Why a prospectus still matters

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Published June 22, 2017

Prospective university and college students are now among the first generation to have been born after the popularisation of the internet, but despite living in a digital age – as we have written before – they still value something tangible. When it comes to getting a feel for a place students might spend a very important stage of their life at, from focus groups we have held with students, we found that they still greatly value a high quality printed prospectus. Done well, print doesn’t just stand out from the digital world but can also make the recipient feel valued and can have a more lasting and emotional impact than disposable digital communications.

We worked collaboratively with the University of Surrey’s in-house marketing team to achieve a printed prospectus that would stand out from the crowd. The brief was to engage students with the University’s prospectus – the big idea was to encourage students to make their own mark and #CreateWonder with a thermocromatic prospectus. The heat-sensitive prospectus has created a digital buzz with prospective students sharing images and videos of the heat sensitive cover, vibrantly brought to life with their touch. The unique quality not only made the prospectus stand out from the crowd but recognised the individuality that each student brings with them.

This project also shows how a successful campaign can bring print and digital together. Provided that your printed assets are in line with your brand identity, it can be a great way to establish brand recognition and in this case, even influence online activity and engagement. A truly original prospectus can create a social media buzz, further expanding the reach of your college or university.

Your prospectus is often one of the first impressions a prospective student will have – so it’s important to get it right. During our 2016 Sixth Form prospectus review one of the students we spoke to said: “the front cover needs to look fun, inviting and exciting or I wouldn’t want to go to that college”.  And of course, it’s not just students that need to be won over, in the increasingly competitive and expensive education market, parents have a big say too. One parent we spoke to said, “the prospectus gives me a feel to how much the college invests in their students” which says a lot about the impact a prospectus needs to make.

A prospectus will feature as just part of your overall campaign, but the role it plays in setting student expectations shouldn’t be underestimated. Prospectuses remain a key part of education marketing, and are still the best place to tell the story of your college or university – but they shouldn’t be a document in silo. Keep your over-arching theme coherent throughout your campaign to make the most of your investment, making sure your prospectus campaign is also featured within your digital, social and email communications.

Creating a great prospectus can be challenging at the best of times but with so many stakeholders involved it is easy to lose sight of the most important thing: communicating to your target audience.

Get in touch to discuss how we can support your team on future projects, and help with your print and digital challenges hello@somethingbig.co.uk

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