How to Visualize Your Marketing Mix with “Mix Maps” on the Higher Education Marketing Periodic Table

by sduncan

How to Visualize Your Marketing Mix with “Mix Maps” on the Higher Education Marketing Periodic Table

by sduncan

by sduncan

So why and how would you want to visualize your higher ed marketing mix with mix maps?

Your higher ed marketing mix is a collection of optimized decisions, tools, and tactics that you organize around a marketing strategy to effectively promote your product or service. Most people think of creating their marketing mix as something that’s pretty tactical, a step that you get to in your planning; a to-do list that you spin out of your marketing plan and strategy.

But marketing mix is more than just a bunch of tactics that you string together. It’s also a dynamic, “Complex” or maybe even “Emergent” system where the overall effect of the mix is greater than the sum of the parts. When you really get it right, it’s where the magic happens. If you’ve been a marketing practitioner for a while, and have had a major success or two, you know what I mean.

The problem is that it’s really hard to optimize your mix if you’re just thinking about it as a list of tactics. You need to be able to see your whole marketing “footprint”, visualizing the relationships between its elements. Only then can you understand its structure, its scope, its potential, and how to leverage all of its parts to maximum effect.

That’s where marketing “Mix Maps” on the Higher Education Marketing Periodic Table can help.

To get a fuller description of the Marketing Principles Behind the Higher Education Marketing Periodic Table click this link.

Here’s how to visualize your higher ed marketing mix with mix maps.

Example of a marketing mix map on the higher education marketing and recruitment period table

So let’s start our explanation of Mix Maps by defining its parts, building a mix map from the ground up.

At the foundation of a Mix Map is the Higher Ed Marketing Periodic Table. It provides a visualization of the general landscape of the higher ed marketing ecosystem and includes most of the different elements you might want to include in your marketing mix. Click this link for a full description of the Higher Education Marketing Periodic Table and to download a pdf of it.

There are three different types of marketing mix indicators on a mix map. They are the Positioning Elements, Active Mix Elements, and Strategy Anchor Elements.

I define these elements as the following:

  • Positioning Elements are the background, foundational marketing mix elements that serve an important role but have a lower profile in the mix. They are not always clear or visible from the outside looking in.
  • Active Mix Elements are the dynamic, or activated mix elements that are clear and visible from the outside, that are driving your marketing strategy forward.
  • Strategy Anchors Elements become evident after mapping the positioning elements and the active mix elements. They are the most important of all of the mix elements. Once identified, they suggest the primary marketing strategy in play across your total mix.

Next, let’s create a mix map on the Higher Education Marketing Periodic table.

If the higher ed marketing periodic table is the landscape of higher ed marketing, the mix map plots your path on the landscape that gets you to your marketing goals.

Let’s dig into the example shown above. Note that I have built this example from recent news headlines and am identifying the mix elements while looking in from the outside. I don’t work with either EdX or SNHU. The analysis is mine, not informed by anyone from these institutions. It is an example of looking at a marketing case from the outside, as many of you regularly do, when you are examining a competitive program or an innovative offering, like this one, and considering how to compete. Here is the link to the press release that announced the launch of this program back in April.

Now, lets review the steps you go through to build a mix map.

Step 1) Gather background information and establish the main mix elements

Gather the main elements of the case into a brief profile of the example you want to map.

A quick summary of the highlights of the edX/SNHU Microbachelor program might go like this:

  • Includes 2 courses, Data Management and Business Analytics, get 6 credits,
  • Cost is $US 1250,
  • Have 8 months to complete,
  • All online
  • SNHU profs teach the courses
  • SNHU and edX cross promote
  • these edX courses articulate into SNHU associate or bachelor’s degree program

Step 2) Add the Positioning Elements to the Periodic Table

This is the part of the process that is very subjective. It is based on your experience, your knowledge of, and your perspective on the situation you’re examining.

Here’s my take on what the Foundation Elements should be :

Adding positioning elements of the marketing mix map on the HEMRPT

Step 3) Then add the Active Mix elements.

I define the active mix as those elements that are dynamic parts of the mix. Many of the active mix elements in this example are inferred from my general background knowledge and experience, but I confident they are pretty close. They are the things that are most visible, dynamic, timely, the ones that hit the gas on your campaign or plan.

Adding active elements of the marketing mix on the higher education marketing and recruitment periodic table

(PRO TIP: Have a colleague create own their version of the map for an example you are working on and compare. The differences between the two maps will prove to be very interesting, revealing a wealth of information, and reveal clues about your different experiences and perspective.)

Step 4) Add the Strategy Anchor Elements

Based on your positioning and active mix elements, now work out the strategy anchors. These are those critical pieces of the mix that reveal the real foundation of your marketing strategy, the main elements that are shaped by “the how” of your marketing mix.

Strategy anchors on the HEMRPT

Step 5) Add your Strategy Anchor Titles to the Periodic Table

Once you determine what you believe to be the strategy anchors, drop them onto the mix and summarize what you discern to be the strategy of the mix you are studying. If I am going to be presenting a mix map to others, to help them understand my analysis, I will usually add these keywords to the mix map to help reveal the insights that I have concluded.

Strategy anchor titles

So there you go. That’s the quick intro into how you develop a Mix Map on the Higher Education Marketing Periodic Table.

(PRO TIP: To capture these elements in a simple way I use PowerPoint. Basically, I drop the PT into PowerPoint slide and then draw the mix elements on to the map. Usually, I’ll do that one layer at a time, adding a new slide for each to keep them separate. When you are finished with a layer hit escape and ppt will ask if you want to save your drawing. Say yes, and it adds your elements to the slide as a layer that you can move around, copy or simply save. )

I will review these steps of how to use Powerpoint to do this in more detail in an upcoming blog and provide an example of it there.

So that’s how you can visualize your higher ed marketing mix with mix maps. I hope you find it useful.

Assuming they’re not proprietary or top secret, feel free to send along examples of your mix map examples to me to comment on. I’d really love to see how you choose to apply this tech, to learn from you and continue to improve the Periodic Table and this Mix Map approach in the future.


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