Before evolving into a marketing executive, R F Timberlake & Company's president began his award-winning media career as a broadcast and print journalist helping the news industry to gravitate towards more in-depth and investigative reporting. Frank Timberlake taught broadcast and advertising, managed numerous political campaigns and operated media outlets with Linda, his wife and business partner. He has never been shy about speaking his mind. Having limited Frank to the subject of marketing, we hope you will enjoy Frankly Speaking, a marcom blog.
CONFUSING ADVERTISING WITH MARKETING CAN LEAD TO DISASTER
You take a
renowned Virginia college for women, a private institution that has been
educating women since 1901 and you add the factor that many of today's younger
coeds want the bright city lights as opposed to a rural, sprawling and
architecturally ornate campus and you have a 100+ year old college preparing to
close its doors.
this semester Sweet Briar College in Amherst, Virginia will discontinue
operations after 104 years of teaching; teaching that, in fact, has been
climbing in recognition and accreditation in recent years. The college's
board recognized some years ago that the school had to really compete to draw
students to the 600-student campus. Because Sweet Briar had to compete
with more urban schools with active surrounding cities, the college had to
continually increase its tuition offerings, lowering the revenue coming in to
2011 it launched an advertising campaign to define who the "Sweet Briar
Woman" is and what she is all about. Apparently, the campaign was
not enough to turn deficit student enrollment into positive numbers. If
you want to hear a touching song and see some gorgeous visuals, just help
yourself to this video: http://youtu.be/CLpz1veP_Hc.
you really examined the video as you watched, then you saw it start
with an empty classroom, then to an empty dance studio, to an empty
lake. Masterfully produced, this advertising video and the gist of the
campaign may just have portrayed what the college has in mind as assets, but not
what the prospective students consider assets. It may not reflect what
marketing research might have shown about the type of prospective students who
would be interested in attending and what the attractants to
which today's college-bound female responds.
impetus of the ad campaign was the movie, "Sweet Briar Woman" which
surprisingly has a lot of "oneness" to it. That oneness may
have cost the college its life. Given that advertising is also subjective, I may possess the wrong view that the visuals should have shown a busy, vibrant and socially eclectic campus.
Advertising is not necessarily marketing. We get invited to potential client meetings sometimes where their vision is somewhat egotistical where the meeting starts with, "What we want is a visual showing of our assets!" We also get invited to clean up behind some failed glitzy advertising agency that went in and sold a whole lot of glamour without even a gleaming of market research, and yes, Frankly Speaking, I am bound to say, that all important strategic marketing plan. I do not know that our firm could have saved Sweet Briar, but I would have liked the challenge. The way the school was heading, nothing would have been lost.