#TerribleAdviceTuesday – Getting overzealous with one type of media in your marketing mix

email overload

For all of the marketing professionals out there, chances are you’re well aware of the importance of the marketing mix, “the 4 P’s” if you may – product, price, place, and promotion. Although the New Media Age has reshaped the 4 P’s into countless strategies employed across the globe, the 4 P’s have endured the test of time.

What happens when we forget about the marketing mix and become over-consumed in one form of promotion? Sending 120 emails over the course of the year to one prospect, calling one inquiry 3 times a day, sending mail piece after mail piece to parents hoping they will have an influence on the students’ decision – we’ve seen it all, and we know how bad the effects can be on a students’ decision. For some, now is the time to reevaluate your marketing mix to assimilate with the emergence of social Internet, but for everyone, most importantly, it’s never a bad time to reevaluate your overall marketing mix to ensure the best fit with your target market.

First let’s lay some groundwork – Outbound marketing uses more of a push strategy and works to gain the attention of any ‘buyers’ involved in the purchase process, while inbound marketing works to produce relevant content that is used to pull the consumer in. Outbound promotion uses TV, radio, direct mail, email direct towards a targeted market segment, while inbound uses social media marketing, videos, blogs, SEO and any other forms of content to keep the consumer coming back, and in higher education – turn the prospect into an inquiry, and later turning the inquiry into an enroll.

In order to attract a student, parent, or any other buyer involved in the decision making process, you must utilize the tools that build brand awareness by producing materials that send an attractive message, but also include a call to action. Print, text, email, phone, social media, you name it – must all be integrated with attractive messages that engage and pull the consumer back to your website or bring them on campus for a visit.

The answer lies in the ability to mix inbound and outbound marketing materials that answer the vital questions of – how do you differentiate yourself, what will you offer, and why your target market should chose your product, with both quantitative and qualitative responses. Your materials should be accessible, clear, actionable, consistent, and fitting for your audience. Never abuse your power to send too many communications to students, especially too many of one particular form of media.

So, what makes an ideal marketing communications plan? We’ve outlined a sample plan based on what we’ve seen from our clients.

  • Prospect → No more than 6 emails, unless they opt in. Aim for no phone calls at this stage, and certainly not 3 phone calls a week.
  • Inquiry → Relevant e-mail and print materials that inform students about open house, drive to apply, and inquiry responses. A few phone calls are okay for relationship building, and if the student opts in for text you can send messages that are personalized, informative and meaningful. Now is the time to maintain a strong online presence, as many touch-points as possible are always a plus.
  • Applicant → Get to know the student, phone calls discussing missing application materials, campus events and answering any questions the student may have at this stage in the game. Keep the dialog open with relevant nurture e-mails.
  • Accepted → Get the student pumped up! Personalized, detailed and eye-catching acceptance packets that make the students say ‘wow!’ give your school a huge head up above competitors. We’ve even seen schools that send acceptance packages, with stickers, t-shirts, to-go cups and more, get creative! Phone calls are the most useful in this stage, as you want to build the relationship to its fullest extent. Make sure these phone calls are relevant, as you have gathered plenty of information during the prior stages you should be ready to talk to the student about on campus events, athletics and clubs they’re interested in, majors, etc. With the right information guiding your conversation you’re good as gold.
  • Enrolled Here’s where most of the colleges drop the ball. Don’t fall into the group that forgets about the student once they’ve enrolled, because it’s never too late for them to change their mind. Students want to feel wanted, and the parents want to feel that their student is wanted as well. Send checklists, postcards, event reminders and even some campus swag. Use probing questions during phone calls that sort out who actually wants to attend your school versus who may be thinking elsewhere.

Plan, act, review, repeat. By utilizing proper metric tools you can further understand what needs to be tweaked, what is working, and what should be ditched altogether. These metrics will show you who opened the email, who ignored it all together, and what print materials actually led your prospect to apply. We want to hear from you – share with us what the practices you’ve seen that work the best!