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Elephant Creative Associate and education sector specialist, Donna Hewitt, talks about ways to make sure you’re speaking the right language.

A college prospectus is a work of art. So much information to pack into such a relatively small space. And if juggling all that content wasn’t enough, we need to make sure that people can find what they are looking for!

We recently  worked with a college to look at redeveloping their prospectus to really maximise its potential for generating enquiries. Oh, and whilst we were at it they wanted us to try to reduce costs. No problem!

The first thing we looked at was the audience. We asked ourselves, why were people picking up the prospectus in the first place? We soon discovered that the largest group of people were looking at it for the smallest category of courses. So, we decided that it would be best to segment the prospectus and produce different versions: Further Education; Higher Education; & Part Time Courses. This would not only keep costs down (as we weren’t printing all of the information for everyone) but also make it easier for people to quickly find what they were looking for.

Then the challenge of how to communicate what the college was really about… the people. We added case studies of previous students – real people, not something that was made up by the marketing department. These were included next to the course that they took so people could read them in context, not in a separate section at the back.  And most importantly, course information was also reviewed – not just to update it but following feedback from staff and students… to make sure that the prospectus actually answered as many questions as possible for the potential applicant.

Once you’ve got the content right, you have to starting thinking about how to convert it to enquiries. We reviewed the ‘how to apply’ section as the first priority. It had previously been paragraph after paragraph of copy… who was going to read that? We decided to develop a flow chart that sign posted what people had to do and the process steps that would follow. Simple, plain English, why complicate the matter when you don’t need to?

And finally we looked at the creative style, bringing it up to date and really focusing on making it easy to read and navigate.

The end results? A range of great looking prospectuses that were easy to read, answered a lot of questions up front and gave people sign posts of what they had to do next. Most importantly, they actually did what they needed to in clearly communicating the business of the college and their approach to doing it. The feedback, so far, has been superb. A great result that improved applications whilst still cutting costs, who can ask for anything more?