Veteran enrollment marketing is more than a good enrollment strategy – it’s a way to honor those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Is it time to rethink your veteran enrollment marketing strategy?
As I write this post, it’s nearing Memorial Day.
Like many others, I’m taking some time to think over the heavier, more profound things of life.
Sacrifice. Duty. Patriotism.
These are noble virtues that every U.S. serviceman and woman who’ve died in conflict have shown in spades. We wouldn’t be here without them.
So as we remember their sacrifice, how can we put feet to our appreciation and show them?
I say the best thing we can do in memory of those who died for our country is to do all we can for the veterans who are still here with us.
In this post, we’ll rethink what veteran enrollment marketing is all about, and explore ways for you to increase the enrollment of your veteran student population.
The Heart of Veteran Enrollment Marketing
Veteran enrollment marketing is all about repaying our debt to these brave men and women, those who gave it all, and those who risked it all.
This is the heart of veteran enrollment marketing.
Every message needs this kind of existential gratitude behind it, even if you’re not saying it explicitly.
Through images, videos, and copy, your messaging to veterans needs to express this appreciation.
Transitioning to civilian life is different for every veteran.
While some will return with damaged bodies and minds, not all veterans are trying desperately to heal from their service.
However, there is one thing they all have in common – returning to civilian life is a big change.
The culture is different. Schedules are different. Expected behaviors and protocols are vastly different.
This is why it’s important veteran students know they are wanted at your institution.
They’re not just a number to fill up a seat. And you’re not recruiting them to fill some kind of quota for a government program.
It is critical that you live out your brand by caring for the veterans in your school and then expressing this gratitude and care through your marketing message.
Know Their Priorities
Like all of your target audiences, military veterans have their own set of concerns and priorities.
By getting to know their priorities, you’ll be able to better convey the benefit of enrolling at your school.
Veteran enrollment marketing is more like marketing to nontraditional adult learners than it is to traditional students.
Military vets entering your college or university have their sights set on certain career goals. They might not know exactly which career path they’ll choose, but they want to acquire skills that will help them in any career.
Student veterans tend to be leadership oriented.
Whether they make it to the C-suite or not, they want to be leaders in whatever organization they become a part of.
They want to be the thought and action leaders of tomorrow.
Just listen to how many times you’ll hear the word “leader” in this great video from the Student Veterans of America.
Veteran enrollment marketing messaging is best when it centers around acquiring the career skills necessary to be leaders in whatever field the veteran student chooses.
Show Them a Community
During the transition to civilian life and specifically higher education, veteran students look for others with military experience.
This isn’t to say that veteran students are exclusive, but many of them are looking for the tight bond they felt with their compatriots in the service.
I’m told that it’s hard for those who haven’t served in the military to understand just how close you get with your brothers and sisters in arms, especially during combat situations.
When veterans talk about what they miss about military service, the feeling of family comes up almost immediately.
Veteran enrollment marketing should show student veterans that there is a real community waiting for them to join when they get to your campus.
Before moving on, if your school has a student veterans or veterans affairs office (which I highly recommend all higher ed institutions should have), clearly show this in your marketing.
Don’t Try to Fix Them
For many of us in the civilian world, we’re inundated with awareness campaigns of veteran-related illnesses and disability issues.
In particular, a veteran suffering PSTD is probably the first thing we think of when we imagine what life is like for our military veterans.
All this awareness is a good thing, as society seeks to help those who’ve been wounded in service.
But this probably isn’t how your student veterans feel about themselves, nor how they want you to relate to them.
In this video, you can hear straight from veterans how they want to be treated.
Student veterans are not a problem to be solved or a wound to be healed.
But because of their service, they are also not like every other student.
Somehow, student veterans are in between our image of the war-weary soldier and an entrepreneurial parent looking to go back to college.
Show Them Their Advantages
A veteran enrollment marketing blog wouldn’t be complete without discussing veteran education benefits.
Thanks to Congress, student veterans have access to many financial aid options based on their military service.
“The term GI Bill refers to any Department of Veterans Affairs education benefit earned by members of Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces and their families. The benefit is designed to help service members and eligible veterans cover the costs associated with getting an education or training. The GI Bill has several programs and each is administrated differently — depending on a person’s eligibility and duty status.” – military.com
Military.com has some good resources to learn more about the particulars of the various programs in the GI Bill.
There are too many details to discuss here in this blog about the GI Bill and all the benefits available to your veteran students.
But you don’t need to be a veteran’s benefits expert to market VA benefits!
Why not feature a series of videos from your school’s veteran benefits department explaining the different kinds of financial benefits available for veteran students?
You can also ask your veterans affairs office to write up some explanations of these benefits and post them as blog and newsletter articles.
Student Veterans Enrich Your Education Experience
Having student veterans on campus makes the experience richer for civilian students, faculty, and staff alike.
Veterans are some of the most hard-working students you’ll ever meet, influencing other students to go higher academically.
They’re also some of the most diverse students, having served alongside people from different ethnicities, cultures, and religions.
Veteran enrollment marketing will do more than serve the student veterans you’re cultivating, it will positively transform your educational institution.
So while we remember the heroes who will never come back, let’s do all we can for those who live on to serve our country as civilian leaders.
For more help and strategies to improve your enrollment marketing, contact us today!
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain –that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
– Abraham Lincoln November 19, 1863
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