Year after year, most universities seeking to attract the best students are looking for fresh ways to promote their courses. According to the latest statistics, studying for the majority of students stands at £9,250 for courses beginning in 2018. Although there are some exceptions — for students studying in Wales, for instance, as well as Scottish and Northern Irish students studying in their home countries — this large fee could cause young people to reconsider applying for a university spot.

Every year, your university must strive to come up with creative ways to reach out to prospective students — but how? By utilising brochure marketing, you can significantly increase your chance of achieving this. For advice on creating an effective brochure that will engage with and attract the best students, simply follow this guide created specifically for university marketing by Where The Trade Buys — a leading provider of marketing supplies, including  perfect-bound book printing.

Essentials of brochure designing

To increase the chance that your brochure will be a success, you first must gain an overview of brochure design. To start, each page’s headline, subheading and body copy must be clear in content and layout. For example, your headings must be attractive, your text must be descriptive and your subheadings should act as a bridge that leads the prospective student from the attention-grabbing header to the informative body copy.

The ‘rule of thirds’ is also critical to how professional or not your final product will be. This design rules helps designers line-up text boxes and images to create a neater, more professional layout. Luckily, a tri-fold brochure automatically creates a vertical third — just don’t put important information on the folded parts. Have a font style in mind? Keep it simple and smart. Limit yourself to two font styles and three font sizes, maximum. Also, don’t embolden or over italicize too much text — this should only be done to emphasise a point. The more often you do it, the less power your words will have.

Now, we’re going to explore how you can diversify your brochure to attract the best new students to your courses and campus…

Conducting ample research

To start, you must carry out enough research — don’t stop until you’re confident that you know who you’re advertising to and what they want to see. When trying to attract new students, the University of York carried out extensive research over three years into 71% of its departments to discover why a student might want to choose here for their higher education courses. Afterwards, the university created and distributed engaging brochures and online content that connected with prospective students and showed them exactly why they should choose the University of York. The director of external relations at the university, John Concannon, said that the marketing material has been “positively received by prospective students and parents at open days”, and even lead to a “culture change in departments when it comes to undergraduate recruitment”.

Book time in with each of your university’s departments to chat with lecturers and students alike and find out what makes their courses special. After all, each course will attract different characters with varying ambitions.

The power of statistics

Highlighted key data and bold statistics are commonly used by designers to grab the eye of potential readers — and they could have the same effect for your university brochure. 90% of your university’s research recognised around the world? Invest more than £10 million in facilities last year? 98% satisfaction rating in the latest national Student Survey? As part of your research, collect important data that you believe will prove how beneficial your university will be for an undergraduate. You can either place these within your copy body, or create a graphic of the most impressive ones.

Creating a memorable design

Images are critical to your brochure’s success — but only if they’re descriptive and high in quality. According to research, visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other content types. Therefore, your social media-savvy target audience will be inclined to engage with print material that also uses plenty of imagery.

Inject personality into your university brochure and make it more ‘user friendly’ by inserting photos that convey an emotion or display an action. Show students laughing, participating in sports, using hi-tech equipment, and collaborating on projects to highlight opportunities available at your establishment and hold the audience’s attention. According to research published in the Journal of Chemical Education, the first spike in attention lapse occurs just 30 seconds after engaging in an activity (in this case, a lecture). If you’re handing your brochures out at colleges, sixth forms and schools, you need them to remain interesting if you want to retain their engagement.

Colour and language

Many universities take part in exhibitions and fairs to promote themselves all over the country — and these events could offer you excellent platforms to market your establishment. According to a report in The Guardian, British sixth formers achieved some of the best A-level grades for several years at the end of the latest school term. This means that many of your competitors will be striving to attract these new, high-achieving students at university fairs and exhibitions. So, how can you grab their attention when lined up next to hundreds of other tables representing other UK universities?

When designing your brochure, you must always consider how the layout and content will grab attention. Will a student who has countless more universities to learn about want to pick up your brochure? According to the most recent research, marketing material has a maximum of eight seconds to grab attention. Therefore, your brochure needs to be bold and attractive. If red or yellow are your university colours, be sure to use these to your advantage. Red is considered the most attention-grabbing colour to humans, while yellow is the most visible to the human eye.

When it comes to text, focus on creating a bond by using emotive language. You must make sure that your title is emotive to encourage engagement — think about Durham University’s ‘Let’s make things happen’ header and ‘Redefine your future’ used by the University of Stirling. These are inspirational and will get the reader imagining what their life could be like if they studied at your institution.

Including the right topics for your audience

How you write and which images you include are important, but so is what you’re actually writing about. In the 2016-17 academic year, there were approximately 2.32 million students at higher education establishments in the UK. Student life isn’t a dream for the rich and academically gifted anymore, which means you must work harder to ‘sell’ the student life.

Firstly, promote what your university has by using optimistic, inspiring and exciting language. By doing this, you can conjure up a positive image in your prospective students’ mind — phrases like modern city, award-winning courses and thriving student life are bound to pique interest! But, be sure to pay attention to the following sectors:

  • Employability: students care about their chances of securing a job after graduation.
  • Funding: how easy is it to get a scholarship?
  • Accommodation: good living standards and nice areas matter, but aren’t always available.
  • Nightlife: socialising is a big part of university, so what lies around your campus counts towards it appeal.

These are four major areas that your student will be using to weigh up their university options, so show them what you can offer! Don’t forget that out-of-class activities and studying abroad opportunities can really help you grab interest and push your university higher up in a student’s wish-list when it comes to UCAS applications. Why not send out a survey via the university emailing list or question students when they’re relaxing in their communal areas to gain an insight into what matters to them and why they chose to study at your institution?

Using skilled students

Getting the students at your university involved in your brochure marketing project is another great idea that can help you get a sneak-peek of what your brochure would look like before discussing it with printers. Ask your design students to mock up a brochure that they reckon would work to promote your university, and get your marketing students involved by letting them project manage and make critical decisions on content.

Never forget: your target audience is eager, excited and determined to choose the best place for them. They want content that’s exciting and easily digested, and they don’t want to be bombarded with lifeless language, irrelevant statistics and condescending tones. Consider colour, layout, copy, and imagery; and make sure you create a positive identity that a new student will want to engage with. This is the stage of life when your audience is at its most aspirational, so complement their excitement and show them how your university can help them fulfil those dreams.