Myth #2 – If you do something long enough, you’re bound to get better at it.

Bad news: The old adage “practice makes perfect” has been debunked. As Ericsson explains, “Doing the same thing over and over again in exactly the same way is not a recipe for improvement; it is a recipe for stagnation and gradual decline.” Unless practices are both purposeful and informed, institutions cannot expect marked improvement.

This myth often plays out in the offices of enrollment marketers. Many higher ed marketing professionals follow the gospel of “more”; same channels, same allocation, same message, same evaluation, just more of it. However, without a strategic, data-driven approach to allocation and integration, higher ed marketers may just be dumping more money into a broken funnel.

Yet, it is easy to shift the paradigm on enrollment marketing by aggressively seeking feedback on the effectiveness of marketing activities. Does your messaging appeal to the right audiences at the right time and in the right place? Are there other potential audiences for your programs that you haven’t considered? Is your measurement effectively accounting for things like cost-per-enroll instead of cost-per-inquiry? Questions like these can shake you out of a rut and move your enrollment efforts onward and upward.

Myth #3 – All it takes to improve is effort.

There’s a reason why coaching is often central to the advancement of the world’s greatest performers—many masters turn to coaching after retirement. These masters instill in their pupils a vision that helps those students know exactly where they’re going and how to get there. Coaches help create a mental roadmap by fleshing out images of success—a method that Ericsson refers to when he discusses “mental representations.” Yet, in the absence of formal marketing coaches, higher ed must create its own opportunities for learning by looking to the masters.

Luckily, higher ed enrollment marketing does not lack great masters to model. Whether building enrollment-enhancing brand awareness or bolstering all aspects of the enrollment funnel, institutions can look to those who are doing it best. By studying the masters and incorporating the best practices they employ, enrollment professionals can “develop the skills and the mental representations that make expertise possible and use that expertise to convey their own artistic vision.”

In the pursuit to attract and enroll additional students, it’s not about doing anything magical. It’s about doing everything right. By seeking to “do something you cannot do—that takes you out of your comfort zone—and…practice it over and over again, focusing on exactly how you are doing it, where you are falling short, and how you can get better,” higher ed professionals can truly optimize their enrollment performance.

About the Author:

Danielle Caldwell ( is Content Marketing Manager at Helix Education ( She is a former faculty member and current adjunct professor in Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication (MSC) program.

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