University Marketing: 3 Ways to Keep Your Recruitment Marketing Fresh

February 13, 2024
University Marketing: 3 Ways to Keep Your Recruitment Marketing Fresh

Let’s face it: high school students are inundated with college recruitment options. Top-tier students are bombarded with e-mails, direct mail pieces, and even the occasional phone contact.

Even lower-performing students are getting three to five direct mail solicitations every week as well as at least one email each day. Higher education marketers are pressured to continue executing new ideas (preferably with low budgets) to stand out in prospective students' already crowded mailboxes (virtual and literal).

Here are a few ways you can keep your collegiate marketing fresh and, hopefully, stand out in students' minds.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Funny

Or punny. Collegiate marketers do have to walk a fine line between “let’s get their attention” by being a little different and “our higher education options are prestigious” to justify the rising costs of higher education. In your recruitment efforts, it’s certainly OK to use a little bit of humor as you write. Just keep it along the lines of, say, highbrow humor like The New Yorker as opposed to the more raucous and raunchy MAD Magazine. People respond emotionally to humor and emotional responses are often a key factor in whether they buy the product you’re selling.

Humor has the power to capture attention and make a lasting impression. By incorporating wit and clever wordplay into your marketing materials, you can differentiate your college from the competition and leave a positive impact on prospective students. However, it's important to strike a balance between being humorous and maintaining the reputation and prestige of your institution.

Take inspiration from publications like The New Yorker, which masterfully combines intelligent humor with cultural commentary. By infusing your recruitment efforts with a touch of highbrow humor, you can engage potential students in a way that resonates with their intellect and sense of humor. Avoid crossing the line into raucous or raunchy humor, as it may undermine the seriousness of your academic offerings.

Remember, humor evokes emotional responses, and emotions play a significant role in decision-making. When prospective students find your marketing materials amusing, they are more likely to develop a positive attitude towards your college and consider it as a serious contender. So, go ahead and sprinkle your content with clever jokes, witty anecdotes, and humorous references. Just make sure to maintain the integrity of your institution and align your humor with the overall image you wish to portray.

2. Spice Up Your Grounds Pictures

Yes, your buildings are gorgeous and your campus is immaculate. But, if we’re being honest here, grounds pictures all seem to run together from college to college. Of course, you want to include your iconic images. But keeping things fresh means you should try some artsy angles or a whole new perspective.   Add some Warhol-style colorations, or frame the pictures in different colors. You could even try adding cartoons into the serious sweeping picture of the Quad. Just take a look at the pictures with a different frame of mind and see if you can inspire your graphic design team to push the envelope a bit.

3. Use “Fun Facts"

Maybe your campus consumes more ice cream per capita than any other campus in the country. Or maybe the gopher that lives just outside the fence of Williams Residence Hall is purported to be over 40 years old. Whatever your fun facts are, use them in your marketing efforts. You could send out an email once a month with the subject line “Fun Fact #4,567 About Your Future University” and check out the open rates to see if it works with your audience.

It’s not an easy task to be fresh in marketing to college students. They are exposed to so much messaging that it’s easy to wonder if your stuff is making a difference. Sometimes, it can help to hire a marketing partner who can help you spice things up. Or, use digital marketing software to hammer out creative workflows to reach the students who are actively engaging with your outreach efforts.  

We know you’ve got this. You’re wrapping up yet another recruitment season and the numbers look great. Just keep it fresh until those deposits start rolling in! 

Increase higher education recruitment applicants



Author Bio

Ryan Burkett is a senior partner and solutions delivery champion at Stratagon. Ryan shares passion in traditional, inbound, and digital marketing, but really gets his kicks building client experiences that never disappoint. Whether a envisioning a tradeshow or mobile tour, a targeted campaign or content-filled microsite, or even building customer strategy and business processes to help our clients deliver for their clients, Ryan delivers. Family man, sports fan, member of the Crossfit cult. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.