Community College Garners Record Engagements (+253%)

The higher education market is highly competitive, especially for two-year colleges and community colleges that compete with four-year universities for students. Additionally, community colleges battle the negative perception that they are the post-secondary destination of “last resort.”

Community colleges thrived during the economic recession as students who were struggling to pay for a four-year university or to find work looked to improve their academic and professional credentials. As the economy recovered, community colleges have had to get creative in their marketing to potential students. Our client approached Advance 360 to construct a strategy targeting a very specific audience of community college prospects — summer transient students.


B-CCengage-icon1a Community College Garners Record Engagements (+253%)
B-CCengage-icon2a Community College Garners Record Engagements (+253%)
B-CCengage-icon3a Community College Garners Record Engagements (+253%)


The local community college was struggling to reach the summer transient students. These are students who live in the county, are eligible to take classes and have credits transferred back to their original institutions. In addition, the local community college wanted to reach the parents of children that are most likely to participate in summer classes.

The strategy that was created revolved primarily around three tactics to reach parents and students. First, targeting geographically, to focus on very specific locations where the likeliest audience exists. In this case, targets included six college campuses that would function like “feeder schools.” In social media, Advance 360 targeted students enrolled at schools nearest the community college and/or within a 40 mile radius of the city. Responsive Rich Media, or RRM, communicated the advantages of summer classes at the community college, in an engaging way.


B-CCengage-statsb Community College Garners Record Engagements (+253%)

Retailers: Use Your Owned-Data to Improve Results

It’s easy to overlook the value of your Point of Sale (POS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems when assisting a guest in your store. Seeing others requiring your attention — whether staff or client — can seem more important in the moment. But using your own customer data, you can finely tune the message to your existing clientele, dramatically improving the yield from relationships you already have.


Using your own customer data, you can finely tune the message to your existing clientele, dramatically improving the yield from relationships you already have.

You know intrinsically which SKUs or inventory items are most popular. You probably have a sense of the profit on these items. But would you know the characteristics of the individuals that purchased these, in order to create more clientele that are looking for similar items?

With data, It’s possible.

What about direct marketing efforts that could anticipate or even suggest that a client you know will make a visit to the store?

Understanding your Client List

Trends can rapidly become apparent when you study reports from your POS or CRM. Understanding the characteristics of those individuals making the purchase is what will make your marketing work better. The more you can build creative messaging and marketing placements around the most popular pieces of inventory, greatest profit margin items, or personality type of the purchaser, the more effective it will be.

The more personal information you have on an individual client, the more readily available they will be to you in the digital space. With a name, email address and phone number, Facebook and Instagram can find and message that person. As you act on growing your client base, these segments can be used to find audiences that share characteristics with those you already have, allowing you to message those that “look alike.”

Just like revenue is grown one sale at a time, a great marketing strategy is grown one data point at a time. It is crucial that you fully understand your audience targets, their behaviors and motivators, media consumption preferences, and predictive performance metrics. To do so, insights gathered from your data should be used to inform and guide the entire strategy. The end result is a strategy aimed at the right people, at the right times, in the right places that delivers on your goals.

Graduating Godly Individuals: Grace Christian University

Grace Bible College, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based institution in the community of Wyoming, is completing a comprehensive rebranding project. The scope of this effort included not just a rebrand and retooling of the organizational identity, but also a name change.

As the College was transitioning to its newly-awarded University status, it was also analyzing consumer sentiment, brand equity, shifting perceptions, and marketing efforts of recruiting in the Christian higher-education academic environment. “Our mission is to graduate Godly individuals prepared to serve Christ in Church and Society,” said Grace President and graduate Dr. Ken Kemper. “The transition to Grace Christian University will honor their legacy and strengthen our future.” This change positions the University to continue its great work under a new name.

“Our mission is to graduate Godly individuals prepared to serve Christ in Church and Society,” said Grace President and graduate Dr. Ken Kemper. The transition to Grace Christian University will honor their legacy and strengthen our future.”

Of the decision to bring a professional firm into the Grace environment to assist with the process, Brian Sherstad, Executive Vice President had this to say. “Even the decision to investigate the potential of a name change was significant for Grace. We knew we only had one chance to get it right and sought professional guidance. As we began the selection process for a firm able to guide us through the rebranding process, we saw a clear difference between Advance 360 and other firms.”

“Advance 360 brought to Grace’s rebranding exactly what we had hoped. They accepted our initial data collection efforts and added to that body of data. They understand the dynamics brought by multiple layers of institutional stakeholders and helped us gain buy-in. The entire process had clear deliverables as well as a clear path to reach the end goal.”

The years-long process to reach a new name and brand included town hall sessions, charrette style workshopping with stakeholders, and prayerful discussions by the Board of Directors and Administration. The new logo and image of the University will be integrated during summer 2018, and the first graduates of Grace Christian University will occur in 2019.

The Stages of Renaming

“All existing data should first be analyzed,” said Anne Drummond, Advance 360 Senior Creative Director. “Once we’d read, questioned, and discussed the available information, we were able to craft exercises that would help stakeholders to clearly articulate missing pieces.”

Workshop activities resonated with participants, but also provide opportunity for a broad spectrum of stakeholder participants to share individual ideas, listen and comment on others’ thoughts and feelings, and identify ideas and elements that most closely resemble their vision for the organization. This information was combined with prior survey results, town hall meeting sentiments and analysis of other colleges’ experiences in rebranding from either a college to a university including a name change. In addition, a study by Barna Group, produced in partnership with the Association for Biblical Higher Education offered market context and statistically relevant input.

B-GCUstat1 Graduating Godly Individuals: Grace Christian University
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B-GCUstat5a Graduating Godly Individuals: Grace Christian University

Of this process, “Advance 360 clearly identified both intended and unintended consequences at each point of decision giving us the information we needed to make good decisions with confidence,” said Sherstad.

From an initial 163 unique naming conventions, the final name was fashioned, and the design work begun. Using a three-step process of a) compass point b) exploration and c) refinement, the brand’s visual identity took shape.

B-GCUoldlogo340 Graduating Godly Individuals: Grace Christian University

Former Name and Logo

B-GCUnewlogo360 Graduating Godly Individuals: Grace Christian University

New Name and Logo

The new name and logo have been shared with students, faculty and donors.

“The attitude Advance 360 demonstrated at the beginning, as well as through the entire process, was one of being honored that Grace would trust them with such important work as our institutional identity. From beginning to end, Advance 360 demonstrated that our trust was well placed.” ~Brian Sherstad, Executive Vice President, Grace Christian University

Priorities of B2B Marketers

If your B2B company is like most, you care about lead generation, return on investment (ROI), or brand awareness when developing marketing strategies. In fact, 67% of B2B marketers cite lead generation as the number one priority of their marketing spend, but only 39% of those same companies have a formal marketing plan in place in 2018.

How are your tactics measuring up? In 2017, 205 respondents representing business-to-business marketing professionals named email as their top lead generation tactic.

Efforts Named Most Effective For Lead Generation

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With pay-per-click (PPC), print, retargeting and “other” representing the bottom of the list.

With the top three tactics correlating directly with content development (or enhancing the search path to that content), and 31% responding that email was the single channel driving the most revenue growth, developing relevant and engaging content should top your list of priorities.

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