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Case Study #1: Boise State University College - Writing Sample


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  • 1. 1Find over 300 other case studies on digital print applicationsat© 2008, Caslon, a PODi Affiliate. Terms of Use: PODi members candistribute the case study in hard copy form or may post up to two casestudies on their Web site as long as PODi is attributed as the source and alink to is provided. Mass distribution or otherusage is restricted as defined in the Terms of Use on © 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative Best Practices in Digital Print Case Study
  • 2. Boise State University College Increases Enrollment with Personalized2 CommunicationsProject: Boise State University College Increases Enrollment with Personalized CommunicationsVertical Market: EducationBusiness Application: Direct Marketing/Lead GenerationFaced with increasing competition, and a very limited marketing budget, theLarry Selland College—a professional technical college on the campus ofBoise State University—was experiencing ongoing declines in enrollment.After hiring an enrollment consultant to evaluate the situation, the collegedecided to invest the time and money required to follow up with eachperson who inquired about a program at the college. The personalizedprogram—titled “Yes. You Can.” —is a multiple-piece mailing that is timedand sequenced with various messages designed to convince prospectivestudents that they can get into college, succeed, and get a job.Program Objectives• Reverse the trend of declining enrollment in college• Increase enrollments• Respond in a timely manner to requests for information and build a relationship with multiple hits• Target prospective students with a strong, empowering, and cohesive message• Accomplish all of this within a very limited budgetSignificant Results Reported by User• Increased enrollment by almost 15%• The first of five promotional pieces mailed within 72 hours of an inquiry or customer contact, with other materials mailed to prospective students every 10 days until all five pieces have been sent• Cost for the entire series of communication pieces is less than $10• Marketing budget has been increased because of proven successDescriptionAs a small, two-year college within Boise State University, the Larry SellandCollege was facing ongoing declines in its enrollment rate despite the use oftraditional radio, television, and newspaper advertising. As with mostcolleges, it faced growing competition, a narrowing field of prospectiveBest Practices in Digital Print Case Study © 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative
  • 3. 3students, and a limited budget with which to solve the problems. It also hadsome unique challenges to deal with.Idaho is still in many ways a rural state where traditional trades, such asagriculture and logging, are a major part of the economy. Many residents inthe rural communities still hold the belief that a high school education is allthat is needed to get a job, and hard work is more important than knowledgewhen it comes to promotions and salary increases in the future. In fact, moststudents who attend the College are the first in their families to go to college.Overcoming the belief barrier of adults was a challenge. In addition, theCollege was struggling to get students because unemployment was thelowest in the nation. Desperate to find employees, local companies beganoffering free training in many of the areas that in the past had only beenoffered at the College. The College faced prospective students asking, “Whypay for a college education when I can get hired and learn while I earn apaycheck?”Since no one wanted to enroll in the programs offered at the College, itseemed as if the next step would be to create new programs that couldgenerate interest. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. The state requires allprofessional or technical colleges to offer certain programs. Changing classschedules to accommodate those who wanted to learn at night was also anidea that surfaced, as a way to generate new enrollments. Unfortunately, thatwasn’t an option, either, because the College lacked funding to hire teachersfor evening and weekend courses. The only choice for classes was to attendfull-time during the day.In addition, the most difficult challenge faced by the College was internalcompetition from the University. Boise State had launched its owncampaign with messages on television, on radio, and in print that showcased© 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative Best Practices in Digital Print Case Study
  • 4. Boise State University College Increases Enrollment with Personalized4 Communicationsthe University’s desire to recruit the brightest and the best—a metropolitanuniversity of distinction. The showcase of research and graduate degrees invarious media pieces completely discounted the role of Selland College.Selland College, like other professional technical colleges in the state, servesthe role and function of a community college and offers programs thatinclude basic reading, writing, and math; GED preparation; and otherprograms to help students get ready for college.Many who enroll in the College’s professional technical education programsare those who have struggled with education in the past, who need a secondchance, or who may have dropped out of high school or had financialhardships. These prospective students were extremely nervous aboutcoming to a college to learn about programs. Overcoming the barrier of fearof failing that these students faced was difficult, especially when theUniversity marquee stated, “Boise State has the highest admission standardsin the state.”The “high standards” message was great for the University in terms offinding donors and raising funds, but those interested in Selland College feltthere was no place for them at Boise State. The University’s message wasturning away the students that Selland College was trying to attract.Ted Bailey, Director of Boise State’s Printing and Graphic ServicesDepartment, sized up the situation. The College had already triedeverything—except direct mail. It had always considered direct mail to be tooexpensive and the results risky. But Ted knew that other educational institu-tions had been having great success with personalized 1-to-1 marketing. “Weused PODi case studies to help prove it could work for us,” he says. “If othercolleges were having success with it, we knew we could too.”Best Practices in Digital Print Case Study © 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative
  • 5. 5Armed with documented successstories from other schools, a solidconcept designed in cooperation withenrollment management consultants,and a desire by the Dean to dowhatever it took to try to increaseenrollments, the College and the printshop embarked on a plan to designand test a new communicationfollowup program.The most time-consuming part of theprocess was creating personalizeddesigns that met the needs of theCollege. Presenting the case forfunding was also time-consuming inthe beginning.The goals of the program were as follows: 1. Build a relationship with each student 2. Convince them that they can succeed in college at Selland 3. Motivate them to talk to Selland enrollment specialists before enrolling elsewhere 4. Show why paying for college is a better choice than getting free, on- the job training 5. Inspire prospective students to make significant life changes that allow them to attend full-time programs during the dayBecause of the long review process for the five-piece brochure campaign, theCollege started with a personalized series of three postcards. This allowedthe College to begin working with its new theme (“Yes. You Can.”) andcommunicate short messages about quality, success, and financial aid,starting right away.The CampaignTo build a relationship with each prospect, the College needed to contacteach one quickly—after the first inquiry and multiple times after that—with astrong, flexible, universal message that addressed all goals.The “Yes. You Can.” theme was a strong, positive answer to any fears orconcerns prospective students might have about their abilities. That themeworks with multiple messages, including, but not limited to, these: • Yes, you can succeed here • Yes, you can get financial aid • Yes, you can make a difference© 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative Best Practices in Digital Print Case Study
  • 6. Boise State University College Increases Enrollment with Personalized6 Communications • Yes, you can get a degree no matter what your previous educational experience has been • Yes, you can enroll here even if you did not graduate from high school • Yes, you can get a great paying job at graduation • Yes, you can find caring teachers and small classes • Yes, you can do something you love • Yes, you can take free basic skills classes and earn your GED • Yes, you can get an Associates degree and apply credits earned toward a Bachelor’s degree in the future • Yes, you can be a role model for your family • Yes, you can stop the cycle of poverty in your familyThe planning team decided on five consecutive mailings, spaced at 10-dayintervals. The mailing begins within two to four days of a student’s firstinquiry. All mailings are delivered in a bold, personalized, digitally printed,9×12-inch catalogue envelope. Each envelope lists the information that isenclosed.1. Initial mailing a. A personalized, eight-page, full-color brochure: easy steps to follow, urging students to push for their dreams and call to find out how the College can help them get there b. A personalized letter from the Dean (all letters are printed in black-and-white on preprinted shells) c. Up to three full-color flyers on specific requested programs (out of a possible 28; digitally printed, but static) d. An application form (static)2. A view book a. A personalized, eight-page, full-color brochure featuring photos of students and stories (why students love the College) b. A personalized letter from an enrollment specialist inviting them to come to campus3. Financial aid information a. A personalized, four-page, full-color brochure: Don’t let anything stand in your way—how to apply for financial aid b. A personalized letter from the financial aid directorBest Practices in Digital Print Case Study © 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative
  • 7. 74. Graduate success a. A personalized, four-page, full-color brochure: Real success stories from graduates b. A personalized letter from a local employer endorsing the college and encouraging the prospect to enroll. (This letter is on employer letterhead shell.)5. Quality you can trust a. A personalized, four-page, full-color brochure featuring stories about Selland College instructors b. A personalized letter and testimonial from a community leaderAll mailings are sent to every prospective student, unless they respond orrequest they be stopped.Excel lists for mailing are generated from: • Incoming calls • A Web-site information request form ( • Events, high school visits: The College’s enrollment team sets up booths at almost every community event, from fairs and disco nights to rodeos and race tracks. They hand out information and a simple, easy-to-fill-out card—asking only for name, address, and phone number. (The college has discovered that most people will not take the time to fill out more than just basic information at a booth. People say they will mail it back later, but rarely do.)The lists (usually 15-250 names at a shot) are downloaded twice a week byPGS, cleansed, barcoded, and standardized. They are imported into XMPieuProduce, a database that outputs PDFs for all pieces, which are queued forthe EFI Fiery-driven Xerox iGen3 digital production press. (Envelopes aredigitally printed with matching codes and then converted.) The pieces arefinished, fulfilled, and mailed within 72 hours of being downloaded. The firstmailing is sent via first-class mail to help weed out any bad addresses beforethe process continues.The ResultsAfter the College had collected six months of data, it was able to see somereal results: Enrollments increased by an impressive 14.7%. This is huge,especially considering that enrollment had been steadily decreasing for fiveyears in a row, but also compared to the enrollment rate for Boise StateUniversity, which only increased by 3.2% over the same period. This is alsosignificant because direct mail was the only change that was made. All othermarketing efforts were the same as prior to the direct mail campaign. Asampling survey of recipients showed that people love the publications.© 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative Best Practices in Digital Print Case Study
  • 8. Boise State University College Increases Enrollment with Personalized8 CommunicationsBudgetTo cover the cost of this campaign, the College supplemented its initialmarketing budget of $50,000 with an additional $35,000 to create and launchthe campaign. In spite of some trepidation, the Dean of the College, theAssociate Dean of Enrollment Management, and the Marketing Directorbelieved in what the Director of the Printing and Graphic ServicesDepartment had showed them—that 1-to-1 marketing would pay off, and itdid. After the launch, the continuing in-house cost of printing all pieces inthe multi-touch campaign is now less than $10 per recipient.The program has been going for about 18 months, and it has proved to be atremendous success. With the great results the College has been getting, it’smuch easier to receive continued funding.Final ThoughtsThe quality of the printing, graphic design, and copywriting is key to thesuccess of the campaign. The collaboration between the variable-print teamand the creative team—designing the program to optimize it for digitaltechnology, creating safe areas, building in layers, and writing to fit spaces—made this project stand out.Although there are further opportunities to customize the pieces even morefor each recipient (switching images and content and featuring successstories or instructors specific to a requested field of study), the focus herewas to get the campaign created and test its effectiveness. “Creating a libraryof variable images and content would have required even more approvalsand reviews. Hopefully, we’ll be able to continue to improve the relevance ofBest Practices in Digital Print Case Study © 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative
  • 9. 9our communications as we continue,” according to Ted Bailey, Director ofBoise State’s Printing and Graphic Services Department.The College is already expanding its use of personalized communications inother areas, thanks to this first success. It now uses personalized postcardsto invite new students to an orientation registration session. In the past itsimply sent out letters from the admissions director. It was rare to have morethan 10 individuals actually attend, although the College was sending outmore than 500 letters each semester.Now 75% of those who receive a card attend their listed sessions, and ofthem, 70% actually RSVP to secure their seats!© 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative Best Practices in Digital Print Case Study
  • 10. Boise State University College Increases Enrollment with Personalized10 Communications Client The Larry Selland College of Applied Technology at Boise State University The Larry Selland College (CoAT) is a two-year community college on the campus of Boise State University. It offers 28 full-time career training programs in areas including welding, culinary arts, surgical technology, and automotive technology. The College specializes in education for employment. Print Provider & Boise State University Printing and Graphic Services Department Agency Printing and Graphic Services (PGS) provides Boise State University and Idaho state agencies with cost-effective graphic communication products and services. Its purpose is to be a major contributor in the dissemination of information— faster and at lower cost. PGS is a full-service solution provider offering relevant marketing expertise utilizing digital, offset, copying, and wide-format printing capabilities. Other services are provided by Julie Rybarczyk Concepts, which offers design, copywriting, and related services. Hardware EFI Fiery-driven Xerox iGen3 digital production press Software Originally produced with XMPie uDirect. Now using XMPie uProduce. EFI Print MIS solutions, PrintSmith, PrintSmith Site, and EFI prepress workflow Target Audience Undergraduate students Distribution 15–250 twice weekly. Cycle runs every 10 days over a three-month period. Date Launched in June 2006; on-going Best Practices in Digital Print Case Study © 2008 PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative