THOUGHT LEADERSHIP FOR HIGHER EDUCATION SINCE 2001: Reach out to us.
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ESTIMATED READING TIME: 3 minutes

Often, prospective students are going to your website for very specific information, and for good reasons. Visitor experience designers follow established patterns in interface and information design to get your audiences to the right content without frustration. With epic photography, video, and animation, your digital stories can produce memorable impressions. But, in a world of five-second experiences and distractions only a click away, you need more than digital to produce results.

By complementing your digital strategy with inspirational and informative print communications, you’ll keep your brand top of mind for those prospects most likely to apply.

With print you can explore unbridled creativity. Paper, size, ink, and any number of special techniques provide endless possibilities for the expression of your institution’s brand and unique messages.

In fact, many of us at mStoner began our creative careers in print, and we continually advise our clients to use each channel — print, web, social, and advertising — to its best advantage in an integrated plan. What’s print best for, and which print pieces should admissions teams have in their toolkits?

At mStoner, we’re hands-on, helping admission marketing teams connect with prospective students. We strategize, write, and design print that works.

Here are four must-have print pieces that will inspire prospects to take the next step:

1. Viewbook
Contrary to popular belief, print is not dead — and neither is the viewbook! Start here. Your viewbook is the cornerstone of your print plan. You don’t need to send it to all prospects — only those you have identified as most likely to apply — but it will define the look and messaging of every other print piece. Your viewbook should stand out in a crowded mailbox by having a unique form factor, being bolder, more colorful, and more creative. A good size is 28 to 32 pages. Don’t overwhelm your audience with the details, but connect them to appropriate channels, your website, or social feeds. The topics should center around location, community, right-fit, and academics.

2. Visit Us
The best way to seal the deal with prospective students is to show them your campus. You will need print pieces that get them there. This piece can have just a few pages, but it needs to pack a punch. Again, emphasize location with images of a beautiful campus and stunning modern facilities filled with active students. Design a custom map to give prospects a bird’s-eye view. Include unique details about campus that can’t be found anywhere else. Provide the right information about how and when to book an in-person visit.

3. Study Abroad / Experiential Learning
Nearly every one of our recent clients within the last year has emphasized experiential learning as a core benefit of education at their institutions. The problem is they haven’t clearly described these opportunities to prospects. It’s usually not until students have been on campus for a year that they learn about study abroad trips, internships, or co-curricular research projects. Clearly, prospective students are looking for these types of opportunities, and by sending them a brochure filled with testimonials, photos of international locations, and a list of opportunities, you’re giving them yet another reason to consider your institution. Imagine a travel guide to your institution’s global experiences.

4. Parent’s Guide
Last but not least — parents! They want to know what’s up too, especially when it comes to finances and safety. But they also want to know that their student will be supported emotionally and will excel academically. Designing a print piece specifically for them will show parents that your institution cares. Parents won’t always go looking for this information on the web, which is why a printed piece that looks as creative and engaging as any of your other pieces needs to be mailed to them.

Quality Matters

Ah, there’s nothing better than the smell of freshly printed brochures. If you design for print, you know what I’m talking about. And don’t even get us started about smooth, uncoated paper with vibrant color photography and spot-color typography.

With print, admissions departments have an opportunity to provide tactile experiences that inspire a deep engagement that lasts much longer than the average website visit. Your print collateral — as with books and other designed objects — can carry an emotional significance that directly connects audiences to your brand. Spend the resources to produce high-quality pieces that last.

Whether in print or on the web, the quality of your communications reflects on the quality of education you are promising to deliver. Make it special!

Ben Bilow

AUTHOR - Ben Bilow

Creative success comes from digging in, getting messy, and making stuff. As a kid in St. Louis, my interest in skateboarding and rock & roll music shaped my work ethic — be resourceful, build community, share. We invented our own fun, designing rock posters and building half-pipes — tearing them down and doing it again.

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