Jamie Ceman is Marketing Director at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh – a university which practices integrated marketing communications. In her role, she oversees print, online and social media marketing, marrying the three to create effective marketing communications campaigns for her campus.
The university’s Office of Integrated Marketing and Communications was named the American Marketing Association’s Education Team Marketer of the year in 2011. The team has racked up dozens of industry awards – but more importantly, has created effective communications that span both print and online marketing. Ceman shares why – and how – integrated marketing communications works.
You head up print, online and social media marketing for your university. What benefits do you see from the three being integrated?
Our university practices integrated marketing communications, which means we removed the silos between communication channels a long time ago. The primary benefit to this is the cohesive message we are able to deliver across all channels. In an effort to build our brand and enhance our reputation, UW Oshkosh needed unified messaging and consistency in how we “talked” about ourselves.
By having print, online and social media together it has allowed us to look at what needs to be communicated then choose which channels make sense to use and provide consistency. We have the ability to evaluate the needs of a college or unit looking for marketing support. If they are asking for a brochure, for example, we can direct them to more effective channels such as email marketing and social media, and then help create and execute the campaign.
I don’t think anyone can afford to maintain a fragmented view of marketing with all channels of communication being thought of separately. In this day of very savvy audiences we need to have a consistent message across channels.
Integrated marketing communications is very data driven, but gathering data can be resource intensive. How have you balanced shrinking resources with maintaining a data-driven approach to marketing?
In my opinion, not doing market research can be more costly. When doing a major marketing project, such as the campaigns that support student recruitment, there is a lot riding on that marketing. You need to the get the message right if you want it to have an impact. If you don’t dedicate the resources up front you could miss the mark and pay for it later.
We are fortunate to have a unit on campus that can provide the resources needed to conduct surveys and give us the analysis, although this level of market research is costly and only used for major initiatives. In general, we use simple focus groups with current students and local high school students when putting together recruitment-focused marketing. There is no cost for this simple tactic, merely the resources it takes to conduct the testing, and the data you receive back is invaluable.
At UW Oshkosh, your team is responsible for ensuring brand consistency. How do you balance the need for departments to have their own personalities with the need to have an overall university brand?
I believe that colleges, department and units have a need to differentiate themselves among their competitors and communicate their strengths and benefits in order to accomplish their goals. The best way for them to do that is to leverage the brand of the university first.
My department spends a great deal of time with campus departments and colleges explaining the advantage of first identifying your department as part of UW Oshkosh and then using a sub-brand. For our campus, a sub-brand is accomplished stylistically through color choices and photography as well as messaging that reflects the unit. We have brand guidelines that outline the basics such as font usage and how to use the logo and word marks which allow the university brand to be prominent, but there is a great deal of flexibility in how a department can then differentiate themselves.
A university does not exist on its own; it is made up of colleges and departments that do amazing things. It’s in everyone’s best interest for the university brand to leverage the work being done by the individual colleges and departments, which can be brought out through sub-branding, and for the colleges and departments to leverage the strength of the whole.
Tell us more about the “Brand Champions” concept your department has deployed.
Our brand champion program speaks to the idea that everyone on campus has a role in building and maintaining the university brand. When we first introduced our new university brand guidelines we conducted training sessions where anyone who had a communication function on campus was asked to attend, and these were also open to anyone on campus who had an interest. Upon completion of the training these individuals were certified as “Brand Champions” and their role was then to promote and champion the UW Oshkosh brand. This program has now evolved into ongoing collaboration with monthly meetings on various topics relating to integrated marketing communications and branding. This has been an incredibly successful initiative for us to not only build on the brand of the university but also build relationships on campus. We’ve been able to create a truly collaborative environment that is so critical when trying to maintain consistency in communication.
What’s the future for online marketing?
That is a big question. From my perspective I see continued integration between online and offline channels. Print will never die, but it is increasingly being used to drive people online. As social media becomes less of a novelty and more of a strategic communications channel, my hope is that we stop talking about it in isolation and include it in the broader picture of an integrated communications plan. I also think that as we recognize the shift in Internet access coming more from mobile devices than from desktops (it’s predicted that mobile internet usage will be higher than desktop usage by 2014) the focus of online marketing tactics will shift and put mobile in the spotlight. The mobile phenomenon cannot be ignored.
If you were a Smurf (i.e., your name was determined by your strongest personality characteristic), what would your Smurf name be?
Sarcastic Smurf. I have always felt my greatest asset is my ability to be sarcastic in any situation. I believe true sarcasm is an art form and takes discipline. I’ve devoted years of my life honing the skill.