Choosing a degree and college is a complex, high involvement decision.
The most effective marketing approach is to help people choose.
Let them experience what it will really be like.
When I was leaving secondary school, I had visited several Open Days, considering mostly business courses. My neighbor happened to be connected to Maastricht University, and he pulled out all stops to have me attend a real problem based learning session at Maastricht University.
What was even more priceless than seeing a real class in operation was spending the break with the Maastricht students. I’m a bit aloof and hadn’t spoken to many students at the other open days. Now they were openly sharing about their life, how this lesson varied from most lessons, etc. Suddenly, I could really see myself being a student here.
Deciding to study in Maastricht felt natural. Looking back, that one session has really had a great impact on my decision.
It’s not realistic for Universities to offer this kind of experience to all prospective students, but a lot can be done to get close to it:
Provide case studies of real students in digital format. Post video blogs of students in real situations. Or even a simple student blog would be useful. Just be honest and not try to be something you are not.
Create an open atmosphere on open days. Remember that open days provides a glimpse on campus life for your prospective students.
Make communications successive, not repetitive. Old school marketing relied on repeating the same image or message over and over. With remarketing and e-mail marketing, it is now possible to create a succession of different messages to the same person, which allows for a lot more depth in presenting your institution.
All of this will contribute to not just attracting students, but students who will be successful. It gives you the chance to show what your institute is all about. A clear profile that will attract the right students and repel the ones that won’t be a good fit.