Attracting new university students with effective brochure marketing

Do you want to boost the number of applications to your university? According to the latest statistics, studying for the majority of students stands at £9,250 for courses beginning in 2018. Although there are some exceptions — for students studying in Wales, for instance, as well as Scottish and Northern Irish students studying in their home countries — this large fee could cause young people to reconsider applying for a university spot.


You need marketing material that is going to promote your university, encourage students to consider your establishment and persuade them to stick with higher education — regardless of the heightened fees. For advice on creating an effective brochure that will engage and attract the best students, simply follow this guide created specifically for university marketing by Where The Trade Buys — a UK leader in booklet printing.

Basic features you must know about brochure designing

An overview of designing and creating a brochure is essential. To start, each page’s headline, subheading and body copy must be clear in content and layout. For example, your headings must be attractive, your text must be descriptive and your subheadings should act as a bridge that leads the prospective student from the attention-grabbing header to the informative body copy.


You may have already noticed, but a brochure is designed in thirds. The ‘rule of thirds’ — both vertically and horizontally — will help you line-up text boxes and images to create a neater, more professional layout. Luckily, a tri-fold brochure automatically creates a vertical third — just don’t put important information on the folded parts.


Now, it’s time to consider fonts and how they can attract or deter a viewer. Limit yourself to two font styles and three font sizes, maximum. Also, don’t embolden or over italicize too much text — this should only be done to emphasise a point. The more often you do it, the less power your words will have.


Now, you need to learn about the key features of a university brochure to make sure you produce an effective final product.

Tell students about what interests them

Unlike decades ago, people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to attend university. In the 2016-17 academic year, there were approximately 2.32 million students at higher education establishments in the UK. So, your marketing material must work to harness the interest of a vast number of people from all backgrounds.


Maintaining positivity and enthusiasm is key in your brochure. Be inspiring and show excitement to conjure up a positive image in your prospective students’ mind. Phrases like modern city, award-winning courses and thriving student life are bound to pique interest! But, be sure to pay attention to the following sectors:


  • Funding: are scholarships available?
  • Employability: will students secure a job?
  • Accommodation: are living standards good?
  • Nightlife: how good is the social life — what lies around your campus counts towards it appeal!


We’d recommend devoting a portion of your brochure to each of the above questions — they’re what your student cares about. However, don’t forget that out-of-class activities and studying abroad opportunities can really help you grab interest and push your university higher up in a student’s wish-list when it comes to UCAS applications.

Be eye-catching to grab attention

At university fairs and exhibitions, competing universities will be going all out to encourage the best of the UK’s newest wave of students to choose their establishments. According to a report in The Guardian, British sixth formers achieved some of the best A-level grades for several years at the end of the latest school term. So, how can you grab their attention when lined up next to hundreds of other tables representing other UK universities?


Time and effectiveness are two features you must always bear in mind — if your brochure doesn’t grab attention instantly and hold it, you’re going to suffer. According to the most recent research, marketing material has a maximum of eight seconds to grab attention. Therefore, your brochure needs to be bold and attractive. If red or yellow are your university colours, be sure to use these to your advantage. Red is considered the most attention-grabbing colour to humans, while yellow is the most visible to the human eye.


Emotions also play a part in choosing a university, so make sure your text evokes excitement and inspiration — think about Durham University’s ‘Let’s make things happen’ header, as well as ‘Redefine your future’ used by the University of Stirling. These are inspirational and will get the reader imagining what their life could be like if they studied at your institution.

What is your prospective student searching for?

In order to create any form of print marketing material, you must know your audience and what they want from you — but how can you thoroughly research what your prospective students want? When trying to attract new students, the University of York carried out extensive research over three years into 71% of its departments to discover why a student might want to choose here for their higher education courses. Afterwards, the university created and distributed engaging brochures and online content that connected with prospective students and showed them exactly why they should choose the University of York. The director of external relations at the university, John Concannon, said that the marketing material has been “positively received by prospective students and parents at open days”, and even lead to a “culture change in departments when it comes to undergraduate recruitment”.


Schedule time to visit each of your university’s departments and chat with staff and students to find out what people on each course enjoy and desire from a university.

The power of imagery and words

Social media is everywhere, and it’s particularly prevalent among your target audience. Did you know that visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other content types?


Images infuse your brochure with personality, colour and a sense or ‘realness’. For the best results, use images that depict students collaborating and having a good time. Show students laughing, participating in sports, using hi-tech equipment, and collaborating on projects to highlight opportunities available at your establishment and hold the audience’s attention. According to research published in the Journal of Chemical Education, the first spike in attention lapse occurs just 30 seconds after engaging in an activity (in this case, a lecture). If you’re handing your brochures out at colleges, sixth forms and schools, you need them to remain interesting if you want to retain their engagement.

Can key statistics influence an audience?

Data, like imagery, can have a more instant and lasting effect on your audience when placed in a brochure. 90% of your university’s research recognised around the world? Invest more than £10 million in facilities last year? 98% satisfaction rating in the latest national Student Survey? As part of your research, collect important data that you believe will prove how beneficial your university will be for an undergraduate. You can either place these within your copy body, or create a graphic of the most impressive ones.

Get your current students on board to help!

All over your university, you have students that can significantly help you come up with a brochure marketing strategy. So, why not use your students to your advantage during your marketing campaigns? Ask your design students to mock up a brochure that they reckon would work to promote your university, and get your marketing students involved by letting them project manage and make critical decisions on content.


They’re also an excellent source of knowledge for researching purposes. Send out surveys via the university emailing list or question students when they’re relaxing in their communal areas to gain an insight into what matters to them and why they chose to study at your institution.



Think about who you’re targeting — an excited, motivated and eager group of people who are keen to start the next chapter of their lives. They want content that’s exciting and easily digested, and they don’t want to be bombarded with lifeless language, irrelevant statistics and condescending tones. Consider colour, layout, copy, and imagery; and make sure you create a positive identity that a new student will want to engage with. This is the stage of life when your audience is at its most aspirational, so complement their excitement and show them how your university can help them fulfil those dreams.