Success Story:

Spartanburg Methodist College

Setting the Stage with Research and Insight

The Challenge

Spartanburg Methodist College (SMC) is a small, private college in Spartanburg, South Carolina. They came to MediaCross when transitioning from a two- to a four-year college. Launching a new bachelor’s program is no easy task, especially when faced with challenges like marketing to new audiences, lack of brand awareness and strong regional competition. Their needs were fast outpacing their small team’s capacity to handle them. They sought out a partner who could help them win over bachelor’s degree-seeking students, create a content-rich marketing strategy and develop new marketing materials to communicate messages effectively.

Our Solution

Through our research and discovery, we identified not only what needed to be communicated with students, but also how to speak to them. MediaCross created a content-rich marketing strategy that combined event, print, video and digital tactics to combat SMC’s multifaceted challenges.

To ensure that we could authentically capture the voice and personality of SMC, we led a full on-campus discovery and research session, meeting with key stakeholders and holding student focus groups. To gain better insight, we also sent a survey to hundreds of South Carolina high schoolers. New data in hand, we set off to craft a holistic, multi-faceted strategy to grow awareness and excitement about SMC’s new BA program. Our comprehensive digital marketing strategy included email communication, IP targeting, display/mirror-audience targeting, retargeting campaigns, and social advertising. Our next move was to craft a campaign concept—fundamental to implementing our strategy.

The Make Big Moves campaign was created to increase brand awareness, strengthen affinity and improve brand perception among prospective students. The campaign concept was designed to be minimal, clean and sophisticated. It was also bright, energetic and even funky to liven things up and encourage engagement. Make Big Moves is a battle cry, a motivational anthem designed to inspire action. It’s a reminder that every day is an opportunity for growth and transformation.

New concept in hand, it was time to create new recruitment pieces in order to arm SMC with the tools they needed to attract new students. We created exciting recruitment pieces including lookbooks for travelling recruiters, self-mailers, postcards and engaging college fair materials. The suite of recruitment materials were optimized to support the funnel by driving emotional interest in SMC and catapulting a prospect's ambition.

The toolkit ensured SMC had what they needed to be successful and attract ideal students, not just anonymous leads. Along with the new recruitment materials, SMC also needed a way to connect with students where they spend their most time—online and most often on a mobile device.

We created a digital viewbook which modernized and personalized the college search experience, and condensed new student-specific information into an easily navigable, online tool. Even better, the online format allowed for easy sharing by students and parents across a variety of channels. SMC’s Director of Marketing, Lisa Ware, called the Digital Viewbook “stunning,” remarking that it was the best viewbook they’d ever produced.

Our next step was to help SMC communicate the details of their new bachelor’s program. Through focus groups and student research, we identified a knowledge gap: students didn’t really understand the model of the bachelor’s program, the Camak Core, at all. To combat this, we created an explainer video to tell the story of the Camak Core program from the perspective of the student. The video inspired prospective students to realize the value of the liberal arts education and motivating them to want to be a Spartan.

When it came to video marketing, we didn’t stop with the explainer video. To augment the campus visit experience, VizVid, our proprietary video marketing tool will give SMC students a Facbook-story-like video from their campus visit that they can share on social media. VizVid is integrated with SMC’s CRM and easily distributed to students after their visit, increasing the likelihood that they’ll apply and enroll.

We created two printed viewbooks for SMC—one geared towards traditional freshman, the other tailored to the unique needs of transfer students.

Scroll on the desktop to explore a page of the digital viewbook’s site.

SMC’s digital viewbook was built mobile-ready, making it accessible to visitors across all devices.

This printed piece was created to help guide students through the complex financial aid process.

Postcards were used as additional touch points to connect with prospective students.

We created a set of email templates for SMC to use as part of their recruitment toolkit.

The Results

Through our research and discovery, we not only found solutions to the challenges SMC faced, but we also identified many additional challenges. By better understanding their audience, we were able to develop a comprehensive strategy and a memorable campaign that resonated with SMC’s target audience.

Audience Insights

Our discovery process and research approach helped us identify student misperceptions so that we could address them head-on with dynamic solutions.

More Visits + Applications

The targeted recruitment pieces and funnel-driven digital marketing plan help students better understand SMC’s bachelor’s program, leading to increased visits and applications.

Record Breaking Enrollment

Overall, our work together resulted in the largest incoming class and largest total student body in the college's history — during the pandemic.

Maximized Engagement

New recruitment materials have maximized student and parent engagement, because all our work was rooted in meeting the needs identified in our research.

Lowered Costs

By opting for a digital viewbook, SMC avoids annual expenses related to a costly traditional print viewbook.

Event Attendance

Social campaigns grow event attendance at things like studio nights, open houses, scholarship events.

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Lisa Ware
Vice President for Marketing
Spartanburg Methodist College
The MediaCross team took the time to truly understand our unique mission, challenges and target market. They delivered an integrated strategy that will help us effectively and authentically communicate our value. In fact, we were so impressed with their work that we hired them to implement the strategy. At this point, they feel more like trusted colleagues than an agency, and we’re looking forward to a long partnership.

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