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Promotional Marketing for College Recruitment

When thinking about promotional products, we have been putting ourselves in the shoes of our admissions clients. We understand that the stakes for recruiting students have never been higher.

This makes your school’s marketing tactics even more important.  You need to be memorable.  Print, online, TV, radio, events and direct mail are all common elements of any college’s marketing mix. Where does promotional marketing fit in? The answer is easy – just about anywhere.  When properly thought-out, promotional items are easily integrated into your existing marketing plans.

As with any successful marketing campaign, it’s essential to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.  A relevant and useful promotional item can reinforce a marketing message to your audience, and repeat exposure increases the likelihood of recall and eventual action. Based on recall alone, promotional items rank higher than other media types.

Comparing advertising recall

Source: PPAI Research

The bottom line: promotional products WORK for recruiting college students. Picture a high school student seeing your college’s billboard, online ad, and using a branded phone screen cleaner from a campus event all in the same day. It’s the perfect way to keep your brand in front of a target audience – exactly what’s needed for a longer decision-making process of selecting a college.

Based on our experience working with admissions departments, we’ve broken down the enrollment funnel into three key areas categorized by marketing goals:

  1. Raise Awareness
  2. Increase Engagement
  3. Create Excitement

Read case studies, download our Admissions Marketing Checklist, and receive product ideas on these pages.

Chat with us! 

Join #EMchat on Thursday, November 21 at 9:00 pm EST to talk promotional marketing for recruiting college students.

Not available to chat? Look for the #EMchat transcript, PastChats, or feel free to contact us for a recap and more information.

 

 

Enhancing International Student Recruitment with Promotional Marketing

The U.S. will be the fastest growing international student destination over the next decade, according to a report released by the British Council’s Education Intelligence as featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  A record high: 764,495 international students came to the U.S. for the 2011-2012 academic year as noted in Open Doors 2012 Fast Facts.   The report also indicates the top ten countries of origin: China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Mexico, and Turkey.  Outside of the top ten, Iran, Venezuela, and Spain have experienced double-digit growth rates in the number of students studying in the United States.

Country of focus aside, all of the data points to the importance of international recruiting for U.S. schools and colleges.  In this post, we’ll examine the basics of international recruiting and incorporating promotional marketing into your overall marketing strategy.

International Recruiting: The Essentials

While the U.S. is already among the most popular destination for international students, each school has the unique opportunity to build its brand to stand out from other institutions. According to a Noel Levitz White Paper, Reaching Beyond Borders: Key Issues in Recruiting and Retaining International Students, academic quality matters most to students with campus safety and security being a top concern.  In addition to these areas, international recruiters need to emphasize key differentiators: campus size, diverse student body, location etc. to “sell” a university’s experience.

Defining your Audience

Beyond solely targeting students, it’s important to also reach out to the many people who help influence students: parents, local alumni, international organizations, and agents.  As you know, some parents are extremely involved in their students’ academic decisions, so it’s not uncommon to be communicating with them directly.  Local alumni and current students also serve as brand ambassadors, sharing their experience via social media or in person at events. Such endorsements become valuable (and free) word of mouth advertising and influential peer endorsements.  Parents often hire private agents to help students select and gain admission to top U.S. schools, so it’s important make agents aware of your school.  Finally, partnering with trade organizations, such as Education USA can increase a school’s understanding, promotion, and overall reach within a given area.

Tailoring your Marketing Mix

Colleges typically utilize webinars, email, electronic viewbooks, website, mobile site, event support, and promotional marketing for international recruiting. While advertising in the local market may not be attainable or within budget, promotional marketing can be incorporated through university recruiters and professors traveling abroad (or at international trade events held in the U.S.), international alumni associations, overseas agents or advisors via events or direct mail.   Special considerations should be given to ensure any direct mail premiums or hand-carried items would clear customs.

Promotional marketing works for recruiting international students because it is:

  1. Targeted & Brand Relevant
  2. Useful and Appreciated Advertising
  3. An Implied Endorsement

Targeted & Brand Relevant: Traditionally thought of as the marketing medium that starts a relationship, promotional products can be extremely targeted to the lifestyle of a prospective international student, while still being relevant to your brand.  When appealing to the habits and interests of students with a promotional item, a school can increase the likelihood that the item will be used, which in turn, increases the item’s effectiveness.

Useful and Appreciated Advertising: A tangible, useful branded item can be a daily reminder of a school or college (81% of products are kept because of usefulness). Promotional items are the only form of advertising that make recipients say, “thank you.”  Students will also stand in line for free promotional items.

Implied Endorsement: Lending itself to social sharing, promotional products are also an implied endorsement of your school.  This is important for word of mouth marketing to peers. Similarly, promotional items can be used to market to the high school counselors, advisors, and agents located abroad.  Either hand out items at fly-in’s or events, or mail counselors promotional items for their students interested in studying in the United States, as they are the local “face of your school.”

International Recruiting Product Ideas  

In brainstorming product ideas for international students, we subscribed to the idea that “smaller is better.”  Think of items that can easily be shipped overseas, or packed in a suitcase to reach alumni, agents, or high school advisors (that will also clear customs). As in any marketing campaign, the promotional item should be tailored to the target audience and local customs. Some ideas we like:

Long-term Strategy

The key to successfully growing an international student base is a long-term commitment in specific target countries.  Many students are already convinced that the U.S. is their top choice, so it’s up to each school to effectively brand and promote its academic experience and build relationships to become THE choice for international students.

Additional Resources

 

Supporting Admissions with Promotional Marketing

As with anything in life, sometimes it just comes down to timing.

We sent a mailing to our professional contacts with a sample of a unique product: the web key. Though at first glance they don’t look too exciting, web keys are cool and useful for several reasons:

  1. Targeted: web keys drive traffic to a specific URL when plugged into a USB port
  2. Measurable: use web metrics to track results
  3. Cost: web keys are less expensive than USB drives

Dana Grennier at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) received our mailing and sample web key at just the right time. She was part of a team that was launching a new social network platform called Bridge, developed in partnership with 7Summits. The web key was the perfect promotional item to promote Bridge to prospective students.

Beyond traditional marketing tactics, MSOE staff handed out web keys at college fairs, high school visits, open house events, and other higher education meetings.  Read the full story on how promotional marketing supported MSOE admissions’ goals in our case study library.  

Web Key promoting Bridge

Front and back of the Web Key used to promote the new Bridge website: a platform for high school students to interact with admissions.

Latest Trends in Marketing to Gen Y: Prezi Download

Creating engagement with students is harder than ever.

Increased competition in higher education and the lightning speed at which technology changes has made finding the right messages and portals to reach students extremely important.  With the incredible amount of advertising that we are all exposed to on a daily basis, many people are self-trained to stay away from most marketing messages.

The challenge: Find out what marketing IS working in order to best to reach your prospective AND current students.

With Generation Y (and upcoming Gen Z) being the most tech savvy generation(s) ever, it is essential to understand the latest trends and technology tools for effective marketing plans.

In this presentation (given at the IACAC conference in Sioux City, Iowa), we focus on:

  1. Latest market research on Generation Y and Gen Z  
  2. Gen Y Marketing
  3. Social media trends and tools: Facebook, Twitter, Image Powered Platforms

View Prezi

How do you effectively market to Generation Y and Z?  What do you think of the latest features in social media platforms?