Education marketing

We understand higher education. We know how complex and increasingly competitive the sector is, and how much it changes. Luckily, we also know how to help institutions stand out.

From research and strategic advice to creative branding and campaign delivery, we can shape your message and get it out to the inspired students you want to engage with – wherever in the world they are.

Our work

Here's a quick snapshot of some of our favourite projects. Some are creative. Some are more strategic. Quite a few of them have won awards. And they’re all here because they worked.

Birkbeck University of London

University of Reading

Northumbria University

Bishop Grosseteste University

University of Glasgow

University of Reading Malaysia

Having engaged with a number of different agencies over the years, I can honestly say that they are by far the best agency I have worked with


Key people

Our experts come from a mix of agency and education sector backgrounds, and they'd all be happy to talk to you. Here’s who to contact.

Dan Beynon

Head of Education

Cricketing titan and education know-it-all, Dan is one of the most connected people in this sector. He’s worked with universities all around the world, and provides his considerable expertise to all our education clients.

Ed Layt

Education Marketing Strategist

What Ed doesn’t know about education isn’t worth knowing. He spent ten years as Head of Marketing at a university before he joined us, and draws on this sector experience to tackle our clients’ most challenging problems.

A few Important numbers

Here are just a few facts and figures about us and our work.


Amount of universities/colleges worked with


Number of goal conversions over the last two years


Combined years of experience in the team


Percentage of media activity placed internationally

People first

And experts a close second

What we are doing

Planning strategies or writing research reports. Coming up with creative or running workshops. Or simply getting out there and mixing. We’re always up to something in the education sector.

Getting (creatively) trendy with Higher Education

By Jon Windeatt

​From a creative point of view, education is a funny old sector. It’s crowded, competitive, and home to hundreds of institutions, all trying to sell largely the same thing to largely the same people.

7th April 2017

Personalise to differentiate

By Ed Layt

YMS LDN 2017, Europe’s largest youth marketing conference, wrapped up last week and for the second year running, SMRS were the proud partner of the Higher Education Marketing Stream.

31st March 2017

Challenges and opportunities - how are Universities and Employers approaching the brave new world of the Levy?

By Dan Beynon

We are now only a month away from the formal launch of The Apprenticeship Levy in the UK and Universities and Employers find themselves in various levels of readiness in terms of what lies ahead.

16th March 2017

We need to talk about programmatic

By Richard Badley

​You would have done well to get through the last two weeks without seeing one of the many articles covering one of the many (supposed) risks associated to online ads, more specifically programmatic. What matters here is not hype, opinions or propaganda but brand protection, integrity and trust.

17th February 2017

Applications – where do you really stand and what next?

By Ed Layt

​So the big 15th Jan application deadline has passed and HE providers up and down the country are checking UCAS applicant tracker and student record systems to 'see where they are at'. But whether these numbers are up or down, are they really a good indicator of how things will stand come September?

16th January 2017

Sector and Audience Insight

By Ed Layt

​Over the past two weeks SMRS have been part of two sector conferences, Universities UK’s ‘Using digital innovation to enhance university marketing and communications’ and The Knowledge Partnership’s ‘University market insight conference 2016’.

2nd December 2016

How SMRS helped the University of Groningen make a big splash out of tiny machines

By Jon Kirk

​In October 2016 the University of Groningen needed to react quickly to make the most of the news that one of its professors had jointly won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

2nd December 2016

Applications anxieties

By Dan Beynon

The current status of undergraduate applications to UK universities for 2017 entry is just over 10% down across the sector.

1st December 2016

2016 - enough fear and loathing...

By Dan Beynon

We live in turbulent times. I took 24 hours off from social media yesterday as my mobile streams were ​overflowing with anxiety, fear and anger. It’s a modern phoneomena (forgive me). By this morning I was ready to get back on the horse.

11th November 2016

Clearing 2016

By Charlotte Rock

Starting at SMRS as Client Partner for Education Marketing this week has been exciting to say the least – smack bang in the middle of every HE marketer’s favourite time of the year…Clearing.

10th October 2016

Branding in higher education: an inside view

By Ed Layt

At the 28th annual EAIE Conference in Liverpool, we were delighted to unveil our latest research, examining branding in higher education: ‘Branding in higher education: An inside view’.

30th September 2016

Brexit is happening...

By Jemma Davies

It’s hard to not write an emotive blog about the EU referendum result. Having lived in the Netherlands and now working with universities in the EU, it’s a topic close to my heart and professional career.

22nd September 2016

Clearing 2016 - one week on

By Ed Layt

Clearing is wrapping up for most institutions once again, so I thought I would share some of our initial observations on the time of year that always seems so familiar, and yet always a little bit different…

22nd September 2016

How important is branding in Higher Education?

By Ed Layt

Well, judging by a CASE event I attended earlier in the month, pretty important! ‘Thinking, Doing, Branding’ was held in London at the beginning of April and was packed with interesting case studies and some fascinating discussions.

7th September 2016

Through the lens of students – latest UCAS research

By Ed Layt

Last week, UCAS released a research report into young people’s motivations to study in Higher Education and their perception of the barriers to accessing HE – ‘Through the lens of students’.

7th September 2016

Branding in Brussels - the CASE Europe Annual Conference 2016

By Dan Beynon

Delegates have gathered from all around the world to share experiences and best practice and to continue the important task of charting a path ahead that will look outwards and ensure continued co-operation and collaboration in HE.

7th September 2016

Is the UK still a market worth recruiting from after Brexit?

By Jemma Davies

We teamed up with FPP EDU Media, one of the largest international student recruitment event organisations on the circuit to ask UK students what they were thinking after the EU Referendum.

6th September 2016

Brexit and recruiting postgraduate EU students

By Jemma Davies

​I’ve mentioned Brexit a few times since my arrival at SMRS in January, but it’s big news for those responsible for EU student recruitment. Britain leaving the EU would result in the biggest shake up to HE since the rise in tuition fees.

19th May 2016

SMRS Is Going Stateside

By Jemma Davies

​Come the end of May, I’ll be heading to Denver, Colorado, as will many of those in the field of international education for the ​NAFSA conference​. It’s a tough old gig but someone’s got to do it!

10th May 2016

The emergence of Snapchat

By Sophie Bracegirdle

​As a social media channel whose value has traditionally been disregarded, Snapchat is emerging as a social powerhouse, boasting the same amount of daily video views as Facebook (8 billion) and 100 million daily active ‘Snapchatters’; with a niche of the 16 – 24-year-old demographic.

5th April 2016

It’s April Fools! Here’s how Higher Education reacted

By Jemma Davies

​It’s that day of the year when you’re wondering if anything you read is actually true – April Fools’ Day! As the morning breaks around the world, news stories have been gracing our screens for us to judge. Can you pick the trick from the truth?

1st April 2016

What makes a global university?

By Jemma Davies

​It’s a big question – one that led to a lively discussion at the International Higher Education Forum 2016 in London earlier this month.

16th March 2016

The Power of data

By Jon Kirk

There’s plenty of competition and change in the Higher Education sector. Which means that Universities, inevitably, are looking to use smarter, more cost-effective tactics when recruiting students.

29th January 2016

Content strategy in Higher Education

By Ed Layt

​Think of some of the best publishers and broadcasters in the world – the ones that produce gripping content time after time that gets you, and the wider world wanting more. What enables them to deliver such quality content?

25th January 2016

Clearing 2015, what did we learn?

By Ed Layt

Less than eight weeks after A Level results day and Clearing feels like a distant memory… But before we put Clearing 2015 to bed completely, lets just glance back on some of the big shifts we saw this year.

7th October 2015

Clear thinking: what are the lessons to be learned from Clearing 2014?

By Dan Beynon

The removal of the government cap on student numbers for 2015 entry has led to much speculation about the potential for universities to court and recruit additional students.

10th August 2015

The one about 4Ps in HE

By Andrea Grassby

If you’ve done a marketing course, it’s likely you’ve come across the 4 Ps - Product, Place, Price and Promotion. They’ve been around since the 1960s and used by marketers ever since. But how relevant are they to Higher Education marketing?

11th March 2014

Happy Clients

We're proud of the work we do. But we’re prouder of what our clients think of it.

  • "I have followed with interest the Revisions & Decisions research project delivered by SMRS for a number of years. It has been a great resource to illustrate the views and behaviours of students on the applicant journey to senior staff within the University."

    Bob Cozens, Director of Marketing, Admissions, Recruitment and Communications, University of Bedfordshire

  • "The rapidly changing and increasingly competitive nature of the young UK undergraduate market presents new challenges to marketing and recruitment teams on a weekly basis. SMRS has provided valuable insight which has enabled a better targeted, more effective approach to our activity."

    Chris Watts, Director of Marketing, York St John University

  • "SMRS act as an informal sounding board and critical friend to the team at all times. They are an incredibly professional and passionate agency who have helped to revolutionise the University's media buying and have significantly enhanced our ability to manage, monitor and evaluate campaigns effectively. Having engaged with a number of different agencies over the years, I can honestly say that they are by far the best agency I have worked with."

    Rachel Sandison, Director, Marketing, Recruitment & International Office, University of Glasgow

  • "Birkbeck have worked with SMRS for over ten years. Their understanding of Birkbeck, of the sector and of the fast changing advertising and media buying environment means that they are a crucial part of the our success in student recruitment."

    Jonah Duffin, Director of External Relations, Birkbeck, University of London

Let's talk

Anything you want to know more about? Got a question? Just ask it here, and Dan or Ed will get back to you as soon as they can.

where to find us


  • Express networks 2
  • 3 george leigh street
  • manchester m4 6bd
  • 0161 200 1444


  • 5th Floor
  • 6 - 7 St Cross Street
  • London EC1N 8UA
  • 020 7421 3350

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