Hitting the Enrollment Bullseye By Targeting Non-Traditional Students

Mature Students in libraryConsistently hitting the bullseye during competition is an enviable skill that brings financial success and pride to only a few, and disappointment or defeat to countless others. Darts, arrows, target shooting, even those money-grabbing fair games; only few will walk away in victory, leaving others to question what just happened. The world of marketing is no different. If you’re expecting to successfully attract new students, hitting the right target boils down to your approach, technique, and consistency.

Successful marketing means aiming at the target that’s easiest to hit.

Most major four-year universities are aimed at providing higher education to the 18-25 age bracket; the post-high school crowd. These young adults are looking for the typical college experience: dorm life, fraternities and sororities, collegiate sports and other extracurriculars. For many college students, the goal is to have as much fun as possible while getting a degree before tackling the responsibilities of adulthood.

In order to stand out amongst a sea of colleges and universities, as a trade school or technical program, it’s important that you aim at a slightly different target — the non-traditional student. But you already know this, right?  So, the next step is to examine whether you’re shooting straight to hit the target or missing the mark entirely.

Here’s a checklist for any trade school hoping to attract non-traditional students to their programs.

  • Does your website speak the language of your audience? Remember that the non-traditional student group is comprised of adults of all age ranges who have full-time jobs, children to raise, and bills to pay. They may be going back to school to switch careers midway through life. Those who fall into the standard 18-25 age brackets typically know exactly what they want to study and want to begin a career debt-free as soon as possible. Keep this in mind when designing the content and design of your website.
  • Tailor your web content accordingly. As a trade school, you have several benefits over 4-year universities that would appeal to non-traditional students that should be emphasized to your target audience. Accelerated programs, hands-on learning environments, small class sizes, and affordability: use regular blogging, videos, and landing pages to highlight these perks. Focus your appeals on your students’ opportunities for professional development and advancement.
  • Are non-traditional students reflected in your visuals? Does your website feature images of students of all ages or only of young twenty-somethings? Do the statistics and graphs showcase information relevant to non-traditional students?
  • Are your marketing efforts as diverse as your student body? Don’t make the mistake of thinking your website alone will do all the work.  You need to develop and implement a online marketing strategy that positions you in front of prospective students.  You’ve got to go where your prospective students are and strut your stuff like a peacock displays its plumage. Consider a strategic content creation and outreach strategy as part of an Inbound Marketing Program to place your trade school in a direct line of sight for your target audience.
  • Video content can be very persuasive. Share links to online video testimonies of staff, students, and graduates via email, social media and blogs. Your target audience may respond to testimonials from other students or those of a similar age. Who’s going to argue with someone that looks and sounds just like them?

Here are some next steps you can take:

  1. Clearly understand your target.  Don’t waste time trying to get the attention of the wrong person.  Concentration your efforts where it will count.
  2. Make sure your website is in line with this target audience.
  3. Construct an online marketing strategy and begin implementing it right away.
  4. Create content (blog posts, downloadable resources, video, social media posts) that your target will find engaging and attractive.
  5. Track your progress and do more of what works best.

It’s time to get serious about who you’re marketing your school to.  You need content on your website that speaks to the non-traditional students who may see your program as a solution for their professional careers.  Turn your website into an enrollment machine by connecting with non tradtional students.  

If you’re looking for ideas on how to update your website and create content that your students and non traditional students will love, contact Neon Goldfish today for a free market analysis of your current efforts as well as some ideas that can help you in the future.