A lot of higher ed marketing focuses on campus life. Many universities are known for their sense of community or their social life. But is that enough? Do members of Generation Z place as much value on the college experience as older generations? Sure, feeling like you are a part of a college community is important, but higher ed marketers should focus on more tangible benefits to entice prospective students. This could include things like technology, special majors offered, a high rate of students who graduate with jobs lined up, etc.
We have all seen the cookie-cutter college commercials. Many flash "[University name] is..." across the screen followed by a set of generic adjectives and video of students doing fun things on campus or sitting in a classroom. Others have students saying that their university is their home and why. But to reach prospective students you need to set yourself apart and not look just like any other college.
To effectively attract prospective students, you have to plainly present the benefits they will receive by attending your university. Students are buying knowledge and experience, which are not always tangible. This means you need to showcase how you will provide them these things and prove that you can. It is important to highlight notable alumni, student, and staff accomplishments to give prospective students something to strive towards. One university that highlights their innovation and accomplishments well is Arizona State University:
In this video they use student testimonials and video of their work towards high tech innovations in various fields. They focus on what makes their university unique and present it in an appealing way.
Students want to be prepared for their future career. They are entering a competitive job market and want to have tools that put them above students at other universities. Show your students what career services you have to offer. Promote mentorships, career workshops, financial services, career counselors and any other resources that your university offers. If your university has any free technology to assist students in their work, highlight this as well.
Scholarship information and financial aid solutions also need to be highlighted. Nearly 40% of students turned down their first choice university because of cost-related reasons. Universities need to show statistics describing the amount of students who are awarded scholarships and how much money is awarded annually.
It doesn’t stop here. Knowing your target market is the most important information. Some colleges are leaders in medical advances and should highlight that but others attract students because of sports programs or career connections. Each university has unique attributes that they should use to their advantage and marketers should focus on the strengths that are attractive to the target market.
The most important thing is to find a balance between promoting your campus life while also highlighting the future of your university. Students want to get more out of college than an experience. They want to leave your university with the tools and knowledge to be successful in post grad life. Put yourself above other universities by focusing on what matters to your prospective students - a valuable education.