Something has been on my mind a lot lately. In many ways, The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) suffers from a dual personality. Officially, we are a public institution of the State of Texas, and we have a public mission to train, serve, and respond. We are very proud of that mission. We provide training, technical assistance, and emergency response services to almost 200,000 people every year. We are very good at what we do and have many repeat customers. However, getting new customers is a challenge. The way to do this is by marketing our products and services.
Without getting into too much organizational detail, TEEX is basically a decentralized organization that uses business units called divisions to execute our mission. Each division is fairly autonomous, and is responsible for its own performance and financial solvency. Arguably, this model has served TEEX well for many years. However, when it comes to marketing and branding, we are all over the map and do not really have a unified “identity.”The National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center); most firefighters know us as the Texas Fire Training School; and the search and rescue community knows us as Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1). Most of our international customers know us as Texas A&M University, even though we are not directly part of the university. I can go on and on.
The marketing experts out there will answer that of course we need to brand. But my question is: how? Here is the paradox. TEEX is an agency of the State of Texas. And we are also a part of The Texas A&M University System. We are a public institution that gets less than 10 percent of its operating budget from general public funds. Plus, any public money we do get is attached to a focused statement of work. We run our organization like a business, and market and promote our products just like a business. However, we are not a business! How much marketing and branding is too much? And how much is not enough?
Gary Sera is director of the Texas Engineering Extension Service and invites your comments.