10 creative video marketing ideas for your college or university

Looking for new video marketing ideas?

Colleges and university marketing teams constantly tell us they want to start using more video as part of their marketing strategies, but that they lack creative ideas. That’s inspired us to put together this blog, sharing how video can target students and influencers at every stage of their journey. And, just as importantly, that distribution is also a vital consideration that should go hand-in-hand when planning your new creative video content.

We’ve packaged together some of the best examples of video marketing ideas from brands, colleges and universities around the world, and some of our own handiwork that we are most proud of.

So here are 10 video marketing ideas for the HE and FE sectors that your college or university could use now and in the future.

1. To dare is to do…

This video from University of Moncton in Canada isn’t for everyone – and that’s exactly the point. It is unapologetically designed with students in mind and, whether you love it or hate it, the important thing is that you have an opinion about it. This campaign was also built for sharing, from the controversial content to the brisk 30 second length

We know from experience that many Chancellors and Principals would balk at signing off video marketing ideas as polarising as Moncton’s. But consider this: in combination with a refreshed website, the University of Moncton saw a 22% increase in applicants the year following this campaign — a huge victory for a small university marketing team.

The takeaways are: design your video marketing campaigns to be shareable from the start, unapologetically appeal to your defined audience, and get to the point.

2. Showcase sparkling individual achievements

Sometimes it pays to let your students achievements speak for themselves. Intel’s “Meet the Makers” series looks more like the inspirational, uplifting stories you see on the news rather than a marketing video created by a college, university or brand.

Each video profiles a person around the world who uses Intel products to create amazing experiences and new technology. For example, a 13-year-old named Shubham Banerjee tells the story of how he used Intel’s technology to prototype and build an affordable braille printer to help people who are blind to read.

The subjects of Intel’s series use technology – and Intel products – to help people and make the world a better and more interesting place. This approach could easily be applied to the FE and HE sectors; what effect are your courses having on the industry or the world as a whole? Who from your alumni could you home in on to create a relatable, compelling story?

By providing viewers with an inspirational look at how their products are helping to change our experiences, Intel were able to create interest in a way that a traditional, product or brand focused video couldn’t. Your college or university can too.

3. Micro-target students

Micro-targeting – sending people personalised marketing messages based on their demographic or interests – is all the rage in political campaigns at home and abroad. But it’s not just Donald Trump, Theresa May or big brands who can tap in to the benefits of micro-targeting their audiences. We are seeing more and more of the HE and FE sectors beginning to segment marketing messages by audience demographic too.

Video can play a key role in your micro-targeting. For example, a college with five filter schools nearby could film the inspirational journeys of five students – each an alumni of one of those schools. The videos could then be distributed using Facebook to target pupils currently at those schools. The clear message received is that someone like you, from your school, came to this college and had an amazing experience as a result. Now that’s a powerful, targeted message.

4. Create a buzz with an intriguing storyline

The University of Hertfordshire has been one of our most loyal clients, and we have produced over a hundred videos in partnership with them. When we were approached by UOH to make a subject film for the Politics and International Relations course, one of our main objectives was to create something unique.

We wanted to make sure the video had a different feel to the previous marketing materials for this course. We built a story of two students seeing themselves in the future achieving great things politically thanks to their time at UOH. Visually we went for an alternative style, with the metallic and glass theme giving the film a high budget and futuristic feel.

The strong cinematic references, combined with an intriguing storyline, helped to set this video apart from other subject films, giving the course a much-needed marketing boost.

5. Focus on friendships

College and university are about friendship as much as achieving qualifications. Yet, we see relatively few colleges or universities commissioning video marketing ideas around the theme of human connection.

Take inspiration from BuzzFeed. Although this video is about a man who adopts and raises a puppy, it’s not meant to be inspiring — it’s meant to be entertaining. The script takes all the classic puppy stories you’ve heard (puppy chewing on the furniture; puppy keeping you up all night) and turns them into an enjoyable story about a man and his dog spending time together. Although it’s obvious that a pet food brand is behind the video, the placement is so subtle that is doesn’t detract from the tale.

Could your college or university create stories that show it in the context of an average student’s daily life, without making it feel like an ad? Or shine a light on some of the classic stories about growing up that we all go through? Could you entertain prospective students – increasing the share-ability of your video – in a way that is relatable to them? We think so. And you’ll get your point across while still delighting viewers.

Already have some great ideas? You can visit our Project Planner, email us via hello@weareclearhead.com or call us on 02074941589.

6. Empower students – make them feel recognised and important

By focusing less on their product and more on their mission, Dove has been successful in creating emotional viral videos like this one that have helped them stay at the top of consumers’ minds.

While this video marketing campaign by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago received some mixed reviews when it was first released, there is no denying that Dove is adept at crafting stories which resonate with their audience.

Could you tie your college or university video marketing ideas to part of a larger mission, to create a loyal following? What national awareness events or causes – that are important to your target audience – could you link your campaign to?

There’s no doubt that when people feel connected emotionally to a brand they are more likely to choose their products. The FE and HE sectors can take advantage of this by committing to emotionally-charged video marketing that makes prospective students feel recognised and important.

7. Relate to people’s hopes and fears

Highlighting the shared community of a distance learning course isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that the Open University has mastered.

Although the student journey is a fairly traditional approach to HE and FE marketing, Open University manages to introduce audiences to realistic, relatable and believable characters in just sixty seconds. It’s authentic, it’s human, and it’s inspirational.

The video effectively identifies their target audience – mature, career-minded, busy professionals with wider dreams – and then speaks directly to their fears and desires.

The combination of being emotive yet believable has another benefit: social proof.  Reading through the YouTube comments, former students queue up to share their own positive, life changing stories.

8. Target influencers

Colleges and universities often tell us that video is their most powerful way of connecting directly with prospective students. But what about the other influencers: careers advisors, teachers and parents? Their views carry significant weight in the decision making process, but are their opinions about your college or university reliable and up-to-date?

If targeting these influencers is not part of your current video marketing strategy, you could be missing a trick. For example, what about sending a targeted video brochure to local careers advisors, encouraging them to recommend your college or university?

Or, videos where your college or university provides helpful solutions to common problems: such as specific information about the clearing process.

How about a video directly addressing the concerns of parents, micro-targeted to them on Facebook?

The options are endless.

9. Share an alternative view

We’ve worked with Bedford College since 2010. One of our favourite collaborations pushed the boundaries of marketing in the FE sector. It delivered a cinematic experience designed to provoke an emotive response from its audience.

What makes this video different is its scale and alternative focus. The lifetime journey depicted in the video generates feelings of nostalgia, warmth and empathy. We took the unusual step of focusing on a teacher as the main subject. This helped convey the heart, trust and strong foundations that prospective students can rely on as they pursue their dreams.

What alternative viewpoints, that embody the values of your college or university, could you use to connect with your audiences?

10. And finally… do something unique!

We couldn’t collate this blog without sharing this fantastic music video created by University of Rochester in New York.

Created by the University’s Office of Admissions, it’s performed by campus all-male a cappella group the Midnight Ramblers. It provides prospective students an array of facts and figures with a hip-hop twist.

Views are nearly at a quarter of a million, and US website mycollegeguide.org picked it as one of the best student recruitment videos on YouTube.

What hidden talents could you unearth in your college or university to help create new, boundary-pushing video marketing ideas?

We can help make it happen for your college or university

We hope our 10 creative video marketing ideas for your college or university have inspired you. For tons more tips, suggestions and distribution ideas, get in touch today.

Ready to start a conversation? You can visit our Project Planner, email us via hello@weareclearhead.com or call us on 02074941589.