Yes, We Do That

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Do techniques taught in college work in the real world?

This is a familiar question for educators and admissions officials. Students and employers alike want to know if what is taught at your college will translate into good results in the business world. Will it?

As a higher education marketer with a national award for admissions marketing, I can say without hesitation, “Yes.” Techniques taught in college really can work in real-world situations. The Allied Group has helped institutions significantly increase enrollments using these techniques. One example of this if what social psychologists call the Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon. The widely-used textbook, Social Psychology by David Myers, PhD defines it as:

The tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request.

The Foot-in-the-Door (FITD) Phenomenon (see page 121 in the linked text) has been taught by such luminaries as textbook authors Elliot Aronson, PhD, the only psychologist in history to win each of the APA’s top awards for teaching, writing and research and Robert Cialdini, PhD, Professor Emeritus at ASU, who has trained and advised scores of business leaders, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States. It has been the subject of more than 100 controlled scientific studies and is considered a fact of human behavior.

Does FITD work in the real world? Yes. It plays a big role in marketing to college students. During the traditional college search process, marketing communication strategies based on FITD bring in large numbers of admissions inquiries to colleges and universities across America. In these programs, institutions send out personalized direct mail featuring an offer to prospective students. Many will respond to receive the offer. If (and only if) the offer and program are structured correctly, a significant number of those who inquire in this way will also apply.

Foot-in-the-Door Development Campaigns

FITD-based campaigns have excelled in others ways as well, particularly in charitable giving. In one controlled study a development campaign for the Canadian Cancer Society requested that some prospective donors make a small commitment to cancer research. The next day, volunteers asked them and many others for contributions. Those who had made a smaller commitment the day before were twice as likely to donate. Similarly, an Israeli research study found that making the right small request of householders two weeks before a fundraising drive increased donor participation by 84%.

Studies have shown that FITD works under certain conditions and not in others. But when it’s done correctly it has significantly increased the likelihood that students will inquire and apply to college, adults will donate money (and even their organs) and teenage smokers will join Stop Smoking programs. This is clearly an example of a technique taught in college that really works in real life. Could an integrated marketing communications program using techniques like this help your institution reach its goals? If you’d like to investigate you can email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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