The VPM Blog

College Advertising in Practice: What Works Best?

Posted by Rachael Gamlin on Mar 30, 2015 9:19:00 AM

You can cram higher ed advertising tactics and techniques into your head all day long, but sometimes until you actually see how others schools are effectively rockin' it, none of it will stick. Connection-3advertising

That's why we've done all the hard work for you and found the schools whose advertising is the epitome of high quality. By researching which schools know what they're doing in this field, we can bring those best college advertising examples to you so you can get a better feel for what you should be doing. 

Got it? Good. Then let's start on our quest to find the colleges with the very best advertising tactics in three categories: Student, Alumni and Parents.

  • Students - Everything revolves around the students you attract. They will be the ones who eventually turn into your alumni. Any campaign effort you create must first be attractive to them, as well as incorporate them. The University of San Francisco has done an amazing job of doing just that through its witty and creative "Higher Standard" campaign. This features signs across the city and on the sides of buses that have short and funny headlines with inside jokes that students can relate to. It also inspires pride among city residents with references to local landmarks across the city. By engaging both students and locals, this campaign is promoting a sense of pride in both the University of San Francisco and the surrounding area
  • Parents - The College of Creative Studies created the "Talk to Your Kids About Art School" campaign a few years ago, which was targeted at encouraging parents to check out their school and tell their college-bound students about it. The messages, like "1 in 5 teenagers will experiment with art" and "Doodling is a gateway to illustration" aimed at catching a parent's eye and appealing to what they are familiar with, as the campaign itself put a lighter tone on the original campaign's message to talk to your kids about not using drugs. By throwing it back to a reference that parents will understand, the College of Creative Studies is able to engage them more effectively.
  • Alumni - Northwestern University has rolled out a great campaign targeted at engaging alumni, especially recent graduates. The tagline for the campaign is "We Will." and it captures the simple and straightforward lifetime task of alumni: stay engaged and help fund the futures of other students. Its uplifting message taps into alumni's nostalgia and inspires them to donate. If you can remind them of your school's spirit and drive to produce students ready for the professional field, they'll feel more connected.

While it can be difficult to create a witty campaign like the ones above, the payoff once you find one will be worth all the trouble. The key for these universities was to tap into elements of their school that all students, past and present, and the community could relate to. When you're trying to plan out a major campaign, think about what makes your school special to students and parents, then go from there. And if you need even more inspiration for connecting with alumni and students, we've got just what you need. Whatever you do as far as your university advertising strategies, make sure your entire school is on board and you've got the power behind the push.


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 photo credit: teach and listen via photopin (license)

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