Gold-Medal Enrollment Marketing: Inside the Creation of an Award-Winning Campaign

Brandon TrisslerSenior Vice President, Marketing ContentApril 7, 2022

Compelling creative is a critical part of enrollment marketing. Strong messaging and design grab the attention of students and families and then keep them engaged so they progress toward enrolling.

That’s why we were very proud that RNL’s creative team won 46 awards at the 37th Annual Educational Advertising Awards. These awards are a national competition that recognizes the best work in educational marketing and advertising. We have won these awards previously, and it is an honor to not only have the work of our designers, writers, and strategists recognized, but also gratifying to have our campus partners recognized for their hard work with us on these campaigns.

One enrollment marketing campaign for Culver-Stockton College received a Gold Award, and I thought it would be great to show the strategy behind the creative and how the RNL team worked with Culver-Stockton to create this award-winning campaign.

Kudos to the RNL Creative Team members who worked on this campaign—
Strategists: Ryan Ma and Gaby Fuller; Writers: Dan Digmann and Jim Krajewski; Designers: Sonia Margolin and December Lambeth

Understanding the unique essence of a campus partner

When our creative team partners with a campus, they look to emphasize the attributes that will make that institution stand out with a student—the campus experience, the programs of study, the benefits of an education from that institution, the location…any element that will create a strong connection with a prospective student.

With Culver-Stockton College, a big part of that hook is the college’s hands-on, limits off education.

Located on 144 acres next to the Mississippi River, Culver-Stockton College is a comprehensive college with a rich liberal arts heritage and innovative curriculum geared toward the modern needs of students. The college has a unique 12+3 curriculum that divides the semester into two “terms.” Students can take three to four courses during the 12-week term. They then focus on a single course during the three-week term—which includes taking advantage of internships, clinical training, and travel. This three-week course provides a deeper and richer experience, whether working with faculty or part of a class traveling with a professor. And because the 12+3 format fits in the 15-week timeframe of a traditional semester, students don’t miss out on their full winter of summer breaks.

Faculty and class size are also key benefits of the Culver-Stockton experience. The college has a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:14. Seven out of 10 professors are certified by the NSEE (National Society of Experimental Education), reinforcing the college’s emphasis on experiential learning. Professors and advisors are also readily available and personally invested in each student’s success.

Last but certainly not least, Culver-Stockton has a four-year graduate guarantee, meaning that students who return for a tuition-free fifth year if needed.

Incorporating these qualities and benefits into an enrollment marketing campaign

After diving into the unique characteristics of a campus partner, the RNL creative team can start to create messaging and designs that appeal to the kind of students the institution hopes to attract. In the case of Culver-Stockton College, the RNL team crafted a tone that is caring, open, genuine, optimistic, inclusive, and supportive.

The team then focused on several objectives with copy and design:

  • Demonstrate to students how Culver-Stockton immediately offers them hands-on, limits-off opportunities in their first year—something they would have to wait longer for at larger universities.
  • Touting the appeal of the experiential learning model by emphasizing travel study and professional experience (such as internships and clinicals). This gets at the need to tie the value of education into outcomes and show students that they will have the opportunity to gain real-world experiences during their college careers.
  • Similarly, discussing the 12+3 curriculum reinforces the unique student experience as well as the travel and professional opportunities students have. These two points of emphasis in particular show how the creative and messaging can engage students who are looking for something a little different and more hands-on than the typical college experience.
  • Emphasizing the close community of the college and stressing how students have the support of professors, advisors and other students.

Finally, the college’s secluded location and small size tie into benefits about big opportunities for students as well as safety. At the same time, the communications also let prospective students know the college was near several large cities that could provide internship and professional experience opportunities.

You can see how all of these elements came into play in the creative. The team created an integrated marketing campaign covering all of the channels students and families would use—digital advertising, email, and direct mail. The themes of being bold, thinking big, and creating change drove a variety of ads, while curriculum, location, opportunities for experiences, value, and financial aid all flowed into the messaging.

Results are still preliminary for this ongoing campaign, but we currently have seen an open rate of 33.5% and a click rate of 1.06%. We’re very pleased with the results so far, and more importantly, so are our partners at Culver-Stockton College.

How can you build an award winning enrollment marketing campaign? Let’s talk.

We’re so happy that we were able to capture the incredible benefits and unique characteristics of Culver-Stockton College and that our work received national recognition from the Educational Advertising Awards. There’s nothing as rewarding for our creative team as knowing that they have done the best possible job they could do to tell the story of a campus partner.

We can help you tell your story, too. Contact our enrollment experts for a complimentary consultation. We can discuss your enrollment goals and the strategies that can help you achieve those results.

Tell your story and reach your enrollment goals

How can you target the students you want to enroll and engage them with communications that stand out from all the others they receive? Talk with our enrollment experts and learn how our award-winning enrollment team can help you bring in the class you want.

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About the Author

Brandon Trissler

Brandon Trissler is a marketing professional with more than 25 years of experience in higher education and educational publishing. At RNL, he is an experienced content creator, producing research reports, communications, video, and collateral covering...

Read more about Brandon's experience and expertise

Reach Brandon by e-mail at Brandon.Trissler@RuffaloNL.com.

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