Mr. Marketing: It’s all about packaging
By Rob Weinberg
It’s college season! My teenager’s being inundated with thousands of brochures, postcards, fliers, emails, and phone calls from hundreds of potential collegiate suitors.
Like tuna boats casting their nets, these schools try to haul in everything in sight, then cull out the undesirables.
Admittedly my daughter’s bright, talented, and personable (and I’m biased). Still, she’ll have competition. The question: How does she stand out of the crowd?
I’m reminded of my own search for an appropriate educational home. I traveled in January to Boston University for an interview and got an accidental marketing lesson en route.
At the airport, my father bought me a copy of the Wall Street Journal. Being a typical teenager, I disdainfully responded “I HATE that newspaper!”
My dad persevered. “It’s not for reading. When you walk into the interview have the newspaper under your arm. Set it on the table, put your gloves on it, and don’t say a word about it. After the meeting you can toss it if you like …I don’t care.”
On the flight I glanced through the paper but thought little of the 30-second conversation I’d just had. I followed my father’s script at the interview, tossed the paper immediately afterwards, and went home.
I also got accepted to BU.
While I’m not suggesting the impression made by my interview prop got me into this particular college, I’m sure it helped my pitch. I packaged myself as erudite, my customer bought the story, and I made the sale.
Reading the Wall Street Journal sends a subtle message that you’re business savvy and worldly. Though not all students require that image, the Journal helps when you’re positioning yourself as having those characteristics.
With applications rising and admissions rates falling, many students are seeking even the tiniest edge to help them. Especially if their SAT is below 2400 and they lack a 5.0 GPA.
Packaging them properly — dressing nicely, speaking well, looking people in the eye, smelling good, shining their shoes, and not chewing gum — will probably all help.
And then, just for grins, tuck a copy of the Wall Street Journal under that youthful arm.
It probably won’t close the deal…but if my experience is any indication, it couldn’t hurt.
Mr. Marketing now reads the Wall Street Journal regularly. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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