2019 LERN International Award Winners
Excellence in Brochure Design
This nomination, a single program offered through the Center for Behavior Analysis, provided answers to student’s questions. It not only provided information about what Applied Behavior Analysis is, but also a list of the vast number of fields where it can be used. On the third page of this letter-sized trifold piece, there is a graphic layout of the career pathway chart—from certification to a Master’s degree showing students the range of credentials available on their career path. This is an exceptional example of not only promoting the content of the curriculum, and by giving the student detailed ideas about how this program leads to a successful career increased recruitment and program participation.
This brochure is another example of best practice and employs many of the techniques we are seeing this year to increase reader engagement. The front cover features a program participant, and the first inside page is a powerful, engaging call to action, followed by a simple, well-designed, easy to read table of contents. Connecting with the reader with instructor profiles that humanize the program, featuring successful alumni pursuing “second act” careers, and identifying classes that might be bundled in “stack ‘em” highlights help to make this a highly successful and unique marketing piece which helped raise registrations by 14% and revenue by 21%.
This elegant little brochure led to an increase of more than 20% in program revenue. It represents some of the new directions in brochure design that are beginning to emerge and resonate with prospective students, particularly Millennials. Testimonials, more relatable photographs, and repeated invitations to engage with program staff as well as strong benefit statements and clear highlights of course format options helped make this brochure an effective marketing tool. The organization also created a digital brochure. They promoted the brochure through four different social platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and also launched email campaigns to targeted groups. Their integrated plan resulted in an increase in page views of almost 40% and average view time of more than a minute. Another trend we are seeing is the linking of the brochure with social media, and Michener experienced a 478% increase in online engagement resulting from their integrated approach.
Everything about this brochure speaks to power and success. From the title, “FORCE” to the slogan “Start Here. Finish Strong.” This brochure speaks to success. Reinforcing the message from the front cover, the first pages inside lay it out specifically with an engaging photo of student, Ronika Clay, and her success story. Anxiety is a major barrier to success for many students, and Lee College hit this head on by introducing students to “Ask Teena” in the brochure’s centerfold. Tena Nightingale, Ms. Tena, is a friendly, accessible resource person is there to help students find their way and get answers to their questions. Creating a comfort zone for students is important for all adult learners, especially the millennial generation.
Wake County Public Schools
Consistent with the new trends we are seeing this year in brochures, Wake County Public Schools has done a champion job of creating a welcoming, informative marketing piece. Using authentic photos rather than stock images, including photos of staff and instructors with features on the inside pages, replacing “registration instructions” with FAQ’s and highlighting participants on the back cover are all things that make this brochure accessible and inviting. Even the course titles are personalized. Wake County does not offer “Oil Painting”, Soap Making,” and “Drawing.” They offer “Oil Painting with Marcelle,” “Soap Making with Carolyn,” and “Drawing with Katie.” The result—everything is UP—registrations by 14% and revenue by 21%.
This brochure is a masterful implementation of the newest trends in brochure design. The focus is on the participants, and to really get to know their students, CE staff spent hours in the homes of participants. They integrated each person into the folds of each page and made them come alive for anyone reading it. Both the staff and community engaged with the program as never before. And to keep people reading, they even threw in a curry recipe on the instructor highlight feature. The result? More people have requested to be put on the mailing list, enrollment is up 44%, and counting, and followers on all social media platforms have increased. Again, noting the link between a great brochure and increased online engagement is important in demonstrating the critical value of the printed catalog.
Excellence in Program Development
The innovative Open Kitchen Program was the result of passionate commitment to culinary education. Growing from a few small, infrequent offerings to a diverse array of both non-credit and credit courses, this program embodies some of LERN’s most important principles of best practice in how to grow course participation. Culinary arts have become a key element in the lives of many people, and we live in a world of “foodies.” Building on this trend, the college created classes for the community to include cooks as young as 8 and as old as 90, providing a variety of formats including Workshops, studios, and travel programs and focus areas from professional development team building to lunch and learn and drop in programs for medical students interested in nutrition classes, the program has seen growth of more than 600% in the last 10 years. This program is an excellent example of how building on an inherent strength through planning, focus on interests of different market segments, and skillful marketing can make a successful program even more successful.
Known as “America’s Report Card” results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress found average math scores dropped for U. S. students between fourth and eighth grades for the first time since 1990, with 40% of high school seniors ranking “below basic” in math skills. Most assessments find that math and science education in the US ranks near the bottom of among OECD nations—31st out of 35.
That is why an innovative applied math program at El Camino College is an important model for other organizations. Initiated in response to requests from local middle schools for summer camps that are both math and career focused, the “Real World Math Extravaganza” camp teach middle school math concepts in unexpected ways. Topics included Basketball, Tile Art, Drone Photography and Veterinary Assistant. Basketball combined physical activity and geometry, for example. The camps were highly successful and became a model used by other schools with plans for growth and expansion.
Our field often leads the way in addressing serious societal issues. McHenry College has done this with their Social and Emotional Health Series: The Teen Brain and Beyond. This series addresses a serious public health issue: the mental health crisis in the United States. This goes beyond adolescents, but young people are often most affected as they are faced with the tremendous challenges of coming of age in a chaotic world. The suicide rate among children aged 10 through 14 has nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017, while the suicide rate among older teenagers has increased by 76 percent between 2007 and 2017. Not only does this course realize its goal of educating the community on mental health issues, it was a financial success, and 34% of the participants were new to the program, thus building the participant base. It generated a demand for more courses, and three other school districts in the community have built programs around this offering.
Kellogg Community College
Resilience matters. In 2002, the youth programs at Kellogg Community College were discontinued, but innovative program developers kept the program alive and reinstated the youth programs in 2016. Not only did programs come back, but they came back with a bang! Almost every higher education institution has a summer youth program, but Kellogg went a step further. They created a true marketing funnel—a pipeline to feed their academic programs. Each summer student became a “lead” for future enrollment, and the college engaged in ongoing contact to maintain connections with participants and started an early engagement effort for children aged 4-11. A young version of KCC’s Bruin mascot, Blaze, is also the main character in a fully illustrated children’s book, “Blaze Goes to College,” which follows Blaze on a field trip with his class on a campus field trip to the college. A big takeaway here is that supporting community programming pays big dividends for the institution as a whole.
According to the CDC, there is an uptick in the number of people with developmental disabilities other than autism. Currently, about seven percent of children are diagnosed with developmental delay other than ASD. The COACH (Career, Opportunity, and Achievement) program at the College of DuPage provides education options for the ten percent of adults in the community with developmental disabilities. Recognizing that educational alternatives for developmentally delayed residents tend to end with high school graduation or age-out, the college instituted a two-year, cohort program to help these students transition into the workplace. Through a combination of non-credit and credit courses, and pairing with a traditional student as a buddies, the program has grown the reputation of the college as a whole, provided benefits to both residents, the community and students from other community college districts that do not offer comparable opportunities. The program is priced competitively and is financially successful.
Excellence in Management Practices
There are many ways to positively impact the bottom line, and improving operational efficiency is one of the most impactful. Houston Community College realized a cost savings of approximately $24,000 per year and nearly doubled productivity in the brochure production process by implementing a Rapid Process Generation initiative to improve efficiency of submissions of courses from individual program professionals. Basically the process involved:
- current state and process mapping,
- waste identification,
- creation of a flow matrix,
- implementation and evaluation.
- monitoring and continuous improvement
Multiple benefits were realized including reduction time of 12 days in processing time, creation of an electronic database, easy identification of errors, and better overall organization of submissions.
College of Western Idaho
In the spring of 2018, the College of Western Idaho Workforce Development requested a LERN Program Review with the goal of improving efficiency and increasing headcount and revenue. Since the completion of the review and implementation of recommendations, there have been a multitude of positive outcomes for Workforce Development including:
- Streamlined and more efficient internal operations
- More data-driven decision making
- Development of Strategic and Marketing Plans
- Division Plans and Operating Margin Budget Development
- Adherence to LERN benchmarks
- 200K Reduction in salary costs (even with addition of two new faculty) by adherence to Master Scheduling principles
- $400K reduction in operating costs
- Increases in headcount in targeted programs.
By implementing LERN’s best practice recommendations and benchmarks, the University of Western Idaho realized significant gains in operating efficiency and established a strong foundation for continuing development and growth of headcount and program options.
With demand for programs to do more with less, the Professional and Public Programs Division, known as P3 at the University of Texas, El Paso was charged with program oversight, within Extended University, to assure that divisions meet quality standards and exhibit operational excellence to reduce costs and increase efficiency:
A key strategy was development of Staff Manuals including:
- Administration Guidelines and Protocols Manual
- Operations Guidelines and Protocols Manual
- Programming and Protocols Manual
- Guidebooks for specific areas including administration, programming , operations and individual program areas such as youth programs and camps
The result: a well-managed, financially independent division which is agile, innovative, positioned for continuing growth and success and equally important, is recognized as an asset to the larger institution.
Special events and their positive impacts on a community are very difficult to quantify. To create support for continuing the city’s Lighted Art Festival, the department developed a community impact report from the perspective of economic and community support. Going beyond the “feel good” aspects of lifelong learning programs, it is essential to identify and promote the considerable economic benefits of these programs. Through a partnership with the local Convention and Visitor Board, which also gave credibility to the report, the department was able to gain access to assistance with data collection and analysis expertise. Results of the Impact study were:
- Estimated attendance, 35,000
- 40% from OUTSIDE the Community
- Up to 15% stayed in local hotels
- Local sales and hotel tax return to community $145,000
- Estimated economic impact on local community: $1.8 million
Doing impact analysis is something that should become a standard part of the public relations strategies of all lifelong learning programs. These programs have a major impact on local economies, help to create jobs, and generate contributions to the tax base, all while improving community cohesion and quality of life.
Excellence in Marketing
In June of 2019, LERN conducted a marketing audit for the college Workforce Solutions and Continuing Education. With a limited budget, the college applied industry best practices as developed by LERN to support an annual budget goal of almost $3.5 million. Following are some of the best practice “think marketing” strategies implemented by the college:
- Targeted mailings of the print brochure to best customers, recent past customers and targeted lists
- Carrier route saturation in high response areas
- Display ads targeting specific customer profiles
- Bi-monthly radio show
- Investment in a robust CRM/marketing/email software program
- Solid integrated marketing plan
The result of the marketing strategies at the college was that the college exceed their revenue target of $3.5 million by 8 percent.
In 2017 when Nigel Sutton assumed the role of director of Wellington High School’s Community education Program, the program served about 6000 students per year. Since Sutton took over, registrations have risen to 7000 per year and there has been a 71% increase in net revenue.
Recognizing the value of the print brochure, the new director initiated a campaign to improve distribution and to get it into people’s hands in innovative ways. He created the “have you seen our catalogue” campaign, and had the catalog made into origami shapes. Not only did registrations increase, but engagements on social media also took off. This is consistent with the trend we are seeing—the better the print brochure, the more engagement online. The next campaign was a series of authentic photos (no photoshop here) showing people from around the world reading the catalog. In 2019, he had people dress in costumes to promote the brochure. Revenue and registrations continue to set records while marketing costs have been reduced by 20% by more effective use of social media, video and innovative catalog design.
To address the needs of one of the nation’s most highly mobile students and first generation students, Lehman College, CUNY’s only 4-year institution in the Bronx, introduced a new digital platform and registration system which resulted in a 32% increase in online registration and a 22% increase in overall registration. In addition, monthly leads include 750 from the new “contact us” form and 900 from the Live Chat.
Basic steps included many steps that we are seeing as emerging best practice:
- First, identifying “digital pain points
- Sharing success stories with real-world testimonials from students
- Added a “live chat”. Studies have shown that live chat increases sales—up to 6000% ROI according to some studies.
- Personalization, breaking away from the “Monolithic Institution” and focusing on concierge models and non-traditional students.
- Relatability: Focusing on adult students and diverse learners, adding sub-pages on the websites, with user interface, images, and navigation tailored to a variety of different audiences.
- Optimized and Findable. Optimizing site for search engines and using a “breadcrumb trail” of search engines and social media that leads people to the site.
Pellississippi State built upon a successful integrated marketing strategy using their print brochure, email, digital content, and events. In the fall of 2019, they expanded their monthly e-newsletter to include a “first look” opportunity at the new fall catalog, a special benefit to subscribers only.
This coincided with the reintroduction of a pdf catalog on the web site. The newsletter was personalized with staff members holding the catalog open to the page of the class they were most looking forward to taking. “Staff Picks” are a great idea—not only introducing the staff, but people tend to pay more attention to what the “professionals” are interested in.
The result was a very successful promotion with a 42% open rate and a 30% click rate, ten percent higher than regular monthly email results. The newsletter also generated 25 enrollments before the brochure had even hit mailboxes.
Staff plan to repeat the newsletter, using participants, rather than staff to recommend the classes they are most looking forward to and to build connections between the participants and the staff.
City of Vaughn
Responding to a significant increase in private sector competition, the City of Vaughn undertook a sophisticated re-branding and marketing campaign in order build membership, increase customer loyalty, and engagement and stop the trend toward declining revues. The effort involved an integrated marketing plan with nine different channels and more than 30 hyper-localized promotional tactics. They identified clear goals and deliverables and focused on achieving them. The results were the successful achievement of generating new memberships, increasing loyalty and engagement, and strengthening their position in an increasingly competitive market.
Outcome: Revenue up by 33%
Goal 2: Increase membership
Outcome: Membership up by 3% and growing
Goal 3: Increase personal training sales:
Outcome: Training sales up by 57%
Goal 4: Increase retention by 5% over three years
Outcome: Retention up by 2% in the first year