University of South Carolina: Research, Strategy, Campaign Concepts and Production
The University of South Carolina (UofSC) is a large state flagship institution located in Columbia, South Carolina. Undergraduate enrollment is approximately 27,000. It has been given a top-tier designation for research and community engagement from the Carnegie Foundation. Last year’s recruitment class was approximately 56 percent out-of-state students and 44 percent in-state. Athletics is a big draw, as the university is in the Southeastern Conference. With 56 nationally ranked academic programs, students, however, have access to quality programming. As a 200-year-old institution, the campus reflects the vision many of our out-of-state students have of a southern college. Our location is also important. Columbia is the state’s capital city and is home to 30+ Fortune 500 companies, state and federal government agencies and most industries including healthcare, media, manufacturing, technology and finance.
Faced with the challenge of continuing to grow the freshman class as well as increase the academic profile, the university needed to continue to expand its recruiting efforts in out-of-state markets. To do so, enrollment manage marketing would need to create a comprehensive recruitment campaign that would speak to the heart of what the UofSC offered and anchor it in the brand’s new brand platform.
What happened inside the classroom was a common interest that cut through both prospective students and their parents. Parents largely seeing it as a predominate part of their investment and students viewing it as the place they’ll spend a majority of their time. Through focus groups, depth interviews and in situ observations, the classroom was both routinely questioned and romanticized.
The classroom is where both parents and students’ interests comes to life.
This insight lead to the campaign platform: What starts here, echoes everywhere. “Here” was used to emphasize the classroom but could also be flexed to incorporate labs, clubs and organizations. “Echoes everywhere” aligned with our overall brand platform as well as gave us a theme to provoke specific narratives around student outcomes (internships, jobs, research, etc).
Student stories — big or small — could be told with a similar structure, with every outcome anchored in “Here.”
A full case study was published in the Journal of Education Advancement and Marketing.
Huebner, C. (2020). “The head, the heart and the how: How to use consumer decision-making and information-process models to plan and develop search marketing campaigns.” Journal of Education Advancement and Marketing. Vol. 5(3) 274–285.