A university marketing department needed to develop a strategic plan that focused its activities in ways that supported the work of its internal clients, as well as maintaining an effective external presence for the university. In the past, marketing efforts had been disjointed and not cohesive in terms of presenting a single university message. One of the aims of this exercise was to develop the core of a university marketing plan that could ensure a consistent approach to marketing across the university.


A one day strategic planning workshop was scheduled, and invitations to participate were sent to a wide range of internal clients. The aim of the workshop was to work with stakeholders to build a shared view of the marketing priorities for the university for the next three years that could inform the development of a new strategic plan, which would, in turn, support the development of a new university marketing plan.

Prior to the workshop, all participants were asked to answer four questions:

  • how long have you been at the university?
  • what is your role in relation to marketing?
  • what are your major concerns about the university’s marketing?
  • if you had the power, what one thing would you do now that would make a big difference to university marketing?

The answers to these questions were collated and used to drive the first workshop session on identifying the three things that would make a difference to marketing, which could focus the strategic plan. A second session focused on external drivers of change and major trends with the potential to affect the university. Small groups then considered the trends likely to influence the marketing plan that needed to be monitored over time.  This second stage produced data that can be used to review the marketing plan when required to ensure it is still robust. A third session focused on university strategy and its implications for both the marketing department and the marketing plan, which led to a final discussion around the major goals that needed to be included in a strategic plan.

A half day, second workshop was held about a month later to focus on developing the strategic plan itself. After an update on action taken as a result of the first workshop, small groups took one of the goals identified at the first workshop and fleshed this out to specify action, performance measures and targets. The plan was then finalised after the workshop and sent to participants for comment before it was published and implementation commenced.


This university-wide process was the first time all stakeholders had been directly involved in the development of the university marketing plan. As a result, a consistent and shared view of priorities was established, and improvements to critical processes such as communication were identified.