18.Jan.2013

Thomas Abrahamson
Executive Counsel

ROI Book Launches

Net Proceeds: Increased Revenue from Enrollment and Advancement Guaranteed!

It’s no secret that universities are under tremendous pressure to increase student enrollment and alumni engagement in an environment of shrinking staff resources and financial support. How can colleges and universities keep up, stay smart, leverage their marketing dollars, and succeed?

Rob Moore, President and CEO, and myself, Tom Abrahamson, Chairman, provide solutions in our new book, Net Proceeds: Increased Revenue From Enrollment and Advancement Guaranteed!, published by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Net Proceeds is intended to help higher education administrators assess new opportunities, evaluate them in the context of defined institutional goals, and understand how they help generate a positive return on investment.

Filled with benchmark data, practical advice, and case studies, Net Proceeds gives higher education marketers and administrators essential tools to succeed and meet their goals.

Order Net Proceeds from CASE.

Praise for Net Proceeds

“Moore and Abrahamson are longtime observers of our industry and demonstrate clearly their mastery of all elements of advancement and the power of integrated planning. Their lessons learned in guiding countless institutions to strong return on investments are explained very clearly on these pages. Simply put, the wisdom of two long and highly successful careers is contained here, and it’s yours just for the reading.”
—Larry Lauer, Vice Chancellor Emeritus at Texas Christian University; Senior Fellow in the John V. Roach Honors College and Schieffer School of Journalism; Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C.

“Few organizations command a more complicated marketing process than those in higher education—breadth and diversity of constituents, marketplace pressures, volatility, new, disruptive competitive models. Lipman Hearne’s approach helps create an organizational clarity and focus that galvanizes both energy and resource towards a shared outcome, all aligned with an ROI driven platform. And most importantly, enabling success. Their integrated process of discovery, insights, and market-ready creative rivals anything I have seen in the private sector. The insights in this book will create significant value for your institution.”
—Rick Dow, President, BringMeTheNews; former Chief Marketing Officer for Midas International, Burger King, and Northwest Airlines; Board of Directors Chairperson, American Marketing Association

“Moore and Abrahamson—who put the smart in smart alec—use Ferris Bueller and Bo Diddley to help you wrap your head around ROI. You will laugh your way through calculation of lifetime student value and other strategic and tactical ROI measures. In no time, they’ll have you sidling up to your BFF, the CFO, as you gather, mine, analyze, and report on the most effective revenue returns for marketing dollars invested.”
—Teresa Flannery, Vice President for Communications, American University

AMA Presentation

President and CEO Rob Moore presented with American University’s Terry Flannery at the AMA conference in Boston and answered these important questions. As demographic, fiscal, socioeconomic, and political pressures mount, savvy college or university CMOs will make Return on Investment (ROI) their key to success, both for the marketing function and for the institution as a whole. Rob demonstrated how to calculate and interpret the ROI for an institution, showed attendees why it’s important, and more.

Book Excerpt

PICTURE IT. A dozen sturdy leather chairs nestle up to the long Brazilian rosewood table, its gloss made bright by late-night ministrations of unseen staff members wielding damp dust rags and Lemon Pledge. That faint citrus scent still hangs in the room, laced with the acrid note of an inch of burnt coffee emanating from the Bunn on the matching sideboard.

At the head of the table, the president scowls over a pile of documents, running a finger down a long column of expenditures on this latest version of the budget spreadsheet. Too much red. Too much red.

At the right hand of the president, the VP for business keeps her face as expressionless as that of a forensic scientist on the witness stand, saying silently, “I don’t create the situation, I only analyze and report.” According to the documents she’s provided, the discount rate trembles at a blistering 56 percent, Moody’s has provided a rating of Caa (and rumor has it they’d make it Caca, instead, if they could introduce a new category), and the operational surplus provided by the quasi-endowment will be gone by February if something drastic isn’t done.

Next to her, the provost nervously shuffles capacity analysis worksheets, budget reduction scenarios from minus 5 percent to complete disaster, and worrisome notes from the accreditors that any greater reliance on adjuncts will bring a stern warning and trigger punitive action. And the adjuncts are getting uppity because the NEA says they should be able to organize and claim unemployment benefits—even between semesters—and tenured faculty insist on taking those damned sabbaticals even though it means hiring unaffordable replacements or risking student uprisings by not offering classes they need to graduate. Why did he ever leave the comparative lit classroom? Why had he let Derrida spoil his love of literature? Life was so much easier then! Pawing at his head has unraveled his wispy brown comb-over, leaving one long hank of hair to dangle forlornly in front of his left ear.

Opposite them, the athletics director sips his Dunkin Donuts coffee and smirks because after last year’s Title IX disaster nobody’s going to ask him to take any more bullets for the team. In fact, under his pile of spreadsheets lurks a glossy brochure for a brand new 62-passenger tour bus he intends to buy out of booster dollars as soon as this meeting’s over.

The VP for student affairs sits back, holding her hands in the “executive tent” position in front of her, signaling both openness and resolve. Revenues are up from price-adjusted housing contracts, she’s renegotiated with Aramark and gotten food costs down another 2 percent—though the students are going to erupt at the loss of the taco bar—and her overall expense line is significantly reduced by her decision not to fill the three open positions in career services or build a new advising center, no matter what that does to the employment chances for the coming crop of new graduates.

The chair for the VP for enrollment management is empty. He was fired on Tuesday.

The VP for advancement, your boss, looks calm, but you know that behind that blank, poker-ready expression his blood is churning, his brain is swirling, and his digestive juices have already burned through the half-bagel he had for breakfast. He did score a seven-figure planned gift commitment from a 40-something alum last week, but once the net present value calculation (all according to FASB) gets completed, that commitment and a dollar will get you a refill on the AD’s Dunkin Donuts coffee. And alumni participation in the annual fund has slipped below the Mendoza line in what looks to be a long, slow, and maybe irreversible decline. To top it off and make that ulcer bite even harder, he’s been given responsibility for student recruitment on an interim basis. In the current situation, that’s not unlike being one of Napoleon’s battalion commanders at Waterloo: great if you win, but a death sentence if you lose. And the enemy troops—the other members of your overlap set—are marching inexorably forward, crisp new brand flags flapping in the breeze.

His clenched jaw and watery brown eyes telegraph a clear message: “Help me!”

The president’s challenge still hangs over the polished table, a toxic Bhopal cloud of doubt, skepticism, and anger.

“Another half-million dollars for marketing? Where will that come from? And why would we throw good money after bad? You’ve seen the numbers.”

The grandfather clock, a gift from the long-dead family of the even longer-dead founder, ticks loudly and ominously. Tick. Tock. The AD slurps the last bit of his coffee—three sugars and two of those hazelnut creamers. Mmmm-mmm. Sweet as tupelo honey. Tick. Tock.

You, on the job as director of marketing only three weeks and wondering if it was wise to have signed that year-long apartment lease, lean forward in your seat and clear your throat. You’ve done your homework. You’ve run the numbers. You’ve dived into the data. You’ve read Net Proceeds: Increased Revenue from Enrollment and Advancement—Guaranteed! You have a big pool of stop-outs, and they are reachable. You have Pell grant strategies that allow you to make a much more compelling case for enrollment of students from a different economic background. Engaged donors are ripe in the alumni orchard, and your student callers are hard at work with new scripts in hand. Continuing ed has a hot new array of tech update courses. You have a line to Lady Gaga—her manager’s cousin’s sister used to room with your brother—and you think you can get her for homecoming at a manageable rate. You have a plan. You know both the pain and the opportunities. You’ve done it before. It works. You’re ready to roll. You speak.

“Because I can generate a three-to-one ROI. That nets an additional million dollars for the bottom line. Guaranteed.”

You sit back in your seat. The president looks stunned.

“Guaranteed?”

“Guaranteed.”

You’ll get the money. Now all that’s left is making good on your promise. For that, keep reading…

To read more, purchase Net Proceeds online from CASE.