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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Spring/Summer 2010

Marketing On a Shoestring:Branding Your Entrepreneurship Program

Thursday, April 22, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Melissa Crawford

Director of the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA

Many entrepreneurship programs are in the infancy stage. A huge challenge with any new program is "getting the word out” both on-campus and off. Even if your program has been around a while, it might be a good time to re-think your marketing efforts, and be sure you are touching all the bases and making enough noise.

Brand Your Program Using On-Campus Resources

First, take a fresh look at all the services you offer or intend to offer. How are you attracting students to your courses and who are they? How do you get small businesses interested in and supportive of what you are doing? How do students find your courses in the catalog and the schedule of classes? How can you best supplement the college-wide print materials? How will you get students and community members to attend your events? How will you get press coverage? What existing resources does your college offer in terms of marketing that you can tap into, for free?

When I joined the Scheinfeld Center last year, I embarked on a full-blown marketing campaign, with almost no money. When I asked to see our existing logo, I was shown brown and yellow squares, and a pixilated world map. This "branding” wasn’t working for us, so I enlisted our in-house marketing department to come up with something a little more edgy and attractive. I wanted a real logo, with a real tagline–an identity that could be both edgy and current but that also lent itself to academic credibility and the seriousness of business. A tall order!

One of our first challenges was our very long name. After giving some consideration to shortening it, we decided to keep it and make it work. While the marketing department got busy on a logo, we brainstormed a tagline and settled onDream. Plan. Profit.We felt this accurately promoted our mission to serve the entrepreneurs just starting out with an idea, to help students and small businesses accelerate their ideas with careful planning, and to help students implement their plans to actually start a business. Our marketing department came back with a great logo, which allows some play with an ampersand. Fun!

Brand with a Self-Managed Website

My next effort was to create a Web site for the Scheinfeld Center, a place to advertise our courses, promote events, feature faculty and student businesses, house a blog, a video library and point visitors to resources.

An alumni Web designer contracted with us for $100 per page–what a great deal! I limited our site to 15 pages and this has been my most extravagant expenditure. I made sure that after it was designed, I could edit it easily. I wanted to be able to update our event calendar and courses often and without recurring costs. We purchased Adobe Contribute ($79), a user-friendly Web site editing software for dummies like me. This was a great investment. The program allows me to quickly update the Web site or change content anytime I need to. You see the final Web page design on the next page.

Use Cheap Do-It-Yourself Online Printing Resources

I have an artist friend who was marketing an event with a postcard. I was so impressed with the quality of the card and its appeal factor, I asked him for a referral to the vendor. I now regularly print 1,000 postcards for about $50 a pop (full-color gloss on the front, black and white on the back). They are excellent quality and weight, and the provider has an online design center that can turn an ordinary administrator into an extraordinary graphic designer! These cards get distributed all over campus and in the community. People love them.

Be Bold, Take Risk and Use Your Imagination

Dare I say, "Have a little fun on your job?” The marketing aspect of this position taps into the right side of my brain that has sat dormant most of my professional life. This is exciting and challenging and pushes me to be creative. One risky marketing piece was a bookmark with our logo and text that simply read, "Dude, Where’s My Job?” and the reverse side contained our entrepreneurship course offerings. This has been our most popular marketing tool and students and faculty have been asking for us to make these into bumper stickers. I feel we are obliged to take risks, be bold and leading edge in delivering our services, especially since we teach entrepreneurship and innovation.

Recently, we are applying branding concepts to our entrepreneurship curriculum revisions and are creating more vibrant course titles that can be marketed to both a younger audience and the experienced business owner. Finding the balance between being edgy and current but maintaining academic credibility is the key to our branding.

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