The VPM Blog

How to Attract Students to Your College

Posted by Addison Folmar on Jun 27, 2018 7:56:00 AM

One of the most common questions in Higher Ed is "How can I convince students to choose my school?" The answer to this question isn't simple. There are multiple steps involved. Steps that have to be planned out, strategized, researched, and executed. Luckily, we've done the research for you! The following 4 steps will help you attract and engage with prospective students and parents, while making current students and alumni promote your school. Let's get started! 

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Topics: higher ed inbound marketing, higher ed social media, higher education

Student Expectations Versus the Reality of College Life

Posted by Derrik Stoffel on Jun 20, 2018 7:53:00 AM

In 2018, there are over 3.6 million high school students expected to graduate. According to the New York Times, of that 3.6 million, roughly 65% plan on continuing their education. That is approximately 2.3 million students planning to attend some form of higher education or other. While there are those who are completely ready for the new experience, many of these rising freshmen do not know exactly what to expect. That is why we reached out to both incoming freshman and current students about the expectations and reality of college life.

To begin, we asked prospective students what they were most looking forward to about being in college. The resounding majority of responses revolved around finally being away from home or having freedom from their parents (which I am sure that parents love hearing). We then asked the opposite: what they were most nervous about. Surprisingly, we received similar responses to this question. While we heard the cliché response of adapting and meeting new people, several of the students said that they were worried about living without their parents. It is interesting that what most incoming students are excited about is also what makes them the most nervous.

We continued down this line of questioning, asking the students what they expect living away from home will be like. Again, most of the answers involved the parents; they were excited to be away from them, but at the same time nervous about not being able to rely on them at every turn. We did have one brutally honest student explain that he, "believes he’ll have too much freedom and will probably make some poor decisions during his first year."

At the end of our questions, we asked how well they thought they would be able to keep up with schoolwork while also maintaining a healthy social life. Not surprisingly, most of the answers we received were quite confident. Most students said that it would be easy and that they were able to do it throughout high school, so it shouldn’t be a problem. After talking with the incoming freshmen, one thing is clear: as stated earlier, most do not really know what to expect when it comes to college life.

And that is why we also reached out to current college students. We wanted to see if they could shed some light and help prepare the incoming freshmen for the reality of college life. First, we asked what the biggest change between high school and college was. Most of the responses had to do with workload and how the classes themselves may not be harder, especially if you have an engaging professor, but there is definitely more work. We then asked current students what they found surprisingly easy or difficult. One common answer that we received addressed the difficulty of maintaining both a social and academic life.

We finished our questions by asking the upperclassmen if they had any advice for the incoming freshmen and we received three good and relevant answers. First, don’t feel like you need to know what you want to study right away. While it’s beneficial to have an idea, it’s not necessary to know exactly what you want to do. Even if you change majors, you’re not alone. According to an USA Today article, almost 80% of students change their major at least once during their college career. Second, plan out your meals. One of the most challenging things for freshmen is maintaining a well-balanced diet. Lastly, find a balance. While it is obviously important to do well in classes, don’t seclude yourself from the rest of the world while doing so.

The biggest takeaway for universities is to help create a smooth and easy transition for incoming freshmen. As 30% of students drop out by the end of their first year, universities should prioritize making this number as low as possible. Let students know that academics are not the only aspect of college life. Make sure students have a place to reach out if need be.

A big thing that many colleges overlook is the students' connection to their dean. Most incoming students would welcome and benefit from a relationship with their college's dean.If you want to know more about how universities and deans can reach students, especially via social media download our FREE guide, The VPM's Digitial Deans Whitepaper. 

digital deans white paper

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Topics: higher ed branding

How Brands Market the Music Festival Experience

Posted by Caroline Daley on Jun 13, 2018 7:58:00 AM

As far as music festivals go, we've come a very long way since the days of Woodstock. Music festivals have rapidly grown in popularity over the past couple decades and have evolved to become much more than just a string of concerts. These days, people aren't just attending festivals strictly for the music; it's about the entire experience. Sure, the music is still the main focus, but now attendees can see their favorite bands while simultaneously shopping, lounging, and indulging in various foods and drinks. These festivals now have various facets; they’re a concert, fashion show, foodie event, and social gathering all in one. Brands have become aware of the growing popularity of the music festival scene and are leveraging these events to market themselves and their products in an extremely effective way. If you're wondering why and how brands are marketing the music festival experience, we’re here to enlighten you.

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Topics: marketing to millennials, social media marketing, music festival marketing

How to Create an Effective Instagram Ad

Posted by Melissa Cook on Jun 6, 2018 8:01:00 AM

You’re scrolling through Instagram, looking at pictures of dogs or friends and family on vacation, and then all of a sudden, you see an image that makes you stop and take notice. It isn’t until you click on the profile or the image that you realize it was an ad.

Good or bad, effective or not, they exist, and their usage is on the rise. But why? For a few simple reasons:

  1. Instagram/Facebook Integration
    1. As a business, you can (and should!) integrate your Facebook and Instagram pages (read more on this below). This allows you to take previously curated audiences, interests, forms, etc., and carry them over into Instagram ads.
  2. Aesthetic and Organic Feel
    1. Instagram ads tend to perform better because they flow naturally in your audience’s feed. They don’t feel disruptive and if done right will appear as natural and organic content, and not an ad.
  3. Audience and Engagement Rates
    1. Did you know that 80% of Instagram users follow a business? That means your business is more likely to have high engagement rates with your ads. 

Think you’re ready to learn how to create an effective Instagram ad? Let’s get started!

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Topics: social media analytics, Social Media, Inbound Marketing

Read This Before Hiring an Instagram Influencer

Posted by Don Crow on May 30, 2018 7:30:00 AM

If you're a brand or an agency (or have a side-hustle you hope to turn into a brand one day), you've probably done some research on Instagram Influencers. If you're what's considered an Instagram Influencer, you've probably been approached by a brand or an agency seeking your assistance in selling their goods or services. But, as a guy who falls in the category of agency and side-hustle brand manager, I've gone through the pains of contacting, negotiating and paying for influencers which is exactly why I wrote a blog post titled, Read This Before Hiring an Instagram Influencer.

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Topics: Influencer, Instagram, social media marketing

Content Creation: Creativity or Strategy?

Posted by Melissa Cook on Apr 30, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Content creation has changed drastically over the years, as have all things in marketing. And it’s not just the content that has changed, it’s the way it is crafted and presented. Here’s a quick example: In the Mad Men age, companies needed a creative to come up with a witty slogan, a risqué image to accompany it, and bada-bing, bada-boom, you have a 5-star ad and your content is ready to roll out for the general public to see. Fast forward to 2007, the year that Facebook ads were introduced. Now, companies no longer had to buy an expensive billboard and hope people saw it and called, (all while driving…) but could now meet their customers where they were. Radical, I know. Fast forward a little bit more to 2018. The average consumer now sees as many as 5,000 ads per day, and I guarantee that few stand out enough to make an impact. So, what’s changed? In 2007, Facebook ads changed the game, but now the game changers are you. That’s right, it’s that guy 2 cubicles down from you who takes the time to research the subject, determine buyer personas, creates a plan, and uses a mixture of strategy and creativity.

Content creation is no longer just for the creatives, but the strategists as well.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Social Media Strategy

Building a Consistent Brand in Higher Education

Posted by Caroline Daley on Apr 23, 2018 6:00:00 AM

In our recent blog discussing four things hurting your higher ed marketing, we mentioned that while much has changed over the past eight years in the world of higher ed marketing, there are a few things that have stayed the same. One thing that has remained unchanged over these years is the importance of having a consistent brand strategy. For colleges and universities, your brand is your narrative; it tells people who you are and what you’re about. But have you ever read a story with no consistency? It sucks. We know that sticking to a plan seems hard. Did you stick to that workout plan you made back on January 1st? Probably not. Unlike sticking to healthy habits, building a consistent brand strategy isn’t hard, and once you’ve succeeded in doing so, your school will reap the benefits.

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Topics: higher ed branding, Brand Marketing

Nonprofits Social Media Success: Knowing Your Audience

Posted by Jade Grogan on Apr 16, 2018 4:00:00 AM

In order to have a successful social media platform, a brand or organization must cater the content for their audience, specifically for each platform. Here, we’re going to be talking about nonprofits and the elements that go into making a successful and powerful social media campaign by centralizing content per platform.

Due to the increased use and prevalence of social media from the past few years, nonprofits are taking advantage of this and have jumped on the social media train. However, many brands and organizations lose sight that individuals following an account on Instagram may differ on Facebook, or Facebook and Twitter, etc. So one of the most important things organizations have to keep in mind is that they need to alter their content to effectively reach individuals. Social media has the potential to impact millions of users daily, which is why it has become one of the power tools when it comes to marketing.

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Topics: Social Media, Audience, Nonprofits

Producing Simple and Beautiful Visual Content with Canva

Posted by Megan Hajduk on Apr 9, 2018 3:00:00 AM

Canva has become a major staple in today's marketing world, and if you haven't used it yet, you're missing out. But first, what is Canva? Canva is an online graphic design website, with free and paid plans, used by non-designers and professionals. Canva allows those with little to no graphic design experience or access to expensive editing programs to create simple and beautiful graphics. Chief Evangelist for Canva Guy Kawasaki says, "Canva democratizes design" giving the world of marketers access to beautiful graphics. It's time to learn a little bit more about the program you should already be using in your content marketing.

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Topics: Content Marketing, Canva, visual content

Marketing Benefits for Podcasts

Posted by Cody Lunsford on Apr 2, 2018 12:00:00 AM


If you haven't started paying attention to the world of podcasting, now is the time to start. The medium has existed since around 2004 back in the early days of the iPod. It took until about 2014 for podcasting to enter the national conversation, with the boom being accredited to the runaway success of the true crime podcast Serial. It's continued to mature, with experimentation with release schedules and methods, show formats, and show subjects. It's also continued to grow, becoming more popular than ever with 44 percent of the United States population having listened to a podcast and with over $220 million dollars a year spent on podcast advertising. 

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Topics: Marketing

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