When creating a marketing strategy, it's important to think of the full process start to finish. Here are some basic considerations to get you started:
- Select your Team
- Set SMART Goals
- Identify your Target Audience
- Craft a Budget
- Develop a Timeline
- Make an Assessment Plan & Utilize Results
Select your Team
It takes a village! Who on your campus will be primarily responsible for ensuring Engage is visible and known on your campus? Are different parties responsible for different components or at different times of year? Who on campus may not be a primary responsible party, but should be included in your marketing strategy to ensure its success?
For example, your strategy could include the following members:
- The Student Activities office will be responsible for stocking "swag" and other collateral departments can use to promote Engage, for hosting regular tabling and training events, and for designing and assessing the overall marketing strategy.
- The Marketing office will be responsible for designing a logo for Engage
- The Printing office will be responsible for including the logo on all printed posters for campus events
- The First Year Experience office will be responsible for introducing students to Engage during orientation and their university 101 events
- Academic Advising and the Career Development Center will be responsible for referring students to Engage in later years if they comment on a lack of involvement or sense of belonging
Set SMART Goals
"SMART" is a term in the field of project management describing goals that are 1) specific, 2) measurable, 3) attainable, 4) realistic and 5) timely. Your SMART goals will be unique to you and what makes sense for your campus. While relatable, broad goals like "Launch Engage" or "Have 100% of students log in" will be challenging to pursue.
Examples of SMART goals could be:
- Every student who attends Summer Orientation will log into Engage once.
- In our annual Engagement survey, at least 60% of students will recognize Engage as a resource for information on getting involved on campus.
- Our total number of unique users visiting Engage on Google Analytics will increase by at least 10% this year.
Identify your Target Audience
New Students, Organization Officers, and Campus Partners will all respond to different features and different messages about Engage. Consider each target audience member separately, and be sure to consider the needs of more unique groups of students on your campus, such as commuter students.
Your students will be unique, but common messaging strategies include:
- New students enjoy being able to quickly find all forms and opportunities in one place when they are saving links and bookmarks for so many new pages.
- Organization Officers appreciate ease of accessing transition resources for their organization without the challenge of exchanging passwords and logins. Plus, they also love transparency into their organization registration process and ability to create a public-facing page representing their organizations.
- The more active your organization officers are, the more useful the site is to others on campus, which ultimately makes it even more useful for your organization officers!
- Campus Partners enjoy comparing their attendance tracking data to overall trends on campus, plus they appreciate the quick and simple messaging tools to contact students interested in their department.
- Consider! Different campus partners may be attracted to entirely different features of Engage. Your senior leadership, IT support, faculty, and administrators will all respond differently to different components of Engage.
Craft a Budget
Think about all of your associated costs. Will you be integrating any giveaways or prizes? If so, have you determined what they will be? Lay out design costs, print costs, and any costs for "swag" or other collateral.
Your budget will largely depend on your campus culture and resources - for example, some campuses have free design services available to them, while others are expensed. Your students also may respond differently to social media versus print campaigns, and react differently to swag items.
Develop a Timeline
Have you laid out a timeline and communication schedule that details the who, what, where, and most importantly, when? This will help you stay on track and hold people accountable. Your timeline should be specific and include each step along the way rather than broad overarching labels. Your timeline should account for multiple methods of marketing and span across time. Remember that students are inundated with messages from all sorts of individuals on campus and off at the start of the school year, and the noise continues with general advertising over the course of the year. For your marketing strategy to be successful, you want students to see the name and purpose of your community appear to them in different ways over time. Some campuses also choose to organize their marketing plan for Engage into three stages (soft launch, launch, post-launch), each targeting different audiences - it is typically not realistic to be able to reach every single audience at once, and this strategy allows you to dedicate time to each stakeholder while also progressing to different stakeholders over time.
Your timeline might emphasize different strategies over the course of the year, such as:
- The Web Team will confirm the university website prominently displays a link to Engage prior to orientation.
- The Student Activities Coordinator will vet Engage prior to Orientation to ensure registrations are approved and all content is up to date prior to students entering the site.
- The Assistant Director of Student Activities will create an email communication plan for the year with both broad (Welcome to Engage!) communications and targeted, specific communications at key points of year (It looks like you haven't attended any events yet...)
- The Social Media Intern will post a link to an Engage event at least once per week on each social media channel
- The Student Activities Coordinator will order and print posters advertising Engage and ensure their placement across campus.
- The Assistant Director of Student Activities will host a monthly tabling event staffed by office student staff to encourage students to visit Engage.
- Once per month, the Social Media Intern will promote a "super user" Engage organization on social media, and the Director of Student Activities will personally invite these organizations to apply for the Highest Achieved Student Organization Award each April.
- The Director of Student Activities will collect and share information about Engage's success with campus partners and future advertising efforts within the Spring semester.
Make an Assessment Plan & Utilize Results
How are you going to measure your campaign’s successes? What reporting metrics can help you do that? Ensure your efforts are being spent efficiently by observing the success of the various channels you have utilized in your strategy, and make adjustments to reflect what you learn. For example, you might decide to change a swag item when you have trouble offloading your current supply, or to invest in a student intern to enrich social media advertising when you observe few students accessing your community through social media on Google Analytics. Remember to extend your assessment beyond reporting - watch your data for trends and use it to inform new questions. Don't forget the reasons you want students on Engage in the first place, and consider administering surveys, focus groups or interviews to help you do more learning outcome assessment.