In enrollment marketing, we’re all looking for that secret sauce. How do you make your campus visit memorable? In today’s conversation, we talk about Disney-like campus experiences.
As someone in enrollment, you know you’ve got to have that X factor when students come to campus. There has to be something that makes your school stand out among the others.Click to tweet
As I’ve shared before, I believe your biggest competitive advantage is simply your unique qualities as a private college or university.
However, during campus visits, you have to be intentional to ensure that visitors really grasp those qualities that make your school special.
On the Higher Ed Marketer podcast, my co-host, Troy Singer, and I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Tony Turner of Charleston Southern University about his experience and ideas on creating an unforgettable campus experience for future students.
Authentic interactions with future students
With over 12 years of experience in enrollment for both the nonprofit and for-profit education space, Dr. Turner understands the pressures of being in enrollment.
There’s a real push for performance that can sometimes become unhealthy for both the enrollment marketer and the school.
Enrollment is one of those areas where on a college campus you feel like you live in a fishbowl. Everybody knows your business. It could be the President or the janitor or whoever, and they might come up to you and say, “Oh, I hear enrollment’s down.”
So it’s easy to get in this mode where you feel like you’ve got to have so many students, follow the math and the conversion rates, and all those numbers. [As a consequence] sometimes you get in this pattern of just one family after another trying to get those deposits – which are important – but then you kind of lose the uniqueness of each family.
Dr. Turner recommends that enrollment marketers find ways to combat this unhealthy pressure that causes us to treat families like numbers rather than like individuals.
What I hope to accomplish with my team is that each individual student feels how much they matter.
When it comes to enrollment, you have families that are different sizes and have different backgrounds, particularly those that are first-generation families who have never embarked on this journey of a college search. I believe institutions really stand out when they start looking at families as special people.
I guarantee you when they’re at home, after they have visited four or five colleges, they’re going to go down the list [of potential colleges], and when they see your school that went the extra mile to make them feel special, they’re going to remember you. There’s a likelihood they’re going to want to go with you because you saw them as more than just a number. And being real and authentic with them is entailed in that.
The Disney Experience – On Campus!
One thing that stood out in our conversation was how Dr. Turner looks to Disney as a template for how to create authentic experiences with families during campus visits.
You hear the saying that Disney is the most magical place on earth. Everybody’s smiling. It almost seems like a euphoria, that they’re all just really excited to be there. For the kids, it doesn’t matter what their ages are, they’re just really excited to be there.
I remember going there with my kids, and it was hot. The kids start complaining, and then someone comes up to us, “Hey, you guys look like you can use some water.” And they hand out bottles of water! Those little details make our experience better.
If you take that mindset, that everyone is special, and look at your campus visits, [you can begin to plan] those events so that it is a unique experience for them.
There are many ways, of course, to make this happen.
Dr. Turner shared how signage on campus helps make families feel welcome by showing them exactly where they should be and giving them clear directions.
Thinking through even small details like using their favorite colors or serving them their favorite candy or favorite drink while they’re there goes a long way to create a “magical experience” with you.
Discover more when you listen to the podcast!
Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.
Listen to our interview with Dr. Tony Turner to get even more insights into:
- Treating families like people, not just one more deposit
- Qualities of the Disney experience to emulate on campus visits
- Building a scorecard for prospective students
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Featured image via charlestonsouthern.edu