John Wilford, Managing Director, Rave Communications

The pace of change is rapid; youth audiences are being exposed to a dynamic landscape of brands, visual images, technology and media. Colleges can no longer rely in the media plan that is the same as the plan used five years ago with a bit of Facebook advertising thrown for good measure.

Colleges need to build their campaigns from the bottom up, soundly based on audience insight. Too many media plans and creative executions are created for adults, then dumbed down for youth audiences. There is an old Spanish proverb: "To be a bullfighter, you must first learn to be a bull". This doesn't mean you have to act and behave like a 15 year old, but you (or your marketing agency) have to fully understand the attitudes of future students. Only by understanding attitudes can we ever hope to change perception and behaviour – which is the ultimate objective of any marketing campaign.

The elements that need most thought in planning a campaign are creative, media and budget.

More than just pretty pictures

So many campaigns are created to please or appease decision makers within colleges. Few marketing departments rigorously test different creative options with prospective students. Some college marketers lean on the feedback from existing students, which is better than no testing, but existing student perceptions are tainted by the real brand experience. If a college is spending more that £50,000 on student attraction, then it's worth investing in some pre-campaign testing with 15 year olds in feeder schools.

As consumers, when we buy products or services, we like to think that our decision is logical and rational, yet actually the final decision is emotional. The brands which youth audiences are exposed to have sophisticated emotional positioning. Just think of Apple, Nike and Facebook. They all cause us to have an emotional reaction. So when you look at the creative options presented by your agency for this year's summer campaign, do you have an emotional response?

Go where people look

Media selection is tricky as we are trying to appeal to multiple audiences. Year elevens are the primary audience, but parents play an important influencing role in many households. As a rule of thumb, dedicate 75% of your budget to youth audiences and the balances to parents; however there will be some duplication with media such as outdoor.

Start your planning by placing digital marketing at the heart of your campaign – too often, digital is just an add-on. It is cost effective and more measurable than conventional media routes. It enables colleges to hit the target audience right between the eyes with little or no wastage. Digital advertising gives you're the ability to target prospective students based on age, geography, gender and even behaviour.

Media works best when campaigns are multi-media. Media should be in-home and on the street.

Timing is also an issue for colleges. Many colleges are looking for a summer campaign that will last from May to September. The problem is that budget will be spread too thin. Shorter, heavyweight campaigns are much more effective than longer, lower intensity campaigns. If budget allows, look at two peaks of activity in May and August.

Compelling Economics

Direct marketers dream of an average order value in thousands of pounds. A high income per student means that in theory marketing spend per student can also be high. How much would you pay for an additional 100 students? £10,000 or £100,000?

But if course we live in the real world, budgets are not bottomless. The amount you assign to your main student attraction campaign is one of the biggest strategic decisions a college should make. One of the main fac tors to look at is the intensity of competitive rivalry. If competitor colleges are high spending, you need to match them, otherwise you will lose share of voice. Also, talk to non-competitive colleges of a similar size to determine whether spend is reasonable.

It is essential to measure the performance of your campaign to identify the media that works. Using different phone numbers on media and dynamic phone numbers on the web makes measurement much easier.

John Wilford is founder and managing director of Rave Communications, a specialist marketing agency providing strategic advice, creativity, media planning and campaign execution to many FE colleges and sixth form colleges including Barnfield, Stratford-upon-Avon College and Cadbury College

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Richard Branson Pop Up Broadclyst

Richard Branson surprises school kids by popping up on Microsoft Teams to join an Enterprise lesson at Broadclyst School, Devon. He tells budding...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

Impetus #YouthJobsGap: Our Youth Jobs Gap research shows youth unemployment is far from being yesterday’s problem.… https://t.co/a08e5zcgXO
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page