Marketing Audit Uncovers a Golden Opportunity for Technical College

WCTC, a long-standing provider of accessible career and technical education in Waukesha County, Wis., needed a fresh perspective on its current marketing efforts. Like many technical and trade schools in the nation, the college was faced with declining enrollment and looking to turn this trend around.

Responsory applied our proprietary Direct Branding℠ method to conduct a marketing audit and develop an integrated marketing plan and framework for future campaigns.

During this process, we uncovered a key audience insight. WCTC’s marketing efforts were focused on and targeted toward high school-age students. But our audit’s primary and secondary research revealed that a much different audience represents the greatest untapped opportunity for WCTC: Adult Learners.

Switching gears to embrace and engage an audience that skews 30 years old and up is not as easy as flipping a switch. They don’t have the same hot buttons as young adults. Their needs and challenges to pursuing an education are much more diverse. Responsory crafted a comprehensive marketing plan and key messaging before laying out the creative theme and platform. And, our audience profiling and modeling capabilities identified the most viable prospects within Waukesha county.

To drive brand awareness among this important audience, Responsory developed a multichannel test campaign using content and messaging that resonated with adult learners and addressed common pain points. Tactics included a direct mail series, Smart Zones digital advertising and an adult learner-focused microsite that served as the hub of our campaign. We also created an open house campaign that included a landing page and digital banner ads to drive event attendance among adult learners.

This pilot has earned high marks for WCTC’s pursuit of adult learners. With the program’s results and performance insights in hand, the college has applied most of our strategies and tactics to their ongoing marketing initiatives. And, it has plans to build additional educational programs for this very important segment.

Our mix of display advertising through the ultra-targeted Smart Zones platform, direct mail and an audience-tailored microsite to serve the needs of our new audience, proved to be a highly effective combination. Within a semester’s time, the campaign became a top source of qualified referral traffic to WCTC’s primary website, and it generated dozens of Get Info requests, Get Started conversions, and traffic to its Open House from our eager Adult Learner prospect universe.

“The typical college student is no longer the 18-year-old being dropped off at State U. The typical college student is the 24-year-old returning vet, the 30-year-old single mom who is working, or the displaced worker looking to re-skill in an emerging industry. We can’t reach those students by doing things the old way.”

-Ted Mitchell, U.S. Under Secretary of Education