Evaluating Your Higher Ed Marketing Mix

4 min read

Chelsea Castonguay Stanhope

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Having a unique brand identity is one of the most essential ways to get your organization or business to stand out from the crowd, and be remembered. Iconic brands with excellent, memorable marketing stick around, while others with less memorable marketing campaigns can fade into obscurity.

In order to attract future students, universities must also consider the importance of their own identity as an institution and what values they want to communicate to their potential students through their marketing activities. One simple method to help examine your strategy can be as simple as going back to basics — evaluating your "marketing mix".

What is the "marketing mix"?

The term marketing mix is a term that first originated in the 1960s by E J McCarthy and has been a stalwart of marketing theory in the decades since. According to MailChimp, the most common definition refers to the “set of actions, or tactics, that a company uses to promote its brand or product in the market.” This includes the 4Ps, which historically has stood for Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. However, more increasingly this has expanded to include other Ps, such as “Packaging, Positioning, People and even Politics as vital mix elements.”

Why is it important?

With increased competition in a global market for students, it’s more important than ever to understand how to utilize marketing mix effectively. When used correctly, marketing mix can help bolster a business plan, leading to great success for an organization. For universities, this means capitalizing on ways to attract and retain students through effective marketing techniques.

However, it must be understood that in order for this to be effective, all parts of the marketing mix must be working together harmoniously. Leaving out one part, or not rounding it as fully as others will create difficulties that might prove to be insurmountable to running a smooth marketing campaign. As stated on mindtools.com, “if you get just one element wrong, it can spell disaster.” To get started, you need to ask yourself what is the product you’re trying to bring forward, and who is it for? The answer: your university and prospective students. 

Evaluating the Four P's from a higher ed marketing perspective

Take some time to break apart the 4Ps, and identify how you can define each of the aspects of a marketing mix. 

Consider your Product.

  • Who is the product, your university, for?
  • What do students want from it, and how will you deliver?
  • Are there things prospective students want that aren’t being provided, and are your competitors filling in those gaps?

If so, how can you rectify these issues.

Moving on, consider Place.

  • How will prospective students search for information about your university? Online, or in person? Or probably both?
  • Do students learn about your school through online search, college fairs, or through social media?
  • Will they see your school advertised on social media, or on a billboard beside the highway? What is the most effective channel for your target market?

Next, Price asks what the value of the product or service is. In this case, what’s the value of an education at your institution, alongside all the other benefits of attending the school. What can you do to make an education at your school accessible and affordable for students, and what do you offer that might lead to a good return on investment for them?

Last, but not least is Promotion. Mindtools.com recommends asking:

  • Where and when can you get your marketing messages across to your target market?
  • Where will prospective students see information about your school, as well as the benefits of attending it. 
  • What do you need to do to get imagery and information about your university out there so your school becomes instantly recognisable?
  • Additionally, are there specific times that work best for promotion, or is this a year-round endeavour? 

These can feel like a lot when you’re trying to create a plan that works best for your university. When it comes to reaching out to prospective students, there isn’t one right or wrong way to do so. However, investing the time and effort into creating an effective marketing mix can certainly help.

Focus on learning more about your prospective students, as well as their wants and needs to help learn what will be the best ways to showcase your university with all it can offer. 


Are you looking to promote your programs online?

Getting your higher ed marketing mix can be tricky. Keystone Academic Solutions offers a range of digital marketing and recruitment solutions designed to help universities increase their global visibility and recruit more students.

With a highly skilled team of international specialists, you can rest easy that Keystone will be able to help you create an effective marketing solution tailored to the needs of your institution. Get in touch today to book a demo here.

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