Designing marketing materials that turn interest into enrolment

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The Situation

Engaging a creative agency is a big decision for any organization, and this is especially so for Canadian post-secondary institutions. Enrolment pressures and an unprecedented number of post-secondary options have made prospective students savvier than ever before when deciding on which institution to attend. Where some universities could once bank on their catchment areas to deliver the enrolments they needed, many now find themselves competing for space within the array of options that exist in the minds of students and their parents.

It was with this challenge in mind that Simon Fraser University decided to engage a creative marketing agency in the spring of 2018. Before doing so, though, the university knew that it was crucial to have an evidence-based understanding of the current impact being made by its recruitment materials. After all, post-secondary institutions don't have the resources to be pushing ineffective marketing materials. They need to make the most of every touchpoint with prospective students. That's why SFU wanted to know more about how students and parents viewed its overall brand, and how this information could help its team maximize the impact of their resources when developing future enrolment strategies.

The Solution

To meet its challenge head-on and take control of its enrolment destiny, SFU partnered with Academica Group to conduct an online survey of high school students and the parents of high school students living in British Columbia. Respondents were first asked a series of questions that measured their awareness and general perceptions of SFU along with a number of other BC post-secondary institutions. The survey then asked respondents to review and respond to SFU’s viewbook in detail.

Creative visioning is at its best when it is grounded in timely and accurate research. By performing this crucial research, SFU’s team garnered valuable insights into where its recruitment materials were most effectively representing the institution and where they were falling short. Further, having these insights prior to engaging a creative agency gave SFU the opportunity to provide the agency with evidence-based direction that vastly increased their chances of creating materials that could make a real difference in the minds of prospective students and their parents.

“In the end, these efforts have had a huge impact on not just our creative materials, but our overall recruitment strategy moving forward.”
Donna Dove
Associate Director | Strategic Enrollment Management Liaison, Student Success and Strategic Support
Simon Fraser University

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