Eric Zuniga, Campus Carrier deputy news editor

Berry College has recently been expanding its marketing efforts to attract prospective students. Over the past few years, the Office of Marketing and Communications along with the Admission Office have worked to significantly increase the number of first-year applicants. According to Nancy Rewis, vice president of marketing and communications, Berry changed its marketing strategy after conducting research about five years ago.

            “I would say the shift in marketing or the focus in marketing started when we launched the rebranding of the college,” Rewis said. “That really came out of some comprehensive research that we conducted in 2017 and 2018, and we launched the new rebranding in 2019.”

            According to Cameron Jordan, assistant vice president for digital marketing and communications, alumni, current and prospective students were asked their perceptions of Berry during the research. The marketing office created messaging based on what these people said were Berry’s strengths.

            “It was actually focused on trying to determine what people’s thinking was or what people felt were the strengths of Berry College,” Jordan said. “It’s really a natural progression of things people already know about Berry College, and how we tell other people that story.”

            The Office of Marketing and Communications uses a variety of methods to reach potential students. Jordan said that marketing email messages and social media ads are primarily targeted towards high school students. 

             “In addition to email, we use a lot of what’s called paid digital advertising, where we’re actually using social media ads,” Jordan said. “If we’re really wanting to hit the prospective student age range, we’ll stick with Instagram or a TikTok.”

            Berry targets parents in its marketing efforts as well. Jordan said that the marketing office started to focus on parents because of their key role in many students’ college decisions. 

            “We really started in the last couple of years targeting or focusing on parent communication, because we know that parents are very important influence on students in making their college decision,” Jordan said. 

            According to Rewis, Berry uses printed packets and television advertisements to appeal directly to parents and other adults who can influence a prospective student’s college decision. 

            “We actually have, and this was developed as a part of the rebranding, a parent series—a series of print pieces that parents get as well,” Rewis said. “The prospective audience that TV ad is going to target would be adults 25-54. It’s going to be those influencers; it’s going to be the parents, high school counselors, an older audience.”

            All of Berry’s marketing material is developed with the intention of communicating an authentic image of Berry’s strengths. Rewis said that the marketing team emphasizes academic excellence, student work, mentorship and the features of Berry’s campus in its communications. 

            “It’s really the combination of LifeWorks, personal and professional development, mentorship, those three things that really make Berry unique,” Rewis said. “It’s really about leveraging the beauty of the campus, leveraging recreation. There’s so many research opportunities, outdoor classrooms, so we have shifted our messaging over the years to really talk about the benefits of a Berry education as well as what are the outcomes.”

            In addition to paid advertisements, the marketing office also coordinates posts on Berry’s official social media accounts. According to Jordan, the social media team has started to use content made by students more, often working with social media managers of other campus groups. 

            “We’ve made a concerted effort over the last year or so to really generate a lot of student driven content,” Jordan said. “I think prospective students want to hear from other students, especially current students at Berry College, so storytelling has been a big approach for us.”

            The Office of Admission is also involved in recruiting new students. According to Kinsey Stout, director of enrollment engagement and experiential marketing, the Admission Office holds events ranging from daily visits consisting of a tour intended for a general audience, to more in-depth all-day events for admitted students. Stout said that the student ambassadors for these events are trained to personalize their presentation of the admission office’s message. 

            “We really want them to bring their own personalities into the conversation,” Stout said. “We also work with our tour guides to have conversations with each other, to bring in stories.”

Stout added that the admission office intends to keep holding smaller events. These events were initially prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the lifting of most restrictions. 

            “Event days particularly were often very large where we would have between 400 and 600 visitors here on a given day,” Stout said. “What we had to do through COVID to adapt while we were still trying to keep doors open and recruit our incoming class allowed us to see there are things that we like about having smaller event days.”

            Rewis said that Berry’s new marketing strategy has proved to be successful, with both the number of students interested in and applying to Berry doubling over recent years along with increased diversity. 

            “We have doubled the number of prospects at the top of the funnel over the last four years. As it relates to applications, the same thing,” Rewis said. “I think we have a much more diverse student population or campus community. I think we’re always striving to increase diversity, so that could be geographically, race, in-state or out-of-state, male or female.”

            Rewis added that instead of increasing the marketing budget, the marketing office has aimed to use its money more efficiently particularly with its social media efforts.

            “We’re all about optimization and driving efficiency,” Rewis said. “We have not increased the budget in the last couple of years. It’s pretty much been the same over the last two years.”

            Although Berry’s marketing is very carefully managed, Stout said that authenticity is the most important priority for the marketing and admission offices. 

            “I want everybody to fall in love with Berry, but I think what’s more important is that we present an authentic picture of who we are, as a campus, as a community,” Stout said.

Posted by Campus Carrier

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