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Time to mothball the printed prospectus? Not just yet…

Time to mothball the printed prospectus Not just yet...

In an age where our lives are almost constantly linked to the digital world, it’s tempting to think that the printed prospectus has had its day. Surely, a glossy booklet filled with photos, course listings, and testimonials can’t hold a flame to the power of a well-designed website, a snappy social media campaign, or a persuasive YouTube video?

But before you consign the printed prospectus to the dusty annals of marketing history, let me give you 10 reasons why it’s not time to mothball this trusty marketing tool …just yet.

  1. Tangibility matters    

While the digital world has its undeniable advantages, there’s something to be said for the concrete existence of a printed prospectus. The tactile nature of a well-produced brochure can be a powerful reminder of the real-world institution it represents, providing a welcome break from the endless scrolling and swiping of our online lives. In a way, the prospectus is a material embodiment of the institution’s commitment to learning, an ambassador in the palm of a prospective student’s hand.

  1. Accessibility and inclusivity    

Though it may be hard to believe, not everyone is comfortable navigating the internet. For some, a prospectus represents a more accessible and inclusive way to learn about a provider’s offerings. This is particularly true for older, adult learners, who may not be as tech-savvy as their younger peers, or for those with specific accessibility needs that are not always well-served by online content. In this sense, a printed prospectus can be a powerful tool, reaching a broader audience and promoting equality.

  1. A lasting impression    

It’s easy to underestimate the impact of a well-designed prospectus on the hearts and minds of prospective students. A prospectus can be a conversation starter, a coffee table item, that can be picked up and leafed through time and again. The very act of flipping through the pages can create a sense of connection and anticipation, while the opportunity to linger over photos, testimonials, and course descriptions can be more immersive than skimming through webpages.

  1. It’s personal    

While digital marketing is undeniably efficient and far-reaching, there’s something to be said for the personal touch that a printed prospectus can provide. Handing a prospectus to a prospective student at a Careers Fair or Open Day can create a direct connection between the provider and the individual, an initial act that can start to foster a sense of belonging and ownership. It’s a simple gesture that can make a world of difference in a crowded marketplace.

  1. Supporting the bigger picture    

A printed prospectus shouldn’t be seen as a relic from a bygone era, but as a valuable element to a strong marketing campaign. Used in conjunction with digital channels, the prospectus can reinforce key messages, provide a point of reference, and serve as a tangible reminder of a college’s brand and values. In this sense, it’s not about choosing between print and digital but finding the right balance to create a unified and compelling marketing mix.

  1. It can be eco-friendly    

While there’s no denying that the environmental impact of print materials is a concern, it’s important to remember that sustainable printing options are available. By choosing sustainable paper stocks, vegetable-based inks, and responsible printing processes, you can minimise their impact on the planet.

  1. Showcasing creative talent    

Many institutions have remarkably talented students, particularly in the creative arts. A printed prospectus offers the perfect platform to showcase this talent, featuring artwork, graphic design, or photography created by their students. This not only adds a personal touch but also gives prospective students a sense of the institution’s commitment to nurturing creativity.

  1. Curating a distinctive brand identity    

A prospectus provides an opportunity for providers to establish and reinforce their brand identity. The use of consistent design elements, imagery, and language can create a memorable and cohesive visual identity that distinguishes a college from its competitors. This curated experience is something that can be lost in the vastness of the digital landscape.

  1. Building trust and credibility    

In an era of misinformation and fake news, the credibility of a printed prospectus can be reassuring for prospective learners and their families. The investment in producing a high-quality printed document speaks to the institution’s dedication and stability, creating a sense of trust and assurance that can be vital in influencing the decision-making process.

So, before you banish the prospectus to the great recycling bin in the sky, take a moment to consider its unique charms and the valuable role it can still play in your marketing strategy. The prospectus may have been around for a while, but it still has a place in the world of FE marketing.

By Ruth Sparkes, MD at EMPRA

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