Research suggests that the article needs to address the rising interest in individualized prep and combat the growing number of cheaper alternatives. In order to break down the stereotype that larger prep companies have rigid, corporate systems that inhibit effective prep, our sponsored content will use a series of personal narratives to illustrate how the company's services can be customized based on background, ability, and need in order to brand the company's services as accessible and effective to all.
Objective: Write an effective sponsored content article for a college prep consulting agency that will be promoted through Facebook campaigns.
Currently overwhelmingly upper-middle-class and upper-class families with a history of higher education.
Prestigious and top-tier. A repercussion would be that it also gives the client a reputation of being exclusive and inaccessible to the average family.
The reinvention of the client’s brand image into a more inclusive one. Beyond brand awareness, the client hopes to acquire a more diverse set of customers going forward.
- > 50% of Facebook followers age 18-34, including high schoolers and parents
- Readers of all backgrounds: 44% of Facebook followers from lower and middle-income families
Highly respected newspaper. As it is run by some top students at a top college, The Crimson is also a very trustworthy source of academic news and advice.
We can present and recommend the client's services to a large group of our audience interested in prep. The brand association establishes credibility for the client's reinvented image.
8x cheaper cost per click than traditional advertisements
70% of people learn about companies through sponsored content vs. banner ads
VALUE PROP: Founded in 1873, The Crimson is the nation’s oldest continuously published college publication. With The Crimson’s newsprint on a hiatus, readers are now turning their attention entirely to our online presence, connecting with us on our website, social media, and the daily newsletter. With 2 million page views monthly and an impressive social media following, advertising through The Crimson is a great way to introduce your brand to our diverse audience. Our Facebook campaign + sponsored content package is rising in popularity because it attracts higher levels of reader interest than conventional advertising.
The client's image issue can be extrapolated to industry trends:
1. Inflexible Syllabus
Big names in the industry face growing scrutiny about their ability to provide adaptable, individualized prep for students of different backgrounds and abilities.
Name-brand companies struggle to attract students from lower-middle-class families because they are seen as expensive compared to startups or free services.
3. College Requirements
Some colleges are beginning to remove standardized testing requirements, given the disparity in resources between high and low-income families.
The sponsored content article is able to address the following solutions:
The article conveys the client's ability to cater to different academic and socioeconomic needs of various types of students by building first-person character profiles.
The article emphasizes that the client's services are still financially reasonable and its quality is more than worth the slightly higher cost through a testimonial narrative.
3. Holistic Review
The article highlights the company's mission of providing access to high-quality education for all through other components like essay revision and interview prep.
1. Color Palette
The article's main color will be blue but will use white, yellow, and gray for accenting.
Yellow and blue are associated with academia; Collegeboard sports these colors on its website, so using them in the article creates a sense of familiarity with the client.
These colors also combat the stress that students feel while going through the college application process. Studies have shown that yellow is associated with cheerfulness while blue is associated with comfort and security, which may make the service seem more relaxing and friendly to the reader.
2. Recurring Elements
We will be using circles as a recurring design element in this article. Studies have shown that roundness in design results in a judgment of the company’s services as more comfortable and customer-sensitive, which is what the article aims to do in order to address the personalization challenge that the client faces.
Moreover, these circles are reminiscent of multiple-choice bubbles such as the ones on standardized tests and therefore elicits purpose-association in the reader.
Modern styling reflects how the prep agency is moving away from old textbooks.
We will be using photographs as opposed to illustrations as our visuals.
This article is grounded in reality - we are marketing the actual stories of past customers to show how the service is effective, so we want to show photos of smiling students who are content with their results.
In addition, we want to reflect the diversity of customers in the photos so that readers can feel like they identify with each character and see themselves as potential customers as well.
The sponsored content article will begin with a paragraph introducing the client and its services, followed by five short stories of real students who are giving testimonials of their experience with the client and the results they have been able to see. Each short story will follow this structure:
Introduce the student and include details about their life that will enable readers to relate with them.
Introduce the academic challenge/problem that the student is faced with.
Introduce how the client was able to rise up and give the student a solution that was personalized to the student’s specific situation.
Conclude with how the student was able to overcome their challenge with the help of the client and was able to see their area of focus (e.g. score or essay) improve tremendously
The purpose of these paragraphs is to help convey a positive and accessible brand image for the client. Because we are trying to sell the product, we will also include a call to action after every short story: a button that will say "Unlock your potential with [CLIENT] today" that links to the client's website.
An example visual mockup with sample narrative text is below:
** For the actual article, we would have our narratives based on actual student testimonials about Company X. Thus, we would include actual statistics from real student testimonials.
Something You Can't Get from Books
I really like Math. After I graduate high school next year, I want to go to a good college and major in it. But before that, I need to focus on my SATs. I didn’t do as well as I hoped to on my PSATs (that annoying Critical Reading section...), but I know that if I study hard, I’ll get the scores that I need.
But studying hard is, well, hard. There are so many textbooks to navigate through, and none tell me exactly what to improve on based on my diagnostic tests and learning style. And to make that worse, I don't have consistent high-speed internet to filter through the flood of prep info online for hours at a time every day.
When I told my guidance counselor about my difficulty in preparing for the SAT, she told me about Company X, whose tutors host 1-on-1 video sessions online at an hourly rate. I was apprehensive at first because I heard that some private school kids use this service, and I definitely didn’t want to spend everything I have just to chat with someone for an hour, but my counselor reassured me that the prices were reasonable. She urged me to take advantage of the one-week trial just to see if I liked it. And I’m so glad she did.
Although I felt like Company X’s program didn’t completely match my learning style at first, my tutor adapted the syllabus to fit my needs over a fairly short period of time. He was very accomodating and made the process less daunting. When I emailed saying I was going to be too busy to call that week, he sent me a PDF of practice problems that were designed to refine my weaker skills. I sent my answers in for review, and he got back to me with a ton of feedback in a day. You can’t get that from a book!
Thanks to Company X, I’ve already seen a 50 point increase in my SAT score in three sessions! I’m planning on buying more lessons in order to raise my Critical Reading score a bit more and be on target for my dream school, where I could hopefully do a little more Math and a little less Critical Reading!
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