Last fall, William Jewell College announced that tuition would be reduced by 45%, from $33,500 to $18,360 per year. This decision was made, in part, to show prospective students that Jewell was both affordable and accessible.
Jewell’s marketing team increasingly focused on this tuition decrease in recent advertisement campaigns targeted toward prospective students. The advertisements from the College – which can be seen across a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram – focus on the tuition decrease, new programs at Jewell and the quality of a Jewell education.
When determining the topic of advertisements, the marketing team aims to display programs that Jewell wants to grow and display the majors that are in high demand.
“Once we have developed our messages, we use the platform that best targets the intended demographic,” said Eric Blair, vice president of enrollment and marketing at Jewell. “Our media buyers then use analytics, trends and even predictive modeling to advise us on best practices for the messaging that will yield the best click-through rates, opens, engagement, shares, etc. We analyze performance and can make changes accordingly. We also use the recruitment cycle for determining advertisement content and placement. Early in the school year, we entice campus visits, then move to apply and deposit for seniors with general college messages to sophomores and junior inquiries.”
Overall, the marketing department wants each advertisement to reflect the brand of Jewell as The Critical Thinking College. The branding of Jewell as a critical thinking institute is embedded within all media produced by the College.
However, each advertisement might focus on a different topic or theme. For example, current video advertisements produced by William Jewell focus on the new women’s wrestling program and tuition decrease.
“Because most ads are delivered in short-term consumption mediums – billboards, digital ads, 15-30 second videos – messaging focuses on a differentiator – the change in tuition, new women’s wrestling program, no ACT/SAT required –and the graphic design or logos will support the underlying brand,” Blair said. “Our direct mail and email campaigns used to nurture interest is where we take a prospective student on the deeper brand journey and what it means when we refer to Jewell as The Critical Thinking College.”
In Jewell’s current advertisement campaign, there is a notable focus on marketing Jewell as an affordable, private education.
In a photo campaign that appears on Facebook and Instagram, advertisements feature pictures of various student activities with captions that include “Give your student access to a world-class private education” and “The world-class private education your student dreamed of, but never believed was within reach ̶̶ now $18,360/yr.”
“Ads this academic year are focusing on affordability, opportunities and accessibility [and] equity,” Blair said. “These include several topics, such as Jewell’s new wrestling and powerlifting programs, the Oxbridge Honors Program, tuition cost, holistic admission, the value of a private education, three-year degree options and critical thinking. In focus groups and ad engagement, we’ve seen the most interest in messages of cost [and] no ACT/SAT admission requirement.”
In this particular advertisement campaign, there is just one stock image being used while all other images are of Jewell students. This stock image features two Black women laughing against a plain backdrop.
The image can be found on Unsplash – a site where users can download stock photos that are copyright-free. Though this advertisement campaign uses a stock image, the marketing team prefers to use images of real students when possible.
“We always prefer images of our own students when possible,” Blair said. “In this campaign, we used one stock photo. This particular ad was used primarily on Facebook and targeting adults 40-65 in addition to our typical high school audience. The intent is to convey visually where the students are at the current moment – in high school – and the copy asks the viewer to ponder the future. By using a photo that is not of Jewell students it leaves the mind open to what could be rather than what is. There will be other times in the future when we use stock photos for wholly pragmatic purposes as well. We take a lot of photos of students each year but there may be a need for a specific setting, with a particular demographic of student in mind that also conveys the right mood that we just don’t have to work with. In those instances, we will acquire a stock photo or change our strategy.”
Jewell students might notice a Jewell advertisement in their Snapchat and TikTok feeds this year. The marketing team has begun to expand its use of social media platforms beyond Facebook and Instagram to reach prospective students. Sites such as Snapchat and TikTok are generally used more by a younger audience pool, between the ages of 15 and 25.
“You have to find your audience where they are, and prospective students like Snapchat and TikTok,” Blair said. “Of all social platforms, Snapchat yielded the largest number of form submissions. Our videos on YouTube also have performed well. The women’s wrestling ad has done very well on Snapchat and TikTok in terms of views and swipe-ups. We’re very excited to continue to leverage these social outlets in the future and build a stronger Snapchat and TikTok presence.”