Fathom’s CRO, Jeff Herrman, recently published the post “Why Content Marketing?” In the post, he explained, “The purpose of content marketing is to build a relationship with your audience.” At Fathom, we don’t use the words build a relationship lightly. We don’t mean, “Get in front of your prospective students,” “Improve your brand recognition,” or even, “Start a blog.”
The purpose of content marketing is to spark and foster one-on-one, intentional, messy relationships between the people of your school and your prospective relationships. I include messy because no human is perfect. If your content marketing is done by and for humans, it won’t be perfect, either. But it will be heart-felt and life-changing.
As a higher education marketer, you interact with humans, often young adults, who are at a vulnerable point of transition. You have the power to guide their futures. Because of potential human interactions with individuals at your school, these student lives will be different.
My own alma mater, Hiram College, was featured as one of 40 schools in New York Times writer and independent college placement counselor Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope. It did just that for me. At Hiram, I met my people, befriended professors, found my voice, and discovered my passion for writing. I felt at home as early as my first visit – because the admissions counselors, professors, and students asked me questions and cared about my answers. How much easier would my college decision have been if I had sensed this commitment to intimate relationships even in Hiram’s content marketing – beyond the tagline, “Intimate learning. Global reach.”?
You watch students’ lives change for the better every day because of your college or university. As a marketer, it’s your duty to start the one-on-one interactions as early as possible – to build relationships. Get started with these intentional higher education content marketing tips:
- Identify a strong, consistent brand voice that reflects the on-campus experience.
- Track your prospective students’ interests.
- Use those interests to deliver personalized content about degree programs, professors, campus organizations, and dorm-life.
- Connect prospective students to current students with their same interests and life experiences through freshmen blog and video series.
- Publish your students’ stories of transformation regularly, with details.
- Introduce the faces behind your admissions team. Publish admission counselor profiles in the form of interviews, blog posts, videos, and emails. Be vulnerable. Sixteen-year-olds want to know the details.
- As soon as possible, initiate one-on-one contact between each student and one specific admissions counselor. This counselor, already familiar to the student from the digital profile, will focus on developing a real relationship with the student. He will bond with that student all the way through enrollment, unless the student indicates interests that fit another counselor better along the way.
- When current students, prospective students, and parents ask questions on social, respond within hours with a personalized answer to show that you’re there, you’re real, and you care.
- Understand that another school might be the better fit. We’re in the business of changing lives, not controlling them. The right students are out there for you, too.
How do you spark the process of changing the lives of prospective students? Share your strategy in the comments.