Friday, 12 April 2013

Statistically Speaking, Visually Communicating

If you’ve seen our latest university promo, you’ll have noticed that there is a heavy use of graphics for illustrating various statistics and facts about the University.  The purpose of this film is to highlight why Chester is a sound investment for higher education; an upcoming university rising up the league tables and getting the recognition it deserves for the service it provides its students.  But why use infographics for narrating such achievements?  And what exactly is an infographic?

The rise of infographics

Were our pre-historic ancestors the original innovators of infographics?
Infographics are certainly nothing new.  Think about tube maps and road signs.  Indeed, consider also how our prehistoric ancestors used cave paintings to communicate with each other… at least the assumption is that these paintings were a means to communicate.

Fuelled by the growth of the internet and social media, the popularity of infographics has undoubtedly risen within the last few years.  With more and more marketers across various sectors now using them, university marketers are also seeing their potential for highlighting complex pieces of information and identifying how their university is different.

At this point, some of you may be asking, what the heck is an infographic?  Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, infographics are graphical depictions of information, data or statistics and, at the moment, they are almost everywhere you look.  This seems like an opportune moment to give you a visual interpretation of what an infographic is by means of an an infographic from Hot Butter Studio.

Cutting through the noise

In marketing circles, we often identify the need to ‘cut through the noise’.  You may think this is just more jargon and gobbledygook, but this is an obstacle that marketers have to give some serious consideration to if they are going to be effective at what they do.  In this context, ‘the noise’ is the clutter of advertising messages that consumers are bombarded with on a daily basis.  And, unless the advertisement captures the consumer’s imagination, the message behind the ad will often be either ignored or forgotten.  Within the higher education sector, this problem is complicated by virtue of the fact that almost all higher education establishments are trying to say the same thing, meaning it is difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition.  There’s probably not a university in the country that isn’t promising the prospect of a better future if you choose their institution.

An integrated approach to your marketing, where your message is absorbed across a multitude of channels and throughout various stages of the recruitment cycle, is a good way of starting to tackle this problem.  This means keeping your message and themes consistent throughout all your marketing communications; something we've tried to do through our University of You campaign.

However, you also need to consider how to get prospects and applicants to take notice of what you are saying, remembering that, in today’s world of multi-media technologies, students have many distractions.  With this in mind, our marketing communications try to make it as easy and as simple as possible for our prospects to find out more about Chester.

The use of infographics throughout our marketing campaigns enables us to portray facts and figures about the University in an engaging and memorable way.  And with the University of Chester excelling in so many fields in recent years, the University really has had something to shout about.  Visual forms of communication are often far easier to understand and far more appealing to process than reams of text, meaning the use of an infographic gives us a better chance of being able to reach out and communicate our successes to the intended recipient.  And because infographics can be fun, a good infographic campaign can go viral as it gets shared with friends across social media networks.  This gives you the ability to reach out to a far wider audience than simply your intended target market.

Your stats and facts

As a colleague, within another faculty or department within the University, you might be reading this, thinking to yourself that you’ve got a heap of stats that could be used to market the University and its courses.  And if this is the case, we want you to get in touch.  However, remember that this data will only be of use if it is saying something distinguishable about your service.

The comedy duo that make up the Flight of the Conchords describe themselves as, “New Zealand's 4th most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”.  For a group with such a distinctive style of music, this is obviously a mocking statistic that isn’t meant to be taken seriously.  Yet, occasionally, you’ll see examples of universities exclaiming stats just as undistinguishable as this.

Whilst it might be pleasing to us that a course or a department has achieved a notable league table ranking, it could look like a mediocre ranking to a prospect that doesn't recognise the context of the stat and is comparing your course to other courses that are alike.  Look to highlight what is unique and outstanding about your course and not a wish-washy stat that simply serves to tell the prospect that they could go elsewhere to study the course.

Knowledge is power

You often hear it said that ‘knowledge is power’.  And if we don’t provide our prospects and applicants with the knowledge to make an informed decision about studying at Chester, then we are doing an injustice to both them and also the University.  Our job is to make it easy for our prospects to gain and interpret this knowledge, and our latest university promo forms part of this notion, with the use of infographics to help them process and remember this information.

Until the next communication…


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