No doubt your summer alumni magazine mailing list includes alumni, current and past parents, donors, trustees and faculty. But if your prospects aren’t on the list, you’re missing out on an exceptional marketing opportunity.
Consider the effort, time and expense you give your alumni magazine. For most schools, it’s the one outreach project with the biggest budget. Writers, editors, designers and admissions, development and alumni relations staff work together to create a great print experience that tells your school’s story in a way that simply can’t be replicated digitally. That’s why your alumni and parents often stop what they are doing when they receive it, to leaf through the magazine’s pages and return to it again and again.
Alumni magazines have staying power. Read about it here.
Your prospects can have the same enduring experience with your magazine as your alumni and parents. Fortunately, there are several, easy ways to make this happen.
Make the mailing count.
Don’t just stick a label on the magazine and mail it bulk rate to your admission prospect list. Spend the time, effort and budget to make it personal. Talk to your mailing house about the cost to send the magazine to your prospects in an envelope, first-class, with a personalized letter from your head of school. It is less expensive than you would think to segment and personalize the mailing, and it’s well worth it.
For prospects, the letter should be personalized and invite them to pay particular attention to a specific article. Include any important admission events dates coming up. And invite them to read the class news section, which is the best outcome of what it means to get an education at your school.
Do the same with feeder schools. Make sure you are personalizing the letter to your feeder schools, and if you have a profile in the magazine of one of their former students, point it out! Stick some extra copies in the envelope and ask them to share them with their families.
With retention as important as recruitment, consider segmenting the mailing for those families who’ve finished their first year at your school and those about to begin their first year. A letter from your head about how the magazine is a celebration of community is a wonderful message to send.
Distribute wisely and widely.
Ask your printer for overruns or order extra magazines to make sure you are distributing your copies wisely. Of course, make sure it’s front and center in any admissions lobby and at events. But what about a magazine rack in your athletic or arts center? Parents of visiting athletes or those who rent your dance recital space need something to read.
Put stacks in faculty lounges with the invitation to share extra copies with a neighbor, family member, their dentist’s office, etc.
At your first board meeting in the fall, make sure there’s a copy at every seat. Yes, your board received its copies in the mail, but they, too, should have an extra one for their office, to pass along, etc. Same goes with any back-to-school events or orientations for families.
If your admission staff travels extensively, packing stacks of magazines can get heavy. Ask your printer about tear-sheets for specific articles to give to feeder schools and take to fairs.
Tear-sheets, whether produced by your printer or done in-house, make nice additional touches to mail to prospects. If you wrote a magazine profile on an alumnus who is now a doctor doing cancer research, consider sending the tear sheet with an invitation to a STEM activity day. Just make sure that the quality is good – no black and white, crooked copies made on the tired copier in the faculty lounge.
Know your digital audience.
Your magazine needs to be in print and digital formats to get maximum marketing saturation. As soon as your print version hits the post office, announce it as news across your social media platforms and on your website with links to the online version.
But consider carefully what that online version looks like. Beware the online “flip book” which lacks shareability and interactivity features. And flip books are tough to view on a mobile device.
Instead, create a hub for your magazine that makes it easy for your alumni, parents and community to find, read, share and interact with your magazine content online. The award-winning Johns Hopkins Magazine does this well. Online readers click on the stories, which feature videos and other interactive content, look great on a phone and keep readers scrolling for more.
The venerable Brown Alumni Magazine, first published by Brown University in 1900, has the 21st digital hub down pat. Its hub segments online articles by type (features, departments), topic (athletics, student life, etc.) and more for an experience that keeps you clicking.
You can even promote admission activities on your magazine hub. Have a great article on what happened behind-the-scenes of your student performance of Les Miserables? In the digital version, include an online form for prospects to request complimentary tickets to the next student production or attend a rehearsal.
To push your hub out, consider putting a footer on emails for your faculty and staff that promotes the magazine and links to the hub, such as: Read about YOUR SCHOOL in our latest edition of YOUR MAGAZINE’S TITLE. And be sure to share links to articles in your email newsletters to parents and alumni.
Repurpose, reuse, rinse and repeat.
The date you mail your magazine should not be the last time you push out its content. You’ve already done the hard work. Share it widely to reap the benefits.
Ask your designer to make PDFs of each article and post them to social media. If you’ve featured a decades’ old football rivalry with archival photos, post the individual photos (with a link to the PDF or the article on your hub). Ask people to comment on their favorite game memories. Did you include video of a recent rivalry game on your hub story? Post it online with a link to the article and how to get tickets to this year’s game.
Share the PDF library of magazine articles with your admission staff, so that they may easily include these downloadable links in email correspondence with prospects throughout the year.
Do an audit of your website where you could include the PDFs and/or link to your magazine hub when the editorial content connects with various pages on your site. For example, if you wrote a magazine article about your annual Career Day and included alumni tips on networking, re-use that content on the webpage promoting your alumni database and events.
With some strategic planning, discussions with your magazine designer and a digital content plan to share your magazine’s treasures beyond the printed page, you can transform a tried-and-true alumni publication into a must-have for future alumni and their families.
How can Kalix help you transform your alumni magazine? Our services include writing, editing and design for these very special niche publications. Contact us.