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MAIN Headline News — 15 April 2011

By Raelynn Buczkowski

In 2009, Albion implemented the marketing program “Albion Always Thinking.”  Currently, Albion is looking at consulting firms to change the marketing program, including a new slogan to emphasize the Albion Advantage.

“We have the Albion Advantage under way and we want to give greater visibility to the Albion Advantage,” said Sarah Briggs, associate vice president for communications. “We’re hoping these firms can help us convey the Albion Advantage in the most compelling way that we can.”

Albion hopes to release introductory publications and e-mails with details of the new marketing campaign as soon as the fall semester, Briggs said. A viewbook, which is a comprehensive brochure on what Albion has to offer, will still be in the final stages at this time, with a projected future publication date.

According to Briggs, the firm will create the message, graphic design and different templates. Albion then will take these designs and fuse them with the core messages that they plan to present to current and prospective students and alumni through supporting brochures that are not as comprehensive as the viewbook. The firm will design the viewbook, Briggs said.

Once a firm is chosen, the agency will outline the cost and other negotiations will follow.

“We still need to firm up exactly what they’re going to do,” Briggs said. “We’re still very much in the talking stages. It’s preliminary work…it can be lots of things, printed publications, web designs, email and social media that we’ll be using in the campaign.”

The total cost for “Albion Always Thinking” was more than $530,000, split equally between creative work and printing of publications, said Mike Frandsen, vice president for finance and administration. The college made this payment over four years beginning in 2007 before the campaign was publicly launched in 2009. The college has no outstanding balance with Mindpower, the brand strategy and execution agency used.

“We are at the stage of assessing what investment would need to be made,”Frandsen said.

According to Warren Muller, interim vice president for enrollment, it is essential to have external assistance when developing and implementing a marketing campaign.

“A college is a complex organism, and an outside perspective and professional competency are necessary to combine and distill those varied dimensions into a compelling and accurate story,” Muller said.

Since the implementation of “Albion Always Thinking,” enrollment numbers for incoming high school graduates declined from 429 students in fall 2009 to 380 students in fall 2010. Previously, enrollment numbers were as high as 498 in 2007.

While there are many factors that affect enrollment, these are the numbers presented during the time frame of “Albion Always Thinking.”

The enrollment numbers and plan to stress the Albion Advantage both play a part in why Albion is changing the marketing campaign, Briggs said.

“What we’re trying to achieve is 450 students every year for optimal enrollment,” Briggs said.  “Over the past decade, sometimes we’ve exceeded that number and sometimes we haven’t.  One of the key goals is that we think of ways to present the Albion Advantage more effectively.”

The college plans to conduct research throughout the summer to have a better understanding of why students do or do not choose Albion, Briggs said.

“It’s not just a marketing campaign,” said Muller. “It’s what has captured Albion’s elements in the best way possible and makes sure everyone gets what it is that makes Albion so great.”

Albion hopes to determine the firm by the end of April and start work in May, Briggs said.

“They have to help us combine what we have been, what we are, and what we hope to be into that message, and give us the benefit of their expertise to translate all of that into the appropriate forms among an ever-expanding set of media options,” Muller said.

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