you might want to read this to learn more about marketing your college or university to students and their parents

Higher Ed Marketers, you might want to read this

When you drive by the Tri-Cities, TN/VA area you see two things everywhere: hospitals and colleges/universities. There is a population of about 500,000 people here but roughly about 25,000 of these individuals are students in local colleges and universities. Last week I discussed what stood from this book (see below) for hospital marketers, this week I want to tell you what could helpful for higher ed marketers.

I was reading the 8th Edition of The New Rules of Marketing & PR and this quote is stood out to me:

“The university website is often the first place that a student comes into contact with the school, and the site must cater to an audience of young teenagers (and their parents) who won’t be ready to apply for two or three years. Creating appropriate content to develop a lasting relationship over a long sales cycle is possible only when an organization knows the buyer personas well and understands the sales process in detail.”

– David Meerman Scott

Your “Personas”

Think about the various people visiting your organization such as the students, parents, and alumni. Do you have separate avenues for them to learn more about you offer to them? Do you solve their challenge or problem with your facility? Let’s dig deeper below for content ideas.

The Athlete

I love the recommendation mentioned in the book about “Sam the Athlete” and using the example of creating a link for “high school athletes start here or special information for student athletes.” Moreover putting a spotlight about a specific student athlete or coach with a blog post. Tell me a story, I love a good story because it is memorable to me.

The Parents

Think mama bear. How would I know if my child is safe on campus? Can I afford to send my child there? Reverse engineer your step by step process for applying for financial aide. Is it easy? Can I feel reassured based on your website? What will I tell other parents that are in the same boat about as me about your site? (I would loose sleep over this question myself if I were in your shoes) But I’m here to help! Continue reading below.

Mobile Content

Consider that the student or Gen Z generation will be looking your college potentially through their mobile phones and will prefer videos over blog posts. I really love these tips from the book about being mobile friendly (pg 85):

  • Being mobile compliant
  • Create a mobile site map
  • Use few words and small graphics (avoid long load time)

Students Prefer Video?

I keep seeing a trend where students prefer watching a video while their parents prefer reading an article in my marketing circle. Does your content provide both options (video/text) in the same link? Personally, I prefer hearing the article, not watching the video because I multi-task. (don’t judge me)

I found a story (in the book) about a student preferring to apply to University of Pennsylvania without having a chance to visit based on a video. It included singer and Grammy Award winner, John Legend talking about his alma mater, University of Pennsylvania.

Got a lot to tell. Considering writing an e-book?

E-books are a great way to explain more than a blog post about particular topic. I would love to have action steps as a parent or a student on the best ways to get started or learn more about financial aide.

In the past when I have downloaded an e-book, I would get bugged about giving the author my contact info (Name/Email) to later receive an email with a download or link to e-book. But what if your audience isn’t completely committed or wouldn’t want to give up their email address to you? According to the author, “my research suggests that you will generate 10 to 50 times more downloads when you do not require registration.”

Parting thoughts for my awesome marketers in Higher Ed

I had a dream last year about being a student again, my heart was heavy thinking of all of emotions I felt of not knowing if I was doing the right steps in my education and the overhelming process of applying. Think about your audience, the student and parent and reassure them that YOU are the best option for them.

Consider adding more video, telling a story of your students, professors, and coaches. Guide them with tools to empower them to make the application process easier.

What will you start implementing after reading this blog post or what stood out to you? Please let me know in the comments or reach out to me privately.