Sustain your institution’s brand presence over time

November 18, 2019
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Communications Plan
  • Market Analysis
  • Marketing Research
  • Recruitment and Marketing
  • Student Recruitment
  • AM2020 Marketing & Recruitment
bonsai tree trimmed into an arrow pointing upward

Colleges and universities invest tremendous resources in establishing and maintaining a brand presence in prospective student markets. Recruitment staff travel their territories, visiting schools and fairs armed with brochures, banners, and sales presentations to build their schools’ brand presence. International recruiters may invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in target countries. 

But the efficacy and market awareness of a recruitment effort inevitably deteriorates over time. The excitement resulting from marketing campaign begins to wane. That’s where residual marketing comes in. 

Residual marketing can be defined as “efforts to sustain an awareness of your brand after a marketing effort is removed,” according to Dean Kahler, Vice Provost of Strategic Enrollment Management at the University of Idaho.

“Residual marketing can be measured, just like impressions, inquiries, applications, and enrollments from an enrollment campaign,” Kahler said. “It can be evaluated and monitored, and strategies can be deployed to sustain brand presence.”

Brands such as Apple have a built-in residual marketing model, Kahler explained. The products market themselves every time you take out your iPhone or iPad and see the Apple logo. In that case, the slope doesn’t degrade over time; it stays steady or can possibly even increase if a viral effect takes over. Institutions can build strategies aiming to do the same.

Creating residual marketing isn’t easy, but it can be an effective way to make your marketing efforts persist. As an example, Kahler described a recent recruitment trip to Nepal.

“As weeks go by, people forget about me -- much to my chagrin,” he said. “As I leave the market, we see a gradual slowing down of interest. As hard as I try, as good of impression as I make, other people come in and lay a fresh brand over the top of my message, degrading the impact I have.”

But institutions can develop strategies to slow that downturn. For example, Kahler suggested, produce marketing materials that keep your institution in mind, such as a viewbook that doubles as a calendar or planner with important college application dates and deadlines. This ensures your brand is seen each time the student interacts with it. Or, in the example of the trip to Nepal, Kahler has multiple follow-up outreach efforts planned, including sending campus news that is relevant to the people he visited.

Learn more marketing and recruitment strategies at the 2020 AACRAO Annual Meeting in New Orleans 

“Use your creative energy to design unique residual strategies for longevity in the market without spending money reapplying the ‘treatment’ over and over again,” Kahler said. He’ll talk about how to measure residual marketing and share ideas for strategies that work in his session at 2020 AACRAO Annual Meeting. 


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