What’s NOT Distinct About Your University?

DistinctionsIn a recent post, I wrote about things to consider when determining what features are distinct about your university. All too often, universities think certain things (like having an internship program) sets them apart from other schools, when those things are fairly common and not distinctive.

Does your school fall into the trap of promoting non-distinct features to prospective students?

Here are common features nearly all schools promote, or at least offer, that aren’t necessarily distinct or relevant to today’s prospective students.

Number of academic majors. Students may not necessarily care how many majors your school offers. What they care about is if you have the major they are interested in pursuing. Including a short list of your school’s most popular or unique offerings may be more beneficial than featuring the number of majors in your marketing materials.

Liberal arts-based institution. Most universities in the United States have an educational curriculum rooted in the liberal arts. If your school does, just remember that this fact is not really a unique selling point.

Internships. It’s expected that students attending your college today will be able to get an internship, so the fact that your students participate in internships isn’t distinct. What may be distinct, however, is where students have interned or how you help students find internships.

Personalized attention. Especially at small private colleges, this term is overused and students hear it all the time. Instead of promoting the general “personal attention” feature, use proof points in your marketing materials that allude to this personalized attention. For example, each student gets one-on-one career counseling, or each new student is assigned an upperclassman and a faculty member to be their mentor.

Lots of student clubs and organizations. Instead of just telling students you’ve got 40 student clubs and organizations (boring!), provide examples (or better yet, videos) of the things they could do on campus, such as participate in the ping-pong, animal rescue, or ultimate Frisbee club; play intramural sports; etc.

Religious affiliation. Many colleges have a specific faith deeply embedded in its mission and/or its curriculum, but this is not one of the top things most students today are looking for in a college. So, while it’s important to include this information somewhere in your messaging, it likely shouldn’t be the main focus of your recruitment materials.

Single-sex institution. While few all-male colleges exist today, there are still a few dozen women’s colleges in the country. But when it comes to marketing those schools, the single-sex education feature doesn’t sell. Why? Just try to do an ACT name buy based on students who indicated an interest in a women’s college. You won’t find many, because students are more interested in simply finding a college that has their major, is in a location they desire and that provides them the best financial aid award possible. So, while it’s important for prospective students to know you’re a single-sex school, it shouldn’t be the main focus of your marketing materials.

Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate mentioning some of the items above in your student recruitment materials, but as you create or update materials, just remember to ask yourself: Is this feature distinct? If it’s not, you could still mention it, just don’t focus all your copy around those features.

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 and genealogy/family history topics. She is the author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative