Oakton College Digital and Traditional Marketing Services Marketing Agency/Needs Outline

DUE DATE: 11:00 AM on Thursday, November 2nd, 2023 Proposals will be publicly opened at this time.


Oakton College seeks an integrated media planning/buying and/or digital marketing firm to help plan and strategize the College’s digital and traditional advertising campaigns. Oakton’s Marketing and Communications team acts primarily as an in-house marketing agency that develops strategy, manages budgets, and executes complex marketing and communication strategies in various media channels for multiple markets. In FY25 (July 2024 – June 2025, it is expected that Oakton may make advertising media expenditures of +/- $220,000 for digital and +/-$190,000 for traditional advertising. The College intends to use an external marketing agency to provide significant added value to advance the college’s goals and priorities.

The College will contract with the selected agency/ies from July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025, with the option of renewing for two additional years (one year at a time), from July 1, 2025, through June 30, 2026, and July 1, 2026, through June 30, 2027, if mutually agreed upon by both parties and pending approval by the College’s Board of Trustees. At this time, agencies should consider that the terms and conditions listed in this proposal pertain to all three years.

Oakton welcomes any agency qualified for traditional media planning/buying and digital marketing services to bid on both services. However, the agency/firm may bid on each item separately. The ideal agency will understand the community college mission, its diverse target audiences, and the community college enrollment process and timelines.

If the agency is not performing to Oakton’s standards, the College reserves the right to cancel the contract by giving the agency 30 days’ written notice.

Background and Context

With campuses in Des Plaines, Skokie, a new health careers education location anticipated in Evanston in 2024/25, and online, the College serves 435,000 residents in Illinois Community College District 535, which includes the communities of Des Plaines, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Northfield, Park Ridge, Skokie, Wilmette, and Winnetka.

Oakton College launched a new strategic plan beginning July 1, 2022, Vision 2030: Building

Just and Thriving Communities, with a focus on three strategic goals:

• Strengthening Students’ Oakton Experience

• Enhancing Workforce Readiness and Community Engagement

• Advancing Racial Equity

Students enroll at Oakton with the goal of building a better life for themselves and their families and making a positive impact on their community. To reach their successful outcome — a degree or certificate conferred, credits transferred, or improved career — every student needs personal attention, effective support from outstanding instructors, and a caring community. “Vision 2030” is Oakton’s roadmap to helping students reach that goal.

A few key institutional initiatives have occurred:

• Website redesigned and launched June 2022.

• The college changed from Oakton Community College to Oakton College in 2022.

• The college has completed a brand refresh project (Jan 2022-June 2022) that has created a refresh to our visual identities (logo and seal) and updated brand guidelines and messaging pillars to align with the college’s new strategic plan and name change.

Scope of Work

Oakton’s marketing and communications department is looking for an agency/ies to provide strategy, recommendations, and placement of its digital and traditional marketing efforts while integrating digital tactics with Oakton’s institutional website/microsite/s/landing pages and CRM system (Salesforce/Target X) utilizing Google Analytics Google Tag Manager and existing social media accounts.

There are three primary enrollment campaign periods within the fiscal year: fall (August), spring (January), and summer (June). Campaigns may be enrollment-based, program/niche-based, and continuously run through the year to impact brand awareness and lead generation within Community College District 535.

Campaigns encompass a variety of channels and media including, but not limited to, traditional advertising channels, paid social media, digital ad networks, mobile, multimedia, paid and nonpaid media search, remarketing and retargeting, broadcast TV, OTT, streaming platforms, and geofencing. Nearly all media is geo-targeted, including district zip codes or market-targeted, and may include identified lists provided by the marketing and communications department. Creative is usually developed in-house. Media is generally pre-planned for the next fiscal year (July-June) the preceding March or several months before enrollment.

Some ad hoc media buys arise due to unexpected internal requests or institutional needs, opportunities, and priorities. All digital campaigns are tracked via Google Analytics, with interactions tracked through Google Tag Manager.

The successful agency will provide a narrative that will discuss its background and how it is best suited to assist Oakton College’s Marketing and Communications department with:

• Brand Awareness: impacting and raising the awareness of Oakton’s brand while strengthening the college’s relevance throughout District 535.

• Enrollment and Events: reaching prospective students to gain the most reach at the best possible cost. This includes reaching high school students (traditional) and adult students (post-traditional); reaching parents and influencers; utilizing purchased and institutional lists to convert prospective students to apply and enroll; students who have stopped out to re-enroll; and working with Oakton’s current student lists to help with retention efforts and reduce equity gaps. Reaching students who are looking to transfer and enter into a career. There are generally two open houses each year to reach new prospective students.

• Community and Business Partners: A focus for the institution is to strengthen our relevance with workforce and industry partners. There may be potential need/s to support this audience and identify prospective students for enrollment.

• Digital Expertise: providing digital expertise to help manage media buys and budget/s;

data and analytics, campaign optimization; and recommendations. The agency may need to help Oakton establish best practices for tracking and identifying KPIs for digital campaigns and implementation and set up with Google Analytics and Google Tag

Manager and integration with the college’s CRM system Target X (Salesforce), including integration with the college’s official social media channels.

• Traditional Expertise: providing experience to help manage media buys/budgets and optimization for traditional media mixes and communications strategy/messaging.

• Partnership: providing expertise in best practices and trends in reaching prospective students and offering innovative ideas and solutions that impact brand awareness in higher education. We need the agency/ies to ensure the college’s best foot is forward in all channels and provide quality checks with other vendors on our behalf.

Please include relevant samples to document the agency’s capability.

The successful agency/ies should demonstrate its expertise in developing and executing cost-efficient digital and/or traditional media plans and campaigns for the Northwest Chicago Demographic Marketing Area.

Please include the following information in your proposal response:

I. What activities will occur during the first 30 days of a contract to ensure a smooth transition? (Note that campaigns must be live on July 1, 2024.)

II. Provide information on the experience of the project team that will support Oakton


a. Include experience and biographies of the buyers and media planning team.

b. Include experience and biographies of senior-level account representatives on all planning services, and provide references. If the agency/ies change a project team member(s) during the life of the contract, Oakton requires a seasoned team with at least 2-3 years of experience in higher education. Describe how representation transition would occur if needed.

III. Agency’s media buyers must demonstrate the ability to negotiate the best rate(s) with a digital and/or traditional media company.

a. Give at least 2 examples on how your agency has accomplished the best rate while passing on increased savings to your customers.

b. Payment to the media on the college’s behalf; the agency invoices the college.

IV. We require access to a live 24/7 dashboard to create visibility into campaign schedules, budget allocation, and campaign results.

a. How will your agency service provide access to live dashboards and consistent communication/meetings with the college?

V. We require team meetings and a review of campaign performance/s as needed or deemed appropriate.

VI. Provide your agency’s rate sheet, commission structure, fee structure, and sliding scales, and provide a list of any ancillary charges that your agency may charge for its services.

VII. Discuss your agency’s ability to work efficiently and effectively with in-house marketing and communications staff.

VIII. Substantial knowledge of Oakton College’s community district area, the higher educationsector, and the community college system is preferred.

Oakton College: Digital Marketing Needs

The College seeks a digital advertising agency to deliver strategy, planning/buying/expertise, and

recommendations/tracking/reporting, including but not limited to Amazon advertising, Paid

Search (PPC), Programmatic, digital display, retargeting, and remarketing, Mobile, Paid Social,

streaming media, and Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics.

Key areas of interest will include:

• Strategic, niche market plans and campaigns.

• Digital and mobile advertising for display/network, individual websites e.g. Pandora/Spotify, other streaming platforms, search, social, remarketing, and geotargeting.

• Digital trend expertise/consulting/recommendations.

• DSP ad network experience to support geofencing opportunities.

• Target audience analysis:

• Demographics, behavioral/look-alike audiences/contextual, etc.

• Utilization of current list/s by Oakton is expected.

• Media placement effectiveness/tracking results.

• Conversion optimization support

• Certified in Microsoft’s Bing Ads Accredited Professional is preferred.

• Must be a Certified Google Partner, certified in the following areas:

• Premier Google AdWords

• Google Analytics Certified

• Google Tag Manager Certified

• Google AdWords Display

• Google Video Advertising,

• Appropriate DSP networks such as DoubleClick.

• Google Premier Partner preferred.

• Access to live 24/7 dashboard to monitor and assess all campaign/s results in real-time.

• Proactive communication and quality checks on the college’s behalf.

• Partner with the Marketing and Communications department on professional

development opportunities to enhance digital marketing knowledge.

• Thought partner to advance the college’s goals and priorities to reach diverse audiences.

Oakton College: Traditional Marketing Needs

The College seeks a traditional advertising agency to deliver strategy/planning/buying/expertise,


Key areas of interest will include:

• Experience or knowledge of Chicagoland media market and opportunities is required

• Media trend expertise/consulting/recommendations.

• Media placement effectiveness/tracking results.

• Proactive communication and quality checks on the college’s behalf.

• Target audience analysis and identification.

• Buying power that includes bonus opportunities.

• Print, broadcast, streaming, and other opportunities that positively impact Oakton’s brand awareness.

• Thought partner to advance the college’s goals and priorities to reach diverse audiences


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