The world of marketing is changing fast, but there is one trend here to stay: marketing personalization. Find out how to use this magic technique for your educational institution.

This month we celebrate the real heroes of our country: veterans.

These brave men and women all have offered their lives in service of our country, and this month we honor them on Veteran’s Day. 

One of the clearest times in history when our veterans were called to sacrifice everything is now embedded in hundreds of films, books, and television series: World War II. 

The post-war era was also significant for the world of education.

When the soldiers of the Greatest Generation came back, the market was suddenly flooded with a massive work force and an entire world that needed the United States to step up and help rebuild. 

This resulted in a huge demand for American products and a huge demand for specialized American labor.

American corporations looked to high schools, colleges, and universities to help fill this gap. 

Old School “One-size-fits-all” Marketing

At the time, there was a commonly held cultural idea of a one-size-fits-all “American dream.” 

Education marketing was highly commercialized, relying on stereotypes as marketing personas to guide their marketing messages.

As a part of these stereotypes, you’d see a lot of the “perfect” family of a mom, dad, boy, and girl. 

You also saw a lot of the ideal housewife persona in these days – she kept her house spic-and-span, her husband happy as a clam, and her children’s clothes in mint condition, always pressed and ready for school the next day.

That meant that marketing to high school students during this time relied heavily on messaging to students coming from these “Leave it to Beaver” households who were seeking lifetime, cookie-cutter careers.

This made for simple marketing categories to cultivate new students for majors like engineering, chemistry, English, education, and more. 

“Get an education, get a job, and attain the American dream!” was kind of the message behind it all. It was indeed the “bee’s knees.” 😉

At the time, using stereotypes as marketing personas and mass communication channels such as television commercials, magazine adverts, and radio spots worked well.

American culture was largely homogenous, and people got almost all of their news, information, and marketing from a few, highly curated channels.

When TV was dominated by three cable channels, stereotypes worked, but now you have to use marketing personalization to reach your audience.

But something began to change just when Millennials arrived.

The Information Age began overtaking the Industrial Age. 

Americans saw more and more factory-style jobs being outsourced to other countries where there was an abundance of cheap, yet educated, labor.

Suddenly, career paths weren’t so stable and well-marked. 

Now, the American worker can no longer simply assume they’ll get a job and hold it until retirement. 

In 2016, the average time a worker stayed at their job was 4.6 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This economic instability has made it more common for folks to change their careers in midstream, or in some cases to blaze their own career path rather than relying on a corporation to care for them. 

At the same time, massive demographic changes have started taking place. 

Traditional family structures, for better or worse, have changed drastically.

Old family stereotypes are not only unreliable, they can be outright offensive and cause major problems for marketing campaigns. 

Communication channels have transformed with the rise of social media and Internet-based media outlets. 

Now, every corporation and individual is a media company. People can now access their preferred content and content medium through whichever content source they prefer. 

Consequently, American culture is now more diverse than ever before making the “American dream” a bit harder to define.

In addition, the ethnic makeup of North America has shifted in profound ways as more immigrants continue to seek better opportunities for their families in Canada and the United States.

These minorities also tend to have more children than Caucasian Americans, which means minority prospective students will soon outgrow the current ethnic majority in the United States.

So how should education marketers respond to these universal trends in education?

Marketing personalization is the silver bullet you need.

(That is, if there is a silver bullet in marketing.)

So how can you employ marketing personalization to your marketing strategy?

Personalize your marketing copy.

The simplest way to get started with marketing personalization is to personalize your marketing copy through merge tags.

You can personalize your marketing copy by inserting merge tags within your copy which will merge specific contact information from your enrollment database into the copy when it is sent.

This easy to use technique really shines in email marketing where you can insert first and last name merge tags as well as chosen major merge tags.

Personalize your messaging.

Personalizing your marketing copy is the absolute bottom rung of the ladder – so don’t stop there!

Personalizing your messaging is incredibly more powerful because it shows your prospective student that you not only know their name (which is easy to get), you know their preferences (which is not so easy to know).

You can do this by improving your enrollment database segmentation to include tags or custom fields for chosen majors, hobbies, favorite pets, sports heroes, favorite celebrities, etc.

Once you have these fields updated in your database, you can then craft personalized messaging campaigns in really creative ways. 

For example, let’s say a major development happened with the Indiana Pacers; you could quickly shoot off an email or text campaign to those in your database who are Pacer fans, or basketball fans, or even more generally sports fans interested in your athletics program.

This level of personalization shows your prospective student that you’re listening to them.

This way they’ll know they’re more than just another number to you.

Personalize your recommendations.

Use questionnaires, polls, and surveys to craft better recommendations for your next high-touch marketing move

Do they like the sciences? Try sending recommendations on events where they can meet professors and industry leaders who’re connected with your school.

Do they enjoy jazz music? Curate and send them a Spotify playlist with all of your favorite jazz greats.

And of course, you should also personalize your recommendations as they pertain to the student’s career and academic interests.

Personalize your communications.

You can also gather intelligence by simply watching what prospective students say or write in their communications with you.

Have they just accomplished something significant like passing their SAT or has something tragic happened in their life? 

Try sending them a card, or if you’re more adventurous, try sending them a cameo from one of their favorite celebrities!

Marketing personalization is a must for enrollment marketers.

More than anything, I want you to walk away with the idea that marketing personalization is no longer optional for enrollment marketers.

Prospective students are inundated with companies and organizations that are clamoring for their attention and loyalty by collecting information from users’ Internet surfing habits, their social media profile, search histories, and other sources of behavioral data.

Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, YouTube and many other tech giants constantly offer up recommended items, ads, new music or videos, and more according to your individual preferences. 

So when a prospective student comes to look for the right education choice for them, they expect to be treated with almost the same degree of attention. 

It’s embedded now into the consumer culture. 

But even more important, the educational and career needs of the modern student are more diverse and unique than ever before. 

All of this means that marketing personalization is a must for every enrollment marketer.

If you’d like to know more about marketing personalization, automation, or other game-changing marketing strategies, please contact us today!


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Featured image by Robert Kneschke via Adobe Stock
Vintage television image by Saknakorn via Adobe Stock
Friends selfie image by DisobeyArt via Adobe Stock

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