Marketing and branding the agronomy major at Iowa State University

Miller, B.A. 2011. Marketing and branding the agronomy major at Iowa State University. J Natural Resource and Life Science Education 40:1-9. doi:10.4195/jnrlse.2009.0037u.


The decline of enrollments in Agronomy programs across the United States has been a concern for over a decade. In an effort to reverse this trend, the Agronomy department at Iowa State University launched the I’m an Agronomist marketing campaign in 2006. This manuscript reports on these efforts and the change in the undergraduate Agronomy student population at Iowa State University since the campaign’s inception. In the spring of 2010, one hundred and six more students were studying Agronomy than in 2005. This was an increase of 91%. Prior to implementing marketing strategies, Agronomy enrollment at ISU had been on a six year decline. The campaign has also had the additional benefits of generating a sense of pride and excitement among department staff, students, and alumni. The execution of the marketing campaign has been accomplished through close collaboration between staff within our department including graphic artists, communication specialists, and those passionate about the topic. In designing our marketing strategies, we observed and learned from marketing approaches in wide spread use. The most important elements in the development of our marketing campaign were a simple message, artistic style, branding, and advertising in smart locations. While direct connections between marketing efforts and enrollment increases are difficult to prove. The I’m An Agronomist campaign has coincided with a time of extraordinary growth in student numbers. The campaign has also appeared to have had additional benefits with regards to internal morale and external relations.

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