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Campus marketing research program targets Twin Cities population

December 16, 2011

The UW-River Falls marketing program is trying to make the best of the little budget they receive each year. Between billboard advertisements and newspaper ads, the program is finding the most financially efficient ways to attract students. The first year the marketing program actually received a budget was last year. Amy Christensen, UWRF marketing specialist, said that last year, 100 percent of the budget went to awareness marketing.

“Some of the things they have been working on are ads in the Pioneer Press and Minnesota Public Radio and then also billboards aimed at the Twin Cities market,” said Christensen. According to Christensen, there are exactly 14 billboards between St. Paul and Minneapolis promoting UWRF.

Each billboard costs about $6,000-$8,000 to keep erected for a six-month period, although Christensen said that some locations cost much more, sometimes even ranging up to $40,000 per sign.

Currently, instead of 100 percent of the budget going to awareness marketing, 78 percent goes to brand awareness and 22 percent goes to targeted program marketing. Brand awareness has expanded to theater ads in Hudson, Rice Lake, Oakdale, Hastings and Apple Valley.

“We also are sponsors of the Saint Paul Saints,” said Christensen. “We have a billboard and a booth at every game.”

As for the 22 percent going to program marketing, the department helps the Dairy Science, Elementary Education, Biology and the Masters Business Administration programs market their majors to the students that are interested. “So instead of marketing the whole University, we help these departments market their program to prospective students,” said Christensen.

For the upcoming year, Christensen said the marketing board has yet to meet to discuss the budget for the upcoming year. However, she expects a greater increase towards program specific marketing, possibly with a 65/35 percent split with less programs to focus on. She also anticipates that the program will shift down to less brand awareness and more on targeted programs.

In order to save money for the marketing program, Professor Darryl Miller’s Marketing Research class is currently working with University Communications to repeat the 2008 Woychick Design marketing survey.

“The University hired a company (Woychick) in 2008 to design the look of UW-River Falls. They designed the website, picked the colors and gave the ‘feel’ to what people think of our college,” said Christensen.

Now, the Marketing program is asking students in Professor Miller’s Marketing Research class to do the same thing.

“The objective for these students is to assess where we are at with meeting some of the marketing goals, identified when our brand was developed by Woychick and determine how our key messages are resonating with prospective students, current students, alumni and parents,” said Christensen.

Not only is the marketing program using students to be financially efficient, Christensen said the department is also implementing a stronger push towards using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and a new website they will be introducing called Readabout. me.

“Readabout.me is currently being used by some other UW schools and will create a Facebook-like page for students that will highlight all of their achievements,” said Christensen.

Christensen said Readabout.me will serve as a great way for students to promote themselves and a great way for UW-River Falls to promote itself.