Creating appealing advertising campaigns doesn’t have to be a head-scratcher. Just remember that “Advertising is the ‘wonder’ in Wonder Bread,” as the old quote goes by Jef I. Richards. In other words, don’t just market what your programs are. Showcase why your college will change students’ lives.
There is so much on the line with your college’s enrollment. Now is the time to pull out all the stops and launch advertising campaigns to inspire, uplift, and rally students to your college.
Not sure where to begin? Here are 10 mini-advertising campaigns you can launch right now. Put together a series of these mini-advertising campaigns, and you can really impact enrollment. Use your data to demonstrate results along the way, and you’ll also win over your president and other campus leaders, safeguarding your valuable marketing dollars and in-house talent.
With this goal in mind, the Los Angeles Community College District worked with Interact to develop a financial aid campaign to motivate students on each of its nine campuses to complete the FAFSA.
The campaign worked so well that 182,000 students clicked on the button to complete the FAFSA, and the district’s financial aid office received 3,100 calls, prompting their request to end the campaign. A marketer’s dream, right?
Among the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations, the biggest barriers to attending college are the following:
Lack of financial support
Not knowing about financial aid opportunities
Assumptions that they will not be eligible for financial aid
We’re already facing an equity issue in higher education. Educating everyone — especially the most vulnerable — about financial aid opportunities is essential. Leverage your marketing and outreach to ensure everyone knows about your college and how you can support them to reach their educational goals.
3. Mental Health Awareness Campaigns
Sample ads from the Orange County Community Colleges mental health campaign.
So, show students you are there for them. Use multiple touch points and available media to connect them quickly and regularly to your support services and community resources. Knowing they can turn to you will help students stay on track for their goals and achieve better health along the way.
4. Retention Advertising Campaigns
Retention campaign sample from Orange County Community Colleges
Email is an amazing tool for student retention. Interact’s national Media Prefs data shows that a high percentage of students pay attention to encouraging emails from their colleges. The Media Prefs data also reveals that your faculty are the best advocates for helping students persist.
So, equip your faculty to help students. Provide them with retention toolkits and messaging they can easily email or post to the student portal during pivotal moments, including before midterms and finals.
We’ve seen impressive results for colleges that implement robust, integrated retention campaigns like these. Include multimedia messaging from marketing, enrollment, student service areas, and faculty reminding students how far they’ve come and encouraging them to stay on track.
5. One More Class Advertising Campaigns
Sample email from Shasta College’s “One more class” campaign
It’s time to convert your part-time students to full-time — especially those already close to full-time status. You’re probably sitting on a treasure trove of part-time students! So, encourage them to take just one more class. Use email and social media to show them how becoming full-time will help them succeed.
Since we know more students stop out than complete, why not reach out to them and ask them to come back? Go after your students who left before they completed their degree or transferred. As our founder Pam Cox-Otto says, they loved you once, and they can love you again.
Since you already have them in your database, tell them they’ve come too far to quit. Remind them what earning their college degree means: higher earnings, job stability, and better career and transfer options.
As a bonus, getting more of your students back on track will also boost completion rates, as many are likely just a semester shy of graduation. If you can partner with your foundation, this may be a great opportunity to secure funding for a completion scholarship, enabling those who stopped out within three to nine credits of completion to come back and “finish for free.” Be creative and be bold. Your students deserve it!
According to an article in WIRED magazine, “A lot of people will need more education to get back into the workforce. And they’ll need to get it quickly, at the lowest possible cost, and in subjects directly relevant to available jobs.”
Where can they find all of this? Their local community college, of course!
People need the basics and fast. Students are looking for stackable credentials and ways to boost their resumes. Your career education, short-term training, and apprenticeship programs do just that.
Highlight these career-enhancing opportunities in a dedicated advertising campaign. Show people what they can get on the fast track to gain employment and even earn while they learn. Not only will you be helping folks get back on their feet, but you’ll also prove how essential you are to your community’s economic well-being.
8. ESL Advertising Campaigns
Native-language ESL ads for Santa Ana College
When selling your career-focused offerings, don’t forget about your courses for unique populations like ESL programs. Enrollment trends in primary, secondary, and postsecondary education suggest that the ESL student population is growing.
With just $7,000 to spend on media buys, Interact developed a digital ad campaign for Santa Ana College to attract 300 new ESL students. The ads, with versions created in Vietnamese, Chinese, and Spanish, drove 760,000 impressions, 8,200 clicks, and 58,000 YouTube video views.
A total of 790 students signed up for the College’s ESL classes, and SAC exceeded its goal by 263%! Their ESL campaign is also a good reminder of how important it is to communicate with your audiences in their preferred languages.
9. Gap Year Campaigns
Image from Shutterstock
Now is the time for community Colleges to fill in the gap. According to the Hechinger Report, “10% of high school seniors planning to attend a four-year college or university before the pandemic now say they’re going to do something else. But high school graduates who put off college often end up never going.”
Parents need to hear this warning and save their college-aged kids from falling into the “gap year” abyss. Show students how they can continue earning the credits they need at community college and transfer seamlessly to their four-year school when ready to return. You have the home-court advantage here. Use it!
10. Philanthropy and Development Advertising Campaigns
The Santa Ana College Foundation campaign booklet
Speaking of home court advantages, that’s another thing you can leverage with continued resource development. People want to contribute to organizations like community colleges that make a difference. They just need a little encouragement!
The secret is making emotional connections with potential donors. Show them how you serve workforce development in your community. You have a twofer when it comes to philanthropy campaign messaging: You are lifting up individuals who are often left behind while enabling your communities to thrive.
Emotional connections are the catalysts for most donor relationships. Tell your student success stories that depict grit, resilience, and hope as no other organization can. Allow your community to pay it forward by supporting your students and improving people’s lives.