Since online colleges and universities were examined in "Activity Highlights," I wanted to spotlight a standard small college and its use of an old-fashioned but excellent piece of collegiate direct mail in order to recruit new students.
Using a four-color #12 envelope pack, Cornell College is likely to get noticed in the stack of mail awaiting the prospective student's parents when they get home from work (Archive code #596-717795-0906). The front shows four students huddled on a couch and clearly enjoying themselves, as they all appear to be mid-laugh. The copy text is stylized, using a graphic font and only lowercase type: "go ahead. color outside the lines" and then "look inside... 7 (or more) things we wish you knew."
That unusual front of the outer gives way to a more typical approach on the back, which cleverly uses a shot of one of the oldest buildings on Cornell College's campus when the leaves are changing that blends into another photograph on an extremely modern building. The name of the college is superimposed over the shots, along with the copy, "One of the nation's best, One-Course-At-A-Time."
Inside, only a letter and BRE await. But the letter is oversized to match the width of the #12 (10"), and it also unfolds to 15-1/2" long. Addressing the prospect, the letter tries to match the mood that she might be in: "One final choice to make, so many colleges from which to choose! How to narrow down the list of possibilities?"
Then it takes a little bit of a gamble in the second paragraph, after stating that "Cornell College is one of the nation's finest AND most distinctive colleges." It tells the prospect that "you will be able to decide by the end of this letter whether Cornell should make your short list of college options."
It follows that bold prediction with four points that attempt to support the "finest" and "distinctive" descriptives. The first mentions the school's reputation for its "innovative One-Course-At-A-Time" academic calendar that it believes is the "best way to learn and to prepare for a career." The second discusses its extremely good value. The third talks about how diverse yet close its community is. And the final point mentions the school's "great location" in the historic town of Mount Vernon, Iowa.
And what about "7 things" teaser? That is mentioned in the final paragraph, and it's a new brochure called "7 (or more) things we wish you knew (about making your college choice)." The mailing positions this brochure as a premium in order to generate a strong lead. The reply form perfed to the bottom, called an "information request," is simple and clearly made in-house (so it looks unique).
Finally, four more smiling faces (and new ones) of current students appear on the letter's right margin, and each give a strong testimonial about the college.