While Texas Wesleyan University was founded in Fort Worth in 1890, research has shown that a key group of prospective students doesn’t even know it exists.
This month, Wesleyan’s marketing and communications department hopes to change that by launching a new advertising campaign that will include everything from billboards to radio and television commercials.
JohnVeilleux, vice president of marketing and communications, said the department began working on the campaign last fall, placing an emphasis on the need for a solid strategy.
“It’s important to understand that for broad awareness advertising to be effective, you have to have a strategy in terms of what you’re trying to do,” Veilleux said. “What the data tells us is if by age 17 a student doesn’t know about [your university], you will not be in their choice set.”
Veilleux said after the marketing and communications department did their initial market research, they discovered only 25 out of a 100 people in the college-bound audience had even heard of Wesleyan.
Veilleux said the strategy is to use the commercials and billboards to make more people aware of the school’s existence. The two target age groups are potential students aged 12 through 24 and 25 through 54. Veilleux said it was important for students and their parents to both know about the school.
“We’re going to change that,” Veilleux said. “As our [recruiters] go out into the community, we want to know that people [already] have a sense of who we are before [our recruiters] get in front of them.”
Veilleux said the busiest time for the university’s new recruitment process is in late September through early November. Veilleux said the first phase of the campaign will take place over the course of sixty days.
Veilleux said mid-September was chosen so that when recruiters show up at different events, potential students will have recently seen some sort of ad for the school.
Veilleux said the next part of the campaign would take place in the spring, likely February through March. The second phase would take place before April since schools have usually mailed their admissions decisions by this time.
“We want to help [students] remember Texas Wesleyan when they are going through the application process,” Veilleux said.
He said the school has targets in terms of the amount of new freshmen and transfer students they receive every year. In the future, the university hopes to enroll 300 new freshmen and 450 transfer students a year by 2020.
Veilleux said the campaign is also very web-centered. One of the goals of the campaign is to drive people to the website, where they can find out more about Texas Wesleyan and how the phrase, “Smaller. Smarter,” encapsulates why the school is the right choice, he said.
Veilleux credited Texas Wesleyan University President Frederick Slabach with getting the ball rolling on the campaign. Slabach knew there was an awareness problem and wanted that to change so he met with the deans and other members of the schools’ senior staff to talk about the importance of the school’s marketing.
“When this is all said and done, and we start to see the impact this has, it will all go back to President Slabach,” Veilleux said, “his leadership and him making a difference.”
Veilleux said he and his team are confident in the work they have done.
Veilleux also said when the ads where shown to current Texas Wesleyan students, the response was positive. The ads reminded the students of why they came to the university in the first place.
“We’ve done the research,” he said. “We understand what a certain segment of the [college] population wants. We understand what our strengths are.”
Veilleux said although the campaign is aimed toward drawing in new students, it will also raise morals among the students who currently attend the university.
Veilleux hopes it will make people say with pride they attend a small university named Texas Wesleyan.
Trent Sandles, junior business management major, took part in one of the TV ads and couldn’t be more excited about Wesleyan’s future.
“It will cast a positive light [on the school] to an audience that might not give Texas Wesleyan a second thought,” Sandles said.
Sameer Vaidya, associate dean and professor of management, also took part in the commercial ad. Vaidya said he believes this campaign will spread awareness of the high quality education that can be obtained through Texas Wesleyan.
“I am excited about the future of our university,” Vaidya said. “I think it will be a win-win for students, as well as the university.”