How do we apply the right perspective as we create communications content for our audiences? Hint: It's not about us; it's about them.
Our various and distinct audiences will only care about our content if they connect with it, if it speaks to them, if it moves them emotionally, and if it gets them to take action. Those are the measures.
Learning to Think Like Our Audiences
Our audience messaging structure should help us achieve our objectives with each audience. The messages inspired by this structure should be written appropriately for the context, audience, and opportunity of each communication effort.
Deliver the Right Information at the Right Time
Many factors weigh in the decision-making process for each of our key audience members, most pointedly our prospective students, their parents, and our University supporters. It’s therefore critical for us to understand and empathize with what each audience member is going through, every step of the way on their higher ed decision-making journeys.
In the corporate marketing world, we often hear terms such as customer journey mapping, persona development, and engagement marketing. These same marketing methodologies apply to our world in higher education as well.
In support of these new-to-us marketing methodologies that play a critical role in our editorial messaging across all platforms, Universityf Marketing and Communications, in 2016, begins a rollout of ongoing, industry-expert-based guidance and education for the entire campus community.
For starters, we can explore and familiarize ourselves with the challenges and specific needs of all of our key audience members. We can identify ways to:
- Understand their pains, all along the various stages of their decision-making journeys
- Deliver solutions for them that no other university delivers
- Provide social proof of these solutions with our storytelling and the audience-specific resources made available to each audience segment
- Create a remarkable experience—through all of our targeted channels of communication—to encourage them to return again and again to engage with us and find answers to their needs along the way, including the post-decision phases they enter
Our Family of SCU Audience Members
Let's also take a look at an overview of our family of SCU audience members and some specifics that may guide our editorial messaging efforts as our audiences move through the journey process:
DISCOVERY AGE – Ages 12 to 16
OUR OBJECTIVE IN ENGAGING THIS AUDIENCE: Create awareness of Santa Clara University.
MESSAGING DELIVERY: At this age the awareness is usually established through the use of school spirit, athletics, arts, and events. The communication vehicles would primarily be the use of social media (Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube) and be very visual in nature. Print components should highlight digital aspects for additional (fun) information.
DECISION AGE – Ages 16 to 18:
OUR OBJECTIVE IN ENGAGING THIS AUDIENCE: Create the image of Santa Clara as a desirable and viable option for higher education.
MESSAGE DELIVERY: Accomplished through the use of highlighting stories/events featuring the student experience. The experience will also give a nod to the parents of the prospective student. Digital vehicles would include the use of blogs, podcasts, video highlighting the successes of current students, out of the classroom activities, and quality of education. Using main SCU social media channels as a social media backbone that funnels new members to social circles and targeted social sites. Greatly increasing the engagement of the prospective student and making them feel involved in the University (and their department of study) and the decision-making process.
ACTIVE STUDENT – Ages 18 to 22
OUR OBJECTIVE IN ENGAGING THIS AUDIENCE: Share the components of complete immersion in the Santa Clara experience.
MESSAGE DELIVERY: Creating easy access to functions of the University (business office, academic departments, online learning components) via desktop, tablet, and mobile. OMC active engagement in student activities with social media booths and high encouragement of the students to post and distribute photos, videos via their own social channels. Big push to create social communities and circles which can then be used in marketing pushes to perspectives and alumni.
YOUNG ALUMNI – Ages 23 to 45
OUR OBJECTIVE IN ENGAGING THIS AUDIENCE: Focus on post-graduation outcomes and engagement.
MESSAGE DELIVERY: Heavy emphasis on LinkedIn community-building with Career Center, creating and emphasizing the notion of Bronco networks. Large push of campus activities (Athletics, Arts) that maintain ties to the University and draw them back to campus. Also making use of small fund-raising projects that we can use like a “kick starter” campaign. Messaging focused towards engagement and involvement in these projects.
MID-CAREER ALUMNI / PARENTS OF PROSPECTIVES – Ages 40 to 60
OUR OBJECTIVE IN ENGAGING THIS AUDIENCE: Messaging includes changes to campus and growth from the beginning of their college time here.
MESSAGING DELIVERY: Pushing news about institutional projects, immersion trips, and community building. Messaging to evoke memories about being a student to help with driving their children to look at SCU. Primary tools will be short-form channels such as Facebook that link to websites, newsfeeds, and subscription services. Engagement focuses on being mentors and thought leaders.
LEGACY FOCUSED – AGES 60+ – Alumni, Parents, Donors, Friends of the University
OUR OBJECTIVE IN ENGAGING THIS AUDIENCE: Institutional direction and vision will be of major importance with this group as we head into the University’s capital campaign.
MESSAGE DELIVERY: Primary marketing push on leaving a legacy for the future of SCU. Another group that will be interested in on-campus events and lectures to attend in retirement. Use of printed materials that link to websites and social sites for more information. Also Senior Gift, Sprinksgiving, and other student-focused Development Office efforts, with greater focus on digital and social forms of message delivery.