Marketing: From the other side of the mailbox. My husband and I have a teenage son and daughter who are a year apart in school. Our mailbox has been on the receiving end of college admissions materials for the past four years. Here’s what worked and what didn’t for our teenagers:

1. If it was from a college they were interested in, they devoured it; if it was not, they didn’t.
2. In the beginning, they looked at it everything. By the beginning of their senior year, they didn’t.
3. If the brochure was different, they looked at it; if it was not, they didn’t.
4. If it came in a plain white #10 envelope, it was tossed out, unopened.
5. If it was colorful and youthful, they looked at it.
6. If it had outstanding photography, they looked at it. Pictures of kids on a campus lawn got ignored.
7. If it was printed on nice stock with embossing or gold foil, it got their attention. My daughter explained that high quality brochures made her feel special, but when I asked her the name of the college, she couldn’t remember.
8. If it came in unusual packaging, they opened it.
9. If they received the same information from the same college time and time again, it was trashed without a glance.
10. Email from most colleges went unread or was ignored. An exception was a valentine sent from the school mascot.
11. If it was from a college they were interested in, they read it.
12. If it was from a college a friend attends or is considering, they considered it.
13. Unsolicited email from other colleges was considered spam.
14. If a college they liked called and left a message, they returned the call. If they weren’t interested and the calls kept coming, they deleted the messages without even listening.

My conclusion? College communications have to be different to get kids’ attention. Youthful, colorful, interesting, unusual, and fun gets noticed. Boring, repetitive, and predictable does not.