Need more qualified applicants for your scholarships? The first step is to make sure your potential applicants hear about your scholarships in the first place. Here are three scholarship promotion strategies that can increase awareness and drive more applications.
Strategy #1: Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is generally considered the most effective form of marketing, so it’s our top recommendation for promoting your scholarships. As soon as your scholarships are ready to accept applications, reach out to four key groups of people for scholarship promotion help:
- Engage alumni and past recipients to help spread the word. Prepare a short message for alumni to post on social media about the scholarship and send an email with all the scholarship details for them to forward on to their networks. Making it simple for alumni to share your message will increase the chances that they do.
- Inform local high school guidance counselors and major employers. Guidance counselors can shepherd high school students through the application process while local employers will help you reach non-traditional students. Focus on those organizations that are likely to employ students who are a good match for the scholarships that lack applicants. For example, if you want more applicants for your nursing scholarship, your local hospitals and major medical centers will be the best places to focus your scholarship promotion energy.
- Notify your institution’s instructors and counselors. Instructors have a lot of face time with students, so they’re well-positioned to promote your scholarships for you. Make sure to inform campus staff if your scholarships are available to part-time students, too. Since part-time students don’t qualify for financial aid, they may be extra motivated to apply for scholarships.
- Remind your reviewers and volunteers. Scholarship reviewers can be enthusiastic supporters of your institution in addition to being pretty knowledgeable about your scholarship offering, making them great scholarship advocates. Ask them to spread the word among their friends and family!
Strategy #2: Contact Potential Applicants Directly
If you collect student phone numbers and email addresses when students apply to your institution, you can send messages through those channels to promote scholarships. Just make sure you receive permission from students to contact them in this way.
Social media advertising is another way you can reach students directly. Its primary benefit is that you can target a very specific market in terms of age, location, and interests. You can also fine-tune your promotions based on budget and need. For example, you can promote all of your scholarships continuously or only those scholarships that are lacking qualified applicants as the deadline nears. The key to a successful social media campaign is to check in your ads’ performance regularly to make sure you’re getting the results you want. Learn more about using social media platforms to reach prospective scholarship applicants.
Senior Days and similar events in your community provide the chance for you to talk to potential applicants face to face. During your presentation, you can ask students to text a friend or two to spread the word about your scholarship opportunities.
Strategy #3: Early Bird Deadlines
If all of your scholarships share the same application due date, consider implementing an early bird deadline to attract more applicants. Offer students the chance to qualify for an additional small scholarship if their applications are received before the early bird deadline. Motivated students will complete their applications early, allowing for plenty of time to troubleshoot any problems they have with the process. Plus, the early bird deadline gives you more opportunities to contact students about the deadlines and incentives.
By employing these three strategies, you can drive more awareness of your scholarship program and increase the overall number of applications you receive, which is a great first step to ensuring a successful scholarship cycle. To make sure your applicants are well qualified, read our guide to increasing qualified applicants, too.