If you don’t have a “plant” record in the recruitment databases of your primary competitors, you can’t begin to imagine the recruitment marketing cacophony your prospective students are navigating. To catch a glimpse of what your recruitment marketing messages are up against, listen to the comments of the uber-candid high schoolers who participated in the 2014 TeensTALK LIVE! panel discussion in Chicago a few months ago.



How do you break through the clutter of the marketplace with copy and design that matters to prospective students (of all ages)? Begin every creative task by considering the six essential elements of powerful competitive message development:

1. Relevance – make sure what you’re saying matters to your target audience. If they don’t care, they won’t pay attention.

2. Resonance – make sure you’re delivering the message in ways that connect with your target audience, in their language and in engaging, compelling ways. Touch their emotions.

3. Audacity – make sure your delivery commands and maintains the attention of your target audience. Dare to be bold in thought, word and design.

4. Distinctiveness – If you say it, show it and do it like your competitors do, you’re just wasting your time. Even worse, you be perceived as wasting your audiences’ time, too.

5. Frequency – Conditioning any audience to see it your way takes message repetition, much like training a puppy to sit requires that you say “Sit!” dozens of time.

6. Longevity – A one-off flash in the pan impression, unless it’s audacious beyond higher ed standards, dissipates quickly. This is especially true when your competitors are in it for the long haul. Commit to a sustained campaign approach rather than a single splash. How many exposures does it take to make a significant impression in a prospective student’s (or donor’s) brain? A lot.



Nothing makes me happier than mixing-it-up with fellow recruitment marketers who long to create stickier messages. A quick note to eric.sickler@stamats.com will get the brainstorm started.

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