Ohio State’s alumni are among our most important audiences: They chose the university to further their education and remain highly aware of life on campus. As marketers, we nurture this important relationship and drive further affinity for Ohio State by managing compelling experiences.
Project: Sustain and celebrate the lifelong connections alumni have with one another, the university and the world
Goal: Drive continued affinity for Ohio State to give, volunteer and advocate
Marketing objectives: Increased alumni awareness of and engagement with the Ohio State alumni network
Audience: Alumni of The Ohio State University
Strategy: Create and manage a compelling alumni experience that is tailored to graduates’ special relationship with Ohio State: an exciting, inspiring and welcoming “Gathering Place.” It is important to note that “place” is a state of mind and heart. It transcends physical location and channel. We want to drive alumni to return to this “place” time and again, reaffirming and sustaining their Ohio State relationship with each and every touch point.
Partners: University Marketing, Alumni Association
To get started, we used quantitative and qualitative research to delve into the hearts and minds of our alumni and how they experience Ohio State:
- Reader surveys following each print magazine
Insight: Understand which topics readers prefer and which stories they remember, and discern overall impressions of the magazine
- In-person and telephone interviews with Ohio State alumni of various positions, ages and interests
Insight: Understand communication preferences
- Interviews with Ohio State Advancement, administrative, academic leadership and subject-matter experts
Insight: Understand what the university and alumni association want to accomplish with the magazine
Actionable themes emerged
- Alumni said they wanted to see more of themselves and fellow graduates in the magazine: “I want to connect with other alumni on a personal level. Hear the backstories, the failures that led to accomplishments.”
- They want more of an experience, with complementary stories across print and digital channels that work together to create a highly engaging user experience: “An emphasis on news we can use. Content that conveys, ‘Here’s a gift. Here’s something for you.’”
How we brought the strategy to life
We created a "Gathering Place": Throughout the magazine, in features and recurring sections, we gave readers destinations where they could show up and find their people – places populated by interesting characters, storytelling and conversations they are invited to join.
Celebrating graduation years: Ohio State is proud of its alumni accomplishments — and that includes the writers, photographers and others involved with generating content. We include the graduation years of content contributors — a new way of showcasing alumni outcomes and a signal that the magazine is produced by a group that includes, but is not exclusively, alumni.
Visually distinct “alumni viewpoints” add alumni voices to the magazine in a new way.
Show us — don't tell us about — the "Gathering Place": With words and visuals, the magazine has a warm and friendly tone, appropriate for a publication seeking to nurture a close relationship.
You are always invited,
always welcome to
spend time here,
Buckeye to Buckeye. ”
Jim Smith '91 MA
President and CEO
The Ohio State University Alumni Association
Advice from a Buckeye icon. Alumnus Eddie George has worn multiple hats: Heisman-winning football player, landscape architect, stage actor. How does this apply to you? In “A script for finding work you’ll love,” he shares words of wisdom for Buckeyes seeking a career change.
“An art-filled stroll from campus to downtown.” Anyone can tell you about town/gown connections. In the digital form, we showed it by mapping out an interactive walking tour of “7,000 of the best steps you can take in Columbus, an anything-but-pedestrian tour that connects the culture of the university with the culture of the city. Lace up your sneakers — and don’t forget your fitness tracker.”
Engaging content that shares Ohio State’s traditions.
Just because Ohio State is smart, doesn’t mean we always have to be serious.
This “Gathering Place” is not limited to any one product; it serves as the basis for storytelling decisions and tone in marketing communications to alumni that include the print and digital magazines, newsletters, email, event invitations, etc.
That's the percentage of readers who spent 30 minutes or more reading the new magazine, a 10 percent increase over previous issues.
This percentage of readers say the magazine makes them feel more connected to Ohio State.
That's how many readers say Ohio State Alumni Magazine makes them proud to be a Buckeye.