Ensuring that Harlow College maintains its positive image and attracts a wide variety of students is part of the job of the college’s Marketing Team Leader, Paul Woods, 52. I interviewed him to find out more about what his work entails and what motivates him.
When Paul began working at Harlow College his role was different, it was simply an audio-visual resource department to help tutors, Paul evolved his position into what it is now through hard work and success. He says that he loves to promote and encourage education and finds the role extremely rewarding.
Paul, who lives in the town of Hoddesdon, is a keen musician. He used to be in a band and also loves classic 60’s and 70’s films and TV shows as well as exploring London in his spare time.
Two thirds of the college’s core market are 16-18 year olds with about one third made up predominantly of part-time adults and apprentices.
For the 16-18 year olds, breadth of provision, required A-level grades and other measurable data are important factors to consider, whereas parents and mature students are more interested in knowing about the facilities and the level of interaction they will receive from staff.
Paul works hard to generate a positive image of the college and its available courses. In the past there has been a slightly negative view of the college in the local press and Paul has worked hard to improve that relationship.
He feels he has been successful and now enjoys a good working relationship. This is however one of the potential pitfalls of being involved in marketing and maintaining this good relationship and image is an on going job.
We spoke a little about the changing face of marketing in the face of quickly evolving technology and social media. Everything is now measurable which makes gauging the success of certain approaches much easier to ascertain.
Another great advantage to using technology in marketing is the cost factor; it’s much cheaper than ever to reach a wider audience of people. In the past printing flyers or paying for advertising space in a newspaper was a real drain on resources.
Videos are much easier to make and produce than ever before, the connectivity between all the various technologies that are used is a real time saver in comparison to times gone by.
Budgeting is still an important issue in his department and he says he remains vigilant all year round, with the team, running competitions, organising events and keeping applicants interested in the gap between applying for a course and actually starting it.
The overall budget, although somewhat fluid, can quickly disappear. There are no internal fundraising schemes within the department so Paul has to be quite careful in allocating funds to make sure that the departments stated priorities are met.
Although there are now more apprenticeships than ever being offered there is the issue of a declining birth rate in the country which affects several industries – the baby boom couldn’t last forever. However, being aware of this factor makes it easier to mitigate and numbers are kept steady using a combination of the previously mentioned strategies.