If you read part one of our Crash Course series, you should be well-versed on who the average student is and what they want out of university. Now it’s time to look at how to translate that information into concrete methods of attracting students to your brand.
This is an area that RMP Enterprise has a lot of expertise in. We’ve spent years getting students engaged with work experience and helping companies secure top talent, and that all starts with attracting the right people. Here are the tactics we know are effective, and how best to use them.
Attracting students online
The first aspect of your marketing strategy should be online. While there is definitely a lot of value in on-campus attraction, you must also bear in mind the potential for online tactics to be more cost-effective and to have a surprisingly large impact on attracting talented students.
For example, you could utilise online competitions as part of your campaign. These come with a built-in incentive to take part – although you will have to think carefully about what would be a good prize – and you can tailor them so that they get students thinking about the possibility of taking on work experience with you.
You can even use them to collect data. Using tools like RMP Connect will enable you to gather all sorts of information about your potential future employees, which in turn will enable you to better market to them.
You could even take note of the most impressive candidates and focus your efforts on them. (Can we use elements from the Centrica case study to show how valuable this is? Any hire data from clients?)
Then there are social media platforms such as LinkedIn. This is a great place to start filling roles in your company that require specific skills, as it is essentially a giant career database. You can use it both for research and for connecting with talented students, again bringing your brand to their attention.
Of course, one of the best ways to attract students is through their peers. Just as brand managers are such an effective offline strategy, online reviews are an excellent way to endear students to your brand.
Remember that students are already very career-focused, so they will be looking for opportunities to gain experience and prepare for a life of work. If you offer placement years, you can give them exactly what they are looking for as they learn about working for your firm, while also endearing them to your company.
Then, you can encourage them to leave a review on a website such as RateMyPlacement. This will provide you with the kind of peer-based marketing that is so hard to get online. If you can get students describing the experience they’ve had and what they have gained from working with you, it will attract more students to apply to your schemes and give you an even larger talent pool to choose from.
Attracting students offline
While it might seem like most things today are done from behind a computer screen, there is still a very real need for offline services when it comes to attracting students. Having a physical presence on a university campus will have a much greater effect on people than simply interacting with them online.
Getting this right means doing your research. Different universities are stronger for different subjects. For example, St Andrews, Bath and University College London currently top the league tables for business and management studies, while Durham and Leeds are stronger when it comes to marketing.
If you know what type of student you’re looking to attract, you can make sure you’re targeting the right universities. However, you also need to consider things like the level of activity on a university campus.
If students are spread out across a city, for example, it will be harder to attract them with a physical stall or installation.
If you’ve found a good university to work on, the next step is to work out how to attract their attention. Students aren’t necessarily going to come over to you without an immediate incentive. Offering a free gift can help you out immensely, whether that’s something like a branded pen – which helps solidify your company in the students’ mind – or some free food.
This might seem like a stereotype, but it works. One of our clients combined a jelly bean bar with a speed reading test – distributing the sweets for correct answers – to attract students and show them the skills the brand looks for in new recruits.
Of course, it’s not all about installations. You can also benefit from working with brand managers to speak for you on university campuses. This can be a win-win situation, as your brand managers will gain valuable experience and a positive view of your company, which in turn will lead to them advocating all the more strongly for you.
Students will respond much better to their peers than they will to other forms of advertising, as it will come across as more sincere, friendly and accessible. They will also be well-connected to their individual university, so will have a better idea of how to appeal to the students there.
A publication or two could also be a good idea. Flyers, booklets and leaflets can all be used to attract attention in areas like careers offices. When students are looking for information about what to do after graduation, you can make sure your company’s name is one of the ones they see, increasing awareness of your brand.
There are many other things you can be doing to attract students offline, and the best marketing strategies involve a little bit of everything. At RMP, we have an entire arm dedicated to offline tactics: On-Campus Promotions (OCP). If all this seems like a lot to manage, we might be a more cost-effective option.
Next guide: Engaging students with your brand
If you follow our recommendations, you should find that more and more students are becoming aware of your company and seeing you as an option for a post-university career. However, they will also be aware of many other brands in the same way. In order to keep their attention and ensure you can secure the top talent, you will need to work on engaging them.
In our next guide, we’ll look at some of the brands that have stood out as the best among their peers and examine what they did to engage the most skilled students. Learning from these examples will give you the tools you need to make sure your brand is seen as one of the best options for placement years and future careers.