Five things we learnt from SUM Regional Meeting

Friday 06-01-2017 - 11:04

The London SU Regional Marketing Meeting, hosted by Goldsmiths SU, recently brought together marketing staff in the South of England for a day of discussions and networking. Take a look at the round-up…

1. Making Money is top of the agenda

We looked at how we all promote NUS extra cards, and the media sales options we provide – best practice, prices and projects.

Some unions saw a buck in the general trend of NUS extra card, with sales continuing to grow. These unions targeted student groups at the university, at specific times and days depending on student behaviour and events.

Another campaign included #MoneyOffMondays, which highlighted a specific NUS extra deal. Other unions tied in the discounts in their own venues, like 10 per cent off in the pub, club, or shop with an NUS extra card.

For external sponsorship, most unions provided advertising space on plasma screens around campus, the SU website, sold space at Freshers’ Fayres, regular stalls, and other events to externals. For unions with multiple campuses the plasma screens were segmented by locations and for main campuses, by area.

Another exciting initiative was the free printer! Unions received a printer and small commission for students to use, under the condition that advertisements would appear at either the bottom or flip side of the page, this proved a fantastic way to get students through the union doors and to become familiar with the union’s services.

2. Welcome Week, the low down

Every year SUs have the mammoth task of drawing up information and activities in anticipation for the new influx of students.

Some of the most innovative ideas included the ‘Top five things to do before you start uni’ in the SU Welcome pack, personalisation of the envelope (‘Lisa’s Union’) and enclosed letter, dependant on the student’s campus and level of study, as well as the usual vouchers, teaser emails in the lead up to moving in day.

SUs also made great use of social media, using Instagram to release entertainment details, Facebook Custom Audience Adverts to super target incoming students’ email addresses, and targeting students on Twitter who follow the colleges where the highest number of students originate from.

Smaller unions opted for a face-to-face approach, visiting the halls, moving in students, giving away free goodie bags and providing walking tours of the local areas.

StudyNet and Blackboard were identified as prime sites to advertise, due to the high traffic - as students checked their university timetables and lecture notes.

3. Segmenting emails is essential

Many unions are facing low open rates due to a number of factors mainly the increase in email traffic to the student inbox.

It was recognised that unions with higher open rates (around the 30 per cent mark) sent more tailored email communications using demographical information, or segmented their lists by demographics and student behaviour and interests. Many had employed the help of external companies to help them pinpoint their main groups or tribes of students – with varying communications objectives.

Most unions across used Mailchimp, due to its user friendly interface and relatively low cost. The need for web capture forms was noted, as some students had chosen to opt out of SU comms when registering with the university. During welcome week and pre-arrival some unions held an email amnesty to ensure the unions’ message was reaching students, and to avoid bombarding!

4. There is no ‘right’ way to go about planning and managing projects

Design and project requests were received via a number of differing routes. Some unions had online content management systems for design, email and social media requests or used Trello. Others were drafted in the planning stages and put a MarComms Plan together with the project lead. Students created content for the SU website a month in advance, and this was scheduled in ahead of time.

When it came to designing students posters some unions offered their services, with the majority offering guidance or empty belly posters due to capacity and the number of students groups within the union.

Most unions offered online tutorials to help societies and sports clubs get to grips with updating their pages on the SU website, which was great as a resource to refer back to, others did in person training when the new committees were elected.

5. Crisis comms training is a MUST, and what does the GDPR mean for SUs?

Crisis comms was also hot on the agenda and how individual unions dealt with that.

In the first instance where an in-house press officer was not available the port of call was the university. It was recognised that there needed to be more training in unions about how to deal with Crisis Comms.

Also in the open session the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was discussed and what this meant for SUs, in order to be compliant for September 2017. Express opt in was raised as a concern and how it will effect SU comms. NUS will be releasing a paper on this soon, so please do keep an eye out.

To find out more about the SUM regional network and to attend upcoming meetings, you can join the Marketing and Communications Community of Practise for staff in students’ unions here.


Features, Trading, Union Development

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