Graceland University Relies on DesignMerge to Target Student Recruitment and More!
Graceland University is a private, liberal arts university with 2,300 students and 150 faculty members located on a residential campus in Lamoni, Iowa and an urban campus in Independence, Missouri. The sponsoring church is the Community of Christ, though Graceland celebrates its non-sectarian heritage dating back to 1895 when the university was founded. Students enjoy more than 50 academic majors and programs, a 15:1 student/faculty ratio and 19 varsity and 10 junior-varsity sports.
Following is an interview with Steve Edwards, Director of Creative Services at Graceland, discussing how DesignMerge has helped tto arget student recruitment efforts, while also providing for an increase in general marketing efforts to current students, their parents, alumni and more.
What VDP challenges have you faced in the Education market?
Our most significant business challenge was to cost effectively market to high school students interested in a liberal arts university for higher education. As with most colleges and universities, there is a lot of competition with student recruitment, and the process has become more competitive over the years as universities have implemented variable data technology to personalize their message and target interests directly to prospective students. While we recognized the need to implement variable data printing into our marketing campaigns, each time that we looked at doing variable postcards through an outside service, it was decided that the cost was just too high.
Why did you choose DesignMerge for your VDP implementation?
Graceland was looking at doing variable data brochures and postcards. And at the same time we were also evaluating several new digital presses. We purchased a Canon C6000 and were thrilled that DesignMerge was part of the purchase! We were immediately pleased with the DesignMerge software.
How important do you feel it is to create personalized marketing materials for the purpose of student recruitment/retainment?
The studies all say that you get an increased rate of return when personalizing. I think it’s similar to when main-stream printing moved from black-and-white to all color. Personalization has become so widely adapted that I think it really stands out in a negative way when a piece, especially a postcard, doesn’t have it. It would be along the lines of not placing the recipients name on a letter.
What type of variables are considered in a recruitment piece?
We use VDP for addressing, personalizing names, event-based text (i.e. if a student hasn’t yet paid their deposit, we include a sentence encouraging them to do so), photos based on gender of recipient, entire pages based on academic and sport interest. The simple fact is, if we can imagine a way to segment a population by data, we can use VDP to reach them.
In what other ways have you utilized DesignMerge?
We use DesignMerge in our Annual Fund program (again, a postcard). The VDP on these range from a simple name and address to changing out the entire card face based on academic major or graduation date. We’ve also used it in our homecoming mailing packet, printing multiple letters, pre-filling registration forms with name and address information, and swapping out entire letters based on graduation year. Nametags for various events are extremely easy to produce with DesignMerge. And we’ve also seen an uptick in campus offices having us merge their letters since we can do it faster with DesignMerge than they can through MS Office.
What are the results of your DesignMerge implementation?
We’ve found that DesignMerge’s seamless integration with Adobe InDesign has allowed our creative department to generate complex database-driven publications without having a database reporting specialist. Furthermore, since implementing DesignMerge we’ve been able to greatly reduce our inventory, save money on our overall mailing costs and reduce the number of printed pieces we send out since those that we do send are much more targeted.