“Marketers should look outside of their own business environment to see what type of innovation and learning can be garnered from others that can be applied to your business or industry.”
— Nicholas Scibetta, Stony Brook University


Continually being able to define what works and what doesn’t in your marketing strategies typically comes down to knowing where you stand in relation to your peers and competition.

Nicholas Scibetta, VP, Marketing & Communications, and Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Stony Brook University, says that having this knowledge helps create and initiate marketing strategies and plans that can give you a competitive advantage.

Knowing your competition is also critical in helping ensure you maintain your school’s point of differentiation, which can help spot trends, predict where the market may be shifting and provide opportunities to capitalize on your competitors’ content marketing. There is also the potential opportunity to improve your SEO by understanding your competitors’ backlink profile.

“Marketers should look outside of their own business environment to see what type of innovation and learning can be garnered from others that can be applied to your business or industry,” Scibetta says.

Scibetta believes there are number of ways to gain this type of knowledge. The first is to ensure that you and members of your team are attending conferences, visiting other institutions and comparing notes. Identify work you admire and connect with leaders from those organizations to discuss what best practices, technologies and organizational structures they’ve put in place to create the work. Ask questions of the vendors or partners with whom you consult and work.

“By doing so, you have an opportunity to promote your own brand and foster a stronger thought-leadership platform,” he says.

What’s the best way to stay in front of the marketing curve in today’s ever-competitive landscape?

Both Singh and Scibetta say the secret is to take risks. Encourage your team and university partners to embrace change and be vigilant about ensuring research is the driver of your insights, and insights are informing your creative.

“Test, test, test content options,” Scibetta says. “Stay true to who you are and work hard to communicate this authentically with your audiences. This means understanding your audience(s), and staying targeted and focused, but also not shying away from being innovative in the ways you engage with those audiences.”


1. Communicate your brand image and message consistently. Repetition and consistency of message are critical to build awareness, trust and reputation.

2. Maximize all facets of storytelling to build the emotional connection with your audiences. Brands are built on and nurtured by emotional connections.

3. Activate alumni, faculty and administrators, influential supporters, and even your students to communicate your message with and for you. Testimonials from trusted sources resonate.

4. Present a multi-channel and customized communication strategy to reinforce awareness and messages.

5. Don’t lose sight of the experience you want your audience(s) to have when interacting with and experiencing your brand. Remember that your audience is being bombarded with numerous brand messages, so it is critical to develop engaging and customized content via multiple channels that delivers consistent messaging and value.