If you aren’t getting daily emails or calls asking about your facility’s programs, you may be having a brand awareness problem. There is a constant demand for certification courses that can help one get a job or become proficient at a useful skill. So, you must position and market your school to get the attention of your target market.
Unfortunately, there are many brand mistakes that institutions make that can be hindering yours from reaching full potential. Read on for 10 tips that you can use today to increase your college’s brand awareness
What is Brand Awareness?
Brand awareness refers to the level of recognition that a company’s products or services have. It can also refer to the strategies that a company uses to increase the appreciation of its products and services. Methods that businesses use to increase their brand awareness include unique messaging, creative logo design, social media posts, advertisements and promotions.
Some people confuse brand awareness with brand identity. Brand identity is what comes to mind when people think about or see a brand. For example, when one sees the Harvard brand, they often think of quality education, expensive tuition fees or genius students. The MIT brand may suggest engineering or innovation.
If a consumer has no awareness of your brand, they’ll draw a blank when they see it or when its mentioned to them. You want potential students to associate your brand with the feelings you want to invoke such as quality training, fun learning atmosphere, etc.
Successful brand awareness campaigns can bring in millions in sales. This is why companies like Apple work hard to maintain their brand identity. But while big companies have huge budgets to ensure that they stay at the top of their market’s minds, even small businesses can make use of guerilla brand awareness tactics to increase their sales. All that you need is creativity and thinking out of the box.
Keep reading to find out 10 budget-friendly tips you can use to increase the brand awareness of your school.
1. Know Your Target Market
Knowing your target market is marketing 101. You will not be successful at creating a brand that attracts your target audience if you haven’t studied them. Before you can do anything else, have a meeting with your team and identify your target market.
You will then need to research to establish how profitable the segment is and how much competition you will face winning their business. You may need to hire a marketing consultant to carry out extensive research for you.
If the target market is worth pursuing, then you should learn everything you can about them. Successful marketers even go a step further and create a comprehensive person to represent their ideal client. They give them a name, gender, hobbies, friends, etc. Doing so helps the team understand your target market and so create a suitable brand identity.
Defining your target audience before you develop your brand will prevent you from misaligning your brand ethos and your target market’s values. Many companies have been forced to rebrand to appeal to their target market.
If you find yourself in a position where you have to rebrand, speak to your loyal customers to find out what they like about you. This will help you know which aspects of your brand identity to keep.
2. Know Your Unique Selling Proposition
In marketing, a unique selling proposition is a feature of a product or service that makes it different from other similar products or services. What does your college offer that other competing schools don’t?
This could be a unique course, a unique campus design, a robust online learning platform, etc. Knowing what is different about you will help you push a brand awareness message that separates you from your competitors. You will also stick out in the minds of consumers that are seeking the particular benefit that you offer.
3. Be Consistent
Once you choose your brand identity, you should keep your messaging consistent across all platforms for your market to develop an awareness of your brand.
For example, if you want to be known as a fun college then you should have pictures of students having fun on your website as well as on your social media messages. Your email messages, blog posts and website copy should also be fun and informal.
If your website has images of church buildings and students in prayer yet your Facebook page has students having a fun night out your audience may get confused about what sort of college you are. Keep all of your content marketing in unison across the board.
Other brand details that should be standardized include email signatures, font, presentation slides, and stationery. They should all have the same images and tagline in line with your brand identity. When email messages are not standardized an employee could end up sending the wrong message about your brand through a quote, image, or font that they use on their signature.
4. Embrace Positivity
Schools and colleges should be happy places where people can gain skills while having the best time of their lives. Your brand awareness strategy needs to be full of positivity and happy energy. Study any campaigns of the most successful brands and you probably won’t find depressing, dark or negative images.
When potential students come across your brand they should feel uplifted by your messaging. They want to feel comforted in the environment, culture and education that you delivery. This will lead to them liking and following your pages and even signing up for your newsletters.
5. Highlight Your “About Us” Page
There is no better place to give information about your brand identity than your website’s “about us” or “our story” page. Social media platforms don’t give companies a lot of space to talk about their history and brand ethos. But your website is all yours so you have the freedom to go wild with your school’s story and culture.
Most of your marketing efforts will lead to your website. So make sure that you’re “about us” page is impressive and that it features prominently. Also, get the help of a copywriter to write messaging that communicates why your college is different and why students should enroll at your facility.
6. Strategically Choose Your Business Name, Logo and URL
When choosing your company name, logo and URL, make sure that they all help to build on the brand identity you are trying to create. Choose a unique name that isn’t already in use. This will make it easier to find a URL that matches the name (preferably something that isn’t too complicated).
Your logo should also be designed by an expert that understands your vision and brand strategy. The more aligned your branding elements are, the easier it will be to create brand awareness.
7. Take Advantage of Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is the process of enhancing your website to increase the quantity and quality of free traffic coming to your website through search engine results. 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search engine results. So, to capitalize on free traffic your goal should be to appear on the first page when people search for courses that you offer.
Some tactics you can use include effective use of keywords, adding links to other quality pages, ensuring your website loads fast, optimizing your website for mobile access and adding useful content. Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise and establish yourself as a leading brand in your field.
Do keyword research to find out what your target market is searching for and write definitive answers to their questions. Promote your posts on social media and you will draw attention to your brand. You can also create YouTube videos that can be embedded on your site to keep users on your site for longer periods.
SEO optimization will be achieved if you create a fast, user-friendly site with a lot of useful information that keeps users engaged for a long time. Your sales pages should also be convincing enough to lead to a high number of sales conversions.
Other than SEO, don’t forget to have a newsletter or regular email that goes out to your mailing list. This will keep you in the minds of your core group of clientele and help reinforce your brand identity. Email and Newsletters are also a great way to let your market know about new products or any other news that your business may have.
8. Encourage Word of Mouth Marketing
Another key to increasing your brand awareness is to encourage referrals through word of mouth marketing. For this to work, you must ensure that your current students and alumni are happy with the services that you provide. They will then automatically speak highly of your school to their peers and encourage them to enroll with you.
You can also have formal referral programs where people can get rewarded for bringing you new business. It is much easier to convert leads brought in through referrals as we tend to trust the recommendations of people that we know.
Social Media is a great tool that you can use to increase word of mouth referrals. Encourage your students and employees to like your pages and tag them on any positive content that involves them. This could include academic awards, sports events, etc. They will be happy to share with the network posts that put them in a positive light.
9. Take Part in Local Networking Events
Local networking events, as well as industry events, are a great way to increase visibility of your brand. You will get an opportunity to tell many people about yourself and what you offer. Even if you don’t get immediate business, the next time someone is looking for a course that you offer they will remember you and contact you.
Networking events also allow you to chat with your target market and understand their needs and frustrations with your industry. This can greatly help you with your customer service and business development strategies.
Some of the events you can attend include trade shows, Chamber of Commerce meetings and networking groups. You should also host regular open days for the community to come in and see what you offer.
10. Give Back To Your Community
A great way to gain brand awareness amongst your target market is to provide sponsorship for a local high school team or little league team. Parents and children alike attend local competitions, so it is a great way to showcase your brand.
If a full team sponsorship is outside your budget you can still sponsor events like 5K runs, charity blood drives, or even community clean up days. Being an active corporate giver and showing up for community events will establish goodwill with your market. Not only does giving back make you and your employees feel great, but it will also be great for your brand awareness and bottom line.
How to Measure Brand Awareness
How will you know that your brand awareness strategies are working once you start using them? Measuring brand awareness can be difficult as it isn’t an objective metric such as sales or revenue. But if you notice an increase in website views, page impressions, social media engagement and google alert mentions after a brand awareness campaign, then this is a measure of the campaign’s success.
Additionally, you can pay attention to the messages that are getting the best responses and engagement. These messages show the brand qualities that your target market most identifies with.
Start Increasing Brand Awareness Today
Creating brand awareness takes time, effort and creativity. But once you succeed at it, your business will gain a significant increase in revenue.
Build and improve your brand awareness by identifying and knowing your target market, crafting a USP, and sending out consistent branding messages. Contact us for more information on how we can create a successful brand awareness strategy for your school.