Direct Marketing in Student Recruitment: 15 Colleges that Started Late in the Game

15 Colleges & Universities Send 1st Print Contact after November 14

Some higher education marketers have always preached the virtue of being “first out of the gate” to use “search” to contact potential students as soon as PSAT, PLAN, SAT, and ACT names were available. I’ve not subscribed to that “first contact or die” strategy for a simple reason: if everyone breaks from the gate at the same time, everyone tends to arrive at the same time. And that often means getting lost in a flood of contacts. No matter the presumed quality of the creative services paid for, standing out in a flood is not easy.

On the other hand, I was surprised at how many schools sent the first printed contact to our high school senior sometime after November 14. That indeed seems to be far enough into the recruitment season that our prospect (see his profile in the first of this series here) is, we might assume, no longer adding new colleges and universities to his search for the proverbial “best fit” school. But maybe these schools have done this before and indeed believe the application and/or enrollment results are worth the investment. It is likely that the SAT retaken in October 2016 with a 1370 score generated most of these.

Great Variety of schools: location, sponsorship, size, competitive level

The flurry of late arrivals has boosted the total number of schools in our pool from 206 to 231. Scan this list and you’ll see that the location, type of school, and relative competitiveness continues to vary greatly. Postcards remain the most popular piece to send but you’ll see some application packets and 2 traditional view books in the mix.

For the record, none of these contacts prompted an inquiry from our prospect.

A direct marketing note

In this group, as in most other contacts, we are still not seeing use of the single most effective contact tactic for a school that knows (or should know) that it has no name recognition with the person being contacted: highlighting the academic major selected when registering for a test exam.

You see the academic program selections on p. 15 of this SAT International Code List. It is a pity that more colleges and universities do not craft an initial contact message around the selection made from this list. Doing that would be a major step in rising above the flood waters.

To date (we have not yet reviewed in detail every one of our 231 schools), only Case Western Reserve University is segmenting contacts according to selected academic areas. The review of the Case postcard series is here.

That’s All for Now

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