Guest Blog: Update Your Ad Design for the Next Generation

Between cell phones, tablets, and social media, it’s difficult to capture the attention of younger generations.  Millennials and Generation Z are surrounded by thousands of promotional messages competing for their attention, including numerous higher education choices – your university and many others.  If you want to stand out from the rest, traditional ads listing all the facts about your institution simply won’t cut it.  The younger generations want to know, “what’s in it for me?  What will I gain from attending your college?”  This means you must change your advertising messaging to promote your campus culture, experience, and resulting career opportunities.  Instead of facts about the number of majors you offer or our open house dates, promote your value proposition.  Focus how a student will benefit from attending your university.

The younger generation also doesn’t connect with the look and feel of traditional advertising.  Most university ads appear similar and feature a picture of a student or building accompanied by bullets describing the facts and features of the university.  Word count is high as multiple departments share ad copy and struggle to fit everything they want to say within the physical ad space.  The more copy there is, the less effective your ad.  Focus on graphics and a short, simple message highlighting your value proposition.  Challenge yourself to use no more than 25-50 words throughout the entire ad copy.  The goal of your ad should be to drive potential students to your website to learn more, not to convince them to enroll.  Since this type of ad design will likely differ from your existing creative approach, your university’s marketing department may have to develop multiple artwork.  A traditionally designed ad is best suited for an older audience while a graphics-centric ad is appropriate for younger eyeballs.











Other ways to get students’ attention is to tell a story.  Recruit current students or recent graduates, and interview them as spokespeople for your university’s brand.  Personal stories and quotes make great content for social media and all your marketing material.

Remember – as your target market is changing, your advertising messaging has to change, too!  Don’t recruit students in the year 2015 with ad layout from the 1980’s. It’s time to rethink and redesign your recruitment advertising


Guest Blogger – Linda Salter, President of MediaMate