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Marketing to College Students

College students are not only usually technologically savvy, but they also tend to consider themselves to be constructively cynical and able to sniff out a flat scent when confronted with advertising and marketing tactics. Usually, however, when a campaign is successful, it can be measured somewhat by counting the number of college students who “like” the brand on Facebook. Advertising is an intensely powerful force, especially in a consumer society, and college students or potential students are just like anyone else who will respond positively when something substantial, such as a great school, is being marketed.

Any online education marketing department must spend a lot of time clarifying a strong vision, not only of how to design and develop school branding in the virtual world, but a deliberate vision of how to conduct its online education marketing in general.

Serious students are more likely to respond to advertising with regard to potential colleges when the marketing cuts to the chase, uses humor but also provides substantial information, and allows for a lot of interaction as part of its functionality. A college website should therefore serve two main functions and be designed optimally to implement them. The first is to serve current students and staff. A lot of administrative work and processing may, and should, be done through the website. But the second, more relevant function should be to recruit new students, as well as act as public relations liaison for the college, which means adding content and value to the brand.

There is enough space and flexibility on a university website to conduct online education marketing techniques that simply would be too expensive to try using print and other non-web-related media. A college can literally interact directly with potential students, conduct surveys, and answer questions through a variety of media from blogging to microblogging and from podcasting to streaming video events. The possibilities are numerous, but merely embracing the technological possibilities themselves is the strongest form of outreach that can be made to a target audience that is likely already skeptical.

Multiple forms of outreach can be extended from a strong, optimized college website to conduct further online education marketing strategies. Creating a profile on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking sites can attract recruits, as well as link visitors back to the college website itself where names can be gathered and further interaction encouraged. Contemporary students respond overwhelmingly well to online college marketing that isn’t afraid to use the online tools that students themselves are already familiar with and often rely on.

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