I love the Student Room. The team are easy to work with and they provide an unrivaled service to students all over the world, helping them find the right course and dealing with really tough topics like stress and anxiety. But that’s not all that they do.
The team also provide resources to university marketers, aiding them in their quest to remain relevant to young people. I jumped at the chance to write an article for this group, sharing my knowledge of student conversion journeys and the first steps marketers can take to create their own.
I was commissioned to write a two part article for www.tsrmatters.com, starting with part 1 below.
Birmingham Updates are a special kind of publication. They grew out of the Birmingham Riots in 2011, reporting the madness as it unfolded on a Facebook page.
Today, they are a leading digital news publication, even beating Birmingham Mail for levels of engagement per post. Very impressive for a small team of reporters.
I wrote a piece of advertorial on behalf of Aston University. Given that the University attracts around 50% of it’s students from the local area, it made sense to promote it’s Law course using this locally-focused publication.
So, degree apprenticeships are a thing. In short, the apprentice works full-time and studies their degree on the side. However, all their fees are paid by their employer.
Wish I had done the same.
Representing Aston University, I was asked to write a piece of advertorial for 2018’s Apprenticeship Guide, which I have included below.
You can learn more about the guide at www.apprenticeshipguide.co.uk
The original university for degree apprenticeships
In 2015, we launched the first ever degree apprenticeship. Since then, many other universities have followed suit, and fair play to them, if we saw that Aston apprentices were averaging higher grades, landing better jobs and working in global companies, we would have done the same.We have degree apprenticeships in:
- Digital & Technology Solutions
- Embedded Electronic System Design and Development
- Chartered Manager
- Executive Apprenticeship (MBA)
And launching soon:
- Senior Leader
- Healthcare Professional
- Nuclear Engineer
- Logistics and Supply Chain
Right from the start, you’ll work in a job with annual progression and be supported by gold standard teaching. Everything you learn – whether it’s in between meetings, during your commute or on campus – is to build the new professional you.
Our apprentices are making waves in Microsoft, Virgin Media and a wide range of SMEs. You can specialise in business, technology or manufacturing, which covers the marketing of new apps to the production of chocolate floors*.
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to wait to start their career and still wants a gold standard education, take the first step by visiting: www.aston.ac.uk/apprenticeships
*Aston apprenticeship provider Forbo manufactures cocoa based floors. They come in milk, white or dark chocolate varieties.
One of the perks of working in marketing is creating something that resonates. Sure, first comes the strategy, positioning etc. but eventually you get to the fun part: messaging and creative.
My task was to take the statistic:
Aston is ranked 2nd in the UK by the Economist for boosting graduate salaries, graduates earning, on average, within £3000 more five years after graduation.
… and turn it into something campaignable.
After a little wordplay and tapping into key themes, I arrived at the messaging:
Learn here. Earn more.
Direct and simple, it mirrors Aston’s reputation of being ‘business-like and getting things done’, as well as speaking to the ‘ruthless ambition’ of the students it attracts.
The campaign used graduate success stories to back up the messaging, which was further reinforced by the credibility of the Economist statistic.
The creative was bold, direct and put the stars of those stories on billboards and across a variety of outdoor media in the Midlands. The campaign was supported by a suite of digital communications, which included stories, written by myself, and video.
Creative execution and placement
Thomas Street, Birmingham
Generic out-of-home network
Ad on the Aston Expressway
Birmingham City Centre
Results Day is an emotional time. Forget the pictures in local newspapers, students holding up little pieces of their future, just imagine (or recall) that feeling of finally knowing what was happening with your life in September after months of waiting.
Now picture a campaign that rides of the back of that high. That celebrates your emotional moment of getting into university and gives you a glimpse of the fun, unscripted times ahead.
Working with Aston University, I managed the creation of a branded VR headset that was sent to all new Aston students on Results Day. Additionally, I scripted and storyboarded a 360-degree video to accompany the device.
The headset was packaged with a small postcard, including a link to a video explaining how to use it:
You can also watch and learn more about the creative concept for the VR video in the project: Say Hello to Aston in 360.
A major part of Aston’s conversion journey is email marketing.
Having worked with stakeholders to map out their student journey, I created a suite of communications to connect with their audience at key parts of the conversion process.
My philosophy was to simplify communications around clear calls to action and produce content with an emphasis on adding value to improve engagement.
The first example below was sent to post-16 students during their summer exam period. It features a video on how to beat procrastination, as well a downloadable guide (produced by myself) on how to own revision with zero motivation.
The second email below was sent to Law offer holders. It contains a student success story, helping these particularly hot leads ‘picture’ themselves on campus and, better yet, securing an aspirational legal placement.
To date, I have produced over one-hundred emails for Aston’s conversion journey.
It’s important that an organisation speaks to its audience through the channels that it is most familiar.
“Kam’s Guides” is a YouTube video series, targeted at students, dealing with topics such as:
- How to get the most from an open day
- How to win at Clearing
- How to kick procrastination in the face
Working with YouTuber Kamran Ali, I wrote several scripts to fit Kam’s style of delivery. Kam, a current student himself, brings the words to life for an audience keen to learn more about university.