Student veterans have not only shaped our country, they can impact your school! Here are valuable insights into marketing to student veterans.
This month, we honor our military veterans by remembering their sacrifice and service for our nation.
But it’s important to remember that the contributions veterans make to our country don’t stop after they leave military service.
In fact, student veterans can be of tremendous benefit to your faculty, student body, and your school overall.
That’s why in this post, I want to give you proven strategies and tactics for marketing to student veterans.
To help do so, I reached out to my friends at Keystone College.
They have an exceptional student veteran program, and I wanted to show you what’s working for them as they market to veterans.
Here I want to extend my gratitude to the Keystone College staff for graciously answering my questions. They are truly an incredible team, and it’s no wonder veteran students are finding a home there!
Understand how student veterans enrich campus life.
The first thing staff members at Keystone College stressed was how valuable student veterans were to their campus and school culture.
Student veterans have enriched the lives of our faculty and students by sharing their experiences. Veterans are able to share unique stories about their lives with others in the classroom and through their involvement in many of our clubs and organizations, as well as venues on campus such as the Diversity Council or other special events and ceremonies.
I believe this is the first step towards marketing to future veteran students.
You have to understand intuitively how much veteran students have to offer your campus. Otherwise, you likely won’t give them the attention they deserve in your marketing messaging.
Prospective student veterans will sense this feeling of value when they see your messaging.
Use diverse messaging when communicating to student veterans.
Diversity was a characteristic often mentioned in my interview with Keystone College staff.
Veterans often have a very different outlook on topics such as current and historical events, which often come from a more mature world view. That can be an asset for our non-veteran students, both inside and outside the classroom. Many Veterans have experienced cultures that most traditional college students have not.
Because veterans tend to have a broader set of experiences and a more nuanced perspective of the world and its complexities, you should make sure your messaging reflects this.
Imagery should showcase ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity as well as show how your campus is accessible to disabled veterans who are a part of the diversity of the military branches.
Positive messaging that highlights the benefits of their diverse background in the military can also signal to potential students that you value and welcome their wide range of experience.
Show student veterans that you have a strong support system.
Especially with those struggling to transition to civilian life, it’s important to show veterans that your campus offers not only academic excellence, but also a community they can rely on.
[Student veterans] stay here because of the strong support system we offer. Considering many Veterans also work or have families, they appreciate the flexible classes and the variety of academic options we offer.
It goes without saying that any support system you have will not help you if you’re not showcasing it in your marketing messaging.
Highlight the flexibility and variety of your class options for veterans. Show them the various departments, teams, clubs, and personnel that you have available to serve their needs.
Hire student veterans to your marketing and enrollment staff.
It’s good for prospective students to see that they’re represented among your staff hires. This helps them feel like you understand their academic and social needs.
When it comes to military vets, this is even more important.
We also have a Veteran on our Admissions staff who serves as an important resource to this population by offering support and help in the admissions process and also assists them with their transition to campus life.
Military service is a uniquely demanding experience, whether one has served in combat or non-combat areas.
For this reason, among many others, it’s a huge advantage if you can find a qualified veteran to serve on your enrollment and/or marketing staff.
Also, this person might be able to better understand the in’s and out’s of the veteran benefits and the Veteran’s Administration (VA), which often requests that you have someone on staff to act as a VA liaison.
Show student veterans you are military friendly.
Speaking of benefits, student veterans have a wide variety of financial benefits available to them for their military service.
Unfortunately, many veterans may not be aware of the benefits of which could be working to their advantage.
Veterans are not aware of the types of benefits they’re eligible to receive and we have individuals on campus willing and able to help them figure that out and put them in touch with the appropriate representatives in the VA System.
When we create Veterans-specific marketing we focus on support – the support they will receive in the pre-enrollment process, and while they are enrolled here that makes us a “military-friendly” school. We highlight our Armed Forces Club and the fact that we have created policies with their unique needs in mind, such as preferential course registration.
Choosing a career path, selecting a school, and starting the academic journey is a major step for most student veterans.
Imagine the relief they’ll feel when they see in your marketing that you’ve already paved the way for them! With people and programs available, your private college or university can help them navigate the various academic decisions they’ll have to make to attend your institution.
Another way to show yourself “military friendly” is to highlight the various ways in which your campus life can be of service to them.
When we create marketing or advertising for Veterans, we focus on those aspects of Keystone that specifically appeal to them, such as our close-knit and supportive campus, small class sizes, and flexible learning options.
While some of these traits will certainly be appealing to every prospective student, for student veterans, this might make your marketing messaging feel like an oasis.
It shows them how your school can be a place of calm and steady self-improvement after a season of hardship, separation, or the other difficult realities of military service.
Keep your marketing to veterans personal.
No one wants to be treated like just another number. Keystone College stressed to me that one of the keys to their success was to employ what I call a high touch marketing model.
We also consider our recruitment strategy to be more of an individualized approach, rather than blanket marketing to appeal to all Veterans. We have found success working with each Veteran student applicant one-on-one to show them why Keystone is a fit based on their unique needs, goals, and stage in life. Our recent graduates include Veterans who have served in the War in Afghanistan as well as the Korean War as their needs and priorities were very different from each other.
Of course, this is how you should approach all of your marketing personas.
But with student veterans it might be all the more important to avoid a “one-size-fits-all marketing” to attract them.
And even after a veteran shows interest in your institution, it’s important to follow up with them in a personal way.
Our marketing works if we can follow through with very strong customer service and personal attention. That is the key to success!
It’s time to renew your marketing to veterans!
They are also among the most diverse groups of students you’ll have the privilege to serve who’ll continue to add value and experiences to your student body.
Take it from the good folks at Keystone College. You can’t afford not to focus in on this hungry and highly motivated demographic.
Again, my thanks to the enrollment and marketing staff at Keystone. You guys are incredible!
For more information on marketing to veterans and how to optimize your digital education marketing, feel to reach out to us here.
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Featured image by seanlockephotography via Adobe Stock