Marshall unveils new marketing, advertising campaign

Ginny Painter, senior vice president of communications, at the podium, discussing Marshall’s new “I am a son/daughter of Marhsall” campaign.

Adam Stephens

Ginny Painter, senior vice president of communications, at the podium, discussing Marshall’s new “I am a son/daughter of Marhsall” campaign.

Marshall University administrators hope a new marketing campaign implemented this year will increase interest and boost enrollment to the university. The marketing campaign features numerous types of advertisements, such as billboards, signs in airports and shopping malls and pages printed in magazines and newspapers.

Each advertisement includes a single photo of a student or faculty member, a quote such as “I’m proud,” “I’m strong” or “I’m inspired” and either the phrase “I am a daughter of Marshall” or “I am a son of Marshall.”

“The new marketing campaign is one way that we can spread the news about Marshall and what it has to offer and get our name in front of a lot of people that have not heard about us before,” said Marshall University President Jerry Gilbert.

The marketing firm hired by Marshall conducted focus groups with students and faculty members before creating the campaign. Ginny Painter, Marshall’s senior vice president of communications, said the references to being sons and daughters of Marshall were suggested by participants in several groups.

“They knew that there was something there that wasn’t typical, that’s not something you hear at other institutions,” Painter said. “That really became the hook that we’re hanging this campaign on and it reinforces the concept of family, tradition and pride that were really the cornerstones of this campaign.”

Gilbert said these advertisements show the Marshall campus is a tight-knit community.

“I think that the son and daughter terms create a sense of family and a sense of being an affirmed member of a family,” Gilbert said. “Not just a distant relative but an actual son or a daughter, a strong, viable and valued member of the family.”

Administrators said they hope this campaign can increase enrollment, which could help ease the burden of a strained budget.

“We’ve had to look at different ways of increasing efficiencies on campus,” Gilbert said, “and we’ve gotten to the point where the only ways to increase revenue to Marshall will be to increase the number of students or to increase tuition, those are our only two options at this point.”

The marketing campaign also includes a digital campaign targeted at students within West Virginia, as well as surrounding states.

“I’m pretty excited about that in terms of how we can reach high school students on the internet and give them the opportunity to learn about Marshall in a very easy way,” Gilbert said.

The digital advertising campaign targets potential high school students in West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Marshall administrators are able to access information that tells them what states and areas receive the most impressions and receive the most clicks by potential students.

Currently, the marketing campaign has received 4.9 million impressions in total, with Washington D.C. having the most with over 1 million impressions. The Charleston, West Virginia and Huntington, West Virginia metro area is in second place with just over 740,00 impressions, followed by Cleveland with over 500,000 and Columbus with over 460,000 impressions.
So far the campaign has garnered 7,800 actual clicks, which brings potential students to the Marshall website where they can learn more about the university, schedule a tour and even submit an application.

Adam Stephens can be contacted at [email protected]