This post is my seventh installment in the continuing story about my 20 year-old son.
I have spent most of my working life in higher education enrollment, with a brief hiatus into the corporate world. Now, my life consists of visiting and consulting with colleges and universities across the south. In between, I get to sit behind the computer screen and try to keep up with what is happening with this younger generation.
That Aha Moment
Thought I would share a funny, yet enlightening thought my 20 year-old college junior had last night at the dinner table. We were discussing that my 13 year-old got his first piece of college mail from Hampden-Sydney College and he proceeded to say “Wait till you go on a college visit with Dad, it will be like taking your chemistry professor to the fireworks show. He will tell you why the fireworks explode and why they don’t and then you don’t get to enjoy the show!”
Now how many times have you been on a campus visit and thought about how the school could improve the experience for the prospective student and family? I am sorry. I am guilty of this, too!
There’s Nothing Wrong with Starting Early
In the last few days, I have been talking with some of my clients about how they are reaching out to their prospects. When that first piece of mail arrived for my younger son, I knew exactly what company had produced it as soon as I pulled it out of the mailbox. I want to share a couple insights that I think everyone should consider when doing a search campaign.
Being First to the Prospect
Even in the digital age, being first to the mailbox is a big deal.
It was definitely a big deal for my son the other day. He had never received a piece of college mail addressed to him. I give HSC kudos for buying the Duke Tip Names and reaching out to a kid in upstate SC. You never know if he will apply or even go visit but he did ask “Where is that?” and promptly went off to Google it.
What was the first result? Wikipedia.
Keeping your online properties up to date and properly maintained for SEO so that you will be found online is imperative for just these moments.
Now, what if you found students in your primary market that were connected to you via a niche major, sibling match, alumni, child or something you are known for? And then you were the school that first showed an interest in them?
There’s an old saying that “nearest is dearest.” It also works for marketing. Making the first move with students who are already near you physically or psychologically greatly increase your chances of receiving an inquiry from them—before your competitors.
We always remember who was first and not who was second or third. Don’t forget this for your next buy; focus your precious dollars on the students who are most likely to respond to you. If you are “nearest” by niche, major or family, you’ll stack the deck in your favor and minimize the workload on your staff.
Buying the Right Name from the Start
Selecting the right students is a science, but using a little prudence can take you a long way. Here are a few suggestions for finding the perfect match.
- Buy names using feeder schools without recruited athletes
- Overlay your alumni and sibling databases over your recruitment travel plan to make sure you are targeting the best areas.
- Consider using geo demographic information to find the best high schools and zip codes
- Buy names early, and often, that match your specific criteria to always be fresh
- Measure your responses, test and adjust
- Don’t give into “this is the way we have always done it”. Times are changing quickly.
In my younger son’s case, I am not sure how HSC chose his name.
Finding the correct names for your school is a science. Don’t just send to everyone in the market. Be a wise shopper and do your homework. Cut and dice the names to best fit your budget and recruitment plan.
So, the next time you’re first, you’ll be ahead of the game.