The prospective student journey starts well before they see you on social media, receive a postcard in the mail, or visit your website. Their journey continues through their time as students and extends for a lifetime past graduation.
This may not be surprising to you at all, but perhaps knowing that, for the most part, the prospective student journey is not just a digital one.
That’s right, the prospective student journey starts with words, is reinforced digitally, and is nourished by academic experience and post-graduation relationships.
We are social creatures. Most of the information we use to form knowledge, perspective and beliefs come from the people we trust. We listen to their advice, their stories, their opinions and their recommendations. And the more we trust them, the more dogmatic their words become.
What we are really talking about here is brand. While this might not be the most logical starting point, we know it’s the best place to start every marketing project, especially in a digital prospective student journey project. Why? Because the worst thing that a marketer can do is create an online brand experience that’s at odds with the offline brand experience.
Many schools are victims of brand bait and switch. A digital creative strategy guided by a strong, clear, authentic and differentiated brand is best positioned for success. In our book, Nobody Cares About Your University… Yet (2016), we demonstrate that all marketing (digital and traditional alike) projects need to start with brand. Once you cast a solid foundation, you first build the destination, then implement a segmented nurture strategy and finally invest on traffic.
All of this to say: Start with brand.