Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marketing to those who hate marketing: Why?

I think I may have put the cart before the horse on my last post by diving straight into tactics before strategy. So let's answer the bigger question: What's the point of marketing to groups who hate marketing?

First, let me better define marketing in this context. The first reference to marketing is what we do: developing and communicating programs that provide value to our defined markets. The second reference to marketing refers to advertising tactics meant to persuade individuals to buy a product or service.

There are two major audiences in graduate and professional schools who usually have disdain for traditional advertising: Gen Y students who value authenticity and academics who value substance over style. Notice any similarities?

Thankfully, the strategic approach for addressing both of these groups is the same. Be straightforward. Don't let form get in the way of function. And if you work for a great institution with solid academic programs, the best thing we can do is share its story without diluting the impact with tactics that could backfire (which is what the rest of this series will cover).

Related posts:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Marketing to those who hate marketing: Gloss

It's no secret that graduate and professional schools are full of savvy, smart consumers. High-achieving students and scholarly professors are, almost by definition, independent thinkers, and most hate to be marketed to.

So how can a professional communicator best reach these marketing-cynical audiences? By re-thinking typical marketing practices for a potentially skeptical audiences, small choices can make a big difference. For my next few posts, I'll hit on some simple ways your marketing communications can be more effective with academic audiences.

Tip #1: Watch the gloss. Nothing says "slick marketing piece" like a high-gloss design. While many--if not most--color designs look best on a coated sheet, there can be such thing as too much of a good thing. I once heard a professor mock a brochure from another institution as portraying its faculty as "god-like creatures" due to the super-shiny gloss spot varnish on its cover portraits. If you're going for a highly formal or serious academic message, consider skipping the shine entirely and print on an uncoated sheet.