Packaging degree programmes to drive demand

John Trierweiler, Vice President and CMO and Kinnari Sejpal, Associate Vice President, Rochester Institute of Technology

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Abstract: ‘Can you promote our programme?’ This question may sound familiar. As might the answer. Marketing each academic programme/degree/major is challenging due to inherent obstacles such as promotional inefficiency and allocation of finite resources. As such, the question really became about packaging of programmes as compelling products. In response, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) marketing and communications launched a pilot: in close partnership with enrolment management, we identified programmes that met a certain set of criteria and developed an area of study called New Economy Majors with a positioning strategy that laddered up to the master brand. The teams then collaborated with the provost and colleges to bring this promotional effort to life in the most effective and efficient manner. As a result, programmes saw enrolment success and at the same time the effort bolstered overall brand awareness for the university.


Keywords: higher education; higher education marketing; brand management; product marketing; programme marketing; New Economy Majors


John Trierweiler is Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and is responsible for goal setting, strategic development and tactical execution for marketing and branding, communications and PR/editorial, as well as digital and web. As the chief marketer and communicator for the university, he leads a broad effort to shine a spotlight on RIT as a creative and innovative university that leverages the power of technology, the arts and design to move the world forward. John’s division of marketing and communications works in close partnership with enrolment management, advancement, colleges, centres, programmes, as well as the other divisions that make up the university. Prior to joining RIT, John served as Chief Marketing Officer for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Before working in higher education, he held executive marketing positions at companies including Cablevision Systems, Time Warner Cable, Bumble Bee Seafoods and H.J. Heinz. John is a graduate of Michigan State University and holds an MBA from the University of Michigan.


Kinnari Sejpal serves as the Associate Vice President for Marketing Strategy and Creative Services at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). In this role she leads a team of branding, marketing intelligence and creative professionals. She also oversees collegelevel marketing functions and guides brand initiatives for RIT’s global campuses. Kinnari has led a successful rebranding initiative, kicked off a national reputation campaign and helped launch a holistic and integrated web presence for the university. She comes from a higher education background, having previously worked at Purdue University, where she held a variety of roles within the marketing strategy area. While at Purdue, Kinnari earned Master’s in communication and MBA degrees. Prior to Purdue, Kinnari worked at the intersection of theatre and education, overseeing marketing efforts for the Academy for Creative Expression (ACE) Productions in Mumbai, India.


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