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Spring 2004

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Market placings

Creative thought matters.” Three little words designed to bring Skidmore big benefits. The college is making its first real foray into strategic marketing, and hopes are high that the values behind that catchphrase will help Skidmore stake out a stronger position in its sector of the higher-education marketplace.

The plan is the brainchild of Mark Edwards & Company, a Boston-area firm that has consulted for a slew of top colleges and universities. Its research found that awareness of Skidmore is low among the high-achieving students it seeks to recruit; and those who think they know Skidmore often pigeonhole it as rich, white, and artsy. So Edwards sought a simple core message that would spotlight Skidmore’s distinctive strengths in liberal studies and the arts and would be compelling for the self-described “creative, analytical explorers” in his test group of prospective students. The notion of “creative thought matters” tested well and has now been incorporated into admissions communications—from a series of punchy, clever postcards to a bold new viewbook (both award-winners) to a richer, more dynamic Web site (where “hits” have tripled since last year).

Mary Lou Bates, Skidmore’s admissions dean, says, “‘Creative thought matters’ works because it banks on what Skidmore is known for, it’s believable, and it’s unclaimed by our competitors. It provides us with a good communications focus. And in their admissions essays, our applicants go right for ‘creative thought matters’—they crave that kind of place.”

Guiding the implementation of the new focus is Gerald Schorin, Skidmore’s director of strategic communications. “If we’re successful in communicating—and demonstrating—that creative thought matters,” Schorin says, “Skidmore could earn a position within our competitive peer group similar to the niche that Brown University holds in the Ivy League. That is, a college every bit as academically strong as those with much greater resources, but with a creative, independent, art-infused character that attracts bright and well-rounded students who could gain admission virtually anywhere.” —PM, SR

 


© 2004 Skidmore College