Community Colleges: If You Want To Engage with Employers, Rethink Your Marketing Strategy and Business Outreach Efforts.

When employers think of a Community College, they usually think of a place for a student to receive a quality two year education at an affordable price.  My experience talking with business executives about colleges in their local community is almost always favorable – “I received my 2-year degree at a community college or my son or daughter received their 2 year degree.” Employers know what community colleges do in benefiting a student’s academic needs in the communities they serve.

What many students and employers are not aware of are how community colleges can directly impact their career development and business performance.   Community college capabilities include customized employee training programs, continuing education, lifelong learning, access to business grants, tuition assistance planning, co-sponsoring events, being a foundation board member, participating in student – employer pools, career fairs and many other value-added partnership programs.  All of the above help employers improve efficiencies, employee morale, exposure in the community and most importantly, their bottom-line.

Marketing budgets can be a challenge and resources can be limited for community colleges, however below are eight (8) cost effective tips to rethink your marketing and business outreach efforts:

Testing and Analytics – Stop guessing if you need a new website or if you can improve your existing website.  Employer and student first impression of you website can ultimately impact engagement and conversion.  Always test and analyze your design structure and navigational flow of information.  The benefit of continuous testing and monitoring is more practical and less expensive rather that making major overhauls.

 LMS Analysis – If you want to make an employer feel like a strategic partner, they must feel that way across all departments in the college.  For example, if they invested in your foundation, you better make sure you treat them well if they’re interested in Contract Training.  This builds positive employer awareness of the college and you’ll see more of an investment in other programs and services that you provide.  Analyze the feasibility of communicating between your website – automation – LMS.

Make it easy to reach you – If an employer is viewing your website about something they’re interested in, automate their interests to the right person or department.  I remember one employer accessed our main website who wanted a corporate group leadership program and it took 4-5 attempts until they found the right sub domain address….  Also, if they send you a lead form, return their request by the end of the day.

Be proactive – Don’t wait for an employer to contact you.  Be proactive, send 4-5 blogs, videos, campaigns, events, sponsorships and or news every week.  In today’s competitive market, you can’t wait until someone contacts you.  Take advantage of your good reputation, you are special and employers love to hear from your college and learn about what’s new and how you can work together.

Get employers involved, for free – Ask them to volunteer for events like Kids College Day, Lunch n Learns, Advisory Councils, Speaking engagements.  Employers enjoy giving back to the community and sharing a day with college students and faculty.

Brainstorm with Employers – Brainstorm and think of cross promotional ideas to present to the community.  Finding that synergy between business and education that really taps into community trust and involvement.

Reporting and Measurements – Are you effectively driving SEO traffic to your website, are you converting that traffic, are you registering more students?  During your requirements gathering, your goals need to be identified, measured and reported.

Go Mobile – More and more students (Gen Z & Y) and employers are going mobile in their interactions and expect the same from their educational partners.  Make it easy for employers and students to connect, register and learn through mobile applications.

Community colleges need a flexible website that will allow them to attract more employers and students, update content easily, provide a great mobile experience and give them insights behind their course registrations, enrollments, campaigns and events.

The Learning Strategy has been working with colleges and employers for 15 years and we look forward in using our experience in optimizing community college websites, coordinating and building partnerships between our colleges, businesses and the workforce investment system – creating pathways in workforce improvement, student internships and job placement.


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