Search differently™: Take a New Approach to Traditional Higher Ed Marketing

Carnegie Higher Ed Mar 27, 2014 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

Have you spent the last few weeks and months agonizing over creative, content, and execution of your sophomore and junior Search? If you are in higher ed marketing, admission, or enrollment, you probably have! Now that your campaign is in full swing, do you ever stop and wonder what students really think about what you are sending? And are you taking into consideration all the other mail and e-mail they are getting in aggregate? We do! And that is why we follow and listen to what students have to say (check out #collegemail on Twitter to see for yourself). It is loud and clear: they are getting a ton of information—and they don’t appreciate getting dozens of cookie-cutter marketing pieces all on the same day. Also, it would appear that these materials were not necessarily created with the student in mind.

Too often higher ed marketing offices get stuck writing content and designing creative to satisfy internal stakeholders: presidents, VPs of enrollment, admission, marketing, and let’s not forget faculty. But are they your target market? No. And by the time you are done meeting their needs, incorporating their input, and satisfying the various agendas of all of these groups, it is possible that your campaign has morphed into something that may not actually resonate with the actual target market of 15–18-year-olds.

If you can convince your powers at be to let you actually design, create, and execute with teens in mind, would your go-to strategy still be mailing out thousands of business envelops with a folded letter on letterhead inside? My guess is probably not.

Student Search is an effective strategy when done right—you may just have to take a different approach. This means starting with a well-targeted list (just say no to old school “spray and pray”). Then ensure what you are sending is personalized and relevant to that prospect. Students are much more likely to respond if what they are getting feels like it was actually intended for them and specific to their interests. This cannot be achieved with one-size-fits-all mailings, when every piece they receive feels and looks the same.

At Carnegie, we are passionate about customizing recruitment solutions for our clients that fit their needs, not ours. If you’d like to Search differently™ and rise above the envelope clutter, let’s talk.

You can follow me on Twitter @adpoulin or on Google Plus as Alexa Poulin.

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