The Importance of a College Marketing Plan

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Before beginning a college advertising and marketing campaign, you need to develop a solid college marketing plan.

Developing a solid college marketing plan allows you to assess your business and marketing goals, identify and analyze your target demographic, evaluate ways to achieve your marketing strategies, maximize marketing resources and increase efficiency, determine a way to track and measure results, and assign roles and responsibilities. Let us examine each of these categories in more detail.

Developing a College Marketing Plan Allows You to:

1.      Assess Your Business and Marketing Goals

This is one of the most important aspects of a college marketing plan. The first step is to assess what your business objectives are and how to implement these goals into a college marketing strategy. The following items should be considered:

–         Identify the short-term and long-term business goals. How will college marketing help your company achieve those goals?

–         Indentify your main competitors and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Examine their marketing strategies.

–         Evaluate your company’s products and determine the image you want to project.

2.      Identify and Analyze Your Target Demographic

The key to a successful college marketing campaign is understanding your target audience. Understanding their psychology, buying behaviors, and motivations, will improve your student marketing efforts. Questions to answer:

–         Who is your target audience? What are their interests, desires, and motivations? What inspires them to act?

–         How much discretionary power do they have? What do they typically spend their discretionary funds on? How do they make purchasing decisions?

–         Why does your product and brand appeal to them? What are their pain points? What turns them off?

3.      Evaluate Ways to Achieve Your Marketing Strategies

College students tend to be elusive and critical of advertising, making college marketing a tricky proposition. Determining how to effectively market to college students requires research, analysis, and creativity. Key topics to address:

–         What media do they engage with and on what frequency? What marketing channels do you want to focus on (on-campus marketing, P2P marketing, social media marketing, online advertising, print advertising, experiential marketing etc.) or a combination there of?

–         If utilizing on-campus advertising, what mediums do you want to use (campus posters, campus flyers, college sampling, college street teams, college newspaper advertising, college event marketing, etc.)?

 4.      Maximize Marketing Resources and Increasing Efficiency

Developing a college marketing plan allows your company to cut unnecessary costs and create a streamline marketing approach that maximizes exposure and increases ROI. Points to examine:

–         Determine the reach of your marketing campaign. Do you want the campaign to be regional or nationwide? What schools and locations do you want to target?

–         Do you want to use a college advertising agency or in-house marketing department?

–         Consider the logistical issues. How will your college marketing and advertising materials be printed and distributed? How much material do you want to distribute and on what frequency?

–         Set a marketing budget and determine the peak time to advertise to students based on your product or service. Determine the duration of your advertising campaign. Set forth an action plan.

5.       Determine a Method to Track and Measure Results

When creating college marketing ideas it is extremely important to develop ways to track results. This often gets neglected or pushed to the back burner, however, this is a mistake. In order to evaluate the success of your college marketing campaign you need to be able to measure the results. Points to address:

–          Determine how to incorporate tracking into your college marketing campaign. This can be done in a variety of ways depending on the medium. Consider including a special discount or promo code on your advertising materials, tracking your campaign in real time using photo documentation, placing trackable QR codes on your promotional materials, or a combination there of.

–         For social media marketing and college Facebook advertising, determine if you want to create a special Facebook page specifically for your marketing campaign or if you want to drive traffic to your company’s main Facebook page. Select what other social media sites you want to use, if any. Pay attention to traffic and unique visitors during the campaign’s duration.

–         Measure the ROI and determine what mediums worked best and which ones did not. This will help with future marketing campaigns.

6.      Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Assigning roles and responsibilities and communicating those roles to the necessary parties will increase efficiency and create accountability. Tasks to complete or delegate:

–         Developing a college marketing strategy and college marketing plan

–         Creating a budget and schedule

–         Gathering and analyzing market research about the target demographic, as well as current industry trends

–         Determining the marketing channels—online, print, experiential. Designing the creative/s

–         Distribution—printing, packaging, and shipping of materials

–         Campaign rollout and execution, logistics management with multiple platforms—OOH, digital, and experiential

–         Tracking results and measuring ROI

–         Decide if you want to utilize a college marketing agency to assist you with these roles

Successfully reaching the student demographic and running an effective campaign depends on developing a good college marketing plan first. NAM has been helping companies like yours since 1997.

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