You could see your admissions communications flow as just a necessary cog in the wheel of college or university administrative life. But let me show you how it’s really a cleverly disguised opportunity to make lifelong friends, and supporters out of alumni and students.
In fact, it’s more than an opportunity for you to market your institution; it’s a chance for you to help your audience along in their quest.
It may sound dramatic, but it’s true.
Every student, alumni, or other constituent that interacts with your organization is on a personal quest to better their life, accomplish something great, or help others.
Every one of your audience members is on their own “hero’s journey.” Marketing experts have taken this idea and rebranded it the “buyer’s journey,” but I think the original idea captures the feeling of what we’re trying to do so much better.
The hero’s journey is the theory that all the great stories and myths ever told by humans have a common plot progression.
The idea was first introduced in Joseph Campbell’s seminal work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This man studied hundreds of myths across a large swath of both modern and primitive cultures.
He drew out what he saw were consistent qualities and plot points between the stories and compared them to modern stories told through movies, contemporary books, and other mediums.
Why does this matter at all to you as a higher ed marketer?
Because your audience—really all of us—think about our lives in terms of the hero’s journey.
Your audience is just like a hero who’s been called to go on a journey to solve a problem or fix something in themselves. They’re scared but determined to jump into the brave new world and see what happens next.
It may sound grandiose, but your admissions communications flow can either be the sage who helps the hero along on their journey or the monster who stands in their way.
If you make your communications flow like a helpful, generous guide, you’ll turn your target audience into a lifelong friend.
It’s important that you cultivate lifelong brand loyalty in your audience with every communication.
That’s really the biggest problem I have with the “buyer’s journey” model. It ends with the transaction: the sale or the purchase.
But the hero’s journey doesn’t end with a sale. It continues for life.
So how do you remain a part of your audience’s lifelong journey?
Answer: never stop selling—that is, never stop guiding them to the next step in their journey with you.
Really, until they graduate, you should constantly be selling your institution and the brand to underscore the next step of their process.
In each communication and event, they should see and know over and over why choosing you was their best decision. Never take it for granted that your target audience will move on to the next phase with you.
Be sure to make it very clear that the next step with you is the way to go.
Now, in my last post, I gave you some creative and effective ideas to leverage your RFI, student application, and acceptance letters to wow your target audience and win their loyalty.
Today, I want to show you how you can use other notable documents in your admissions communications flow to win their loyalty for life.
1. Financial Aid
Make it simple to apply for financial aid. Most students are already stressed about education costs, and if you can make it simpler, they’ll be much more likely to apply sooner.
Be sure to guide them rather than push them. Clearly define their options, and stress ROI (return on investment) in all aspects of discussion about finances and financial aid. Use national statistics on the value of a higher education degree and be VERY transparent in all aspects of the communication.
Provide them tools to assist in their decision.
Also make them feel a part of the community early by offering access to a closed social networking group for the accepted students where they can build relationships with other students within the context of your institution. In our experience, this tactic has proven a greater level of matriculation on those students who participated with other students prior to orientation.
3. Visit Day
Make them feel welcomed and a part of the community. (Pretty much everything you need to make your visit day a huge success is here in my post 7 Ways to Make Your Campus Tour Unforgettable.)
4. Registration Day
Make it all about building relationships. Make them feel a part of the campus even at this early stage. Give time and space for students to get to know others and build these relationships within your context.
Keep communication consistent and brand focused. And remember, giveaways and a very “fun” atmosphere will have them wanting more upon leaving campus.
We enjoy helping institutions enhance their brand messaging through their admission communication flows because it’s a powerful, yet often overlooked, means of establishing brand loyalty in your audience. If you’d like more help with your admissions communication flows, contact us today.