According to numbers released by Central Michigan University, enrollment for fall 2013 is projected to drop by 5 to 7 percent, and CMU’s advertising expenditures are skyrocketing as a result.
CMU’s advertising expenses have increased 358 percent in 2012-13, rising from $201,409.47 in fiscal year 2011-12 to $923,108.70 in 2012-13, according to numbers provided by University Communications.
The increase is in line with a three-year trend of increased marketing disbursement. From academic year 2010-11 to 2012-13, marketing expenses increased by 2,113 percent.
“Bottom line, we didn’t do any major campaigns in past years,” Associate Vice President of Communications Sherry Knight said. “What we’re doing right now is making up for some lost ground. We are having extensive campaigns.”
The total amount spent on marketing in 2010-11 was only $41,721.00. In 2009-10, CMU spent $147,676.72, and in 2008-09, the total amount spent was $506,660.60.
Enrollment shows little correlation with marketing spending within the last five years. Despite marketing spending increasing by $721,699.23 in 2012-13, enrollment for fall 2013 is projected to result in between 17,300 and 17,800 for on-campus undergraduate enrollment.
The 2010 all-time high of 19,368 on-campus undergraduates enrolled was met with only $147,676.72 in marketing spending – a drop of $358,983 from the previous year.
CMU is still below its cap for advertising and marketing. In 2012-13, $1.1 million was allocated for marketing, Knight said.
Despite lower enrollment, Knight said an increased focus on marketing has shown significant results. CMU has received more than 22,000 applications for on-campus enrollment this year.
“I am absolutely confident that enrollment will rise (in future years),” Knight said. “… We’re marketing more, admissions is working, going to be visiting more high schools, increase from out-of-state, there’s a number of factors that go into play.”
CMU also increased its social media presence in the 2012-13 year, Knight said.
“We have geared up and expanded our social media efforts significantly,” Knight said. “The total likes on Facebook increased 30 percent from May 2012 to May 2013. Our engagement on a daily basis to users, the number of users who comment on or share our posts, has increased more than 1,000 percent.”
The largest marketing effort in 2012-13 came cheap for CMU, according to Knight. Eric Fisher, who was selected as the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, was featured in 8,285 media articles and broadcasts, which brought an estimated total “publicity value” of $9.5 million to the university, Knight said.
Deborah Gray, a Marketing professor at CMU, said a large increase in marketing expenditures is the right move for the university.
“It’s a strong positive move from the university,” Grey said. “Many times when you see a situation like this, most will think you have to cut back on everything. You do want to pull back expenses in most cases, but you need to increase the amount of money you spend on advertising.”