Thought Leadership

Strategic Alliances: Bridging the Gap Between Higher Ed Admissions and Marketing Teams

Part 3 of a 3 Part Series


Did you miss Part 1 on common pain points and how they can be addressed? Read the first installment in this series here.

Did you miss Part 2 on how each team contributes to the other’s success? Read the first installment in this series here.

Every industry or organization has them – the two teams or disciplines that are like oil and water. They struggle to collaborate, they’re quick to point fingers, and it’s never their fault. In higher education, traditionally those teams are marketing and admissions. In my role, I’ve seen this stereotype come to life and the impact it can have on the work. Don’t misunderstand me – conflict and tension inside teams are not always bad. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s a requirement of high-performing teams. (Doesn’t every oyster need a little bit of sand to make a pearl?) But it needs to be healthy and respectful in order for it to be productive. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some institutions that have successfully broken this stereotype, and it’s incredible to witness the energy that a productive partnership between these teams generates. I really wanted to replicate that energy within Town Hall and am lucky to say that we have two women on our team who help us do just that. Our Education Account Group Director Erica Silbiger, EdD, has invaluable experience leading admissions and enrollment teams at schools like Columbia School of Social Work, Cardozo School of Law, and more. Our Media Director Laura Montgomery has extensive experience leading in-house marketing teams at institutions like The New School, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, and more. The first-hand experience Erica and Laura bring to our work is invaluable. They help us understand the challenges our clients face, which ultimately means we can be more effective in helping our clients navigate these challenges.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with these two incredible women to dive into their experience on in-house marketing and admissions teams, respectively. In this three-part series, we’ll delve into the strategies and tactics that effectively bridge the gap between marketing initiatives and the admissions process, ultimately driving enrollment and fostering student success. From aligning messaging and branding efforts to leveraging data-driven insights for targeted recruitment, Laura and Erica’s expertise runs deep. We discussed the best that marketing and admissions collaboration can be, and I certainly learned a lot from this pair — I know you will too.

In this third part, Erica and Laura reflect on how their work on higher education admissions and marketing teams, respectively, drives their client work at Town Hall and how their current roles can help facilitate interoperability.

How This Translates to Our Work at the Agency

Jordan Person: Now that you’re both working at Town Hall, what additional perspective does your role at the agency provide on this issue (now that you are stepping outside of these two departments)?

Laura Montgomery: Now that Erica and I are on the agency side, we get this incredible bird’s eye view of what many higher education institutions are experiencing and what is going on with the industry at large. When you’re working on the client side you can get tunnel vision. From where we now sit, we’re able to let our clients know if other institutions are experiencing similar obstacles and provide best practices or solutions based on our areas of expertise, providing perspective and reassurance.

Erica Silbiger: I agree. And this added perspective definitely benefits our clients in other ways. For example, I am very mindful of every step within the enrollment funnel and using the marketing funnel to help increase and support those conversion rates for admissions. Most agencies are dedicated only to your marketing funnel, but we now have that expertise at Town Hall to be able to look at how we can all work together to support your enrollment funnel.

Additionally, my work in admissions has taught me that if an agency wants to only focus on lead gen and promises you a certain number of leads, run away! It makes sense that you want a ton of leads, but if they aren’t converting down the funnel it’s a waste of money. At Town Hall, we don’t just focus on sending RFIs into your funnel, we’re thinking about your entire enrollment ecosystem: lead quality, connecting data systems like your CRM, social channels, organic channels, your nurture process, your funnel conversions, email metrics, and content engagement to convert those quality leads into enrollments.

And lastly, as a member of the leadership team at Town Hall I can provide important context to the rest of my team about what our clients are going through. I brief my team to let them know, “here’s what you should expect to hear from the client around this time of year, deadline, etc” or, “here’s what they’re talking about with their stakeholders right now” to give the team more context of the “why” of what they’re doing. During the busier seasons or more stressful times of the year, I can help my team understand when the client needs extra grace and agility. And during the planning and ideating season, I can encourage my team to dream big and push for what we feel is right.

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