In considering an e-marketing strategy oriented around Web 2.0 technologies for educational institutions, it’s best - in line with the theme of Seth Godin's Meatball Sundaes - to go back to the overall ‘structures’ and ‘culture’ of the organisation and work from there to the gadgets and tools (e.g. blogs, twitter, facebook, the works). The spirit of a visionally transformed corpus must come first, then the flesh of technology will follow.
It would help to use Godin’s principles cum questions for Disney (see p.223-6 at the end of the book) :
1. Direct communication between producers and consumers – after students fill up the forms or make an enquiry or initiate the ‘first contact’ with XYZ College, do they hear from it again in a way which isn’t intrusive and which in fact brings delight? Do these potential and on-going clients receive anticipated, personal and relevant messages (a Godin mantra)? And, of course, do they receive it in the medium they prefer (e.g. some may not like email)
2. Direct communication between consumers and consumers - the New Marketing is consumer-driven i.e. ultimately the students are the Marketing Department because their Word-of-Mouth is more powerful than all the brochures and flyers. What is XYZ doing to encourage student reviews, student influence, student sharing? This goes beyond ‘friend2friend’ promotions and must go deeper to ‘unofficial sharing’ (see no. 3 below)
3. Amplification of the voice of the consumer and independent authorities – how much does XYZ respect the influence and voice of everyone who visits our sites, of our students, our partners, our clients, etc.? Does XYZ ‘host’ any platform or space as a way of allowing and encouraging peer reviews of educational products? Is XYZ seen to ‘amplify’ the voice of the average man on the Web?
4. Stories spread, not facts – what’s the ‘story’ of XYZ's next educational offering? What’s the ‘story’ of its new lecturers, its next events, its latest branch? What will people be spreading after they attend or are exposed to its latest function, PR event, communique, etc.? (Note: here is where YouTube, Facebook and Blogs could be most effective, because every upload is a potential story – colleges need to give people a reason to include it into their RSS feeds)
5. Extremely short attention spans – how is XYZ tackling the fact that students and consumers nowadays have extremely short attention spans? (Tip: send shorter and more frequent messages instead of longer and less frequent ones); this is also where content must always catchy, helpful and worth remembering! Again, people need a reason to ‘come back’
6. Tuning in to ‘spare time’ – why would the average student want to think about XYZ college in his/her spare time? What would make the college attractive/engaging enough for young adults to want to make room in their minds for XYZ marketing/community material after classes?
7. The Long Tail (mass customization/diversity) – what is XYZ doing about the customization of education? Instead of giving ‘fixed’ educational offerings to students, can they be allowed to choose what and how they wish to study? Can XYZ raise the level of student-selection and student-design of programs?
8. Google and Search Engine – apart from manipulating search engines such that XYZ ‘shows up’ more often, can the college offer great experiences which many students will talk, blog and/or leave updates about thus leading to more serach-result pages with XYZ at the top? What can the college do to encourage more people to hyper-link to the college’s website or blogs? (Tip: provide online education!)
9. Triumph of the Big Ideas – what redefinition or reinvention or re-conceptualisation is XYZ pioneering? Is XYZ known as an innovator, constantly coming up with new products to get people talking?
10. Shifts in Scarcity and Abundance – what is so rare that people intuitively value (e.g. clean open and creative space)? What’s so abundant that people hardly bother anymore (e.g. classes!)? How does XYZ College stack up in the abundance/scarcity ratio and is it focusing on improving this ratio?
Godin’s point is that unless the above are dealt with effectively, unless the ‘spirit’ of the organisation has changed, simply adding more gadgets or Web 2.0 tools may be nothing more than a façade (which people can very easily ignore anyway). So it’s best to get the substance and culture right – the technology will take care of itself.
The substance is key; the gadgets merely the key-chain.