This recruitment cycle is shaping up to be very different from others due to COVID-19. This is typically the time admissions counselors are hitting the road for fall travel. Admissions counselors usually have the months of September and October jam-packed full of college fairs and private visits to high schools. They pack their bags with items such as table cloths, pens, inquiry cards, and lots of informational brochures, one of which is usually a fancy travel brochure, known to many as the “road piece.” The travel brochure is a piece that gives a broad overview of the college or university and what it has to offer. It often provides a student with a list of majors, a glimpse of financial aid, and insight to what the school is known for. It also helps the prospect see themselves as a student at your school, through the various images portrayed of the campus, students, and staff. Travel is an enormous expense for colleges and universities, but one that comes with a huge payoff, as it is where schools pick up the majority of their inquiries.
So, what exactly do you do with a travel brochure when there is little to NO travel?
Those in enrollment management are being forced to come up with creative ways to use what has already been printed, or in some cases, what has not been printed, in their enrollment strategies. Here are some ideas that might be useful when thinking about how to use your travel brochure for the upcoming recruitment cycle:
- If not already printed, think about reimagining the layout and fold of your travel brochure. Redesign it to be a folded mailer with a personal note from the VP of Enrollment or Director of Admissions. This might be slightly over what is in the budget, due to the creation of a new fold and personalization; however, the money saved on sending counselors out on the road for weeks at a time should help offset the redesign and postage costs.
- If your brochure has already been printed, think about how you can get it into the hands of prospective students through the mail. One idea would be to mail it in a clear envelope, which is often more cost-effective than mailing in a regular paper envelope. Add a personalized letter from the VP of Enrollment, a faculty member, or even the Provost.
- Go digital…we know that students are all about using mobile devices for everything these days. Create a digital version of your travel brochure that provides students with valuable information about your college or university while also providing links so that they can visit and learn even more. A digital version of your travel brochure is also a good tool to have on hand when attending virtual colleges fairs and high school visits. Schools are using software such as Adobe so that counselors can share the PDF version of the travel brochure directly to their students. Issuu is a digital publishing platform that allows schools to embed their viewbook on their website and other spaces. Check out Octane: The Return for some ideas about interactive viewing.
- Many schools are hosting a limited number of in-person visits. If you are allowing students and parents to visit and attend events on your campus, use your travel brochure as part of their information packet. Students and parents love walking away from their campus visit or event with lots of print collateral in-hand.
Jazmane Brown, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management at Xavier University of Louisiana, found herself in the position of having to make a change with her travel brochure that was in the process of being produced.
“Knowing that travel season was launching virtually, I knew I needed to change strategies in order to remain in front of student engagement. Typically, we "travel" with well-produced pieces that introduced Xavier to prospective students. I wanted to ensure they received this no matter how they chose to indicate interest this year. Working with enrollmentFUEL, we re-created our Xavier travel brochure into a self-mailer that each student would receive no matter how they came into our funnel as an inquiry. Doing this also increased direct mail, which went against what most schools were doing, as they worked to produce only virtual pieces to share. I know that engagement comes in multiple facets, and remaining virtual wasn't the solution to this student population who wants to see more of an effort in outreach on their behalf."
Travel is, no doubt, one of the best ways to get in front of students, to interact with them, and to get the information about your school into their hands. COVID-19 is going to continue to present challenges for the 2020-2021 recruitment cycle and beyond. Now more than ever is the time to meet students where they are as they consider their options for the future.
Ashley Buchanan, Project Manager at enrollmentFUEL, is passionate about all things enrollment. In her role as Project Manager, she helps schools develop digital, student search, and application generation campaigns and works with them from start to finish on each campaign to ensure they bring in their class and set enrollment records.
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