Those that know me know I used to be the CEO of a company called U Sphere. We got on a few mailing lists – higher education influencers, marketing for higher education, student mailing list providers – you name it, Higher Ed folks would send us mail. Snail Mail. Some of it good, a lot of it bad, and 99% of it unnecessary.
Print is great, just don’t muck it up.
Mucking it up can be really easy to do, if you follow these steps with your print marketing materials. (This is a WHAT NOT TO DO LIST. Do the opposite. Please.)
- Do no research. At all. Today’s case in point is a mailer I received from a XYZ University. My title is all wrong – in fact, they used a title that I didn’t have EVER at U Sphere.
- Send me a redundant printed version of stuff. In this case, something that is not only available online but never used in print anymore. I’m talking about the Application for Admission to XYZ.
- Make a false claim. And use odd words to make the claim. This can stick in someone’s craw – when you say you are “at the top of the list” and it’s a list that you’re “habitually” at the top of…well, you had better be sure that I can find you at the top of that list. OR ANY LIST.
- Know your target. XYZ’s materials do not speak well to any of the myriad target audiences in the higher education marketing world. As a result, XYZ felt the need to send me everything.
Remedies: or, the “What To Do List.”
- Think differently. The best, most “awesometastic” piece of printed higher ed marketing material EVER, IMHO, came from MICA. It’s the photo at the top. It’s awesometastic because it follows this mantra…
- Don’t sell me. Help me. I drool over stuff like this because someone there obviously gets it. The college search is a crazy process – if you’re looking for an “Art School” it’s even nuttier a process. This gang doesn’t sell MICA, they embrace the process of finding an art school. In a 140+ page book, they start talking about themselves on page 106. That’s gutsy. It’s also so bloody effective.
- Update your lists. Mailing stuff is expensive. MICA did not send me the updated book, I called to ask for it. Good for them. XYZ still has me on an old list, and didn’t understand where I fit into the mix anyway. Which brings us to the final point in our discussion of how not to muck up marketing materials:
- Make a phone call. “Hi, this is XYZ, we have some stuff to send, but don’t want to waste your time. What are you doing these days?”