Central Michigan University’s spring marketing campaign focused primarily on heavy population centers within the state, which drew the largest amount of students to the university.
The largest advertising campaign was launched in metro Detroit. However, CMU’s spring campaign was focused on four different regions in the state, according to Director of Public Relations Steve Smith.
Additional marketing campaigns were also launched in Mid-Michigan, focusing on the cities of Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Midland; in Western Michigan, with a focus on Grand Rapids, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo; and Southeastern Michigan, with a focus on Lansing and Jackson.
CMU spent $923,108.70 in marketing expenditures in 2012-13, an increase from 2011-12′s $201,409.47 spent.
Excluding digital marketing, 45 percent of advertising expenses were spent in the metro Detroit area, 29 percent on the Grand Rapids market, and 13 percent on both the Flint and Lansing markets.
Oakland County, targeted by the marketing campaign in metro Detroit, sends the largest number of students to CMU’s campus out of any other of Michigan’s 83 counties, accounting for 571 new freshmen in 2012.
Wayne County was second on the list with 376 new freshmen. Macomb held the third most at 276 with Kent in fourth at 189.
“Southeast Michigan has been a major market for us. It has been the core for decades, it is the major population area of the state; it is just logical that we have a greater draw from southeast Michigan,” said Associate Vice President of University Communications Sherry Knight.
Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Kent – the state’s four largest counties – are home to 45 percent of Michigan’s population. A total of 35.9 percent of on-campus students in fall 2012 came from the four counties.
Knight said marketing in metro Detroit not only helps draw in new students from its most reliable region, but it reaches to other areas around the state.
“Our media efforts, from an advertising perspective, are really focused in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids and Lansing,” Knight said. “When you hit those population areas, you are hitting a much larger audience. When you look at the Detroit market, you’re getting all of Southeast Michigan, down to the Toledo area.”
Mid-Michigan counties that were actively campaigned in also brought in a high number of students in 2012, compared to the rest of the state, with 288 students coming from Genessee, Saginaw, Bay and Midland counties.
Western Michigan counties with active campaigns brought in 246 students from Kent, Calhoun and Kalamazoo in 2012.
Southeast Michigan counties with active campaigns brought in 99 students from Jackson and Ingham County in 2012.
Although a billboard campaign was established to focus on tourists traveling to northern Michigan, according to Knight, Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula were not a focus in CMU’s marketing efforts.
“What you do in marketing to be effective is figure out where your target audiences are,” Knight said. “You don’t have all the money in the world; if we were to blanket the whole state, it will be millions upon millions of dollars.”
Smith said the methods and message of CMU’s marketing remained consistent throughout Michigan.
“You want to come up with a campaign that is consistent,” Smith said. “Our overall goal is to help prospective students see themselves at Central.”
Steven Johnson, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said CMU is looking to increase their marketing campaigns beyond state borders into Illinois.
“Well, we’ve always had a presence,” Johnson said. “…Illinois is our second largest state draw.”
Yet advertising in Illinois will be complicated, according to Knight.
“What do you do in Chicago when the rates to advertise there are off the charts,” Knight said. “The rates to advertise in Chicago versus even Detroit, let alone Lansing and Grand Rapids, are off the charts. You have to be strategic.”