Planning Printed Matter for Education
Further down there’s something simple that schools and colleges can do to help make their printed matter communicate more effectively, but before you scroll down, there are some things that need to be understood so that it becomes clear why.
Physical products are still more powerful than their digital equivalents. Saving costs are invariably high on any agenda of any educational budget, but it’s easy to fall into a trap, where you win the battle of saving money, only to lose the war with reduced number of students on course.
The Power of the Physically Printed Matter
The physical version will sit on the kitchen table, sideboard or where-ever the magazines and papers are kept and get reviewed periodically in the run up to selecting where to study. It’s also in front of all members of the household. On top of this it will occasionally get picked up and flicked through.
The impact of printed matter shouldn’t be underestimated, despite the age of digital being well and truly upon us.
Printed Matter Designed as Incremental Steps – The Journey
As a school or college, you’ll have open days and attend events, where you’ll meet real people and you’ll need to focus on how you get your details into as many interested hands as possible.
The Banner or Backdrop
Having a good banner or banners that enable parents and potential students to see from a distance is crucial, especially in a crowded hall where your competing with other local schools and colleges.
Less is More
A mistake with your banner is to try and tell all. At an event the promotional banner should communicate a basic in a ‘split second’ because that’s all the time a person will give when initially scanning the hall, trying to work out where they need to go for the information they want.
What Does Your Printed Matter Do?
Each piece of printed matter, whether prospectus, leaflet, business card, posters or direct mail will have a specific objective, which should be identified before any design work is undertaken.
Objective of Your Banner
Avoid trying to tell all. It will be viewed from a distance in the first instance, so it needs to say something short that identifies why they should come to your stand.
As they get closer and can read the remainder of the banner, it should identify why they should talk to you or get more information.
What Should It Show?
Ask, what’s the result of having studied at your school or college and view this from the students / parent’s viewpoint – ideally, this result should be depicted on your banner.
For instance, the reason to learn is to do, so what will they be able to do, what they couldn’t before attending your school or college.
The School Journey
When they start the student is likely to be nervous and worried about what’s expected of them, so a series of simple images showing a nervous student starting and transitioning to a confident student leaving and moving onto their next step in life, career or education, could communicate quickly and clearly what to expect from joining your school or college.
Banner to Prospectus
So, they are now at your stand and showing interest, but what should it say? This is where you need to realise that all printed and online materials used to bring in students, should be aligned to move someone along the journey toward becoming a student. Don’t view each element individually.
Carry-on Telling the Story
The banner gave an insight to the end-result of attending your school or college which placed them at your stand, now the other materials including the prospectus, should tell the story of their life as it unfolds along their educational path.
Remember it’s Not Your Journey.
This is the section mentioned at the start of the article.
As people who’ve grown up and left school and taken on responsibilities, we have a different outlook, so building this journey based on our own viewpoint is not the optimum.
Surveying the students to understand things from their viewpoint will greatly help to tell a better story, although parents will also be involved in the process to a greater or lesser degree depending on the age group, so their concerns and viewpoints should also be addressed.
Facts Tell – Stories Sell
A well-known phrase, but so true. Once some interest has been shown, objections and fears will need to be addressed, by telling in your words and words of students and parents, how you’ll guide them toward the end-result first seen on the banner.
Printed Matter That Joins the Dots
It may seem obvious, but how well does your printed matter work together in moving someone from don’t know you to feeling comfortable that your offering is the right choice?
Lay it Out on the Table
Take all the designs for you printed matter, determine when it will be seen and the sequence it will be seen and see how well it flows. Does it move someone through the relationship building process answering questions and addressing concerns as it goes. Remember the questions asked at the start of the process, when knowledge is limited will not be the same as the latter questions and they won’t always start the journey with you.
Consider what questions and what a parent or student might want to know as the relationship builds.
Printed matter is important and as we know there’s more to it than just printing some pretty pictures and adding some text. Hopefully you found this article useful and if you’d like any help, feel free to contact us.