Paper Matters Blog
Time to Get Schooled-Marketing for Colleges and Universities

There are over 5,000 colleges and universities in the US and Canada – and with that comes a lot of competition to attract students. Typically students apply to 7-10 colleges, marketing for colleges and universities can be a challenge.  Higher education institutions must vigorously promote themselves to be chosen as the “one.”  As if that was not challenging enough, the world is also in the middle of a pandemic, which has students and parents second-guessing their decision to leave home.

Many schools have been able to quickly adapt the message and the method of how they communicate. They have adopted a safe and reassuring tone and have shifted the delivery of the message to email and social media. The balance between print, digital and social media may have shifted, but paper should (and will) always play an important role, especially when it comes to marketing for colleges and universities.

Use Print to Connect

Due to the pandemic, a lot of communications to prospective students have shifted to digital. While digital communication has its merits, there is nothing like print for its power to connect. Receiving a brochure – that features things like unique die-cuts, personalization or distinctive folds – is a great way to make an institution stand out while still providing important information. Studies are also showing that younger generations – like the college-aged Gen Z – actually prefer printed mail to email.  There is a great blog here that follows how one university uses print to stand out in a competitive market.

Paper Makes it Personal

As printed collateral is developed, it’s important to communicate on a personal level. Using variable data to customize brochures or direct mail is a great way to illustrate a level of trust and caring. Customization can range from using a student’s name on a postcard to sending a personalized brochure highlighting a student’s interests. About 40% of prospective students respond to letters or brochures they get in the mail. This number is huge, considering this particular audience spends about nine hours a day on digital devices.

Consider the Parents

Parents of college-bound high school seniors are having second thoughts about sending their students off to college in the fall, so they need to feel comfortable with their decision. Parents may not always receive emails sent by universities directly to students, so direct mail is a great way to reach (and reassure) them. Marketers need to alleviate fears that parents may have about safety, so including information about a university’s response to COVID-19 or online classes is great information to share with them.

Enlist Alumni For Support

I am registered to receive both regular email updates as well as a mailed magazine from my alma mater. Those emails largely go unread (because of work-related digital fatigue), but I ALWAYS make sure to look at the printed magazine. Alumni can be the biggest supporter and advocate for a college or university, so constant communication with them (both in print and digital) is important. When it comes to marketing for colleges and universities, printed magazines and newsletters are a great way to continue to build relationships with those associated with the school and keep them abreast of both the achievements and challenges facing the institution.

Regardless of your message, Domtar Paper offers numerous options to help elevate academic branding and messaging. Also, be sure to check out our gallery for awesome examples of paper use in higher education.

Related Blogs

Lettermark Envelope Colors: Making Mailbox Magic

Scan and Save: How QR Codes can Rescue your Budget

The 2023 USPS Promos: Saving with Color

About The Author


Staff (0) Community (1636)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Nicholas Pearson
Marketing Specialist
Meredith Collins
Customer Marketing Manager
John Parke
Customer Marketing Manager
Paige Goff
Vice President of Sustainability
Deborah Corn
Domtar Paper
Roland Basdeo
Graphic Designer
Susan Jones