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Takeaways from the 2019 NACAC National Conference

Estimated read time – 3 minutes

Lauren and Ben were two of the seven Niche staff at the booth. Here they are showing off the new Market Intelligence Tool.

The NACAC conference is behind us and there is still a lot to unpack after Saturday’s business session. It remains to be seen whether the ethical standards in the CEPP will be held after the vote, or whether boards and those at institutions outside of enrollment will pressure staff to start recruiting students enrolled elsewhere. Time will tell.

This was my first NACAC in the exhibitor seat at the table, and I was amazed at how busy it is. Going from session to session taking notes and checking in with friends and colleagues was an experience, but talking for hours on end and meeting so many new people was a whole other. The Niche booth was the busiest it’s ever been and we had a great time hearing from high school guidance counselors and independent counselors. Many of them came by just to tell us how much they love Niche and tell all their students to use it for their college search, including several international counselors.

Here were some of the big things that happened at the Niche booth, in case you didn’t get there or weren’t at NACAC:

A screenshot of the new Market Intelligence Tool, currently in beta.
  • We debuted a beta version of a new Market Intelligence Tool that we’ll be offering in late 2019/early 2020. It was something I was really excited about because it’s something I wish I had when I was in the institutional seat. Even this simplified version had people really excited, so I can’t wait to share it in webinars in the coming months. 
  • From almost every institution the message was the same: budgets are being cut and you’re being asked to bring in record classes simultaneously. Now it’s more important than ever to be able to express the ROI of everything done in the admissions and marketing offices. Whether that is the value provided by events, travel, print campaigns, digital marketing, or vendor relationships you will need to be able to show leadership and boards that what you are doing works. And if it doesn’t, you can find better ways to achieve your goals.
  • Niche is growing fast, and in just the 3 months I’ve been here we’ve launched several new pieces; including grad school profiles, custom market intelligence research, and dashboards to help you track and compare the value of website traffic. We all had great moments telling people all about the new things we’re doing and new solutions to help K-12 schools, districts, colleges, and graduate schools achieve their varied goals.
  • We had some great conversations with CRM vendors to strengthen connections. Niche already works closely with SalesForce and is a Slate Preferred Partner. Whatever your CRM, we can work with you to make sure students asking for information get in quickly and will be hearing from you. 
  • There are a lot of schools interested in improving their communication flows and it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on in my career. Invest the time in highly segmented emails, a strong student telecounselor program that also texts, underclass communications, and messaging surrounding what experiences set your institution apart as well as addressing the common pain points that you know will come up. (Too much to say here, watch for an upcoming blog post)

If you were there, I hope you also made it over to the Niche Cafe. The Cafe was a big hit and featured a lounge and workspace, food and drinks, and massage chairs (which were welcome after a long day). Hope to see you next year in Minneapolis!

Conference attendees enjoyed drinks and a space to work, meet, or relax in the Niche Cafe.

If you would like to connect and talk more, you can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter! If you have questions about Niche or how we can help, I’m happy to connect you with one of our Account Executives working with your type of school.

Prior to coming to Niche in 2019 Will served 9 years at Manchester University in roles as an Admissions Counselor, Associate Director for Admissions Operations, Social Media Coordinator, and ultimately as Digital Strategist. Will surfaces tactical insights from user behavior and surveys to help higher ed build recruitment strategies. In addition to the Enrollment Insights blog, webinars, and podcast; Will is a frequent conference speaker and podcast guest. He has presented at NACAC, AACRAO-SEM, AMA Higher Ed, CASE V, EduWeb, and EMA. Will's work has been featured in Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, CNBC, CNN, the LA Times, and The New York Times among other outlets.