Ad campaign attracts more CE students

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By Rosanne Van Vierzen

More money for eye-catching transit ads brought more continuing education students to Ryerson this year.

Continuing education (CE) made boosting enrolment a priority, so the department diverted marketing dollars from its $280,000 print budget for a bigger advertising campaign.

“Our goal was to reverse the trend of declining enrolment, and to increase recognition,” said Amy Casey, CE’s associate director of administration.

“The enrolment numbers were declining year to year, and we had the capacity to serve more students,” Casey said.

The advertising campaign begun last August was successful. CE’s fall enrolment increased by 8.5 per cent to 14,772 students registered in courses in September, up 1,169 students from 1997 fall enrolment.

At $350 a CE course, the school pulled more than $400,000 over last fall’s revenue, which doesn’t account for increased costs from offering more classes.

Winter enrolment is up over last year as well, but the figures aren’t in yet because the school was shut for several days last week during the bad weather.

“After evaluation, the bigger campaign was worth it. The ads made a significant difference in enrolment,” said CE dean Marilynn Booth.

The school has a $280,000 budget for print publications, which includes advertisements and the 1998/99 course calendar, said CE accountant John Love.

He said this budget didn’t change over last year, but the way the funds were allocated to put 1,600 ads in buses and subways promoting CE’s information nights.

“We surveyed our continuing education students and found that the majority of them travel by transit to get here, so the ads were put in buses and on the subway,” Booth said.

In addition to transit ads, CE ran a low-budget television commercial, placed adds in The Toronto Star, and distributed printed information to targeted postal codes where many CE students live. Some CE faculties also spend money outside the print budget for their own ads, Love said.

Ryerson’s CE school, which offers certificate programs and more than 1,000 courses, seminars and workshops, is planning to keep the expanded ad campaign.

“We’ve now established student attraction, but we have yet to retain our students,” Casey said. “There are still a lot of things to improve in our marketing.”

Casey said CE will hire a marketing person for the next school year to oversee internal and external affairs and print and digital advertising, which would be the first person hired in recent years specifically for marketing.

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