Alumni are the subject of much attention in most institutions. They embody the social proof of the school or college mission, and they are a promising group for recruiting new students and building support. It’s easy for them to become the “object of our marketing” rather than the key informants and contributors. You need more than just an update on their latest job or adventure; you want and need their insight.
For schools that have an alumni committee, that has alumni actually participating, this can be as simple as taking time to take this group through the persona building process and letting them help interview and talk about the needs of their fellow alumni. But alumni are not a monolithic group. They also represent different generations and different seasons in your school or college history. There may be more than one persona that needs to be detailed within your alumni community. They have different information consumption preferences, different life needs, and unique values that connect them with the institution.
Understanding their needs and wants from their own words is something you cannot replace. Some really want to feel a part of the “school family,” while others are more interested in the vision you are casting (and building) for the future because they want to leave a legacy.
If you don’t have access to a committee, then recruiting alumni to join you as you complete planning for your marketing can bring important insights. While they aren’t the only perspective, they bring an important viewpoint. Your marketing can benefit from the experiences, feeling and thoughts about school differentiators. It’s not that all marketing should appeal to alumni, rather your marketing can benefit from their perspective.
Ask the Right Questions
In addition to the persona interview questions we covered in the first installment of this blog series, here are a few things to ask:
- When and for how long do you read the digital or print communications that we send out?
- Do you or have you ever shared one of our communication pieces with others?
- How do you see the school or college continuing to meet your needs as an alumnus?
- Can you identify one thing that we send out that you look forward to receiving and why?
- What do you find helpful or distracting about the way we deliver information to you?
- What communication makes you feel the most or least connected to the school?
We continue this series next week with #2 on our list. Who will it be? Check back to find out!