25-May-2023 Marketeering

Appreciative Inquiry, Marketing, & ChatGPT

This week at work, I’ve had the opportunity to jump both feet first into the world of Appreciative Inquiry (AI). That experience will be saved for another blog post, but heading into tomorrow’s wrap-up session, I thought I’d have some fun with the topic using ChatGPT.

… or I used AI to describe AI (H/T to my most excellent colleague Heather Mores).

appreciative inquiry workflow

My prompt to ChatGPT:

write a 500 word piece evaluating the use of appreciative inquiry in marketing a community college

The result is satisfyingly high-level read.

For readers involved in AI, or just interested in learning more, here’s my profile at the Center for Appreciative Inquiry.

Evaluating the Use of Appreciative Inquiry in Marketing a Community College

Marketing plays a vital role in the success of any educational institution, including community colleges. Effective marketing strategies are crucial for attracting prospective students and showcasing the unique benefits and opportunities offered by a community college. One approach that has gained traction in recent years is appreciative inquiry. This article evaluates the use of appreciative inquiry as a valuable tool for marketing a community college, exploring its benefits and potential challenges.

Definition and Principles of Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative inquiry is a positive and strengths-based approach to organizational change and development. It focuses on identifying and amplifying the best aspects of an organization and leveraging them to create positive change. Instead of dwelling on problems and weaknesses, appreciative inquiry emphasizes discovery, dream, design, and destiny. It encourages collaboration, dialogue, and a shared vision for the future.

Leveraging Strengths

Community colleges have unique strengths that can be highlighted through appreciative inquiry. By engaging students, faculty, staff, and alumni in a collaborative exploration of success stories, impactful experiences, and positive aspects of the college, marketing efforts can showcase the institution’s strengths. This approach creates an authentic narrative that resonates with prospective students and the community.

Engaging Stakeholders

Appreciative inquiry provides a platform for stakeholders to share their experiences and perspectives. Involving students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members in the marketing process fosters a sense of ownership and pride in the college. This engagement can lead to increased loyalty and advocacy, as stakeholders become ambassadors who actively promote the college’s unique attributes.

Enhancing Brand Image

Appreciative inquiry can contribute significantly to shaping a community college’s brand image. By focusing on the college’s positive attributes and success stories, the marketing efforts can create a compelling brand narrative that sets the college apart from competitors. This positive perception can attract potential students who resonate with the college’s values and achievements.

Creating Collaborative Partnerships

Appreciative inquiry encourages collaboration and networking, both internally and externally. By involving community partners, businesses, and local organizations in the marketing process, community colleges can forge strong partnerships that benefit both parties. These collaborations can lead to internships, job placements, and community-based initiatives, strengthening the college’s relevance and impact.

Challenges and Considerations

Balancing Realities

While appreciative inquiry emphasizes strengths, it is essential to strike a balance by acknowledging areas that need improvement. Ignoring challenges and limitations can lead to unrealistic expectations. Therefore, marketing efforts should address both the college’s strengths and ongoing efforts for growth and enhancement.

Ensuring Inclusivity

To create an authentic narrative, it is crucial to ensure that appreciative inquiry includes diverse perspectives. Community colleges serve a wide range of students, each with unique experiences and needs. Marketing efforts should reflect this diversity to resonate with a broader audience and avoid exclusion.

Managing Expectations

Appreciative inquiry can create high expectations among prospective students. Marketing efforts need to align with the college’s resources, capabilities, and academic offerings. Clear communication about what the college offers and the support available to students is essential to manage expectations effectively.


Appreciative inquiry provides a valuable framework for marketing a community college. By focusing on strengths, engaging stakeholders, enhancing brand image, and fostering collaborative partnerships, community colleges can effectively promote their unique attributes and attract prospective students. However, it is crucial to balance the positive narrative with a realistic portrayal of challenges, ensure inclusivity, and manage expectations. Through strategic implementation, appreciative inquiry can be a powerful tool for community colleges to differentiate themselves in a competitive educational landscape and build a strong foundation for future growth and success.