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Insights Spanning 30 Years of Market Intelligence

The Lawlor Group was founded 30 years ago to serve the education marketplace, and particularly private higher education. Over the course of three decades, we have served independent and public-funded colleges and universities, graduate and professional schools, primary and secondary schools, and educational consortiums and associations.

Higher education marketing has evolved considerably during this span of time. In the early years the word “marketing” (considered anathema in the academy) was thought to encompass the implementation of promotional tactics that were beneath senior leadership’s attention. Then came a time when promotional marketing pieces were celebrated for their artistic expression only, with that shaping the perception of what marketing was and should be.

Yet as many colleges and universities remained preoccupied with an “inside-out” perspective, families in the higher education marketplace became more discerning about their higher education options. The competitive landscape heated up and expanded, communications efforts went digital and stealth, and demographics of the marketplace evolved, as did the increasing need for data-based decision making. No question, these real market conditions were a catalyst for an increasing number of colleges and universities to develop an appreciation for the science of marketing. Senior leadership and others who recognized the importance of “outside-in” perspectives saw the need for customizing marketing initiatives to address not just promotion, but also the educational experience and offerings (product), the cost to attend (price), the locations and delivery methods for obtaining the educational experience (place), and the personal interaction at various touchpoints (people).

Needless to say, we are now in very interesting times. But we at The Lawlor Group have always advocated for thinking differently in leveraging market research—to make informed decisions about intelligent solutions, and to develop strategic-driven communications (as opposed to promotion-driven creative). We are excited today that more and more colleges are realizing the old ways are ineffective, and sometimes even broken, and innovation is a necessity. We observed this when our principal, John Lawlor, recently attended and presented at both the Common Application Member Summit and the Slate Innovation Summit. And our successful collaborations with Utica College and Concordia University, St. Paul on tuition resets will be a featured presentation at the NACUBO annual meeting in Minneapolis next week. These moments in time are a positive reminder that people and organizations are indeed thinking differently to align their institutions’ missions and resources with relevance for the future.

Marketplace evolution continues. But as we have learned over the years, success is the residue of persistence: the persistence of being innovative, edupreneurial, and #MarketSmart.

Thank you to everyone who has been travelling with us on this remarkable marketplace journey. In producing a variety of award-winning, strategic marketing initiatives that consistently create distinction, enhance value, and generate results, we’ve had the privilege of discovering, deliberating, discerning, and deciding in collaboration with more than 250 colleges, universities, schools, and associations. We look forward to continuing the journey and passionately persuading individuals about the benefits of education.