Resource allocation, marketing strategies, the college choice process: A collective case study analysis of community college marketing administrators

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2016-05

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore how community college marketing administrators allocate institutional resources to market the institution to affect the student college choice process. This qualitative collective case study was conducted through the lens of the constructivist paradigm. The conceptual framework that framed this study was based on institutional capacity, which assesses how well a college performs. The study was guided by four research questions. Data collection tools used were the lens of the researcher, semi-structured interviews, field notes, and documents. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight participants from seven community colleges located in Texas. The data collected was analyzed through the constant comparative method, and open and axial coding. Trustworthiness of the study was ensured through various qualitative strategies such as member checking and the use of rich, thick narratives throughout the reporting of the findings. There were several findings of this study that can be used to advance the practice of higher education. The first is that in order for marketing administrators to develop support for the marketing mission at their institution, they must disseminate and communicate information about the marketing plan and its objectives throughout the campus. They also must be willing to accept feedback from both internal and external stakeholders on the marketing strategies used, and be willing to deal with the non-supporters of the marketing mission. An additional finding is that decisions about how to allocate resources to marketing is driven by the needs of the institution. All of the participants identified that enrollment growth is important to how their decisions are made. The findings also indicate that there are benefits and challenges to marketing a community college, specifically in times of decreased funding, economic downturns of communities, and competition from neighboring institutions. The final finding was that marketing administrators have not successfully figured out how to assess their marketing efforts for their effectiveness. The findings of this study have several implications and recommendations for higher education practice. These include that community college marketing departments need to ensure they are communicating the vision and strategies of the department throughout the institution. In addition, with a shift toward digital marketing strategies, marketing departments need to be able to assess their marketing efforts for their effectiveness. This recommendation is closely tied to assessing institutional capacity, which is used to determine how well an institution is performing. Community college marketing administrators must be able to assess the effectiveness of the types of marketing they use and how these marketing strategies effect student enrollments.

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Keywords

Resource allocation, Marketing strategies, College choice process

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