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Who would work in education marketing and recruitment?

September 28, 2021

That question isn't rhetorical- we are really asking you for an answer. Our reasons for our careers drifting into education marketing may not be yours, and we would love to know. What attracts people to this sector, and what type of people does it attract? Why? What kind of people do we want and need in this sector to make it grow in the right direction?

So here we go. With no solid research beyond our own experiences and imagination, and a little twist of humour, we are going to turn a classic marketing exercise in on itself. Who are some of the personas that we can find in this sector, and what is their motivation?

Persona 1: The accidental marketer

Jenny is 30. She did her degree in business studies at la Universidad de Santa Inventada, and struck up a friendship with the campus administration team. Jenny was well-liked by her classmates, but also respected by the academic team as someone with a level head and an empathetic ear. Jenny was a natural on the student council, and organised events and feedback sessions while she wrote her thesis on Universal Storytelling Narratives in Experiential Marketing. Jenny never aimed to be a marketer, but loved breaking down adverts for their creative structures, and dissecting the psychology of communication.

The sharp-eyed Head of Admissions drafted in Jenny to become a student ambassador. Accompanying the admissions team to fairs and events, and welcoming prospective students on campus, Jenny drifted from student to staff without even realising it. Now, as Community Manager, Jenny is a natural at embodying the institutional brand, though she doesn't quite know how 8 years have passed so quickly.

She is starting to feel a little hemmed in creatively, and is looking for opportunities to grow. She worries that she's let herself get boxed in, and nobody seems to notice.

Persona 2: The salesman

Yes, sales man. We are going for the classic 1980s Hollywood stereotype here. You walk into a car dealership to use their bathroom, and emerge with a slightly-damaged SUV and a 5-day warranty, and it's all because of this guy. Joaquin literally sold second hand cars and did quite well at it, until a little trouble with the tax office forced the dealership to close.

One advert for Sales Manager in a private international K-12 school later, and Joaquin ditched the SUV's for IB's before the interviewing panel had managed to get the smell of cologne out of the room. Joaquin likes results, and he gets them. They're not always the right results to be fair; when the academic team complain that Joaquin invents pass rates and graduate employment stats, or the parents complain that the "state-of-the-art science lab" Joaquin promised their daughter turned out to be still just a blueprint on the architect's desk. He wears aviator sunglasses to business meetings, and nobody wants to tell him that it's not that sunny outside.

Values aren't Joaquin's thing. The Academic team aren't really his thing either. Joaquin is Joaquin's thing.

Persona 3: The classic Marketer

Seth studied everything. Digital marketing, paid media, psychology, CRM, the lot. He uses the word "leverage" a lot and his real name is actually Alistair (he quotes Godin so much, that his colleagues just refuse to use his real name any more). Seth reads The PIE daily, and has a Pie chart for everything. Seth looks at analytics the way Neo looks at the matrix, and no, that is not where we got our name.

Seth loves everything about marketing. The new course launch, the rebrand, the focus groups, the big data and the small potatoes (with more Pie). Seth is in this sector for the long run, and though he currently works in education marketing, it could just as easily be marketing fashion or furniture. Something, however, keeps him here. He did leave for 3 months to help rebrand an online florist and tighten up their CRM, but he came back to education, muttering something about purpose. Or maybe it was pie.

Seth gets annoyed when people say that marketers "create needs", and "manipulate" people. If you call him "salesy", you might see the death-seth look on his face, and you'll know it's time to run.

Persona 4: The Gen Z hacker

Gen Z does use the word "hack" a lot, and Alicia is no different. Alicia is a natural. She hasn't "formally" studied marketing, but has done a collection of online courses, run her own e-commerce upcycling business and generally figured things out for herself. School bored her, and she wants to make it better for others.

To hack education, Alicia has inserted herself into a cutting edge, progressive university, which believes that the future of education is not going to be filled with lectures and dusty rooms, but hands-on experiential learning, debate, inquiry and technology. She got the job by sending the HR manager a great cover letter, no CV, and a teabag. There was a post-it note inside that said, "have some herbal tea while you absorb just how awesome I am". The job was hers.

Alicia believes that if education looked like this, she would have stuck around in school a little longer. She has done some of the courses on offer, and when she recruits new students for this place, she really means what she says. Gen Z are looking for purpose, and the only challenge here is for the institution- how to convince her to stick around when she could do anything she wanted.

Alicia is 50% annoyed that the university doesn't have a TikTok account and 50% relieved because its "too obvious".

Who do we need in the future of education marketing?

That is a question we ask ourselves as we grow. At NEO Academy, we are not only conscious of the institutions we choose to work for, but the people that work with us. They need to have Alicia's sense of purpose, and her passion. We don't really care if she doesn't have Seth's training, but his love for the creative craft of marketing is an asset. Joaquin...well...results are always great, but not like this. Let's just leave Joaquin in the 1980s shall we? And Jenny. We love Jenny, but we have a responsibility to her too. Being hemmed in on one "role" just doesn't sound good to any of us. The world of education is too diverse for that, and so much in marketing and recruitment overlaps.

And how about you? Why did you get into this, and what keeps you here? If you are looking to connect with a team who love the creativity of education marketing, but want to do it to help the institutions we actually believe in, then we are here. If you find yourself with too many Joaquin's around, and working for an "agency" that drip feeds services to clients and treats common knowledge like high-value industry secrets, then look us up. We are always growing, but not too fast, and always with our feet on the ground. If any of this resonates with you, we'd love to know that you're out there, even if it is just to say hi.

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