Nov 21, 2017

God Save the ‘Zine! – Are Alumni Magazines A Thing Of the Past?

Geile/Leon General
Geile/Leon

Is your University looking for a way to cut costs in the budget for branding, marketing and enrollment management? Most likely, the printed Alumni Magazine has been threatened with the chopping block a number of times. Your line of thinking probably goes as follows: What contact points have the most value for our marketing? What is the return on investment from twice-a-year print compared to other marketing materials? Print? Really? In today’s digital age?

While budgets are tight and every dollar spent is scrutinized, there may be reason to preserve the alumni magazine as a 3-D communications product. Based on our higher education work and that of our research partner, St. Louis-based Stakeholder Insights (http://stakeholderinsights.com/), here are some of your alumni magazine’s most important benefits:

  • Reinforce positive brand awareness to strengthen alumni connections. This can support enrollment marketing, boost volunteer recruitment and increase internship creation at alumni employers.
  • Update alumni on how their alma mater is remaining relevant today with stories about curriculum innovation, internship and study abroad opportunities as well as awards and call outs of notable accomplishments by current students and alumni.
  • Deliver annual giving reminders and serve as a recognition vehicle for donors at all levels.
  • Encourage recent graduates’ financial support and plant the seeds for bigger gifts and bequests in the future

These benefits still seem relevant and valuable today, but can they be delivered through a more cost-effective vehicle and/or process?

Consider asking your alumni what most matters to them in terms of alma mater news content and format. Most alumni are not professional graphic designers or content specialists, but they do know what they most like to learn about, why they want to stay connected to you, what activities reinforce their desire to stay connected and how they want to digest this information.

Designing communications market research involves thinking about:

  • Alumni segments (defined by date of graduation, major or professional school, where they live now, level of annual giving support now, etc.)
  • Alumni contact information (for what percentage do you have email addresses? Do the rest need to be sampled by phone or mail? Would local or multi-city focus groups over breakfast or lunch help assess sentiments?)
  • Alternative design formats and communication vehicles to preview that you might consider in place of the current magazine

Interested in discussing the present and future of your marketing communications? Ready to gain some valuable insight from your alumni? We’ve got the experience and the research you need – give us a call or drop us an email.