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Marketing CE: Four Ways to Improve the Efficiency of Printed Brochures

Marketing CE: Four Ways to Improve the Efficiency of Printed Brochures
Printed brochures can be useful marketing resources, but can also be extremely expensive for the institution.
I have found it extremely valuable to consult, on occasion, with other university continuing education divisions about their programs and marketing plans.

During a visit a few years ago to a large land-grant university in the western United States, the manager was lamenting the high cost of printed brochures; roughly $1 per copy with printing and postage included. With an already high cost, with the inclusion of quarterly mailings and a list containing over 65,000 names, it quickly became evident that this approach is an extremely expensive one.

Another Midwestern public land-grant university leader shared that they had over 25,000 names on their mailing list  in a community of 35,000. Multiple copies were being delivered to the same family. How do we, as continuing education leaders, market our program effectively (and economically) via the printed brochure?

A few ideas:

1. Reduce the frequency of mailing

Instead of sending out publications every quarter, switch to trimesters, or perhaps to just twice a year. Having a timely printed piece is important. Simply reducing the frequency of mailing is an easy way to save nearly 30 percent in one year.

2. Focus the timing of printed material distribution

Try distributing in fall, spring and summer; the traditional semester starts for most institutions and also when your target market is thinking about going back to school. Fall is one of the best times of year, but January is also a popular time for enrollments (thank you, New Year’s Resolutions). Our enrollment spikes in September and late January. Follow your trends to match your market.

3. Create timeless printed materials

Your programs will update naturally over time, but your marketing shell can remain the same. At my institution, we go with one shell brochure that outlines generic, general information and includes inserts updated as needed; either once or twice a year. We still have timely printed materials, but at a very low cost.

4. Unite online and print marketing

Continue to use your website, social media, etc. as marketing tools. Tie together the message, branding and content of the printed and electronic media. A consistent message is key, and it is critical to go beyond the boilerplate “check our website for current information” (this is largely assumed by our target audience). Use the printed materials to make individuals want to visit your electronic resources naturally. Additionally, use graphics, action words and other strategies on the printed materials. Leave the details of cost, dates, times, locations, instructor names and other information online so you can update them as needed.

The printed marketing brochure for continuing education is not dead. Certain parts of your target market still need it, and having the printed brochure allows a tangible, physical item to be distributed around your community. By using your marketing dollars wisely, you can spread them between printed and electronic methods for continued program success.

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