Looking for creative marketing ideas to improve your outreach? Check out Interact and the Inland Empire/Desert Regional Consortium’s latest out-of-the-box tactics to keep on the cutting edge!

“We asked ourselves, what can we do to supplement the outreach our college marketing departments already do?” says IEDRC Marketing Director James Meier. “That’s why we’re trying to experiment.”

Consortium-Powered Creative Marketing Ideas

The IEDRC spans 12 community colleges across two large counties, covering about 4.5 million people! So, the consortium can really amplify college efforts with a bigger budget and bandwidth.

“At the consortium level, we’ve been able to pool resources differently than what you would do for marketing at an individual college,” says Interact’s Director of Communications, Grace Kendall. “We’ve helped many community college consortia, districts, and statewide systems innovate strategies to reach more students, and it’s rewarding every time we see that uptick in enrollment. In particular, marketers can learn a lot from the IEDRC’s forward thinking!”

When you already have a solid marketing foundation but want to increase your reach, it’s time to think outside the box. So, keep reading to find out the IEDRC’s four new creative marketing ideas to inspire your outreach.

1. Why Advertise When You Can ‘Carvertise?’ Driving Outreach with ‘Mobile Billboards’ 

While the IEDRC has been running robust digital ad campaigns for seven years and counting, it was time to get IRL outreach into higher gear last summer. So, the team test-drove “Carvertise,” a company that turns cars into moving billboards. The consortium hired 20 student drivers to wrap their vehicles with “Ready, Set, Career” advertisements, complete with QR codes.

“It was innovative because this isn’t the kind of advertisement you usually see, and people drive so much in Southern California,” says Kendall. “For the same price as five billboards for six to eight weeks, instead, we had 20 wrapped cars on the road for six months.”

As a bonus, a quarter of the marketing costs went into student drivers’ pockets, helping learners afford their education while they helped spread the word.

And to top it off, the drivers doubled the minimum distance they were expected to cover, so the campaign got twice the impressions!

Plus, “We were able to see an increase in direct visits to the consortium’s website during the time the campaign was running,” says Kendall. 

“It was a huge success,” adds Meier, who wants to try staging wrapped cars at high school graduations and even festivals like Coachella. “It was great to try something new with these mobile billboards.”

Key Takeaway:

Can your college system tap into creative marketing ideas like Carvertise? What avenues are unique to your region that can help you stand out from the competition?

2. Leveraging New Student Lists from CCCApply: An Underused Creative Marketing Idea

The IEDRC had tremendous success with five-plus years of conversion campaigns to reengage students who applied but did not enroll. This year, the consortium is taking that creative marketing idea to the next level.

“CCCApply has a way for colleges to download lists of anyone who has started but did not complete an application,” says Kendall. “This is the best-kept secret for our community colleges because it’s another resource between inquiry and application we don’t typically consider.”

The IEDRC plans to run nurture campaigns with the CCCApply list, encouraging these prospects to enroll. 

“It’s likely that our colleges are not using those lists yet, so we want to get them involved,” says Meier. “The more people we can reach out to, the more likely we are to boost our enrollments.”

Key Takeaway: 

What opportunities to leverage student lists are you missing? Find the best-kept secret in your region to start reengaging stalled prospects.

3. Amplifying Organic Outreach with Student Influencers

The IEDRC is also kicking off a brand-new student influencer program this spring, recruiting current students from the region’s high-demand educational pathways. Those learners are now the voice of the consortium’s career education marketing, creating content on behalf of the colleges. 

“We don’t always speak the language of our students perfectly,” says Meier. So, who could be better to promote the college than students themselves? “Our influencers will be easy to relate to for other students considering their future options for college and careers.”

Colleges can sometimes have difficulty capturing this kind of organic marketing content. Meier says, “I think colleges don’t realize how much work influencer programs can be. It requires much more hand-holding, and I think colleges miss out because they don’t have the time.”

Since the consortium has more resources than any one college and because it has access to a bigger pool of students, it’s easier to collect influencer content as part of a group effort. The IEDRC’s influencer videos will be coming out soon, showcasing the breadth of career education from its colleges. It’s dynamic content the consortium and its colleges will use in organic and paid ads to help get the word out and recruit more students!

Key Takeaway:

Is your college system leveraging latent talent by plugging into student influencers? How can your colleges band together to maximize organic content?

Read more on our blog, Student Influencer Checklist: How to Leverage the Most Powerful Voices for Your Marketing Plan.

4. How Better Employer Engagement Boosts Enrollment

“Of course, we want to get butts in seats, but we also want students to find careers,” says Meier.  “Our robust employer partnerships are an extra incentive for students to enroll.”

And while the IEDRC colleges already had strong employer advisory boards, Meier says, “That employer relationship wasn’t as spelled out before. And we want to grow and improve our relationships with even more regional employers to create new opportunities.”

Kendall adds, “Many colleges struggle with communicating the value they provide to employers.” And while industry engagement is a core value for community colleges, it can be like herding cats to build and maintain that engagement. Here is what the team did to keep employer engagement robust:

3 Simple Tactics to Increase Employer Connections

First, the consortium created a new employer-specific landing page to help forge stronger connections.

“Our new landing page explains to employers what we’re doing at the colleges and introduces them to their local employer engagement manager, ensuring prospective partners know who the best contact is in their area,” says Meier.

The IEDRC’s new employer web page clarifies what community colleges do and how to get in touch.

In addition to an ongoing employer newsletter that showcases the region’s career education successes, the IEDRC is also launching an employer engagement video series.

“Those videos will serve as testimonials, with employers saying, ‘I look to our community college to hire my employees because they are well trained,’” says Meier. “On the flip side, we’re also going to interview their student and alum employees who can speak to how their community college prepared them for new careers.”

Between the new landing page, newsletter, and video series, the IEDRC is increasing industry connections.

“We’re trying to build our industry pipeline, so employers think of us first when they need positions filled,” says Meier. “We want employers and students to know we are your community.”

Key Takeaway:

Take a page out of IEDRC’s playbook. Clarify and streamline your employer engagement to help bolster your long-term enrollment efforts.

Final Advice on Creative Marketing Ideas

In the fast-paced marketing landscape, strategies and tools are constantly changing, and there is also a lot of competition for attention across platforms.

“How do we get through that noise? By being willing to try new things in our outreach,” says Meier. “Some things that worked five years ago, like Facebook, might not be as successful today and likely won’t be as successful five years from now. We constantly have to think about the next thing.”

Don’t worry — you don’t need to be a marketing Nostradamus to stay on top of the game. Instead, Meier posits being flexible, strategic, and innovative, which was easy with Interact on his team:

“We don’t have to do everything, but we must be open-minded and try new things. You never know what’s going to work next.”

Keep reading:

9 Powerful Tips to Stop Churning and Start Returning Stop-Out Students: https://interactcom.com/9-powerful-tips-to-stop-churning-and-start-returning-stop-out-students/

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By Published On: March 28, 2024Last Updated: April 17, 2024Categories: Blog Articles, ClientsTags: ,