Hamilton College is a small, private, liberal arts college in Hamilton, New York. They boast a very strong alumni network, and a unique culture. In order to elevate their status as a top liberal arts college in the Northeast, Hamilton sought research to support a new marketing and communications strategy. Research conducted by SimpsonScarborough included two focus groups and in-depth interviews with current students an online survey for alumni.
I believe research should be the cornerstone of every project. Before trying to create messages, we needed to evaluate the current messaging from the perspective of alumni and students. With a limited budget, we determined that a quantitative online survey for alumni and qualitative research for students would be the most effective way to gather research.
Aside from my duties as the Account Executive to efficiently manage the project and all communication between teams, I had the opportunity to make a bigger impact during the research phase. I assisted the Strategist in creating the quantitative survey instrument that would go out to Hamilton Alumni as well as developed the interview script that would be used for virtual one-on-one interviews and focus groups with students. I personally conducted some of the in-depth interviews and used the transcripts to derive key themes that supported the quantitative findings.
A significant hurdle that we had to overcome was generating buy-in with the President and other executive leaders within the College, while supporting the final decision maker – the Vice President for Communications and Marketing. Establishing clear boundaries with institution leaders helped the VP for Communications and Marketing find her voice, and we proved the value of research through the use cases of comparable institutions.