NMU acquires more billboards with new marketing plan

Maggie Saemann

Northern Michigan University will spend an estimated $273,000 this academic year in a comprehensive effort to recruit new students with billboard advertisements.

re-marketinginitiativecolor-etThere are currently six NMU billboards up in Wisconsin that NMU obtained and six in the Lower Peninsula. By January, it is projected there will be a total of 13 NMU billboards in the Upper Peninsula. The billboards in all three areas have the same general goal—to get the university’s name out there and to encourage students to enroll.

Depending on the area the billboard is in, the theme, images, and text differ, said Kelsey Potes, NMU marketing manager.

“In the U.P., the billboards are focused on the academic programs, so we use things like small class sizes and big jobs to intrigue viewers,” Potes said. “But downstate and in Wisconsin, they’re more about the ‘Northern Experience,’ so they’re mainly student-taken photos and they all say ‘Start Your Story’ as well as having  #ShareNMU on them too.”

Potes believes the billboards are a necessary marketing tool for the university.

“So many competitors throughout the region have boards, so it’s really apparent when we don’t,” she said.

She said the billboards have already caused potential students to take action.

“Just this week, our director of admissions told me that someone who was at our Presidential Scholars Competition was there because she saw a billboard in Oshkosh,” Potes said. “So that was really cool to hear. I think they were definitely a good investment.”

Derek Hall, assistant vice president of university marketing and communications, announced the initiative for the billboards at the Fall University Forum on Oct. 26, 2016 and said the boards are necessary for NMU’s marketing approach.

However, acquiring billboards in the U.P. has been a challenge because there are so few, yet so many competitive businesses, Hall said.