One of the most fun projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on since joining Fire Engine RED was the Junior & Sophomore Search project for the University of Delaware. I have been dying to write about this campaign since it started, but wanted to wait until it was complete to share it (others have written about the project when it was partially complete).
It all culminated last night with the premiere of Delaware the Musical:
(No, it’s not a coincidence that it was on the same night as Glee’s return - they actually had an event on campus to premiere the video to their students to go with the show!)
This video, and the campaigns leading up to it were months in the making. Recognize the guys in the video? Yes, they were the same ones that brought you Reading Season, which came out just a few weeks before I started working on this project with them. Sometimes Shelly (Fire Engine RED’s President) and I can read each other’s mind and when we saw Reading Season, we had the exact same idea - video must be a key component of UD’s search project. When we talked to Amy (yes, the same Amy in the video!) and other team members about the idea, everyone was on board. The video’s stars, Avi and Drew, were planning a followup targeted at perspective students anyway and it was an absolutely perfect opportunity to piggyback on their work.
But let’s take a step back for a moment - the videos are so awesome and really stand out, but it’s important to note that they were not the only aspects of this search campaign! It also included:
- A print letter and business reply card
- Seven email campaigns about specific brand attributes of the University.
- Message segmentation to target specific messaging to certain geographic markets and students interested in specific types of majors.
- A follow-up mailing to students about the University’s Summer College program for high school students.
In other words, the campaign combined traditional admissions tactics and the new cool stuff. Everything in the campaign was created to work with the rest of UD’s publications and web properties targeted to prospective students. Students wouldn’t be able to tell that these messages were outside of the normal communications flow - we worked very closely with staff members at the University to make sure that all of the materials we created articulated their unique brand messaging points.
Shelly and I brainstormed with the UD team and we collectively came up with a two-fold strategy for incorporating videos in the campaign. When we were scheduled to launch their print letter and email campaigns in February, it was cold and snowy so production on last night’s video couldn’t start for a few months. We needed something to fill the gap in the meantime and team came up with a great solution, which Avi and Drew executed to perfection.
When print and emails first started, they directed students to an online form to get on UD’s mailing list (or students could return a business reply card with their information). Students who submitted the online form were greeted with a landing page and a followup confirmation email with this video:
Students were then urged to complete a very short survey (4 questions) that gave them the opportunity to ask questions for last night’s video to answer. Students were also able to upload a photo of themselves, which you can see in the closing credits. Hundreds of students responded with their input, which not only provided UD’s staff with guidance for scripting the video, but also invaluable information about the types of questions their most interested prospects have!
Last night, this video was emailed out as the final message in their search campaign (it will also be sent to students who had previously responded). We’re still counting the results after last night’s campaign, but here’s what we know about the search project as a whole: Thousands of students expressed the highest level of interest in the University of Delaware, and tens of thousands more have opened and clicked on the targeted, branded messaging they sent out. Everyone who expressed interest will receive the followup mailing about Summer College, and an additional push to visit campus even if they don’t enroll in the program. Not bad for a few months of work.
I’m very lucky. At Fire Engine RED, I get to work with a great group of clients who “get it.” They understand that targeted, branded communications are the way to go. These types of things show off the personality of a school, and attract the students that are right for that school - the kind that are most likely to enroll and succeed. But extra kudos to the University of Delaware for really pushing the envelope in terms of creativity and utilizing their internal talent to make it happen.