It’s “Automatic” Marketing

Someone forgot to tell the world of higher education that direct mail is dying… or is it? In the past three afternoons, the United States Postal Service has delivered no fewer than 18 pieces of mail to our house addressed to my high school sophomore. And so the onslaught begins…

Funny thing is they all have the same offer: go online with your personal code and sign up to receive your personal copy of… (take your pick):

• 3 Ways to Go Further in College and Your Career
• The Right Stuff: 5 Tips for Finding Your Ideal College
• Your Competitive Edge: 5 Reasons Your Application will Stand out Today
• Strike the Right Balance: 4 Steps for a Successful College Today
• The Essentials for a Winning Application
… and 13 more of the same!

That’s enough tips and tricks that if you read them all, you’d have enough credit hours to earn a minor degree in “personal brandology”.

It is painfully obvious that all these schools abide by the same drop schedule and adopt the exact same communications strategy that has worked for decades:

Reach out in a seemingly personal manner (made possible with variable data
Invite interest
Get your prospects to self-qualify (with the power of database marketing)
Follow up and convert
Nothing new there. But the question that stuck in my mind after opening up letter number 15 was this:

How much of these schools budgets go to what we call “automatic” marketing? That is, the type of marketing that is planned well in advance and follows a formula that has worked in the past.

The barrage of collegiate correspondence represents a classic “automatic” marketing program.

It works like this: The college admissions offices receive student names and addresses through channels such as the PSAT and begin sending their letters in January to sophomores, a full two years before any of them most likely will even apply. Then those who respond (or qualify themselves as prime prospects), become part of a focused pool that may receive follow-up such as a phone call or a personal invitation to visit campus.

How much “automatic” marketing does your company engage in? Is it part of your plan? Should it be based on the industry you serve?

An even better question is, “How is your budget split between ‘Automatic’ and ‘Opportunistic’ marketing?

Stay tuned. Next time we’ll explore the world of “Opportunistic” marketing.