No one likes paperwork, but documents such as the student RFI, college application, and acceptance letters make the enrollment process work. But if you look at them as opportunities to do more than gather information, the possibilities to market through your admissions communications flow are endless.
I like how dental consumer marketing expert Fred Joyal put it in his book Everything is Marketing:
“Most people, including many businesspeople, think marketing and advertising are the same thing. They’re not.
Advertising is using a specific medium—the newspaper, radio, TV or Internet—to communicate who you are and what your practice does. Marketing is everything you do to communicate who you are and what you do. This includes obvious things like on-hold messages and much less obvious things like the color of your reception area. It’s an important distinction.”
Now, in spite of the fact that most of us have never heard of a “dental consumer marketing expert,” Fred makes an amazing point.
Everything we do is a means to market the brand, values, and opportunity of our organizations.
This includes paperwork and forms.
By thinking of your admissions communications flow as opportunities to market to your constituencies, you get more “bang for our buck” by furthering the strength of your brand in their minds rather spending more on other advertising efforts.
And besides the cost savings, by using RFI’s, applications, and acceptance letters as marketing tools, you’ll cut the turnaround time on your admissions communications flow.
By implementing the recommendations below, your applicant will be more motivated to fill them out due to the incentives you’ve given them.
Requests for Information (RFI)
Beyond your standard brochure, offer prospective students something they really need or want in order to get them to sign up.
Keep in mind that there’s very little in your standard marketing brochure that they’re not already finding on the website. So give them gated, valuable content that they desire desperately because it answers a question they have.
Examples of content prospective students really need…
- Guide to picking the right college
- Manual for finding and applying for financial aid
- Checklist of questions to ask during a college visit
- Expert advice on how to choose a major/career
If your RFI is an online form, like many organizations are doing today, be sure to write copy above the form that sells the prospective student on the resource he or she will get if they fill out the form. This lets them know there’s something in it for them, not just for you.
Also, don’t use the RFI as the Pre-App… make it simple and easy to get more information. Remember, you’re just trying to move your prospect a little farther down a path to your desired result.
The best message your application can send to the enrolling student is that you make things easy and user-friendly.
User-friendly applications create a sense of welcome. Convoluted applications make applicants feel unwanted due to the difficulty in filling it out.
Two things you can do with your applications to make your applicants feel welcome are:
- Determine what info you really need at that point and what can be gathered from the applicant in a later phase. And…
- Communicate to the applicant what they’re getting into when they first arrive at the page. How long will this take? What do I need to complete this application? What should I expect after I submit?
Always answer questions.
Acceptance letters can and should communicate so much more than the applicant’s enrollment status change.
Make them stand out. Make them exciting!
Use colorful envelopes. Make the applicant feel like they’re a big deal and that getting accepted to your institution is special.
Use social media with a custom hashtag to encourage the applicant to share their acceptance to your institution. Check out Reason #7 on my post on why you should be using hashtags to see how one school is turning their acceptance letters into a big deal on social media.
Turn their acceptance into an event.
Consider press releases of accepted students in key metro areas for the neighborhood newspapers. Inform the student’s congress representative of their acceptance (they will send a letter of congratulations).
What messages are you sending in each and every interaction with your audiences?
This is the key takeaway here. Keep this in mind, and you’ll make Fred Joyal, our friendly dental marketing consultant proud.
But more than that, you’ll be adding to your marketing efforts without spending a dime extra on advertising.
For more creative ways to get more out of your admissions communications flow, contact us today!
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