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Strategies (Test and Learn)
All the types listed below have had successes on different campuses, but it’s important to understand that successfully applying these strategies is ongoing and happens over time. In order to get the return on investment you want from your marketing strategy, it’s important to make deliberate, informed decisions about what channels provide the best ways to reach your community of choice (for example, recent grads from the last 5-10 years vs. alum who graduated 30+ years ago).
Remember, don’t invest effort into a particular channel just because you feel like you should be using it. It will take a little time and a bit of a feeling around in order to find the right marketing channel for you, so don’t stress if you don’t get it right from the start.
Maintain your vision, goals you’ve set with your team, and effort and it will pay off.
Sending emails is an excellent way to market your platform.
With email we recommend segmenting your bulk emails to specific user types (e.g. Alumni vs. students). By segmenting the population that receives your email you can vary your content to serve that specific population. But you can saved time because you can reuse your bulk email layout each time by creating templates.
We know that people have varying levels of capacity. One recommendation to save you time is to create bulk email templates. You can develop solid monthly newsletters by setting up a simple template that looks engaging, fun, and with clear calls to action. And a few tweaks can easily make this newsletter appropriate for a new audience.
Here are some pro-tips that can bring your email marketing to the next level:
- Use stories and persuasive WHYs - As you write your email consider your “ask.” Why should people join the platform? How is it valuable? What do they get out of it? Maybe it is an opportunity to share their experiences in a meaningful way. Maybe it provides a connection with someone who can change the way they think about your career. Stories are a great way do this!
- Clear calls to action - Why are you sending your email in the first place? Provide your reader with what you want them to do. Make it clear early in the email you have a clear purpose for this email and something you want them to do!
- Links for follow-through - Links to drive action are critical for your users to follow-through. Once you have given them a call to action now you can show them actually where to go. In the bulk email tool you can add buttons to direct your users to specific locations like your site and their inbox.
- Images/pictures/sections/bolding/white space - All of these tools can distribute content and make your emails not text-heavy. Our recommendation is 2-3 sections with 70-100 words each.
Partners share everything from launch to alumni spotlights. This is a wonderful opportunity for storytelling.
Taking advantage of owned media like your university, office, or department’s site can be critical for some of your users who are searching for a mentorship at your university and are using the internet to look for it on their own. Make sure they can find it!
Punahou High School turned to cheerful drawings to convey the purpose of their platform, calling out to both students and alumni to sign up.
Notre Dame's Irish Compass
Notre Dame got creative and marketed their Irish Compass platform to alumni on a jumbotron.
ClarkCONNECT: Explore, Prepare, Launch
Clark put together not just a video promoting ClarkCONNECT, but also a beautifully put together webpage that introduces students and alumni to ClarkCONNECT.
Included in the ClarkCONNECT intro page:
The idea behind ClarkCONNECT
How both students and alumni can use ClarkCONNECT
A quick video about ClarkCONNECT
Success Stories featuring students and alumni who have used the platform
A list of the groups ClarkCONNECT users can join
Get to know Loyola Connect
Loyola put together a video that teaches about the importance of the alumni network in choosing and succeeding in a career, includes interviews with students and alumni, and incorporates some great shots of the platform in action.
Randolph Connect: Infinite Possibilities
Randolph School created this teaser video to educate their alumni about Randolph Connect. It's short and concise, combines fun graphics with some very specific screenshots of how the platform looks, and ends with a clear call to action!
Connect E-ship Mentoring Platform Tutorial
UNC put together a practical and detailed video to educate some invitees to their pilot group about what the program does, how it works, and how they can use it.
University of Hawaii's UH Connect
The University of Hawaii created an upbeat teaser video to convey the purpose of their platform, where both students and alumni can gather to connect with their UH 'Ohana.
University of Auckland
The University of Auckland created a very low cost/high impact teaser video. This is a fun example for those of you who are concerned about not having the bandwidth for a highly produced video. Some creative ideas can cut through the noise.
Students / Alumni / Faculty & Staff
With this strategy around Students / Alumni / and Faculty, I want to go back to the reality that we know capacity is limited and office resources may be finite. It's time to tap into your network of support.
Students are a powerful way to tap into the student population and begin those peer to peer-to-peer conversations that are extremely influential. We see examples of partners pulling together student ambassador groups who are tasked with making announcements at each of their classes about the platform and its benefits. They also go around to student groups to spread the word that way.
Alumni are also a great way to spread the word to other alumni and to gather buy-in from their cohorts. When possible, spotlight a few alumni to build your story of the impact and experience alumni have on a platform like yours! Think about your alumni chapters, board members, the low hanging fruit that are already bought in with university engagement.
Last on this list is our faculty/staff. They interact with hundreds of students and have the opportunity to advocate for your platform and its benefits on a daily basis. They can help with generating buy-in, encouraging engagement, and sharing its value. Have you considered who is teaching career, internship, or capstone classes? These are some easy wins.
Integration on campus
Once you’ve been able to gather buy-in from faculty/staff/and students, here are some ways you can leverage their connections:
Advisors are obvious and ideal champions of your platform bc they’re working with students on a daily basis that a platform like ours can help expand their capacity! What’s key here is that not only can advisors talk about the platform, but they can actually USE it during their sessions and potentially identify a mentor they can introduce the student to. If you gather enough buy-in for them to see the value of this, this can substantially increase engagement.
On the faculty end, University101 courses, career coaching courses, etc. are also easy-ins to integrate your platform into the curriculum. We’ve seen classes use the platform as a class project where students are tasked with reaching out to potential mentors and sharing about their experience. This is also a great way to nudge users who may be on the verge of connecting with someone but who just can’t hit that “Let’s Connect” button. It also gives you great material you can share in your newsletters!
Lastly, Similar to our earlier goal that we talked about, orientation is a great way to introduce new students to what mentorship looks like and how to access it on your campus. Orientation leaders can promote your platform right at the start and tie this into how to get the most out of their university experience.
Several partners have developed strong marketing plans. Here are three examples you may enjoy learning from. Much like the strategies, these are only suggestions. We recommend you test what might be best for you and your marketing plan.
- Ohio University - Bobcat Mentorship Network
- School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) - University of Michigan
Here are some articles which provide more marketing insights from your PeopleGrove Administrator colleagues. We also recommend you go to the PeopleGrove Community to ask your colleagues their advice or see previous community posts.