Creating right content marketing materials for your target demographic
We talk a lot about the power of community college content marketing on our blog. But, as marketers know, identifying your target audience is a critical first step in designing a campaign. Unless we reach the right prospective students, our content campaigns will have a negligible impact on enrollment.
Who are we trying to reach with community college content marketing?
At community colleges, nontraditional students are our core demographic. Research from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the majority of the 7.8 million students over 25 will be enrolled at community colleges.
Nontraditional students are motivated by different things than traditional students. The dislocated worker, for instance, just wants to get back to work as soon as possible. So how can we reach these students and increase enrollment?
Remember that nontraditional students have families
According to the most recent available research, the number of student parents in the United States increased by 30% between 2004 and 2012. That’s 1.1 million more student parents in school.
We can’t treat student parents as if they have the same needs as traditional students. A student parent will buy formula rather than a textbook if they are forced to choose. To succeed in school they need support, financial and otherwise, something we’ve talked about before on our blog.
Parents respond to marketing messages that show your school understands their lives. Include images of student parents, inspirational stories about parents succeeding, and practical resource guides in your marketing campaign.
Money matters to nontraditional students
Financial resources have a huge impact on persistence and completion rates, as well as initial enrollment. When you’re creating a content campaign, there’s no way to equalize the background financial situations of prospective students. Still, that doesn’t mean ignoring it.
Write content that speaks to your target audience’s deep and well-founded concerns about the cost of an education. Highlight the relatively low price of community college compared to other institutions, especially for-profit schools. Talk about flexible coursework and online classes, which make it easier for students to hold other jobs.
If your school offers financial aid, be sure to mention available scholarships or work-study opportunities in your content campaign. It’s also important to educate students about potential federal or state aid, which many first-generation students don’t realize is available.
Nontraditional students want career-focused education
Community colleges are career-focused by nature. Your content campaign should be career-focused as well. Content marketing materials for community colleges should cover:
- Median salaries in competitive fields
- Time to complete a certificate or degree
- Salary comparisons between credentialed and non-credentialed workers
- Career-development classes and certificates
Ideally, your content campaign will cover each of these topics fully, providing all the information that nontraditional students need to make the decision to return to school. However, even a short ad or infographic should lead with these career-focused figures.
Nontraditional students aren’t all the same
Although there are some easily identifiable groups of nontraditional students, they aren’t a homogenous block. For instance, a twenty-something single mom will have different needs than a fifty-something learner embarking on a second career.
Creating content that appeals to nontraditional students means thinking carefully about which prospective students you need to reach with each piece of content. Targeted content campaigns, that addresses the unique concerns of each micro-audience, is the most powerful.
Expect nontraditional students to have more consumer intelligence
Community college content marketing is so successful partly because nontraditional students have high levels of consumer intelligence. At this point in their lives, they’ve likely made some big purchases, and they’ve learned along the way.
They will very carefully assess the overall value of an education, and expect a good return for their investment, like quality campus facilities, and responsive faculty and staff. Nontraditional students may offer constructive criticism if they feel the school’s offerings are subpar, and they want respect and attention from the administration.
Great content captures imaginations
For many nontraditional students, daring to imagine themselves in a college classroom, a place they never expected to be, is a remarkable feat of imagination. Great community college content marketing can help students see themselves as part of the academic community.
Telling stories well takes time and effort but done properly it’s a great way to reach nontraditional students. Particularly relating the stories of students in similar life-situations is a great way to inspire other prospective students.
Engage, inspire, inform
The content you create for your marketing campaigns needs to engage prospective students, inspire them to return to school, and inform them of the next steps. Paying attention to the target audience for your content marketing campaign is the first way to do that.
Expect nontraditional students to be savvy consumers, who are career-focused, family-oriented, and money conscious. When you can talk to them about their needs and concerns, they’ll listen – and enroll. Need some help connecting with your target audience? Request a demonstration of our services today.