Snake Oil in Higher Ed Marketing


Snake oil. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

Just what kind of brew is boiled down essence of snake? Can you drink it? Do you even want to?

It seems that vast quantities of snake oil are being consumed across higher education in the form of vendor products that promise to cure what ails you, but in the end has little effect on the root of your issue.

Sales pitches are by nature tough to sit through. The best of these vignettes always make you feel as if you’re not alone with your problem, and that although you are clearly a Higher Ed Thought Leader, the only thing keeping you from Higher Ed Icon Immortality is one product.

If only throwing money at problems really solved problems.

There are very few products that I have used or seen used in higher ed marketing that have truly delivered on the promises made during the initial pitch. If anything, I am highly skeptical of most products. Whenever a potential vendor promises that your staff will have less work, run the other way. It never happens. Plus, even worse, that statement usually translates into a one-size-fits-all template that compromises your brand, making you less relevant to your audience.

Is there someone who is not jaded about these products that can show me something that isn’t snake oil, but an actual feel-good elixir for success? Where is this elusive product and how has it improved your marketing?

I don’t know about you, but I’m less and less likely to invest in an outside product. During these tight economic times, the snake oil is getting harder and harder to swallow.

Jen Hogan