Yes, people still want to receive print from you. To maximize your investment, these materials must create an experience for the reader that mirrors what they will find when they come to your campus. Too often, they fall short.
Print gets bad grades for:
- amateur graphic design that decorates but does not illuminate your editorial message
- me-to-you generic content that emphasizes lists of features over the benefits you offer your students better than any other school
- snapshot photos that are poorly lit or composed, out of focus, or hard to interpret by strangers to the school
- thematic and graphic chaos among the pieces—admissions folders should not look like closets
It’s really easy to produce your own materials—just grab a digital camera and click into a page layout program. Remember technology may be a cinch, but beware of garbage in/garbage out. Talented strategy, writing, graphic design, and photography often come with years of experience. Whether it’s school staff or outsourced professionals, the team needs YOU to guide the process of making a persuasive case for enrollment.
- Learn to recognize and place value on superior work—increase your editorial savvy and visual literacy by analyzing materials from other schools and colleges; check out publications that win awards; do some mystery shopping
- Listen to what your audiences want to know—unless your message has relevance and anticipates reader expectations and questions, it will be meaningless; do your research
- Your story has to make you look different—feature your distinctive attributes and signature programs; tackle those misperceptions head on; put yourself in a crowd of one
- Choose your vehicles—print does a great job at conveying an emotional appeal through the ability to display large photos and multiple tracks of content; your view book is not an encyclopedia; leave that job to the website
- Plan ahead—it can take the better part of a school year to develop and produce new materials (starting with a concept and then a plan, new photography, writing, graphic design, production, printing and distribution); budget for expenses that are likely to bridge more than one fiscal year (June 30/July 1)
- Establish a manageable approval process—limit the size of the work group to as few as 4 or 5 if possible; insist each member attends every meeting; set a calendar of milestone dates for sign-offs; curb your instinct to tweak
- Evaluate results—collect data to demonstrate that your communications materials make a positive impact on your admission funnel conversion rates; it will be easier to secure the budget you need for the next cycle