beautifully. Rather than appealing to logic and statistics on seat belts and safety, the commercial cuts right to the chase and exposes what is truly being risked when we forget to buckle up.

NOTEWORTHY

Up there

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Up there There is something truly charming about hand-painted advertisements on brick walls. This short documentary takes a brief look at the people who still create them today. Appreciate it now, for this art form is on the verge of extinction. Most advertisers opt out for the cheaper technology of digital imagery on vast sheets of vinyl.

NOTEWORTHY

Old media, fresh ideas

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Old media, fresh ideas Now that the internet is omnipresent, you likely use less and less paper. . . unless you’re one of these artists! It’s amazing what you can create with this medium. Consider the role of various types of media in the marketing for your institution. When you need to convey a lot of information, the internet is usually the most fitting choice. Sometimes, though, a tangible print piece with high-quality photos will do a better job of catching your audience’s attention.

NOTEWORTHY

Tufts accepts video applications

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Tufts accepts video applications Keeping in pace with your audience is a crucial aspect of resonating with them, and if you are not paying attention to social media you could be left in the dust. Just ask recent applicants to Tufts University, who had the option of submitting a YouTube video as a component of their application. Only about 1 in 15 applicants actually included a clip of themselves, but the fact that this was even an option shows just how mainstream amateur videography has become.

COOL TOOLS

Cool Tools

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Photoshop CS5 Content-Aware Tool
Recently available, and really cool! CS5 Content-Aware Tool.

Google Swirl
If you’ve ever had trouble finding the exact image you want using only Google Images, try this out: googlelabs.

CLICK-ALICIOUS

Click-alicious

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Thinking outside the box? Think again. Here are some of the world’s most innovative ads. How do yours compare?

“We have met the enemy and he is…. PowerPoint.”

Try to keep up with Billy Joel’s lyrics in this “We didn’t start the fire” visual accompaniment.

Check out this neat typographic blog: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/

This New York Times project captures a photographic perspective of the world at a specific moment in time; there are some really fantastic pictures to be found.

This set of images shows interesting maps of different cities.

When a photographer shoots people hanging upside-down, the result is not very pretty.

Looking for some design inspiration? Check out this list of resources.

FEEDBACK

Do you have comments, questions, or story ideas that you’d like us to cover in an upcoming issue of the Cram Quarterly? If so, email Brenda or call her at 410-467-4672.

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