Marketing at Simpson remains strong, PR department says

by Shelly Zeller

Simpson hopes increased spending on marketing tactics willattract more students.

“The big marketing thrust began last year,” said Michael Adams,director of public relations. “We are spending about the sameamount as last year, but with more students at Simpson we are ableto continue the work we started.”

Marketing is purchased media, and for Simpson it is broken intotwo trains of thought.

“We first target the parents, who have a major role in thedecision making process,” said Adams. “Second is the studentthrust. They take the initiative.”

Parents listen to national public radio stations while kids arelistening to 103.3 and watching WB. “We understand how important itis to market both generations,” said Adams.

The majority of Simpson’s student body is Iowa based; thereforemarketing goals are to maintain the Iowa market and gain namerecognition throughout the state.

“We are a regional school,” said Adams. “We are understoodaround Iowa. Simpson has billboards as far as Cedar Rapids andradio from Sioux City to the Quad Cities, being most students arefrom the area.”

Simpson brings in students from many places other than Iowa.”All of Iowa and Omaha are very well represented,” said Adams.”It’s very expensive to go to Chicago or Minneapolis with ourmarketing tactics. The best thing we can do is to send ourcounselors out and visit perspective students. The most effectivetool has always been meeting students face to face.”

E-mails, Internet, Web sites, phone calls, mail, or personalvisits all have a different impact on each student. Media is justone part of Simpson’s marketing experience, and so far proves to bea positive one.

Recently, Simpson commercials have appeared all over prime timetelevision.

“Television is more youth oriented,” said Adams. “We are runningcommercials on programs such as Friends, Alias, WB, Gilmore Girlsand The Simpsons.”

Students at Simpson have mixed feelings about commercials andhow they impact perspective students.

“I don’t think that commercials will bring in more students,”said freshman Rachel LeValley. “No one watches them, the majorityof people just flip through the commercials anyway.”

Other students disagree.

“I think commercials are good marketing tactics,” said junior OmGurung. “It’s a good time of the year to market high schoolstudents. I also think that billboards along the road create a lotof conversation.”

Marketing representatives know that key months, such as Octoberand March, are when high school students are starting to thinkabout college.

“We can’t afford to do all this 12 months in a year,” saidAdams. “For 30 second commercials during Friends, it costs $1800for one single spot in the Des Moines area, it’s not cheap.”

Adams believes seeing students tell their own stories abouttheir college experience generates more interest.

“We’ve done student testimony for over 20 years, we own thatformat,” said Adams. “It’s powerful when a 30 second spot createsconversation among students.”

Students are interested in how individuals are chosen to be apart of Simpson’s commercial program. “We work closely with theadmissions department to identify students that they know,” saidAdams. “Ambassadors are always a good tool for this program.”

There are three sessions with 20 students who are chosen tostart the selection process. They are all taken into a room for aninterview process to make sure they are students in which Simpsonis looking for to promote the college experience. After beingselected to be part of this marketing tactic, there is a six-weektime frame from when the selection interviews are done until thecommercial is aired publicly.

“It is a long process, and in the end I think there is a realpositive product,” said Adams. “Our money needs to be well spent,real practical.”

Marketing is complex. Every step must be positive forperspective students to want to become a part of the Simpsoncommunity.

“Once students get here, it is safe to say that they will have agreat experience on our campus,” said Adams. “We are a veryfriendly and supportive college, and we’re proud of that.”