North Central's Marketing & Communications Plan
North Central is a partner in economic development.
Marketing Campaign Themes
3. Elevate North Central's Image
North Central is the community’s College. We offer academic opportunities for students and play an important role in the local economy. We are an Achieving the Dream Leader College and a Military-Friendly School.
North Central celebrated both its 60th Anniversary and welcomed a new president in 2018. Marketing and communication efforts focused on bringing the community together to celebrate the history and success of North Central during the past 60 years. This important milestone was augmented through the arrival of Dr. David Roland Finley as only the fourth president in North Central's history. The excitement and anticipation surrounding his arrival, heightened by the College's first-ever investiture ceremony, presented further opportunities for the College to continue raising awareness and support for North Central and future initiatives.
High school enrollment is declining while the nation’s economy continues to improve. North Central's overall enrollment has declined slightly, but not as much as other community colleges in the state. Early College programs have bolstered North Central's enrollment, but greater focus must be placed on alternative sources of recruitment. Locally, there is a lack of affordable housing, transportation and a living wage for workers in the area's service-based economy.
An improving economy poses another threat to enrollment numbers, as our potential students enter the workforce rather than pursue their education. This trend is common during times of economic recovery, and community colleges around the nation face similar challenges along with declining financial support from governmental sources.
Marketing efforts will continue to elevate the College's image, while focusing heavily on student recruitment and retention, as well as strengthening relationships and partnerships with the community and local businesses.
1. Assist in Increasing Enrollment
North Central will focus on increasing outreach to middle school and high school students, teachers and counselors, recent high school graduates, and parents. Working closely with the student outreach and engagement team, we will utilize a variety of media and materials to accomplish this.
Key messages for recruitment encompass cost savings, myriad degree and career path options, and the high-quality education.
An effective website is the primary tool for recruitment and retention and is also one of the first points of contact a prospective student has with North Central. We will continue to augment the website by developing content and navigation cues designed specifically to reach prospective students and their parents.
Social media also plays an important role in recruitment efforts. Through targeted advertising, engaging content, and creative messaging, social media allows us to supplement campaign messaging in a form that is relevant to high school students, recent graduates, and other prospective students.
2. Maximize Student Retention
Retention efforts will focus on increasing student engagement. When students are engaged, they take ownership of their commitment to North Central and are more invested in the success of their education. Upon graduation, they become advocates for the College and are more likely to support the Foundation. Regular interaction with other students, faculty, and staff establishes connections, builds valuable relationships, and strengthens students’ resolve to persevere and achieve their dreams.
To help increase student engagement, we will deepen our involvement in social media platforms with a strong emphasis on developing engaging content that generates conversations. Electronic methods with strong calls to action will be used to communicate important deadlines critical to retaining current students.
3. Elevate North Central's Image
Some years ago, it used to be that when someone said they were attending a community college, the all-too-common assumption was that this poor soul simply didn’t possess the intelligence required to attend a ‘real’ college or university. North Central, like other community colleges, has been battling this image. In fact, years ago, North Central's "unofficial" mascott was a ferret, and NCMC meant "Nuk Muk." There was once a campus entry sign that read "Drop Outs Welcome Here"! Today there is no ferrett mascott, the College is referred to as North Central, and the dropouts sign in resting in the tunnels below the campus grounds as a testament to a bygone era.
North Central has been working to transform this image and, in the process, refocus the dialogue on the practical benefits of a community college education.
For example: Cost savings, transfer credit, classes taught by professors vs. teaching assistants, career programs/job training, job placement rates, etc.
Partnerships have been forged with many employers to help train their existing and future workforce.
Current and further efforts focus on the overall look of the College buildings and campus grounds. These are critical elements that must not be overlooked when considering the impression North Central has on the community and its students. The visual image of the College is important, and everyone must adopt the culture of viewing our campus and buildings with "fresh eyes."
4. Amplify Our Voice
The College's story of regional impact is positive and recognized among those who are familiar with North Central. Among others in the community -- those who are not personally engaged with the College -- North Central is not as visible. Messaging focuses on North Central's historical significance in the community, as well as its essential roles of not only offering quality postsecondary education, but acting as a cultural center and a training resource and economic catalyst for the community. Understanding these roles is an important step toward being perceived as essential to the regional community whether or not one sees him/herself as a direct beneficiary of what the College provides. The ultimate outcome being the creation of a "pride of ownership" culture.