Colleges Must Lead the Way in Marketing to Millennials
Mar 15, 2016
Colleges need to take the lead when it comes to marketing to millennials – because if they follow what others have been doing, they will waste a lot of time, effort, energy and money.
Marketing to Millennials: The Top Marketing Myths
We have seen them all before – the trouble is we saw them, we remembered them but we never really validated them. We accepted them at face value and that has caused many to miss opportunities.
Millennials are pessimists, self-absorbed, frugal shoppers, lack interpersonal skills, are disloyal, reject the rules, are impatient, unmotivated and have an overwhelming sense of entitlement.
Did I miss any? Oh yeah, how about these.
Millennials are digital natives that shun off line communication channels like TV, radio, out-of-home, direct mail, print advertising. They prefer online sources of information, distrust advertising but trust their friends.
Yet research has uncovered…
One unifying trend is that millennials tend to have higher levels of education, with those aged 25 to 29 even outpacing their older millennial counterparts. If the trend continues, it follows that subsequent micro-generations will continue to value higher education.¹
See a possible opportunity in that last statement?
And what about this nugget of insight?
As the first generation of digital natives, millennials are definitely comfortable with technology. However, not all are early adopters or constantly connected. For instance, 48% say they would be able to function without their smartphones, 45% say they’re early adopters of new technology and 29% regularly use a mobile app to pay for purchases.²
Got your wheels spinning?
Okay one last factoid for your consideration.
It’s true that millennials are strongly influenced by recommendations through social media, blogs, product reviews or other online resources. On the flip side, 66% also respond to loyalty cards/discounts, 65% to couponing and 50% to store circulars—all traditional marketing tactics.³
What These Myths Have Done to Recruitment & Retention
Personal note here – I have been teaching online for almost 10-years now and my typical student is in their early 30’s which is ‘prime time’ for a Millennial. And I have students that prefer to communicate with me by phone as well as email, text messaging, video-conferencing (Skype, Hangouts). So I make it quite clear to them that if they have a question or a problem, they can reach out to me in a number of ways – because the goal is to quickly, easily, conveniently provide them with the information they need to move forward. If I were to limit myself to text and email based on what so many talking heads have been saying in order to sell books and pick up those choice Keynote Speaker gigs at the thousands of marketing related conferences that go on every year…well, you get the point.
For many colleges, budgets have shifted from traditional communication channels to digital. And nurturing programs have gone almost exclusively to email with the occasional phone call and/or direct mail tossed in there – sometimes in ways that make one wonder ‘why did you even bother?’
Marketing to Millennials – Recommendations
And our first recommendation is simple – remember that your job is to test, measure, analyze, modify and repeat. You have seen the posts, read the white papers, analyzed the available information and made changes to your student recruitment and retention efforts.
But if the performance isn’t living up to expectations, you might want to test some new hypotheses. Instead of looking for ways to increase recruitment or retention by tweaking email, you look at the segments within the Millennial generation and make sure you have the right message and offer in the right channel for “Brogrammers” and “The Exuberants” – or whatever segments and personas you create based on your own research.
- Genuine tone and manner: Show personality in your tone and manner – don’t write like an institution.
- Focus on “WIIFM”: You did a lot of research in order to identify them as your primary target, and then break them down into personas – so show off that insight with copy that focuses on the unique benefits they will enjoy at your institution. Stay away from talking about your features.
- Get them involved: More than 42% are interested in helping organizations develop new products and services so ask them to help you.
- Make the process fun experience. This really speaks to relevancy and creativity of presentation – you can give them a white paper or you can create a that is unique. Combine this ‘get them involved’ and you might want to test [ex] a game where the potential student has to uncover the answers to questions addressing what unique benefits your college and their program of interest provides them- and then have the potential student share that information online by writing a review.
¹Downloaded from http://www.luxurydaily.com/segmenting-millennials-allows-for-more-appropriate-marketing-strategies-shullman/ on March 2, 2016.
² Downloaded from http://www.retailingtoday.com/article/marketing-myths-about-millennials-debunked on March 2, 2016.
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.