In May, three Capturites and I went on a road trip to visit one of our longtime partners, a small private college, for a college vendor conference. We didn’t know quite what to expect! But we came back after two full days of conversations feeling … rejuvenated.
At this innovative, two-day college vendor conference, our partner, Capture and three other vendors came together to discuss the school’s communications strategy — what we do now, and what we are going to do moving forward.
Let me tell you — sitting in the same room in a big circle with all of the people that work on one school’s communications pieces is highly effective.
So, here are the top five takeaways I learned from my experience at this college vendor conference that could help your institution as you gear up for the next school year:
1. Focus on your goals
Identify your school’s admissions goals. Make sure that every person on your team and each vendor you work with knows what these goals are. And make sure that all communications pieces created for your school are completely in line with what you are trying to accomplish as a group.
2. Foster collaboration
Encourage your vendors to collaborate more! During this conference, Capture and each vendor laid out our communications strategies — who we communicate with, what tools we use to do it and why we do what we do. As a group, we learned that there are some students we are communicating with perhaps too much, opportunities to communicate more with other students and so many other ways we can work together so we all can be successful.
3. Learn from your admissions counselors
Include admissions counselors in your discussions about your strategy. This school’s counselors, many of whom are former students, were all present for our discussions, and it made such a difference! The counselors are the ones who are out in the field speaking with students every day, and they know perhaps better than anyone else what students are thinking about and what they need.
4. Get personal
Be less transactional and more relational with prospective students from the start. As we all took a closer look at our communications pieces, we realized that later on in the admissions process once students are admitted, deposited or enrolled, they receive much more personalized messages from counselors, graduates and others at the school who reach out to them. But early on in the process, when students are new or haven’t expressed a ton of interest yet, we need to work on being more personal in our messages and build relationships with these students earlier on.
5. Find influencers
High school students want to hear from others who are like them. So, feature your prospective students and current students in your communications pieces. Ask prospective students to join your admissions counselors on visits to high schools. In other words, help students influence other students.
I encourage your school to get all of those you work with around one table for a college vendor conference! It made such a difference and set us up for success as the new academic year approaches.
By Jacqui Weishaar, Senior Communications Specialist, Capture Higher Ed