A Big Membership Decision – College


The past year has been a lot of fun. I have been able to watch my son – who is a high school senior -- be marketed to by hundreds of colleges who want him to “join” them as a student.

Joseph and I talked this weekend about what has worked best to attract him to particular colleges. Here are the three elements that were most effective in encouraging him to actually apply to certain colleges.

  • Consistency – One contact did not work for us. Over the year we have collected a large laundry basket of mailings from colleges. Those who sent one letter got a quick look, but those that had a steady stream of communication were more successful in making us aware of what they had to offer and at least helping us reach a point of considering them for a visit.

  • Personal Contact – Before the process began, there was one in-state school that we wrote off from consideration, but they actually turned us around and my son is applying there for admission. How did they do it? Through personal contact. They consistently had students from the school calling my son urging him to take the next step by requesting an application, scheduling a visit, sending them SAT scores, etc. They won us over by making him feel that they were interested in him as an individual.

  • Enthusiasm – Once the school got us to the campus for a tour or interview, hearing from an enthusiastic speaker or guide and talking with enthusiastic students had a big impact. The presenter at my Alma Mater, Dickinson College, took the prize for the most inspiring presentation. But casual conversations with students who were passionate about what they were studying were also memorable.

As I always argue on this blog, taking the experience of one person and projecting it on everyone is NOT a good idea. However, can any of these sales or marketing elements be applied to get people to join or continue membership with your association?

By the way, thanks to
Matt Baehr for the inspiration for this post. On his blog, he challenges several of us to look at things from a different angle. So I took a look at being marketed to as a consumer instead of marketing for an organization. Good idea Matt.

3 comments:

Matt Baehr said...

Thanks Tony. I would be interested to know what he finally choses and why. I know why I chose my alma mater (CUA). The funny thing is, marketing had zero to do with the schools I applied to. I would say what happened once on campus did have an impact, but I had my short list worked out fairly early. Ah, the good old days.

Tony Rossell said...

Thanks Matt. I will keep you posted. Tony

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