4 Ways The HERS Framework Helps Marketers

Clarity, focus and the smart use of resources are three of the most important attributes an education recruitment strategy should have. 

We all find it difficult from time to time, which is why having a one-look, easy to implement framework by your side can make things that much easier. Especially for smaller teams.

The Higher Education Recruitment Stack framework aids marketers to define the scope of their strategy, focus on their audience's needs, and create a more holistic recruitment plan.

Here we explore our signature stack in more detail, with four ways the HERS framework helps.


  1. Clarity of message: Define the scope of your strategy and prioritize channels and topics using the HERS framework.
  2. Focus on your audience: Use your message to meet your audience's needs by focusing on topics that contribute to your core goals.
  3. A More Holistic Strategy: The HERS framework provides a panoramic view of the education marketing landscape and allows marketers to chart their course for a more holistic recruitment strategy.
  4. Resource Management: A focused message helps marketers know where to focus their limited resources, allowing for more creativity within defined parameters that feed back to core goals.

Clarity of message

Knowing the scope of your strategy right from the start is crucial. The HERS framework helps here and comes into play once the core values of your institution or campaign have been nailed down.

Once you know the direction you want to go in, you can use the HERS framework to highlight channels and topics which should be considered as a first priority.

As an example, let’s say your goals are Acquisition and Student Satisfaction and Retention.

The stack topics Digital and Offline Marketing as well as Student Experience should be baked into almost all recruitment activities, so we will skip down the stack a bit to save time here.

As we can see lower down the stack, Support is a key topic in the Satisfaction and Retention layer, but there are crossover topics within the Acquisition layer too: Location, Career Development and Community.

Therefore, universities wanting to improve Acquisition alongside Satisfaction and Retention should define the scope of their message around these topics first, with brand building activities such as TV, Print and Radio campaigns as a secondary consideration.

Thus, clarity of message linking directly into the core objective of the campaign is attained.

Focus on your audience needs

By creating a clear message for your strategy you’re now in a better position to define how you will focus that message on the needs of your audience. Let’s keep it rolling with the topics we defined above:

Career Development

Remember, these are feeding into Acquisition as well as Satisfaction and Retention.

Potential students who see you are delivering in these areas will be more likely to apply and students who are benefiting from these activities will certainly continue with their degree course. 

Let’s imagine the core audience for your institution is undergraduate students with an interest in applied social sciences such as psychology, social work or criminology. Your focus topics feeding into your core goals will be tailored appropriately.

This is just a starting point, but you can get an idea of how your content plan, digital communications, offline materials and in-person tone of voice becomes much more consistent with the needs of prospective students. 

A more holistic strategy

Successful education marketing strategies are made up of multiple constituent parts all working together towards a common objective; No one aspect of our efforts succeeds or fails in isolation.

In the past, education marketers have struggled to define where these various parts overlap, when they have an effect on one another, and what should be considered in or out of scope.

The HERS framework acts as a panoramic view of the education marketing landscape and allows marketers to plot their course through it for a more holistics recruitment strategy.

Just like a landscape in real life, the view is always changing. The HERS framework is meant as a snapshot of the education landscape on that day it was taken and is constantly updated.

Words On Brand - Higher Education Recruitment Stack 2023

Management of resources

Education marketing teams are often one-person shows or at least working with limited resources. There’s no time to spend energy on activities that may not resonate with your target audience or directly link to your core message.

An added benefit of having a focused message—as highlighted above—is knowing with confidence where you can apply your limited resources.

Experimenting is encouraged, but only once you know on which channels and with which message in mind. Experimenting with no plan is chaos.

The HERS framework gives marketers bandwidth back to be more creative within defined parameters which feed back to their core objectives.

Final notes:

It is important to reiterate the HERS framework is not the definitive finished article, and will always need revamping as the education marketing landscape changes. All suggestions for improvements are welcome.

The HERS framework should be treated as a jumping off point for more holistic marketing and recruitment strategies and not a checklist for an off-the-peg successful marketing strategy.

We hope you find this resource useful and look forward to hearing how you implement it in your own strategic planning for recruitment.

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