This is something that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.

Typically, these articles use some kind of new and innovative technique or defining moment that no one will have ever heard of. I am sorry to disappoint but this is for the purists out there who prefer their practical advice a little more direct and less ground-breaking. It’s just marketing.

The way I see it, some University marketing has gotten bogged down, in brand visibility, CRM automation, the role of social, content strategy etc. etc. Some of these things are important but they should be used to improve the student experience and support the recruitment function.

These things get way too much attention earlier in campaign planning and more often than not, they become distractions for marketers.

Before going anywhere near your campaign template, before even thinking about what activities are already planned, the many P’s of marketing or even metrics. There is something absolutely central to any student recruitment campaign that gets overlooked…

The student.

Well, more specifically the student journey.

It doesn’t matter what sector, market, product or service you offer. Marketing in its most traditional sense is helping a person move from one place, perspective or behaviour to another, from A to B.

Influencing people so they buy what you’ve got.

So to really make an impact on this journey from A to B, we need a map.

So get a pen and a piece of paper and draw a line across the middle, just like the one below (this works much better with a whiteboard and a room full of people so you’ll just have to use your imagination);

Then work out what information your school leaver (they’re not yet a student) needs along that journey so they can happily navigate from A to B. Now don’t get this confused with what you need to do. This is purely the information that a school leaver needs to make decisions about which university (if any) they intend to choose.


Very quickly and very easily you’ll see what you need to say, when and where you need to say it and also how.

Try to focus your notes on what the school leaver is looking for at each stage of their journey, typically this can be broken down into;

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Validation
  • Purchase

Your line should feature messages that coincide with these stages of the student journey;

Looking at only at the information that school leavers need in the  journey removes the distraction of tools, processes and activities and leaves just the school leaver and what they need to make a decision. The rest will fall into place.

This process is also incredibly useful for audits, you can visualise every touch point and see where you currently reach the school leaver.

You will quickly see where the gaps are or where your messages aren’t as strong or could perhaps be a little busy.

And that’s it. One incredibly simple tip to reach students on their decision-making journey.