As a manager for recruitment marketing at a private college, I produced over 300 new or updated marketing pieces—e-mail blasts, posters, letters, viewbooks, postcards, event invitations, etc.—each year. With that kind of workload, it was important to be organized and develop an efficient process for creating those marketing pieces.
The result: I created a recruitment marketing project checklist to help keep on top of each project, and to make sure we thought each project through from the beginning, so that no surprises were left at the end. What things did our checklist cover?
1. Deadlines. With any marketing project, there are multiple deadlines: content deadlines, design deadlines, and (for print projects) the date you need to get the project to the printer so you’ll have it in hand when you need it.
Many projects (like event invitations) also had portions that needed content to be posted on the website (like all the details of the event and links to online registration forms). Our form included deadline dates for all aspects of the project, including the date we wanted to mail or email the pieces, and the date our data team needed to have our address or email lists ready.
2. Project Type/Format. So that everyone involved in a project understood the format before the project started, the checklist included check boxes for the project format, including print and electronic formats. The checklist also had a place to enter the type and size of a printed piece (such as 6 x 11-inch postcard, or traditional tri-fold brochure) and a spot to indicate what type of envelope (if any) was needed for a print project.
3. Audience. This section is key, not only to developing the messaging of the piece, but also to determining which internal or external (such as name buys from NRCCUA, ACT, or College Board) mailing lists you’re going to use when send a print or e-mail piece.
4. Images. Do you need to hire a photographer to take new photos for your project, or can you use photos you already have in your university’s photo library? Knowing your photo needs upfront will help make the design process go much smoother and can help you plan a realistic project timeline. For example, if you need to hire a photographer, it could add time to the project while you wait for the open slot in his schedule. How you acquire photos also, of course, will impact the project’s bottom line costs.
5. Quantities and distribution methods. How many copies of a print piece do you need? Who’s going to mail it? When does it need to be mailed? How much time will take to prepare and assemble the mailing? This area of the checklist lets you plan for all of these things.
Why does this matter? Depending on your staff size, or the busyness of your mailing house’s schedule, you will need to include the appropriate number of days in your project schedule to accommodate the time to prepare and assemble the mailing. Also, knowing the quantities of the pieces you need will help you get accurate estimates from multiple printers so you can choose the best option for your budget.
Of course, there are many other aspects of a project that need consideration, too (such as budget!), but this checklist can help you start the conversation with clients on the campus you serve, and it can help you think through your own routine projects to ensure you have all the bases covered.
Download a sample college marketing project checklist (PDF).
About Dana’s Creative Services
Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics. Twitter: @DanasCreative