Phase IABackground Research
SURFACE -> SYNTHESIZE
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. -Carl Sagan
Every CRANE program begins with listening and learning. With curiosity, intellect, and a keen eye for nuance, our team delves into your institution’s history, culture, practices, and marketplace realities. We want to understand your institution from every relevant perspective.
These deliberate, initial steps lay the critical foundation for all of our subsequent work.
Background Research: Even before our first visit, we devote as much time as it takes to “know our knowables.” That means not only analyzing your provided historical, communications, research, and planning materials, but also becoming fluent in your competitors’ pedagogical, marketing, and strategic positions.
Site Visit: Next, your CRANE team comes to you. We immerse ourselves in your day-to-day culture, witnessing your community in action. We conduct in-depth focus groups and interviews with your stakeholders who share with us their crucial inside perspectives.
Quantitative Research: Though not always necessary, quantitative research can prove invaluable in fine-tuning qualitative findings, identifying commonalities within audience subpopulations, and serving as a baseline for measuring future change.
Phase IBReview & Reflection Paper
Research Findings Report
Category of One
Marketing First Principles
RECONCILE -> DISTILL
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. -Carl Jung
Now comes the strategic pivot point. The foundational conversations we’ve had with you become intensive conversations within CRANE. We grapple with the good and the bad; we seek consonance among the many voices we’ve heard, focusing on the highest shared vision of your stakeholders.
This new thinking reframes the strategic marketing task ahead and can reinvigorate and inspire your community in other–sometimes surprising–ways.
Review & Reflection Paper: This signature CRANE document offers a 360-degree snapshot of your current and distinctive reality. In most cases, we also share pointed and opposing viewpoints, respecting every voice while also reframing the conversation through a critical and compassionate perspective, ultimately identifying a unified strategy going forward.
Research Findings Report: Dead-set against the research-report-as-doorstop mentality, we take pains to develop a vital and lasting report and related presentation for you that enlightens, rather than overwhelms.
Category of One: Your Category of One is the ultimate distillation of what you—and only you—can promise your market. All of our foundational research and critical reflections press us to this concentrated point of insight—about not only what you do, but also why you do it. And all of the work that follows from this point, flows from this same moment of arrested clarity.
Promise Statement: Your Promise Statement captures and examines your tacit covenant with your market—what you do in real time, for real students, with real outcomes, every time. This Promise, once adopted, becomes the touchstone that guides the creation of new marketing messages and other strategic decisions.
Marketing First Principles: These nuanced guidelines provide a reliable method for making marketing decisions–both as part of the CRANE program and for your own future efforts–that help keep your message on target.
CONCEIVE -> CREATE
A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled. -Raymond Chandler
Only now are we truly ready to undertake this generative phase of the program–where too many marketing programs begin. Equipped with well-considered new perspective, we translate our thinking into creative and strategic recommendations that embody your Promise and can bring about your stated goals.
Metaconcept: The creative expression of your (reframed) value proposition.
Liquid Content: Marketing content should never be tied to a specific communications suite. Instead, we craft liquid content, meaning it can flow anywhere and take on any shape.
Graphic Identity: This visual signature supports your newly articulated position and includes a new color palette, font palette, and recommended image bank.
Creative Prototypes: We present creative constructs that authentically embody your institution and excite the imagination through audience-specific communications and messaging prototypes such as: targeted direct mailings, social media and other digital outlets, publications, radio sponsorships, event sponsorships, periodical advertising, outdoor campaigns, and more.
Phase IIICreative Implementation
On-site Photo Shoot
COMPLETE -> REVEAL
Truth is always exciting. Speak it, then... -Pearl Buck
We see your program through to completion with the same thoughtfulness with which we began our partnership. Once creative concepts are approved and a tactical strategy is agreed-upon, we complete the specific mechanisms you choose.
Creative Implementation: CRANE completes to production-ready stage all messaging materials that you choose to implement, such as:
- admissions publications suite
- demographic analysis, list acquisition, and direct mail strategy
- direct mail series
- print and electronic ads
- social media and viral media tactics
On-site Photo Shoot: The CRANE designer art-directs the on-site photo shoot, carefully planned to support the messaging and provide a long-term image library.
Editorial Visit: The CRANE writer conducts the editorial visit to capture specific quotes and anecdotes needed to complete implementation.
Style Guide: As the official duration of your CRANE program comes to a close, we deliver the Style Guide that outlines messaging standards for your new marketing visuals, a practical compliment to the enduring learning and solutions born of our work together.