Don’t Run Your Search Campaign like Black Friday

Carnegie Higher Ed Nov 12, 2015 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

It’s almost here, the big day, the infamous Friday of all Fridays: Black Friday. It’s the one day a year that claims the biggest bargains and the best day to complete all your holiday shopping. As a consumer you feel like you’ve got to get out there before sunrise and muscle your way through the mall or you might miss out on the deal of the century. As a merchant you look at this day as the biggest retail day of the year and try to determine how you are going to beat your competitors who are all screaming “SALE” at the same time. How do you get noticed between all those 50% off signs—and how does this relate to Student Search?

Many institutions look at the release of PSAT names in January as their “big day” and go time to buy names and launch their spring Search campaign. The problem is, much like Black Friday, there is a lot of noise at the exact same time. You and many of your competitors are all racing to beat the clock to get into the mailboxes and inboxes of these sophomore and junior students first. But how will you break through and get noticed? And what is your plan for the rest of the year? How will you handle test takers who test later, or perhaps elect to take a different standardized test?

These are all things to consider as you create your Search strategy. Rather than treating the PSAT name release day as “if I don’t do it today I might be missing something,” treat January 11 as one important date . . . among others. Here are a few more things to consider looking from January and beyond.

  1. Delay your mail and e-mail drop by a few weeks to miss the initial rush and clutter. Rather than competing for the same mailbox space at the exact same time, get your branding/messaging out digitally by IP Targeting your Search list or running a general Online Display campaign in your key markets first.
  2. Buy names all year long. Treat January 11 as just one day among many key dates throughout the year. You may find better success in buying smaller, targeted lists of names more frequently throughout the year.
  3. Be creative and relevant. Make sure what you’re sending to students can stand up against the “why should I care” and “what’s in it for me” litmus tests. If your message doesn’t answer those questions, go back and try again.
  4. And, one of my biggest sticking points, have one clear call to action. What is it you want them to do? Whatever it is, make sure it is clear and that they have an easy pathway to do it.

So get ready, Black Friday is quickly approaching. And as full disclosure, I love a good deal and I am definitely one of those “if I don’t get out there I might miss something” type of people. However, I will be very strategic about my shopping mission and will pinpoint exactly what I set out to buy on November 27. Once that is done, I will eagerly await the post-Christmas sales where it will be less crowded and I am sure to find equally good—if not better—bargains.

You can follow me on Twitter @adpoulin.

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