How to get the best students to your university with brochure marketing


Currently, you may be considering how you can boost UCAS applications for your university. Aside from using digital platforms, an effective technique for promoting any brand or organisation is brochure marketing.

According to the latest statistics, the cost of 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, which means you need something innovative to encourage these students to go onto further education at your university.

Not sure how to go about designing a university brochure? For advice on creating an effective brochure that will engage and attract the best students, simply follow this guide created specifically for universities by Where The Trade Buys — an expert in perfect-bound brochure printing and booklet printing in the UK.

Research your university’s courses and students

Creating an effective brochure targeted at the right audience is all about the research — and you won’t engage with prospective students as well without it. 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.

John Concannon, director of external relations at the university, 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”. Each course is diverse, so learn as much as you can about each department. 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.

Grab your reader’s attention instantly

According to research, visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other content types — does this mean your print brochure will benefit from imagery? Undoubtedly. Images are simple way to give personality to your brochure and make it more ‘user friendly’. Photos that convey an emotion or display an action are best, so snap your 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.

Attracting your audience’s attention is one thing, but what’s the point if they become instantly disinterested? 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. Therefore, make sure each sentence is relevant and interesting, and pepper each page with colour, graphics and photos to make it look easier and more fun to read.

Match your potential student’s excitement

You have a wide audience to attract when promoting your university — in the 2016-17 academic year, there were approximately 2.32 million students at higher education establishments in the UK. But how do encourage young adults to choose your university over others?

Which topics you concentrate on and how you describe them will be critical to your brochure’s success. By using optimistic, inspiring and exciting language in your brochure, you can 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! As for topics, be sure to pay attention to the following sectors:

  • Employability (securing a job).
  • Nightlife (socialising).
  • Accommodation (good living standards).
  • Funding (getting a scholarship).


Students want the whole ‘uni experience’, so the above are vital to them when looking for a university. Also, 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.

Enlist the help of your students

You’re missing a trick if you don’t encourage your current students to lend a hand with this marketing project! 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. We’re sure they’ll enjoy the real-life experience, and this will also give you a sneak-peek of your brochure before it’s handed to the printers. As you’re working together, your students can also help you gauge what new students might be looking for, so you can tailor your brochure content more effectively.

Stand out against other universities

Grades are going up, so we should expect a rise in university submissions, as students are gaining confidence in their academic abilities. 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 students’ attention when lined up next to hundreds of other tables representing other UK universities at fairs and exhibitions?

Young adults today prefer their content to be bitesize, easy to digest, fun to read, and clear— no student is going to waste time making sense of text that doesn’t tell them clearly and instantly why they should go to your uni. According to the most recent research, marketing material has a maximum of eight seconds to grab attention — so make it 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.

Using text that evokes a feeling or emotion can also help to engage with your target audience. Think about Durham University’s ‘Let’s make things happen’ header and ‘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.

Use key stats to boost your university’s appeal

Make your audience take notice and carry on reading more by packing your brochure with inspiring facts and stats. 90% of your university’s research recognised around the world? 98% satisfaction rating in the latest national Student Survey? Invest more than £10 million in facilities last year? 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. Few students will spend time reading full bodies of text, so grab their attention by using key statistics to boost your university.  

What you must remember about brochure deign

Now we’ve discussed the specific details relevant to your industry, we’ll look at the basics of brochure designing. To begin, 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.  

Nothing looks more unprofessional than a mix of fonts on a page, so 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. Do you know about the ‘rule of thirds’? This design rule, which applies to paper 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 you know the bones of brochure design, you can start making yours stand out against your competitors.  

Overall, you should make sure that colours are attractive, the layout is clear, copy is interesting, and imagery is quality. The key to a successful university brochure is complementing your audience’s excitement and aspiration. So, deliver exciting and easily digested content that doesn’t bombard readers with lifeless language, irrelevant statistics and condescending tones.

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