MMC-5006 Final Project – IMC for OCCC (or Are We Getting a Mascot?!)

MMC-5006 FINAL PROJECT – November 2015
(Below is for academic purposes only.)

Oklahoma City Community College

COMPANY ANALYSIS – EVALUATION

Summary:
Founded in 1972, Oklahoma City Community College is an open-enrollment two-year college located in south Oklahoma City. With an annual enrollment of approximately 30,000 students, it is the 4th largest institution of higher learning in the state of Oklahoma. It has over 25,000 graduates and has served over 330,000 students in its history. OCCC (pronounced O-Triple-C) describes its mission as to provide broad access to learning that empowers students to complete a degree or certificate that enriches the lives of everyone in the community. It aspires to be an indispensable pathway to a more prosperous and fulfilling future for all of its students.

The college is a community anchor in South Oklahoma City, offering well-respected educational and cultural programs. It draws students of all ages from all walks of life, although the stereotype is that the student body is largely from lower economic strata. OCCC offers Associate Degree programs and Certificate of Mastery programs, though a large share of students at any time are taking basic requirements with the intention of transferring those credits to a 4-year university.

commencement

OCCC graduated nearly 2000 students in May of 2015.

Target Audience:
College students – both traditional and non-traditional – in search of access to education that leads to either a degree or certificate of mastery from OCCC or to a degree from a 4-year college or university. (This is the target market for the college itself. The target for my proposed plan below will be somewhat different.)

SWOTs:
– Strengths
o Affordability
o Small class sizes / good teacher-to-student ratio
o Faculty / Large curriculum
o Community-minded
o South Oklahoma City anchor supported well by hyper-local community
o New Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater

– Weaknesses
(redacted)

– Opportunities
o Repurposing of recently-closed iconic on-campus Aquatic Center
o New Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater
o Student and Alumni engagement (presently are blank slates begging for rallying points)

– Threats
(redacted)

Oklahoma City Community College is a very strong, well-established brand. It is known for doing what it does very well:
– Providing affordable opportunities for all to complete educational requirements needed for an Associate Degree or similar or for a transfer to a 4-year college or university
– Providing cultural enrichment for the community

Recent economic downturns in the state economy due to the key component Energy Sector’s struggles with low commodity prices (cheap oil and gas) and the resulting specter of a dismal 2016-2017 fiscal year outlook for the state have lead to severe cuts (and threats of others) at OCCC, including the outright permanent closing of one iconic campus/community resource (the OCCC Aquatic Center) in September of 2015 and the potential discontinuation of a 37-year campus/community tradition (Arts Festival Oklahoma).

The OCCC Aquatic Center pool is clean and ready for swimmers on June 18 after the May 31 severe weather and flooding shut down the Recreation and Fitness Department. Aquatic Maintenance Operator Michael Shugart said that flood water did not actually make into the pool thanks to the pool deck's degree of incline.

The OCCC Aquatic Center closed in September due to budget cuts.

AFO 217

Arts Festival Oklahoma is threatened by a reduction in state appropriations.

Both of these two beloved institutions are the topics most frequently associated with the OCCC, yet neither have ever been on a firm financial footing. In fact, both lose significant amounts of money annually and must be underwritten by the college. Unfortunately, the present day reality of the state economy has left the college with an unenviable choice of what to cut to stay within budget, faculty/staff/academic programming or community offerings like the pool and the arts festival.

The economic situation is, of course, leading to the investigation of new revenue streams. Among the many avenues being considered is increased financial support from alumni. In order for alumni and, very importantly, future alumni to be more financially supportive, they must have reasons to be more engaged than they have been to-date.

As is often the case with community colleges and junior colleges without campus housing and with a less-than-affluent student body, only a very small number of current students engage with campus life outside of class. Despite a multitude of offerings and possibilities, if they are not in class, they are not on-campus, instead leaving immediately to go to work, attend to family, etc.

One perceived opportunity for better engagement is the creation/introduction of athletic programs which the college has never had to-date. It has also never even had a mascot of any type to relate to or rally behind, which would certainly be a good precursor to having sports teams to support. The choice and introduction of a first-ever mascot for OCCC is something that actually is under consideration at this time. For my final project for MMC-5006, I am going to formulate an integrated marketing plan for the campus/community-wide introduction and promotion of the college’s new mascot – at least the foundational bones of a plan the college could actually use in such a case. (For the sake of this project, I am selecting the new mascot myself – the OCCC Ocelots.)

Why an IMC Plan?
At the heart of an integrated marketing plan is integrated marketing communication (IMC), defined as a cross-functional process for creating and nourishing profitable relationships (emphasis mine) with customers and other stakeholders by strategically controlling or influencing all messages sent to those groups and encouraging data-driven purposeful dialogue with them. IMC is the basis for a successful multimedia communications plan. 1

OCCC does have all the tools necessary and available to exercise IMC, promote synergy throughout the campus and community, achieve ubiquity, and execute a very successful integrated marketing plan:

– A main website with multiple, multi-layered pages/sites and mobile optimization
– A newsfeed that easily acts as a blog
– Multiple social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr
– A Content Community in YouTube
– Automated email capabilities
– A marketing/public relations staff for internal content creation
– A huge college community from which to pull external content creation
– A social media manager versed in content and analytics
– A print shop
– Full mail room services
– An Instructional Video Services staff
– Good existing relationships with local media outlets of all types
– A marketing budget

IMC

Integrated Marketing Communication utilizing all appropriate and available resources could have a tremendous reach into the necessarily-broad-for-this-campaign target audience of current students, alumni, and community-at-large. The purpose of this campaign would be to raise awareness throughout that audience of the existence of a new, first-ever mascot for OCCC – i.e. – totally new branding – and to increase audience engagement with the college through available interactive channels. Ultimately, longer-term, the goal is an increase in engagement with campus life thus leading to increased financial support from former students and the community. An intermediate step in the overall college master plan would be the introduction of athletics programs to use as a tool in that engagement process – and a potential desired analytic result could even be an increase in enrollment.

Conclusion:

Brands live in the hearts and minds of customers.2  They embody the perception of those customers’ experiences and interactions. Through the right marketing communication mix (including social media, content communities, email, proximity marketing, traditional marketing and media, event-related marketing, and more), we have the opportunity to properly introduce a new brand to an open, accepting audience with whom we hope to establish a lifelong relationship.

With the OCCC community – students, alumni, faculty, and staff as well as much of the south OKC Metro – there is already a good existing relationship. What is still needed is a flashpoint for more emotional engagement to stoke that relationship and to provide additional interaction. Introduction of a first-ever mascot as a potential precursor to adding athletic programs would be a huge partial re-branding step for the college – one that could ultimately lead to more giving – and one that demands a top-notch IMC plan.

Go Ocelots!

ocelot09b

Reference:

1– Duncan, T. (2002) IMC: Using Advertising & Promotion to Build Brands (First Edition) New York: McGraw-Hill

2 – Thompson, Chris – (April 2012) – The Social Media Recruiter – Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) and Social Networking

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