Recently, we brought our Enroll360 creative team together to showcase highlights from their marketing campaign work. It was inspiring and illuminating, but what struck me the most were the challenges that the team shared, many of which related to the collaborative nature of our creative process. Our team’s discussion really took off when one of our art directors said, “I wish our partners knew the difference between content that was great and content that was just OK.”
I was curious, so I asked her to explain further.
“A lot of times, our partners send us pictures that could be of any campus, anywhere. Even if the images are beautiful, that’s not actually that helpful. We need pictures that show subjects that are unique to their campus, whether that’s an iconic building, a signature event, or a particular person.”
The importance of content differentiation
When I reflected on our art director’s comment, I wasn’t surprised that the distinctiveness of partners’ content imagery can be an issue. Not only do enrollment and marketing leaders often struggle with differentiation and distinctiveness, but several other industries have poked fun at higher ed’s marketing sea-of-sameness—check out Reese’s University and Monsters University if you haven’t already.
In response to our discussion, the Enroll360 creative team crowdsourced a list of tips and suggestions for enrollment and marketing teams who want to create the ideal asset library. Not every institution has access to photographers, videographers, or content writers on demand, but even with modest resources, institutions can create a robust library by keeping these seven principles in mind.
Sometimes referred to an asset repository, content store, or even a photo bank, an asset library is a place where college marketing and enrollment teams store images, videos, and written content for marketing pieces such as websites, brochures, and enrollment marketing campaigns.
7 Tenets of an Effective Campaign Asset Library
1. Mind the minimum quality
Occasionally, partners will share low-resolution photos or inaudible videos with us. This isn’t always a bad thing; today, many online channels favor more authentic media over perfection. However, in extensive multichannel campaigns like the ones we create for Enroll360 partners, we need source content that can also be used in more demanding channels like digital print, so it’s worth reviewing the content in your library to make sure it meets a minimum quality threshold.
2. Cover the topical waterfront
Across the course of an Enroll360 campaign, or any other extensive marketing campaign, you will communicate a variety of topics. One rule of thumb is that you need have content, especially photos, that cover the following basics:
- academics (students in the classroom or library)
- athletics and spirit (mascot, marching band, and so forth)
- campus (buildings, quad, aerial shots)
- campus life (people doing things on campus)
3. Vary your subjects
We’ve worked with partners who have great photographs, but many of those images feature the same set of students or faculty members repeatedly. Unfortunately, you can only reuse these images a few times before you’ve exhausted them. Effective enrollment marketing campaigns, like the ones we create with our partners, encompass many different touchpoints and formats. Even though it’s more work upfront, it’s worth the effort to recruit a broader array of volunteer “models” among your students, faculty, and staff for photo ops.
4. Include real students
The students of Generation Z have a strong expectation of authenticity in all their interactions. Trained (practically since birth) to interact with online media sources, Gen Z students have reported that their biggest “turn-offs” in college communications are inauthentic-seeming images or stories. In our experience, the best way to seem real is to BE real—and that means capturing pictures, videos, and stories from real, current students who can be featured in your campaigns in a variety of ways.
5. Be mindful of diversity
Content libraries should include photos, videos, and written content that represent students from a wide variety of backgrounds and identities. Many of the institutions we work with have explicit goals for recruiting classes of students who are diverse. However, sometimes we find that institutions’ photo libraries don’t reflect the diversity they are hoping to achieve. While visible signs of student diversity shouldn’t be the only reason you include particular images in your marketing, you should also consider the message that a lack of diversity in student images might be sending to certain prospective students.
6. Play defense against offense
When our team reviews asset libraries, it’s surprising how often we find content that could be off-putting, or at least off-brand, like racy graphic T-shirt slogans, questionable hand symbols, or even branded clothing from other colleges. Our creative team does its best to screen for this type of imagery among our partners. College marketing teams who screen content upfront help to keep content libraries tidy and ensure that materials in these libraries may be used for a variety of purposes.
7. Flag your favorites
Some institutions are lucky enough to have photographers and videographers adding images to their content libraries daily—but too much content can be time-consuming to sift through. If your institution’s content library has thousands of images, create a location for relevant and preferred images and videos before sharing the whole library externally.
Whether you’re using your marketing content library for in-house projects or sharing with an outside partner, following these principles will lead you to an even better campaign and better outcomes in the future.
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