Our research helped keep the country’s biggest women’s college going strong
Meredith College is one of the largest women’s colleges in the country, with an incredible community, strong academics, and beautiful campus that are treasured by students and alumnae. They reached out to us in 2012, hoping to seize the momentum of a fresh strategic plan and a dynamic new president.
We were excited to work with Meredith because they were committed to the development of an integrated marketing program built for long-term results. They had a great internal marketing team, the new president was already galvanizing the community, and their goals were clear: to stabilize and then grow enrollment, and to motivate alumnae and community members to engage with the college. Not to mention that after our first visit, we were utterly smitten by the most beautiful Magnolia trees we’d ever seen!
The first step in our work together was to create a multi-disciplinary team of campus representatives and experts. We especially needed faculty input — we knew that their voices would be crucial in guiding our process, developing research instruments, interpreting results, and building consensus.
Working with our team of advocates and advisors, we developed a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research approach designed to understand perceptions and get to the core of the Meredith brand:
- Through meetings with campus stakeholders and representatives, we explored Meredith’s identity and strengths.
- We engaged prospective students (both undergraduate and graduate), current students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumnae in exhaustive online surveys that measured awareness, messages, differentiators, and priorities.
- Qualitative phone interviews with guidance counselors and business leaders helped us understand how key members of the community viewed Meredith.
As the data fell into place, insights began to emerge: it became clear that some messages weren’t helping Meredith really shine. On the other hand, messages about leadership, confidence, and real-world experience resonated. And the word that came up over and over was strength. Students find and capitalize on their strengths during their time at Meredith, and the school excels at developing strong leaders who are ready to take on the world with dignity and determination.
College leadership, the board of trustees, and faculty guided us as we helped to clarify one of their longstanding messages — that students get lots of one-on-one attention — by highlighting just what that attention means: Meredith works toward every students’ success through personalized plans for personal and professional success. The tone of the Meredith brand was embodied by the students, alumnae, and leadership we talked to: strong, confident, poised, and dignified.
Our research and brand positioning recommendations became the foundation for a major website redesign and extensive new brand collateral based on the promise of building strong leaders. Everyone on campus took the insights to heart, and Meredith’s incredible marketing team absolutely ran with it. By the 2013-14 academic year, inquiries from prospective students were up 30%, campus visits were up 25%, and there was a 7% increase in the number of applicants listing Meredith as their first choice. Meredith enrolled the second largest freshman class in its history in Fall 2014. Not only that, but 2013-14 also marked Meredith’s best fundraising year ever. In the 2 ½ years since the brand launch, the College has surpassed the total raised in its prior 7 year fundraising campaign. Social media communities have increased 63%, and the College is on track to enroll another strong first-year class for Fall 2015.
We’re proud to say we helped keep Meredith going strong.
Images by Meredith College Marketing Department