Central Virginia Community College

Billboard designed for Central Virginia Community College by The Ivy Group

With student recruitment and retention as primary goals, The Ivy Group developed a branding, outreach, and communications program to optimize Central Virginia Community College's (CVCC) presence in and influence on its primary marketplace.

A Real Need

Talk about a self-explanatory name. Central Virginia Community College, located in--you guessed it--central Virginia, serves approximately 4,700 students from the Lynchburg area. In early 2017, the College determined that their marketing program could benefit from a more finite understanding of its service area as a basis for developing more targeted messaging and media planning.

Enter, The Ivy Group. Together with CVCC's Marketing Coordinator and VP of Institutional Advancement, we planned and developed a campaign to:

  • ensure the College continues to meet the needs of its customer base;
  • stem declining enrollment; and
  • attract individuals whose educational and employment aspirations the College is best positioned to advance.

A Real Plan

To start, we profiled the audiences in the College's service area using Nielsen My Best Segments software to better understand student demographics, lifestyles, and media preferences. Student addresses revealed twenty-eight segments based on demographic and lifestyle commonalities. By enabling a clear understanding of the student body, segmentation provides the basis for all communications, messaging, and visual imagery.

Based on the research, strategies were summarized into a marketing brief including:

  • Target markets and market segments;
  • Key messaging per segment;
  • Content strategies and advertising targets; and
  • A media plan.

A plan is nothing without the right people to execute it.

CVCC's marketing team includes a dynamic duo of a PR & Marketing Coordinator and a Graphic Designer. Like many of their peers, this small but mighty marketing team manages all aspects of the College's marketing, public relations, advertising, and design. With such a daunting workload, they needed more (wo)manpower and an agency's expertise and experience.

To assist the Marketing Coordinator, we developed a media plan detailing annual buys based on the College's budget and target audiences. We also drafted a media buying best practices guide and conducted training to help CVCC smoothly execute the plan. To aid the College in evaluating the campaign's effectiveness, we detailed benchmark measures of success, reporting guidelines, and evaluation tactics such as vanity URLS and tracking phone numbers.

Next step, the fun part: the creative.

Posters developed for Central Virginia Community College by The Ivy Group
With "real skills" for "real jobs" students are encouraged to "get real" about their futures by enrolling at CVCC.

A Really Creative Campaign

The College's value to targeted segments is best communicated by enabling audiences to envision their "real world" applicability of matriculation to fulfilling their aspirations (a better job, transfer to a four-year university, etc.). Thus, the "Get Real" campaign was born.

Two-punch "real" headers shaping the promotional campaign are examples of real world reasons to consider CVCC. For example, "Real credits. Real advantages." promotes the benefits of CVCC's two-year transfer program.
Art showcases photographs of individuals who are occupied in gratifying and remunerative futures that grow out of the unique talents and interests that were nurtured at the College. To provide vision and save time, we delivered a series of ad templates to CVCC's Graphic Designer. Theme, established. Workload, lightened.

TV spot storyboard for Central Virginia Community Colllege
An illustrated TV spot storyboard outlines scenes and copy

A Really Exciting Future

CVCC has taken the campaign design templates and run with them. In the few short weeks since project conclusion, the team placed radio, TV, and billboard ads featuring the new "Get Real" art and messaging. With integrated strategy and creative, CVCC is really ready for the new school year.