It’s that time of the year: the holidays are approaching rapidly, as they always seem to do. For most of us that means relaxing, spending time with our family and friends, and overeating. For higher education institutions, however, the holidays can be a time of confusion. Campus is empty, halls are quiet and students are scattered across the state – or nation.
However, the holiday season provides an opportunity to use higher ed marketing to build community. But you probably have some questions. How do you maintain contact with your current and potential students? How do you give your thanks for them when they’re often miles and hours away from your physical location?
We know that keeping an active and engaged student community is critical to the growth of colleges and universities. Here are a few marketing techniques for maintaining contact with your student base during the holidays:
- Initiate a holiday hashtag on your social channels and encourage students to participate. Whether it’s for giving thanks or for sharing awkward holiday photos, this can be a fun way to bring your students and faculty together, while gaining a stronger social presence that attracts prospective students researching your school.
- Help the surrounding community while strengthening your own. Meet with local organizations to coordinate a food or toy drive. Not only will you help people in need, but you’ll also bring your students together in a powerful way. Your school will receive good press, and engaging your students in philanthropic activities will ensure that you’re graduating distinguished alumni.
- Don’t forget about the locals. Not all of your students will be away from campus for the entire holiday season. Organize on-campus events or meet-ups to prevent these students from feeling isolated. Taking the time to be considerate and inclusive of all your students will create a real community – not simply a campus.
- Tailor and time your holiday messages with deliberate email marketing campaigns. Students aren’t the only ones on holiday; staff members and administrators will likely be snuggled up at home as well. Having a plan of action in place to deploy your messages, whether it’s a holiday card or the next course schedule, is critical. You’ll make sure your students receive the information they need, while giving your staff members the break they deserve.
- Don’t forget to give thanks. Your students deserve recognition for their support of your organization. Throw a holiday party or offer discounts at the campus gift shop. Be sure students are feeling appreciated. Being humble and gracious makes for a university people want to attend – and not just for the education.
What are your holiday engagement plans? Have you initiated a marketing plan yet? Share your ideas in the comments below.
There’s power in 1:1 messaging across the student life cycle. See how it influences student recruitment, retention and alumni engagement in our free guide for higher-ed marketers.