In the spirit of back to school season, this month Puzzle Pieces is sharing a lesson on marketing the way schools do it. It is the business of alumni relations to keep former students engaged with their alma mater. If they don’t do a good job, they lose potential donors as well as word-of-mouth advertising for the school. Thinking of your customers as “alumni” can help you to engage them and turn them into promoters and active advocates for your products and services. Here are three ways to do it.
- Bring the brand to them. A good alumni relations team tries to bring a bit of the school to graduates to help them remember when they were there. From a business perspective, you can use that tactic by sharing company “swag” at events and in promotions that customers will use in their homes and offices to keep your business name (and contact info!) in frequent view of the original customer, plus any visitors they may have . Some swag ideas: magnets, mugs, mouse pads, t-shirts. Any and all of the above can also be used as prizes for online contests, too.
- Help them connect. Thanks to social media, it’s possible to find just about any former classmate or colleague online. But smart universities are leveraging those connections with private groups or pages within a platform so that alumni can connect and network with each other. Knowing that someone attended the same school as you did is a great icebreaker when looking to make a new business connection. And there is a pre-established element of trust between parties. You can help your customers build or expand professional relationships with each other by encouraging customers (both commercial and residential) to share testimonials on your social media. Reading these is like getting a recommendation from a friend. Another idea is to host customer events (think Open House) which could lead to forging partnerships and even cost sharing opportunities.
- Create nostalgia. An alumni team gets a good number of people to come to a reunion because they want to relive their own memories, and if they do it right, the alumni leave feeling proud of the current university. So even if your brand is only a few years old, invite people to share their memories about their experience with your products or services and it will make the business feel approachable and familiar. One idea to do this is have the first or longest or most recent client tell their story and receive a discount or another incentive.