How to Create Messages Prospective Students Will Actually Read

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By Patrice Meadows — Jan 3, 2018 11:00 AM

Cascade CMS banner cover image for new blog post on using effective messaging to reach current students

There’s no shortage of ways for young people to communicate. Tons of messaging applications, social media platforms, and other digital tools help them document their lives in ways that work for them. The trouble many marketing strategists, communication managers, and college recruiters face is figuring out how to communicate with them authentically and effectively using these tools. 

Top Apps for Teens:

This is a huge challenge for many in higher education. Often, the places (virtual or otherwise) prospective students are most engaged, are also where they’re least interested in interacting with institutions. Finding ways around this can be especially difficult as these media-savvy consumers often spot (and ignore) commercial content intuitively. So what’s the secret to connecting with them anyway?

Being authentic.

Authenticity is the name of the game with any audience but is especially important when targeting Generation Z. That demographic is most likely to track organization’s political affiliations, corporate social responsibility track record, and stated interests. Any marketing campaign messages or actions that contradict stated beliefs or goals will create mistrust with this group. That is why it is so important to stick to messages that fit your organization.

How to Communicate Authentically:

Just because Gen Z cares about political affiliations and CSR, doesn’t mean that your organization has to commit to a bunch of causes that don’t match your mission-in fact, doing so would probably cause more harm than good. To communicate authentically, companies must share their thoughts in ways that make sense for them. Achieving this means using the people, stories, and examples you already have to craft messages that will resonate with this group.

Use real people: Allow existing students to contribute content for blogs, social media or sites. Their voice is much more likely to resonate with prospective students than someone many years removed from the college-selection process.

Use real stories: Document existing students’ journeys to help prospective students see what’s possible at your institution. Short videos or video-series can make connecting with institutions easy and simple.

Use real examples: Don’t tell prospective students that you’re awesome, show them. Use externally-verifiable results to support your marketing claims. Using outside sources helps bolster your claims and create trust between you and your audience.

How do you reach prospective students? Share your insights below or tweet you winning strategies to @hannon_hill