How to Make the Leap to an Interactive Viewbook : Newark Academy

Chosen because Newark Academy answered the classic enrollment marketing question, “Do we print another viewbook?” with the answer “No” and developed an interactive viewbook instead.

Many schools are wrestling with the question of how much enrollment marketing to take online and how much to keep in print. Newark Academy Director of Admission and Enrollment Management Will Taylor had been considering the question for years, wondering if the print viewbooks they produced, which “end up on coffee tables in the best case,” were worth the expense and lack of flexibility. Print and mailing costs add up, and the long lifespans of hard-copy pieces limit the information that can be included. And then there’s the change in audience expectations. “This is a digital generation,” Will said. “They want their information quickly, online.” When both the website and viewbook were due to be redone, the time was right.

Online Upside?

Admissions and Advancement departments worked together on the new website and viewbook, which is accessed from the homepage, and Creosote Affects provided the online viewbook expertise. In addition to long-term savings on printing and postage, the two main advantages of going online, according to Will, are that it can include more changeable information as well as video. “For the family who comes to an info session on a weekend and doesn’t get a full-day visit, this gives a quality look inside the classroom.”

NA didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The brand developed for the previous viewbook, titled The Five Advantages of a Newark Academy Education, was working for the school, but after using it for five years, they wanted to keep the basic messaging but refresh it. “I’m a big fan of The Five Advantages. We pushed them for many years. Creosote modernized the language for the digital audience.”

 

Any Downside?

Newark Academy didn’t abandon print entirely, opting for a small search piece companion. Will admits it hasn’t been quite enough. “I’m of a generation that wants to put something in their hands. In the first year, prospects—not inquiries—do still want something. At fairs, they look at us a little funny because they’re used to getting stuff at the ‘flea market.’ We don’t even have them fill out inquiry cards, because we want them to go to the website to provide their information. Other than the search piece and a small giveaway (a notepad), we had nothing to put in people’s hands.” So the school developed a few stand-alone pieces on particular programs: the International Baccalaureate and the immersion requirement.

Words of Advice?

On the whole, Will is hopeful that the switch to a virtual viewbook will pay off. Just because it’s online and can be revised doesn’t mean the process should be any less thorough, however. “Make sure that you’re more concerned with getting it perfect than with a launch date that someone else gives you. Take your time, and dot the i’s and cross the t’s. There may be some tweaks later, but you want the quality to represent your school.”

 

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Andrea Lehman

STRATEGIST, WRITER, AND EDITOR  Andrea Lehman is a freelance marketing strategist, writer, and editor for independent schools and colleges as well as for travel guides. Author of Fodor’s Around Philadelphia with Kids, she previously was Editorial Director of the School Division (college and independent secondary school guides) for Peterson's Guides. She and her daughters are the proud products of terrific independent school educations.