Here’s a How-To For Marketers
It’s April, and while most marketers are focusing on college graduation, we’re thinking ahead to when new graduates leave campus and begin the next phase of their lives. With college behind them and transitioning new jobs, students now have money to spend. This is a critical time for marketers to forge connections with this new influential market.
It’s estimated that 2.9 million graduates will earn either a bachelors or associates degree* this year and that translates into substantial brand activation opportunities for your brand.
Consider these key points as you build your college alumni marketing strategy.
All alumni are not created equal, so your strategy can’t be one-size-fits-all.
Although all alums have one thing in common – they’ve all graduated with diplomas in-hand – one size does not fit all and they may require different strategies. Crafting your approach, message, voice and offers based on specific characteristics is essential.
Build profiles of your top alumni personas.
Recent graduates are vastly different from those who have been away from the college world for a while. Recent grads are eagerly establishing new lives, which triggers first-time purchases for items big and small. They’re hungry for information as they make product decisions and establish relationships with banks, insurance companies, landlords and other service providers. A few years out, older alumni have settled into established patterns and may now have growing families, so they seek products and services that align with that lifestyle.
Another important persona element to evaluate: Many graduates have entered the workforce full-time. Others have decided to further their education– grad school, med school, law school and other specialties – whether it be on a part-time or full-time basis. Those diverse life paths spur unique needs and purchases.
Consider further segmenting based on college major and school attended. Did college prepare some grads for a technical or trade career, entrepreneurial endeavors or service careers? Where did they spend their college years? Depending upon your brand, a 4-year or 2-year college or one located in a large city versus a more rural area, can make a difference. All of these influences can shape their connection to your brand in vastly different ways.
Acknowledge their alumni status with relevant offers.
Grads have worked hard to earn their degrees and hold a strong connection to their alma maters. Offers that are vetted and presented by their schools rise to the top of their consideration. They especially love incentives that carry the school logo, mascot or special offers available only to alumni.
Build a continuous dialog that starts NOW.
Success with this group requires a consistent, ongoing dialog. It’s smart to make initial connections with them before they graduate or leave campus, and then implement regular conversations that map to each persona’s needs and lifestyle.
Eliminate wasteful media buys and reach them directly.
Through our proprietary research, alumni told us that they plan to keep ties with their schools by attending athletic and homecoming events, keeping their school email addresses and remaining active on school social media sites. It’s smart practice to reach them via these in-person and digital avenues where you can present school-endorsed, relevant offers.
*Source: National Center Education Statistics – During the 2017–18 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 1.0 million associate’s degrees; 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees.