10 Radical (Maybe Ridiculous, Maybe Effective) Marketing Ideas for Higher Ed We’d Love to Work On

November 10, 2020

To know CCA is to know we eat higher ed marketing ideas for breakfast. Probably our favorite ask from any client is: “What are your ideas for…” And at least once in every single internal meeting, you’ll hear one of us say: “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”

And sometimes, those ideas are ridiculous. But you know, some of the most effective campaigns—especially for audiences who, right now, are CRAVING fun—are born out of a silly thought.

So, here are 10 of those ideas, just for fun.

If you want to work on any of them with us, we are SO in.

1. Two competing colleges, together in one video.

The presidential election is exhausting. But did you see this TV spot? It went viral for obvious reasons and we love the “WE approve this message” touch at the end. Imagine your college or university’s president partnering up with your competition (maybe even the college next door?) in a friendly spot that says, “Listen, we want you to be happy wherever you go, so talk to our admissions counselors! Ask all your questions. College is worth it, period. Good luck.” (And you split the media buy.)

2. A Karen campaign.

Any prospective student named Karen, after the year they’ve had and the bad rap they’ve been given, gets a special scholarship or swag. We have a Karen on staff, and she’s lovely.

3. Your logo, dressed up for the holidays.

Because we need more merriment than ever. 

4. Also? A holiday catalog. For your college.

Who else is running to the mailbox every day because well, Covid. It’s something TO DO. Send more print. Fun print. Like, for instance, a holiday catalog a la Amazon’s and Target’s, but for your college. ”Circle everything you want included in your college experience.” One spread could feature your dining hall’s specialties. One spread could feature your wackiest clubs. You get the idea.

5. While we’re at it, a microsite that mirrors a retail site. 

A major in English? Add to cart. The famous chai tea latte from your coffee shop? Add to cart. Soccer intramural? Put it in there. When the student “checks out,” they get a fun graphic that depicts what their college experience will look like.

6. What else do people love reading? REVIEWS. 

Create a landing page that features just reviews in all different categories, like food, campus, academics, student life. Encourage alumni to post a review. Encourage current students and parents. This could be a great social share: THE RATINGS ARE IN! And yes, include stars. (Always five stars.)

7. T-shirt designs that speak to inside jokes on campus. 

Every campus has them: inside jokes that only your students and maybe faculty can appreciate. Toss a few of those on some t-shirts with a great design and send them around: surprise and delight your alumni, get admitted students in on the joke by including it in their welcome kits, keep your current students happy. 

8. Scratch & sniff print asset. 

If they can’t visit in person, give them the ability to smell your campus’s fresh blooms, or the cookies in your dining hall, or that old-timey library aroma that makes you want to get lost in the stacks and cuddle up with a classic. 

9. A media campaign that clears up any confusion.

Did your brand perception study show that people still view you as a party school? Or maybe people too often confuse your college with another one of a similar name. Or, perhaps, you know that people think your college is in the middle of nowhere. Whatever it is, own it, address it, and control the conversation with a direct, humourous, but polished media campaign that sets the record straight.

10. Cameo.com-like acceptance videos.

Everyone loves sharing Cameos that were made for them—so think about how you can capitalize on that trend. Do you have any connection to a recognizable alum, or perhaps, a TV character that “went” to your college in their show? Ask (or pay) them to make a slew of super quick, personalized, very informal iPhone videos congratulating your admitted students. Those would be fun to watch on social, even if you’re not that student.

Got a ridiculous idea of your own? Want us to price out one of the above?

Get in touch now!

If you have a marketing
problem, we’ve got a solution. Let’s have a conversation.


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