Tag Archives: youth messaging

The Process of Building Your Recruitment Brand

I presented the 16 Tools to Build Your Brand and Recruit the Very Best at the NACE National Conference last week. Before we begin discussing each of the points from that presentation, I wanted to give an overview on our strategic process to recruiting so you have a frame of reference.

Campus Media has an internal philosophy about the process needed to be successful with recruitment marketing and advertising. Below is a diagram of the process, but let me explain each of these parts for you.

Campus Media's Strategic ProcessWe see a great deal of companies who look at the college market and start their marketing play with “we want to do ‘x’ or ‘y,'” but haven’t thought through what effect it will have on your organization. Many approach their brand building by doing the same things year after year. With how quickly things are changing these days, it’s  important to be conscious of each step and determine what the net effect is going to be before you start and execute your recruitment plan. Then start the process all over again for your next initiative. This process can be used annually or semi-annual depending on your budget and planning cycles. More often is better than not due to how fast the student mind-sets are changing these days. The economy is having a strong effect on this too. Two years ago a recruitment brand strategy was very different than it is today.

Let’s break apart each step:

1. Company – This is what you more than likely already have in place. It’s what your business, department, etc. has defined as who you are, why you do what you do as a company, what you want your consumers to think of your brand, your key competitive advantages and products.

2. Customer – In a recruitment context the customer is the student you are looking to influence/hire. You need to define what your consumer think of you. Most of the time your brand view doesn’t align with what the public thinks your brand is. This is where research comes in to play. What does the customer think your competitive advantages are? Why do they buy or want to work from you? What do you offer that others don’t? What’s your brand mean versus your competition? If your “Company” elements above don’t align with the “Customer’s” way of thinking and what’s important to them, then your campaign will not likely achieve the goals set out for the program that’s being developed.

3. Planning and Strategy – This stage is where the 16 tools start to come together and your ROI is developed. What message will you use? Where will the message be located? Do you need to make changes to how your teams are dressed or what they talk about when interacting with the students? When does your marketing happen? How does it help effect the disconnect that likely exists between stages 1 and 2 above? Do you need to make changes to your website or Facebook page or YouTube channel or handouts or booth design or videos or…or…or…? Run through everything to ensure each tool you use is on message and in the right places to cause the shift needed in your consumer’s mindset about your brand/company.

4. Execution – This is the “get it done” stage. Execute on the brand message, website strategies, on campus events, speaking, career fairs, social media, etc.

5. 20/20 – In this stage, take a look at what went well… or poorly. Do your follow up consumer research to see if your goals/objectives outlined in the planning and strategy stage occurred. What did you learn? Did you hire the students you expected to hire? Why or why not? In essence, you should be able to define if you hit the ROI elements you outlined in phase 3.

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5 steps to refresh your campus marketing plan

College Kid

“Handsome Kevin got a little off track. Took a year off of college, and he never went back.” These lyrics from the 1986 hit single “Welcome to the Boomtown” by David & David reminded me as I drove into work today how important it is for youth marketers to keep their college plans on track. Maybe your parents warned you, like mine did: “If you take a year off of college, you might not go back.”

It’s easy for youth marketers to find excuses to deviate from what they’re doing. Sure, you’re marketing budget has shrunk, you’re overworked and understaffed, but taking a break from your college marketing plan will only set you back. Students don’t stop to sympathize. If you lose their attention, your competition will gladly capture it for you.

Unfortunately for many agencies and brands, college marketing falls under the category of “special projects” or something to throw a few dollars at when there’s extra money in the budget. Look at the advertising on campus during the first week of class and you’ll see that this shows.  Some brands realize that being consistent year after year does pay off.  So, if you’ve been thinking about taking a break from college marketing, don’t. I have written 5 steps for MediaPost you can take to refresh your college marketing plan over the summer. Read them here.

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5 messaging tips when talking to youth

I remember school dances back in junior high and desperately hoping to be noticed by the cute girls in my class…okay any girl in my class. My methods were pathetic and usually involved rolling my Girbaud jeans too tight, over-applying my older brother’s Drakkar Noir, and attempting the “running man” on the dance floor as the DJ played Bell Biv DeVoe. I was broadcasting myself – open to anyone who was in the market for some Bakker. Had I honed the message I was broadcasting instead of trying too hard to be noticed, I may not have played the wall the entire night – a tough lesson to learn as a 7th-grader.

Some brands still haven’t learned that lesson and sometimes talk to youth in the same way. They try too hard. When creating messaging for a youth audience, your copy needs to be concise and deliberately crafted. When advertising reads like the brand is holding a megaphone, it sounds disingenuous and turns us off. I will admit, my working experience with copywriting doesn’t run too deep, but I have seen a lot of ads targeted to millennials. Here are 5 tips for youth copywriting I wrote for Ypulse readers this month.

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Don’t beat your chest on campus

As people ratchet up or start to plan their back-to-school and next academic year programs, they ask themselves such questions as:

  • Is what we did last year worth doing again?            
  • What do we need to do differently this year?
  • How have students changed from year to year?
  • What is the best message to make our target audience understand what we do and how we can help them live a better life?
  • What channels of communication will help us achieve our goals?
  • How much money do we need to spend in this current economy to achieve success?

There are so many more questions that need to be asked before a plan is finalized that there isn’t enough room in this post to list them all. But if you are in this situation, I recommend taking a step back and thinking about what your brand/product/service does through the eyes of students. Why would they spend their money and/or time with your brand? What’s the point to them? How do you fit into the lifestyles of the students?

If you are thinking about your program through the eyes of your business, you will be limited in your success. Sincerity is extremely important to students. If they don’t see that in what your company does and offers, then don’t waste your money trying to reach this market. Beating your own chest will only get you so far.

As we saw in the classic 1933 movie “King Kong,” despite the “brand” the chest beater represented to everyone else, one distressed damsel understood him for who he really was. She was the only one who could get through to him. It’s the same thing here: It’s the student/consumer who can build up your brand and help you be better. They can carry you on their shoulders or let you drop to the ground.

Build a relationship with students. Be sincere. Accept their feedback for what it is, and learn from it. Listen to them. They will talk to you. They will interact with you if there is something there they know is worth it to them. Find your “damsel” on campus. How do you need to reach him/her? Once they believe, then what?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, I recommend you take some time to think about it before you spend your time and energy going after this market without a solid plan. It’s not easy, but those who have learned how to do this are surviving and thriving in a world that can, at times, be as a parent is to a child and a child to a parent. The love between the two is immeasurable and necessary. Both learn from each other. Both love each other. Both sometimes don’t like what the other wants of them, but they still trust that, in the end, it’s right.

Students need a dialogue. Can you say that about the way you speak with this audience (not speaking “at” them)? The years of pushing an idea or opinion upon students is over. If you push them, they will either push back or move out of the way and let you fall on your own, which is an expensive and painful process we see happen to companies every day.

It’s time to start thinking and acting differently. It’s time to ensure that you are “with” the students versus pushing your idea at them. It’s time for a new plan. You have four months until the next academic year. You have a little time, but not a lot. If you want some help from your audience, ask them. Now is the time. Build that dialogue. You deserve it. The students deserve it.


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