Thursday, June 29, 2006

Connecting with the Connected . . . Not So Easy

Today’s students are quickly becoming hyper-connected, media inundated, network informed, cynics. As a result, they just don’t trust our standard press releases, brochures, catalogues, commercials, or standard website rhetoric. The folks at ClueTrain have been saying this for some time. Just look at MySpace, FaceBook, Massive Multi-Player Online Games, Wikipedia, or to see the how students are leveraging vast global social networks to share, compare, and search for the real story.

Reaching these students in this postmodern world with outreach and recruiting messages is more difficult than ever. That’s why it’s not surprising to see colleges turn to more creative viral marketing strategies. Just check out SchoolDaze from Kettering University. This first foray into an alternative outreach strategy has been forwarded around student communities like wildfire. It’s been so popular, Kettering created episode II to respond to “fan mail” flooding in. It’s not quite the standard campus tour, is it?

This just gets you thinking: how are we connecting with connected students? More importantly, is what we’re doing working? How do we know? What do they know about us that we don’t? You’d be surprised.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The SchoolDaze campaign is great and I can understand why the ad is popular with college students…particularly Generation Y (born between 1981-2000). Researching Gen Y for several college marketing campaigns I’ve found that they communicate mostly using the internet, picture phones and e-mail. Gen Y is growing up on the wired alphabet: PC, CD, PDA, DVD, TV and MP3. To recruit and attract students more college need to market to Gen Y in a similar way as the SchoolDaze ad.

Most Gen Ys have grown up on slick ads and commercial gimmicks. They are very skeptical of marketing and advertising. I’ve learned it is important to be honest and real when talking to this group. Any signal of over promises, spin or false advertising will turn them off and they are likely to text message their friends to ignore too. Word of mouth is powerful in this group. Funny, honest, disarming direct ads are effective with Gen Y.

BusinessWeek Online notes Gen Yers respond to humor, irony, and the (obviously) unvarnished truth. Sprite scored with ads that parodied celebrity endorsers and carried the tagline ''Image is nothing. Obey your thirst.'' J.C. Penney's hugely successful Arizona Jeans brand had a campaign showing teens mocking ads that try to speak their language. The tagline? ''Just show me the jeans.''( Retrieved from

The School Daze ad also depicts how important parental relationships are to Gen Y. Researchers have found that Gen Y is more likely to shop with their parents and ask their parents opinions about purchases more so than other generations.

The ad is very clever and I can understand why it is so popular. Colleges need to understand Gen Y and do more marketing like the School Daze marketing to recruit students.