At this time of the year colleges, universities and research centers focus one part of their marketing activities on the promotion of summer programs, camps and training opportunities. A summer initiative is a good idea to attract new students interested in short programs and to expand the awareness and reputation of your institution. Additionally, depending on your target audience, summer initiatives are an excellent tool to harvest new leads for long-term education such as master’s, PhDs, professional courses or to even add new talent to your institution.
With a steady growth in traffic to our Summer School section on INOMICS, we are happy to share some ideas on how to promote your summer school and how to deliver your message according to your target group and to ensure the success of your recruitment campaign, not only in enrolment numbers but also in potential leads for your institution.
- 1) Summer Program = Source of quality leads for long-term programs
Whether a summer school or a summer training program, a short-term study/working opportunity gives the students the possibility to explore the city, get to know more about your institution and your offers. A summer program is then an excellent marketing tool to inspire future plans for returning to the city, enrolling in a master’s or PhD program or, for harvesting global talent to work at your institution.
- 2) Emphasize the benefits of the summer programs depending on your age group
We all agree on the differences in promoting a summer camp for master’s students and a summer session for professionals, researchers and PhD candidates. Frame your marketing message towards what your audience needs and wants to hear. Probably a master’s student is more eager to see on your websites and brochure, social activities, sightseeing and meet ups with other participants, while a more senior audience will be interested in social gatherings for networking and sharing of experiences. Here you can convey the same message but ensure it is tailored to suit your audience.
- 3) Team up with organizations in your city to enrich the summer program experience
To collaborate with institutions that help your students to have a more enjoyable experience will attract more applicants but also will create good publicity for the program via word of mouth and social media. There is a wide range of possibilities: vouchers for entertainment in the city, special VIP benefits to use university campus facilities, exclusive access to academic resources, etc.
- 4) Showcase the unique benefits of the summer program
Nowadays there are hundreds of options to enroll in a summer program which makes it difficult to stand out and convince a prospective student to choose your offer. Whether a very specific subject of study, a unique teaching methodology, top-notch lecturers, a wide range of social activities or a hands-on practical experience, emphasize your USP and highlight the benefits of enrolling your program.
- 5) Support the promotion of your school with testimonials
The most powerful and trustworthy marketing tool is student experiences. With the boom of product reviews, the industry of services including education relies more and more on the power of word of mouth. A happy student is able to endorse your summer program and bring more enrollments. From the first day, communicate to the participants the possibility to join the alumni program. To build a community of ambassadors will boost the promotion considerably.
- 6) Focus on providing and promoting not only a program but an experience
Humans are driven by emotions, that is why further studies in the areas of neuromarketing and emotional branding research about the choices of products and services that we make and the factors that influence those decisions. If you provide an inspiring program and deliver an experience that is remembered with joy, satisfaction, success, and that helped attendants to grow professionally but also personally, then you have a winning mix of elements in your program. Include a good blend of classes, team activities, spaces to interact with lecturers, sightseeing of the city, extracurricular activities (history, art, etc.), so your program is not remembered only by the knowledge imparted but also has a emotional significance for attendants.
- 7) Build a user friendly website
User friendliness is a common practice used to boost engagement rates of visitors and as an SEO tool. Apart from that, a well built website including information about the program, the city, how to get there, steps to enroll, etc. will assist you in making a good first impression. If your site looks boring and has crucial bugs, you are losing points with prospective applicants. There is no denying that the content of the summer program, its fees and activities play a major role, however a clean layout always helps.
- 8) Use social media before, during and after the summer program
From young students to academics, everybody manages, enjoys and uses social media. The best practice would be to create at least 2 different channels: one for prospective students where you showcase your summer school, the pros of the experience and answer questions, and a second channel for participants and alumni, so you stay connected with your growing community of attendants, who can be future warm leads for other study/work offers.
- 9) Create a Blog for your summer program
A blog will help you with SEO for your summer school page, but will function also as a communication channel for use by prospective students and attendants. Cover informative topics about the summer schools, reserve a section to share highlights of previous summer experiences and create a section to share participants’ thoughts, experiences and why not, study materials.
- 10) Stay in communication with past attendants
This activity depends a lot on the resources in your team, however to send an email to past attendants notifying the next version of the summer school and inviting them to share it with your professional and personal network helps with enrollments. Besides, you can keep your database of warm leads updated and the image of your institution fresh in people’s minds.
Following the success of previous years, INOMICS has prepared a special multi-channel offer for the promotion of summer schools; combining a Featured Announcement, content marketing and social media marketing. If you are interested in giving an extra boost to your summer school course, you can find more information here.