Attract the Best Students to your University with Effective Brochure Marketing

Encouraging students to study at your university is becoming more competitive with each new term. According to the latest statistics, studying for the majority of students stands at £9,250 for courses beginning in 2018. Although there are some exceptions — for students studying in Wales, for instance, as well as Scottish and Northern Irish students studying in their home countries — this large fee could cause young people to reconsider applying for a university spot.

So, your university must strive to attract high-performing students to its campus. By effectively marketing your university, you can significantly increase your chance of achieving this. For advice on creating an effective brochure that will engage and entice the best students, simply follow this guide created specifically for universities.

Brochure design basics

Firstly, it’ll help to have a general understanding of how an effective brochure should read and look to assist you in achieving your marketing goals. To start, each page’s headline, subheading and body copy must be clear in content and layout. For example, your headings must be attractive, your text must be descriptive and your subheadings should act as a bridge that leads the prospective student from the attention-grabbing header to the informative body copy.

Next, think of your brochure in ‘thirds’. The ‘rule of thirds’ — both vertically and horizontally — will help you line-up text boxes and images to create a neater, more professional layout. Luckily, a tri-fold brochure automatically creates a vertical third — just don’t put important information on the folded parts.

Smart, consistent and simple fonts generally work best in brochures. Limit yourself to two font styles and three font sizes, maximum. Also, don’t embolden or over italicize too much text — this should only be done to emphasise a point. The more often you do it, the less power your words will have.

Now you know the basics, it’s time to diversify your brochure to make your university stand out from the rest…

Be excited and enthusiastic

Students are excited about their future and probably have big dreams regarding where they want to go and how much they can achieve — so join in on their enthusiasm. Of course, student life isn’t just a dream for the rich and academically gifted anymore, which means you must work harder to ‘sell’ the student life.

In the 2016-17 academic year, there were approximately 2.32 million students at higher education establishments in the UK. By using optimistic, inspiring and exciting content in your brochure, you can conjure up a positive image in your prospective students’ mind — phrases like modern city, award-winning courses and thriving student life are bound to pique interest! But, be sure to pay attention to the following sectors:

  • Funding: how easy is it to get a scholarship?
  • Nightlife: socialising is a big part of university, so what lies around your campus counts towards it appeal.
  • Employability: students care about their chances of securing a job after graduation.
  • Accommodation: good living standards and nice areas matter, but aren’t always available.

Try to dedicate a section of your brochure to each of the above themes. However, don’t forget that out-of-class activities and studying abroad opportunities can really help you grab interest and push your university higher up in a student’s wish-list when it comes to UCAS applications.

Get ahead of competing universities

At an event, how can you attract the attention of prospective students when there are stands and promotional material surrounding you for competing universities? According to a report in The Guardian, British sixth formers achieved some of the best A-level grades for several years at the end of the latest school term. This means that many of your competitors will be striving to attract these new, high-achieving students at university fairs and exhibitions — so, what do you do?

A major aim for your brochure is to project a clear and instant message detailing why the reader simply must choose your university. According to the most recent research, marketing material has a maximum of eight seconds to grab attention. Therefore, your brochure needs to be bold and attractive. If red or yellow are your university colours, be sure to use these to your advantage. Red is considered the most attention-grabbing colour to humans, while yellow is the most visible to the human eye.

It’s not all about colour, emotions play a key part in how likely a student will engage with your brochure. You must also make sure that your title is emotive to encourage engagement — think about Durham University’s ‘Let’s make things happen’ header and ‘Redefine your future’ used by the University of Stirling. These are inspirational and will get the reader imagining what their life could be like if they studied at your institution.

Diversify your design

Did you also know that visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other content types? Use plenty of high-quality, descriptive photos throughout your brochure to give personality to your university and make it more ‘user friendly’. If you really want to boost your ROI, featuring photos that convey an emotion or display an action are best. Show students laughing, participating in sports, using hi-tech equipment, and collaborating on projects to highlight opportunities available at your establishment and hold the audience’s attention. According to research published in the Journal of Chemical Education, the first spike in attention lapse occurs just 30 seconds after engaging in an activity (in this case, a lecture). If you’re handing your brochures out at colleges, sixth forms and schools, you need them to remain interesting if you want to retain their engagement.

The importance of research…

Of course, colour, design and layout are crucial to a brochure’s success — but so is putting time into research prior to the mock-up process! A good example of excellent research is the University of York, which carried out extensive research over three years into 71% of its departments to discover why a student might want to choose here for their higher education courses. Afterwards, the university created and distributed engaging brochures and online content that connected with prospective students and showed them exactly why they should choose the University of York. The director of external relations at the university, John Concannon, said that the marketing material has been “positively received by prospective students and parents at open days”, and even lead to a “culture change in departments when it comes to undergraduate recruitment”.

Set aside some time prior to mapping out your brochure design to check out your university’s departments, asking students and lecturers what they like about their courses and what attracted them to study it at your establishment in the first place. After all, each course will attract different characters with varying ambitions.

Pepper your brochure with key statistics

Take a look at other universities’ brochures, and you’ll probably find them dotted with important percentages and key snippets of information. This is because students want a reason to study somewhere and they want it fast — which means, without reading the entire brochure, back to back. 90% of your university’s research recognised around the world? Invest more than £10 million in facilities last year? 98% satisfaction rating in the latest national Student Survey? As part of your research, collect important data that you believe will prove how beneficial your university will be for an undergraduate. You can either place these within your copy body, or create a graphic of the most impressive ones.

Utilise your current students’ skills

As a member of a university, you’re surrounded by young, innovative and enthusiastic people who are striving to excel in their future careers — so why not let them in on a real marketing project? Ask your design students to mock up a brochure that they reckon would work to promote your university, and get your marketing students involved by letting them project manage and make critical decisions on content.

The students at your university may also hold the insider knowledge you need to attract new learners, too. Send out surveys via the university emailing list or question students when they’re relaxing in their communal areas to gain an insight into what matters to them and why they chose to study at your institution.

Eager to learn and get started with their careers, undergraduates want to be told something exciting. Make your brochure easy to digest and don’t bombard them with lifeless language, irrelevant statistics and condescending tones. Consider colour, layout, copy, and imagery; and make sure you create a positive identity that a new student will want to engage with. This is the stage of life when your audience is at its most aspirational, so complement their excitement and show them how your university can help them fulfil those dreams.

This article was researched and created by Where The Trade Buys — a UK leader in booklet printing.  

Sources:

https://ag.tennessee.edu/cpa/Information%20Sheets/cpa179.pdf

http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/facts-and-stats/Pages/higher-education-data.aspx

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/aug/17/a-level-results-show-first-rise-in-top-grades-in-six-years

https://www.dreamgrow.com/21-social-media-marketing-statistics/

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed100409p

https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/30-tricks-for-capturing-students-attention/

https://groupgti.com/insights/7-strategies-universities-should-embrace-attract-postgraduate-students-0

http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/facts-and-stats/Pages/higher-education-data.aspx 

https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/feb/17/how-to-recruit-attract-university-students