Think about everyone in your office. While you are all employed at the same place, that’s probably one of the few things you have in common. Between you and your coworkers, there is a range of colleges, high schools, sport interests, hobbies, family backgrounds, etc. Some of you might have just graduated college, while others have been working there for years. Some of you work out to get fit, some of you work out so you can eat bad. (There’s a difference. I know this because I’m the latter, haha!) Some of you are saving for your children’s future, some of you are saving for a car down payment.
The point is, everyone is different. We are at different stages in our lives. You can’t send out print marketing pieces to the “general public” and expect amazing results because the general public doesn’t exist.
Let me say it louder for the people in the back: The general public doesn’t exist.
Breaking down your audience into segments and personalizing your print marketing, even just a little bit, can truly impact your response rate, from receiving RSVPs for your event, to getting people to come into your store, to fundraising for scholarship.
This is an example from Arkansas Tech University, where they used variable text and images to target their audience. They changed out the picture to the dean of the college the student was accepted into, along changing the name of the student. However, just personalizing names can greatly increase your ROI for print marketing.
One industry that stands out to us as a great example of targeting specific audiences is higher education. Colleges and universities have widely diverse audiences, from high school students all the way to alumni who graduated 25 years ago (or more). Each audience has difference interests due to their life stages, just like everyone in your office. A high school student isn’t interested in donating, just like regularly-donating alumni aren’t interested in recruitment messages. Because of this, higher education has some great examples on how to tailor messages to specific audiences.
Wait, before you roll eyes and think college audiences don’t relate to you… Think about how you recruit people to buy from your store, get a membership, share your post on Instagram… Think about how you need to build a relationship with your new recruits and maintain an established relationship so they don’t leave you for another brand.
So, let’s go back to college temporarily. Below are some examples of how we have helped colleges and universities personalize print marketing to the age, interests, and life stages of their audiences.
When recruiting potential students, colleges are looking at high school students. Their recruitment marketing is most often geared towards juniors and seniors, the students who are beginning to think about the next stage of their life after high school. They are most likely tired of their annoying parents, but still depend on them for much of their security. But, boy, are they ready for their independence. These marketing pieces are meant to excite and convince the student that this college is their college…
…So that the student applies and gets accepted. Next stage. Next audience. This student has been mostly convinced that this college is the one for them, but some might not have completely committed yet. By now, the student is about to or has graduated from high school and is seriously considering his or her future. Which college is truly going to set them up for success? (Whether that success be actually going to class or offer them the most extracurricular activities or the most parties?) That’s where variable data can really come into play.
This is the audience who has suddenly realized being an adult maybe isn’t as fun as they wanted it to be. It’s fun, but it would be nice if a parent would cook a meal every once in a while, you know? For this audience, it’s important to continually engage them in the university. Just because they are here, doesn’t mean they aren’t important anymore. These students need to have their school pride fueled and feel welcomed, so they come back next semester. (Or are glad they transferred in. Especially compared to the “not fun” college they were at last semester.)
These are the people that colleges hope they have instilled enough school pride that they want to contribute back to the college’s continual progress. This audience needs updates on achievements and progress, and, if they have donated, that their money is being used for an worthwhile cause. Colleges and universities need to maintain, if not build, the connection the college established while they were a student.
These audiences could even be segmented further down, such as the alumni could be broken into those who donate and those who don’t. For someone who is a regular donor, they would more likely need a “Thank you for…” message, rather than “Would you please…” message.
Knowing your audiences helps you personalize marketing pieces to increasingly engage and excite your publics. Think of where you attended college and ask yourself if you feel pride that you went there? Then think of their marketing, digital and print. Do you feel connected?
Now think of your print marketing. Do you know your audiences? Though your audiences may not be students, the recruitment of people to believe in your brand is a huge part of why your brand exists. Just like maintaining the consumer-brand relationship is important. Segmenting your audience can help you ignite a new relationship, while also maintaining ongoing relationships. Cool folds and unique embellishments make people look, but knowing who your audience is will greatly allow you to see even more return on your investment.
So, let’s ditch the general public. Let’s engage your actual audiences. Let’s increase your ROI for print marketing.