Education Marketing Can Start Earlier
Historically, most colleges and universities begin their education marketing campaigns to high school students, usually focused on juniors and seniors. This has worked in the past, but like so much of higher education, things are changing. I believe schools need to reach younger, as I have experienced how that plays out in my home and the opportunities that education marketing has for younger students. Today’s families are savvy and prospective students are given messaging concerning post-secondary education choices at a much younger age. In my family, all of my children have brought home state provided content encouraging discussions and thinking about college beginning in Kindergarten. Larger schools are already padding their enrollment numbers with early admission decisions for the class of 2018.
Since my kids have been exposed to such thinking at an early age, it is interesting to see that they react. The following photo is from my eldest son’s room.
My Oldest Son’s Room:
He is currently 14 and we just finished planning high school. Most of the photos and posters in his room have been up since 2010. Here are three observations from his room:
1. Create Early Affinity with Specific Premiums
His IU football poster (picked up at a local summer festival from the IU Alumni Association booth). He has always liked IU. Recently I asked, “Are you planning on attending IU?” His response: “Not necessarily. I want to find the best college for what I want to study.” Smart prospective student in the 8th grade. Keep in mind when engaging with prospective students: don’t overlook the younger children. The siblings of your prospect are often the next generation that can be included and often a small gesture will be remembered and cherished for years prior to their college shopping experience. Consider adding items such as branded coloring books, stickers, and other small tokens specifically designed for that audience to your education marketing toolbox. It is a longer term play, but often one that takes less time and resources that you might realize.
2. Tap into Interests
My eldest son has always been interested in animals. We have recently been discussing career opportunities in zoology and the sciences. Like most other boys his age, he is into games as well. Education marketing opportunity: through a survey or gamification, learn about the interests of younger students and begin providing them materials. Apps and games or even smart YouTube video bumper ads.
3. React to Cultural Trends
Legos. I have yet to meet boys who are not into Legos. So many colleges and universities use summer camps as opportunities to provide sport experiences to local kids in the community. While my children have been active in sports, that has not interested them. But, if you were to offer a Lego camp…all bets would be off. Consider how you can look into popular items and trends in the child/tween/teen markets and develop content and camps to get families to campus and experience your brand first hand. I would love to see a college leverage a Lego summer camp with STEM content and engage students, faculty, and others in the experience.
As a vendor in higher education marketing, my kids end up on lists from the colleges that I serve.
It is encouraging to see that another wall in my son’s room features a poster from Huntington University that struck a chord with him. I am sure it will be in that same place for the next three years before he starts his college search.
Don’t forget the impact you can have for younger children, both from a missional perspective to serve them and from a branding and marketing view to impact their future decisions.
What are you doing to impact the younger audience?
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