The Educated Marketer


Are College Fairs Worthless?

by Vicky Lynch | Jun 15, 2017

 |  college recruitment, inbound marketing


 When we talk about inbound marketing, a lot of the time we point out that the old-school methods of pushing out a message with glossy brochures, mailings and college fairs are simply not as effective as they used to be. But are they worthless?


Take the college fair for example. You may feel like you are spinning your wheels sending reps all over the country to promote your school at college fairs when prospective students have shown that they can hop on your website and get all their questions answered right from their smart phone. And, in fact, 97% of prospective college students have indeed visited a college website on their smartphone.

But there is still a lot of value to being able to meet thousands of prospective students and their parents face-to-face. College fairs used to be the absolute best way for students to learn about colleges all over the country without having to travel far. But they remain important. In fact, a recent study from Hanover Research revealed that despite increased digital activity, the most effective marketing strategies are still events-based.

Here's why college fairs are still an integral part of your inbound plan:

  • College fairs are a great way to build your brand

Branding is a hot topic these days. Many criticize that institutions are spending lots of time and money to brand themselves almost identically to other institutions without realizing it. So what better way to set yourself apart than to interact with prospects face to face? You’ll be able to see how your brand is being received by those who are just starting to learn about your school and you’ll be able to reinforce your institution’s values.

And as NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), points out, remember to send a rep who truly represents your brand. Someone who is charismatic, professional and equipped to answer questions, address concerns and really sell your organization.

  • College fairs can boost or maintain international recruitment

Recruiting international students is one of the most competitive areas of recruitment for universities in North America. Maintaining a presence at overseas college fairs is extremely important to stay in the game. According to the same Hanover Research report, international student recruitment in 2012-2013 increased by 10%. College fairs were an important part of the increase, along with social media presence and offering financial aid.

  • College fairs allow you to show off your tech savvy

Why not include digital elements in your actual booth at the college fair to show your tech savviness and attract visitors to your booth? By providing Wi-Fi stations or tablets where students can look at videos or sign up to learn more about your institution beyond the fair, you will have a great set of qualified leads to further nurture. No need to bring your own equipment, you can rent a 4G internet kit for your own hotspot at the fair.

If you’re still questioning how college fairs are part of an inbound plan vs. just standing on their own, consider this—when you engage with prospective students through social media, email campaigns, blogging and your website, you can provide information to drive them to colleges fairs you will be attending. You can even offer a pre-registration option through your website so your rep is expecting them and already knows a bit about their background and intended area of study to maximize their experience.

So, put your best foot forward, send your best reps and amp up for a successful college fair season this fall.

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