FE needlessly spends £millions on marketing each year.

These may appear to be strange words coming from a marketing professional; but sadly, they are true.  It isn’t that marketing is needless.  The problem is how much we pay for marketing.  We also often spend too much time and money on new marketing “toys”, without focusing on our prospective customer’s needs.

There can be no argument that the digital revolution has wowed the public.  Young people and employers alike spend more and more time on social media sites and mobile devices than ever before.  We are more likely to find NEETS on Facebook than queuing to join one of our courses.  Smart employers and their staff spend time on LinkedIn prospecting for customers and looking for potential new employees or jobs.

The real revolution however is with video.  YouTube has over 70 hours of new material uploaded every minute.   Think of any topic and you will find a video on YouTube to provide a basic overview, or in-depth exploration of the minutiae, of even the most obscure topics.  Better still, viewing figures are very high and increasing.

Recruiting at low cost

So how will this help us to recruit at low cost?  Simple, our prospective customers are using video and we need to tap into this low cost marketing channel to stimulate their interest.  This is where our focus should be.

Of course video isn’t the only option, there are other marketing channels we could consider.  However, virtually every college I know now embraces video to a greater or lesser degree and it is an excellent starting point when focusing on the needs of our customers.

For those potential customers, that are already aware of you, a video can “seal the deal”.  Showing them your facilities can help them make the decision to attend a course with you.

But that is the problem.  College videos tend to focus on people that already know about the college.  They neglect the myriad of people that have never heard of you, or perhaps have never considered a college course.  You see most people searching on Google aren’t looking for college courses.  The majority of searches are leisure related or are looking for an answer to a specific question.

So, say an employer seeks instructions on using a new piece of equipment.  The last place they will look is on a college website …. even though what they actually need is training!   They will go to Google and enter a search phrase like “how to safely operate a radial arm cross cut saw”.

Google doesn’t just links to websites; they also link to videos on YouTube.  In this case, if you carry out this search you’ll find some excellent videos.   When I made this search I found, on Page One of Google, an excellent video produced by WarwickshireCollege.

Over 9000 people have now watched this four-minute video.  Few colleges can claim these sort of viewing figure for their video “about the college”.  Of course, not all viewers will immediately think they want to sign up to a course at colleges that produce this type of video.  However, include a short end message with maybe course details, a few words about apprenticeships, or build a clickable link into the video and on your Channel page, and you will certainly increase the opportunity to convert viewers into students.

The beauty of this type of video is that it demonstrates staff professionalism, the breadth of college expertise, will deliver information for years at no additional cost and reaches hard to reach prospects .. some that have never heard of you.

Better still, video is much cheaper to make than most of us imagine.

Stefan Drew is a marketing consultant, and was previously director of marketing at two FHE colleges. He now works with providers throughout Europe and the US. Visit: www.EmployerEngagementStrategies.co.uk

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