South Downs College
South Downs College has for many years been successful in recruiting large numbers of full-time students (split approximately 30% A level and 70% vocational study programmes) and remains Hampshire’s largest 16-18 year old full-time course provider.
With a backdrop of changing demographics (6% less applicants in the market at ages 15 to 16) and increased competition from other providers, the College tasked us to create a unique, imaginative and well-informed student recruitment campaign, delivering a brand message that was coherent and impactful.
Collateral and advertising
The College boasts great successes (it has, for example, recently teamed up with Angela Hartnett MBE to create a new Culinary Academy). We spent considerable time getting 'under the skin’ of the College, interviewing students, as well as scrutinising the marketplace. With many strands to the South Downs College ‘story’, we wanted to simplify and strengthen the message. We created a unique ‘South Downs College Experience’ proposition. Celebratory in tone, the campaign was also firmly grounded on four pillars: credibility of its teaching staff; student support; unique culture; and focus on outcome.
Built into this platform was also a recognition that advocacy is a powerful tool and we wanted to use the College’s alumni to inspire students by sharing their own ‘South Downs College Experience’.
We created a distinctive ‘X’perience look and feel to strongly brand the campaign, and one which also chimed well with the College logo and topography. Strong ‘sweeps’ help signpost content as well as creating a sense of momentum and direction.
The Prospectus has an interesting format, effectively having two ‘front covers’: leafing through from one side you read the A level courses; flip it over and vocational courses are detailed. Aside from making it more engaging, this also helped raise the profile of the College’s A level provision (it had been identified that the College was not known as well for this).
The central section features the experiences of previous College students including those of Andy Marsh and Ben Miles, co-founders of Victorious Festival – the largest cultural event in Portsmouth’s recent history. Overall, the inclusion of this content helped give the Prospectus an engaging, editorial feel.
The campaign ran across a range of channels: direct marketing; press advertising; environmental; as well as web banners and social media.
Activity was principally aimed at encouraging students to attend one of the numerous Open Events staged as conversion rates were known to be high once prospective students had a taste of the ‘South Downs College Experience’.
Other presentation material we created supported the programme of school visits by the Schools Liaison team.
We’re extremely proud of the campaign we delivered for South Downs College and initial feedback has been very positive. The Open Events have been extremely well attended and anecdotal feedback from feeder schools has also been positive (it’s very rarely given!). "Just a complimentary note to say thank you for providing clear, comprehensive and user-friendly courses information. Well done to you all for being so professional."