3 Enrollment Marketing, Inc. Announces New Solution That Modernizes Strategic Planning

Colleges and universities have faced decades of rising uncertainty, and strategic planning paradigms are not keeping pace. The 3E Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness solution modernizes the process with a focus on differentiation, realistic recommendations, and delivering impact in months—not years.

After years of investing in the current approach to strategic planning, higher education is experiencing widespread financial weakness, stagnating or decreasing completion and retention rates, rising student debt, increasing discount rates, and declining college-going rates—while institutions grow more undifferentiated. For many, the value of a postsecondary education is in question.

Why has strategic planning failed to improve the higher education landscape?

Until now, strategic planning has been very insular, focused on best practices and tools solely within higher education. It has been standardized: the same goals, processes, and metrics are applied across institutions, driving towards sameness and mediocrity. The plans are not actionable fast enough to make an impact and gain widespread internal support.

It’s time for a change—a change in approach and results. 3 Enrollment Marketing, Inc. has modernized the process with the 3E Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness solution, which will support presidents and their planning committees in building a modern, actionable plan that leads to a thriving institution.

3E has already modernized marketing for higher ed, fusing innovative best practices from both business and higher education with cutting-edge technology and their more than 250 years of experience in the industry. Jim Rogers, 3E’s CEO, shares: “Our mission as a company is to build a path to higher ed for more students. To do that we need healthy institutions that provide strong and compelling reasons for students to invest in them not just for four years, but for a lifetime. I have been leading corporate strategic planning for over 20 years and along with Mary Grondahl, we’ll bring the best of modern business planning and the best of higher education planning to help institutions find a clear path to differentiation, maintain financial health, and develop thriving students.” Jim, an accomplished executive with a track record of strengthening organizations—from large publicly traded companies to technology startups—brings his extensive business acumen to shaping this solution.

To head this area, Mary Grondahl has joined as Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness. With more than thirty years of experience leading strategic initiatives and undergraduate and graduate enrollment management and marketing efforts, she understands, firsthand, the challenges facing institutional leadership. She has also worked with institutions across the country on audits and analyses and has served as an adjunct professor in Higher Education Leadership and Administration, literally shaping the future of higher ed.

Grondahl explains the importance of this new approach. “Modern, actionable strategic planning that delivers results is necessary in higher ed’s complex environment. I could not be more thrilled to join 3 Enrollment Marketing’s visionary team and to lead the new Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness solution for institutions that deserve their rightful place in today’s competitive market.”

According to 3E’s president, Patricia Maben, “Mary is a force in this area. Few can match her depth of experience—and even fewer can match her combination of spirit, tenacity, and her ability to see new opportunities in old challenges. She knows her stuff, but she’s always learning—her mode of strategic planning means it’s never the same old advice.”

In partnering with an institution, 3E focuses on three priority outcomes.

1. A focus on differentiation.
This includes developing a distinctive position in the market and organizing the institution around supporting a clear market position—a position that galvanizes faculty, students, families, alumni, and all employees around a common vision and clear set of measurable objectives.

3E applies corporate best practice to higher ed best practice to bring innovation into the planning process.

2. A realistic approach to execution.
3E will provide achievable recommendations that ensure the plan is readily implementable.

The solution has a customizable modular planning framework, enabling institutions to select across six distinct components to meet institutional goals: modern forecast modeling, scenario planning, differentiation pathway, process mapping, organizational execution and tracking, and monitoring and support.

3. A faster time to execution.
Long timelines have been synonymous with the strategic planning process, which hinders efficacy. 3E builds an actionable plan on a much faster timeline, leading to stable enrollment and net revenue trends that can offset inevitable future shocks.


As it has done with marketing, 3E is now modernizing strategic planning for higher ed. Read more about 3E’s Strategic Planning & Institutional Effectiveness solution here.