Precautions for planning

It’s an exciting time of the year for graduate marketing professionals, with brainstorms-a-plenty and big ideas wherever you look. However, in a competitive, lean environment it’s important to beware of the mistakes that, if they are made at this stage, can severely detract from your campaign’s ROI.

Here are our 5 top graduate marketing banana skins to watch out for during the planning season.

1. Putting the ‘creative cart’ before the ‘practicalities horse’ – A great creative solution is useless if no-one sees it – so before you commit to that photo-shoot in the Seychelles, identify how you’re going to get the message out far and wide and what resources you need to allocate to doing so.

2. Unnecessary ‘refreshing’ – Up to a third of next year’s undergraduates will be brand new on campus and will not have seen last year’s campaign!  Another third were this year’s first-year students and won’t have taken much notice of any marketing not then geared towards them.  The likelihood is therefore that even if your campaign has run for a few years, it will be still be fresh to the majority of next year’s target audience, and almost no one will have seen it for more than three years.  It’s one of the rare advantages graduate marketing has over other disciplines.  So don’t be over-hasty in splurging money on a redesign; consider repeating or tweaking last year’s strategy instead.

3. Not building in measures – How will you measure your ROI reliably? It’s a tough question to answer in the world of graduate marketing, but now’s the time to do it. Bake in measures like data capture, trackable links and hashtags right from the off.

4. Being unrealistic about timings – The sun’s in the sky (sort of) and X-Factor hasn’t started yet. There’s plenty of time before autumn, right? Wrong. The 1st October is 85 business days away, and most of those fall during the summer holiday period. Think about what is realistic to do within that time. Panic early!

5. Doing what students say they want – “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them” (Steve Jobs) so be careful of survey and focus group data, and even simple feedback, which relies on asking them.  Testing, and behavioural observation, are often more powerful ways of obtaining meaningful data on what gets the response from your target audience that your business needs.

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