When it comes to creating communication plans for the recruitment process an important question you must ask yourself is, “How much is too much?” Sure, the idea of creating such specific, drilled-down emails, letters, and postcards that each student feels as though you created the document specifically for him/her is enticing, but the reality is that having a solid foundation for your communication plan can allow you to divert from these pieces whenever necessary without overburdening yourself or your staff.
Cover The Basics
It’s important to identify a few major themes that your institution really wants to hang its hat on. Is your school highly affordable or does it offer incredibly generous financial aid packaging? Address this with one of your major communication pieces. Is athletics an overly proportionate part of your student population (over 50 percent)? Be sure to create a piece that illustrates the effects this has on your campus (make sure it appeals to both potential student athletes and non-student athletes). Identifying these three-to-six themes that positively represent your institution can become the foundation by which your communication plan is built.
Seek Out The Distinct
When I first started in enrollment management I heard a marketing representative tell an entire auditorium full of higher education professionals to never use the word “unique” when describing their institution. In the most specific of ideologies, every institution is, in fact, unique; however, in reality every school is similar in some way or another to other institutions. The marketing representative preferred to use the word distinct, instead. Find things about your institution that none of your competitors can claim, even if they may seem silly at times. If your school hosts the largest water balloon fight in the United States each year, this is something distinct that sets your institution apart in a much more impressive way than an institution that “is committed to student involvement and on-campus engagement.”
Measure The Movement
After identifying your basic major themes and creating quality content that represents these themes in a positive and distinct way for your institution, make sure that you accurately track what this means for the recipients. Create compelling calls-to-action and be sure to move students who participate to a more aggressive or in-depth level of your communication plan. Use the metrics to show your prospective students that their actions dictate their experience. Nothing reinforces apathy more for a student than realizing they are getting the exact same pieces as every other student on the institution’s list, whether they plan a campus visit or never even open an email.
There is obviously much more that goes into creating strategic communication plans and, depending on the student population, the levels to which an institution chooses to drill down are bound to differ; however, these three tips can create the foundation through which a robust and easily-maintainable communication strategy can be carried out.
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