A Look Back at The 2018 Higher Education Marketing Symposium

Posted by John Frizzera | March 12, 2018 | 10:36am

Where have we been?

Where are we now?

Where are we headed?


Those questions were at the core of the discussions at idfive’s Higher Education Marketing Symposium held February 13, 2018 at the Admiral Fell Inn in Baltimore, Maryland.

The object of the symposium was to provide a forum for higher education professionals to share their experiences, to collaborate with their peers, and to examine the future of higher education marketing.

idfive Co-Founder Andres Zapata opened the symposium with remarks on brand, the impact of technology on marketing, and the tenets of idfive’s integrated marketing model: traffic, destination, and nurture.

Presenting on University Branding

In the first session, idfive’s Creative Director, Matt McDermott, and Chief Anthropologist, Dr. Robbie Blinkoff, shared their cross-disciplinary insights about brand. They discussed how using techniques and strategies native to anthropology can unveil surprising brand attributes and characteristics that could be overlooked using more traditional research methods.

During the next session, Matt returned to dissect successful school brands and explained how they were able to create a lasting, and memorable brand experience. Attendees learned that brands don’t have to work for everyone, and that a good brand expression works hard to balance consistency and flexibility.

Higher Education Marketer Panels

After lunch, the format of the symposium shifted, with mixed panels tackling questions based on idfive’s integrated marketing model, which is built on three pillars: traffic, destination, and nurture. Attendees soon found out that while the concepts seem familiar, applying them is a challenging and sometimes difficult task.

The unconventional panel format proved successful, inspiring thoughtful and informative conversations between the panelists and symposium participants. As the day progressed, participants and panel leaders identified common challenges and successes that higher education was facing, including:

The Future of Higher Education Marketing

The symposium ended with an unblinking look at the future of higher education, courtesy of idfive’s Chief Strategist, Dr. Sean Carton, Chief Anthropologist, Dr. Robbie Blinkoff, and Director of Client Services, Caitlin Currey-Ortiz.

While our industry is facing its own set of complicated, and sometimes worrying, challenges, the trio’s rally call was simple: marketing, admissions, student services, alumni, and advancement entities at a school need to work together to identify, cultivate and celebrate ideal students in order to capitalize on the lifetime success and value of each student.

Success is about finding the right fit between the prospect and the institution, they explained, not just generating lots of applications.

Guests and Friends at HEMS 2018

Of course, the panels would not have been as rewarding without input from our guest speakers, and idfive would like to thank them for offering their time and their talent. Speakers included:

If you were unable to attend this year’s event – or wanted to take a deeper look at what was discussed during the day – the presentations have been posted on our website. Video recordings will also soon be available, too.


HEMS – Brand: Power, Alignment and Results


HEMS – Best University Brands


HEMS – The Future of Higher Education Marketing