IVCC, Interact to create marketing plan

IVCC’s board of trustees has approved a one year contract with Interact Communications to improve IVCC’s marketing strategy costing $70,500 on Aug. 13 2015.

Interact, a full-service communications company that traditionally works with 2 year colleges, was the unanimous decision by an IV selection committee consisting of enrollment task force, senior administration and faculty/program coordinators after they assessed 8 proposals and 3 interviews of firms.

The committee cited their decision to Interact’s 20 years of experience in improving enrollment with 2 year colleges including Kankakee Community College, City College of San Francisco, and Henry Ford College of Dearborn, Michigan.

Interact’s proposal includes an assessment of the community’s needs, a marketing plan including messaging and strategy, and an advertising plan for traditional mediums and social media.

IV hopes Interact can improve the already in place system to combat decreasing enrollment which includes high school visits, open houses, direct mail, and advertising through mediums such as radio, cable TV, billboards, and social media.

The amount of credit hours taken in 2015 (67,638) is down 4,416 hours from 2014 (72,054) creating a steady trend of declination as 2013 to 2014 showed a drop of 4,000 credit hours.

In terms of students, IVCC’s headcount is down 6.84% from the first day of fall classes 2014 (3,406 students) to 2015 (3,173 students).

Despite the Peter Miller Community Technology Center being in its second year and its efforts to increase IV’s availability for career and technical programs, it has not been able to break the trend of declining enrollment even though the CTC building is holding 139 classes with a headcount of 843enrollments this semester.

IV has continued campus development after the CTC building including cyber café and student life centers that are still under construction.

“We are confident the student center and cyber café will be recruiting tools for prospective students and significant enhancements for continuing students, employees and the community,” said director of communications for IV Fran Brolley. IV’s strides in development now shift to marketing and advertising with Interact.

In the early stages of this one year contract, Interact’s first step with IV will be research. “Interact will perform a district-wide phone survey to identify, among other things, image issues and strengths, community education needs, program interests and needs, preferred times of classes and delivery modes and obstacles to attending IVCC,” said Brolley.

The information gathered by these surveys will then be used to create a marketing plan to find the correct strategies and tactics to reach out to the diverse community revolving IVCC.

“Interact develop a year-long approach to recruiting that brings education into the mainstream of community thought,” said Brolley.

Although it is early in the process and no specifics on advertising have been discussed, Brolley did offer up a few of the mediums Interact and IVCC wanted to use; “Interact can help us reach traditional and nontraditional students more effectively and more efficiently through the use of low-cost marketing mediums such as social media and email campaigns.”

Despite only meeting with Interact one time since the board approval on Aug. 13, Brolley hopes to see results for this spring semester starting Jan 11.