My prior blog post on content marketing and paid interactive marketing focused on two different approaches to using e-brochures as a content marketing “carrot” to prompt prospective students to share their contact information in order to download the brochures. In this post, we will examine some “guerrilla” approaches you can use to create an effective e-brochure and share some tips on finding good content that your campus already has available.
Before we start, note that these tips are appropriate for campuses where resources to assemble high quality, professionally-produced e-brochures are not readily available. Of course, it’s great to have the capability to have professionally produced e-brochures, and for those who do have such access, I suggest you count yourselves fortunate and begin building your content marketing production partnerships right away. But, as is often the case in higher education environments, you don’t always have access to robust budgets and skilled publications staff who can craft an expensive publication.
Even if you don’t have access to professional design and production, the good news is that campuses often have the appropriate content they need to create effective e-brochures. It’s just a matter of tracking that content down, assembling and perhaps updating the content slightly, and then repackaging in a electronically-deliverable form (often a PDF can be easy and effective).
So how do you create a compelling e-brochure that students will want to download, even if you’re operating on a modest budget and don’t have a ton of resources to devote to it? These six steps can help you repurpose existing content you already have available into an effective e-brochure.
Step 1: Go on a scavenger hunt for content across your website and in your marketing, admissions, and academic departments.
Look and ask for anything and everything that was created to market or simply inform students about a given program. Targets for your hunt can include print materials, e-communications, recruiting event invitations, program brochures, program one-sheets, admissions requirements, student videos, and so on.
Step 2: Think about what your marketing campaign will be seeking to achieve (likely this will be inquiry/lead generation) and the informational expectations of the audience you’ll be targeting.
Discuss with your campus colleagues the most frequent issues or pain points prospective students cite during their early discussions in the recruitment process. Are they concerned about program quality? Do they want more detail on the classes they will take or about their instructors? Is it something driven by emotion or fear, such as “Can I get into this program?” or “Can I afford it?”
Step 3: Make a prioritized list of all of the pain points and then do an audit of the items you found in your scavenger hunt from step one.
Match up your top three or four highest priority pain points with bits and pieces of content you found during your collection process, and then begin deconstructing the prior content. Borrow from and adapt that content until you develop a narrative flow that answers those student pain points. Good news: No one need worry about “plagiarism” here because you are taking content from your own campus resources. Go crazy with what you use from these other institutional assets.
Step 4: Edit the narrative into a lean, focused set of content, then give it a clear and punchy title that describes what key questions it answers.
As you edit and title the content you collected, ask yourself what problems this information solves for prospective students. If it’s more of a laundry list, that’s okay… Just be clear that is what it is and employ formatting such as bullets to make it understood that this is a collection of important information from multiple sources bundled together in one convenient content package.
Step 5: Work with a talented member of your team (or do it yourself) to assemble the content into a three- or four-page PDF document with a few images that go with the content.
This document does not need win any awards for graphic design, but it should not be “ugly” or unprofessional. It should simply provide answers to the questions that your prospective students have, packaged in a way so the content is easily readable.
Step 6: Offer up your new e-deliverable with an accurate call-to-action that is honest, straightforward, and that gives a clear sense of the value it has for prospective students.
Example: “Request our e-brochure today and learn the answers to the seven most common questions students considering Program X at Y University have.”
Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite “guerrilla” tactics with you for producing content marketing assets for use in your campaign efforts, I should mention that, while these approaches are useful in a pinch, there is also great potential value in partnering with your colleagues in the marketing and communications areas to generate a more polished e-deliverable, or video, or infographic. If that department is game to work with you, terrific! If, on the other hand, they hear your request and become concerned that this work will take too long, perhaps you can share the above as a way to create comfort in their minds.
Whatever path you end up walking, the key is to get started with content marketing ASAP so you can gain some momentum, and build a foundation upon which you can then start to build a proper, professional, and strategic program.
Final thought: Stay focused on the objective—to produce valuable content that students will find useful—and don’t put yourself in a position where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good!
As always, I invite your questions and opinions in the comments below, or email me and we can discuss strategies for creating content marketing that will satisfy prospective students and create opportunities for engagement. I will also be conducting a free webinar on paid interactive marketing, a valuable strategy for getting your content marketing seen and downloaded by prospective students.
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