To increase enrollment and raise the College's profile within the community and beyond, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College (DSLCC) tasked The Ivy Group with modernizing DSLCC's website, developing a marketing strategy, and establishing the College's brand.
A challenging environment calls for changes
After the recession ended, community colleges across the country faced decreased enrollment as students entered the workforce rather than attending school or selected less affordable 4-year universities. Challenged to grow in an environment with declining enrollment, regional brain drain, and shrinking college resources, DSLCC certainly had the cards stacked against it.
In response, the College knew that they needed to make some changes and step up their marketing game.
Website engages prospective students and conveys key information to current students
School looked cool with the mid-summer launch of a new website for Dabney S.Lancaster Community College (DSLCC) in 2015. With a mobile-responsive design and WordPress content management system, the DSLCC team is now equipped with the web tools they need to kick off the academic year.
Sharp design shows regional personality
DSLCC came to us with a new logo designed by a DSLCC instructor and a "pointed" request: make the web design as sharp as the peaked mountains in the College's logo. With the simple, angular mountains in mind, designer Stephen Burden created a fresh, clean look that communicates the College's focus on students as well as its regional personality. The design also includes subtle triangular elements and a mountainous header background that complements the logo's mountain motif.
To align with the sharp design elements, the site layout is disciplined, crisp, and symmetrical. A classic color palette projects the image of an established institution, with cooler tones that give the site a techy vibe. Warm accents communicate that the College is easily accessible and inviting. Sans serif typeface completes the look by mirroring the brand mark presentation.
Social media integration and featured content connects with students
The incorporation of social media into the site helps DSLCC to connect with students through the channels that are most accessible and convenient for them.
The homepage has a prominent "Connect" section, plus quick access to the College’s Facebook and Twitter pages from the site header and all social media icons in the footer. DSLCC's commitment to engaging with students extends even to the president of the College who is on Twitter! (Tweet Dr. Rainone @dslccprez).
DSLCC can easily feature content and engage users with optional feature boxes on every page. An events carousel and news feed on the homepage promotes timely information, while archived news and events pages store previous posts as a resource for website visitors. Other notable features of the site include a searchable online course schedule and staff directory.
Marketing campaign and collateral make the case for a DSLCC education
DSLCC was looking for a consistent, comprehensive marketing plan that outlined what to do and when to do it.
Strategy and action plan streamline advertising process
To build a solid foundation for the marketing plan, we conducted a Nielsen market segmentation study of the College's service area to:
- identify distinct audiences;
- place student audiences in the context of the overall community;
- match programs to community need; and
- determine lifestyle groups most likely to attract students.
Using the student segmentation data, we developed messaging and creative strategy that aligns messaging, visuals, and media placement with the needs and preferences of each specific audience.
Together with a comprehensive media plan detailing recommended media buys, schedules, and budget, the marketing plan decreases the burden on DSLCC's internal marketing team by outlining a clear strategy and plan of action.
Marketing campaign connects student interests to careers
With a clear, research-based strategy in hand, the next step was to create custom visuals that reflect DSLCC's community. To make the design really sing—not to mention accurately reflect the College's campus and student body—Ivy Group partnered with Charlottesville-based photographer Andrew Shurtleff.
The photoshoot—planned, directed, and even modeled in by Ivy Group employees—supplied custom imagery for the design of a series of ad concepts under the new campaign creative concept, "We see/(S)he sees." The creative treatment reinforces the DSLCC brand of a local, accessible, affordable community asset that provides engaging classroom experiences where each student's needs and aspirations are directly addressed. The design showcases individuals who are occupied in gratifying and remunerative careers that grow out of their unique personalities and interests.
The photoshoot and campaign creative provided the
Viewbook emphasizes stories and community
Ivy Group wrote and designed a viewbook to show prospective students and parents, rather than tell, the value of a DSLCC education and the benefits of belonging to the community. The 8-page viewbook emphasizes student stories and the College's sense of place. Bold, modern design signals the quality of the College's educational programming and positions the College as a key player in the higher-education field.
Elevate the College's brand and increase enrollment in an environment with declining enrollment, regional brain drain, and declining college resources.
Market research, marketing strategy, website development, marketing plan, collateral development, graphic design
Signalquality of educational programming with modern, energized collateral and site
- Decrease burden on College's internal marketing team by outsourcing strategy, planning, and creative development
- Attract diverse student body with custom visuals that reflect the College's community
- Increase enrollment by 11%