Case Study – Creating a Promotional Marketing Guide

Marketing Promotion for Sun Prairie Summer SchoolClient: Sun Prairie School District

Brief: Sun Prairie School District, implements summer enrichment courses for incoming grade 4 through year 12 students who reside in the Sun Prairie Area School District. The summer program offers one of the largest and most diverse summer programs in the state of Wisconsin. Since it began in 2017, they’ve worked hard at promoting it to their community. They knew from the start that sending a marketing brochure home or advertising once in the local Sun Prairie newspaper wasn’t going to be enough. Something special was needed to reach busy parents and motivate them to sign their children up. They wanted to convince those parents as well as the students to think of summer as an opportunity for learning.

From the beginning, Sun Prairie Area School District reached out to Tingalls Graphic Design with the task of designing a full-size magazine-style marketing brochure to persuade their school families and get the word out. It needed to enhance program marketing and be a useful tool for potential students and parents to navigate their summer requirements. This is the third year in a row that Tingalls has been involved in this successful program.

Sun Prairie Summer Guide Cover

A Design Challenge:

Some of the techniques the designer applied to present the school district’s message in a consistent, engaging way was by:

  • creating a fresh look using their brand standards
  • incorporating the colors and logo identity within the design
  • promoting supporting businesses by providing each with a unique strip within the design listing their key selling points and eye-catching images
  • using a format that was easily readable
  • creating a format that was not only mailable but also could be presented digitally
  • presenting important information in a variety of ways including an original infographic, bold layouts and highlighting key selling points with relevant, attention-grabbing imagery and photography

Knowing your audience is the first step in this type of design process. Working with a school district requires considering three main “clients” as your audience. This includes the parents, the children, and the community.

The Children

Captivating attention of the younger generation involves advertising to their likes and needs. So, the manual focused on the fun-filled activities the program had to offer. We captured the ”feel good” atmosphere of the schedule within the manual. By putting ourselves into their shoes, we were able to display what they would want to see and what would bring them to the program. But motivating children and teens to act, in most cases, requires talking to their parents to support their desire to attend.

The Parents

Planning the manual to appeal towards the parents as well followed the same strategy of those for children. Our aim focused on promoting the incentives that parents will be inclined to follow. This included skill development, and unique opportunities for children to grow as individuals. The manual’s goal was to help easily identify the benefits to their children.

The Community

The community the program operates in contributed to its support, so we placed them in prime spots within the manual. The goal was to build the look to add to the idea that this summer program is community supported and very accessible.

Sun Prairie Summer Program Guide

The Designer’s Perspective

Sitting down with our designer, Kallie, revealed an exciting process where she took her role as the messenger very seriously. Balancing creativity with a slew of information that needed to be laid out logically and convincingly required a meticulous approach and a trusted relationship with the client.

Speaking to Three Audiences

You had three audiences (community, children, parents) to address on behalf of the client. What unique challenges did you see in the design process for that?

The main challenge was creating a book that was on-brand with their new look yet brought in an element of playfulness. They wanted to make sure when it arrived in the mail, it looked like it came from the Sun Prairie School District. It also needed to stand out in a fun and engaging way. In a way that children would also want to look at it and sign up for the classes.

Staying On Brand

How did you go about creating a fresh look (since ‘it’s been done in the past? So, staying true to brand but making it unique)

I used all the same elements (fonts, colors, sunburst graphic) that define the SPSD brand, but in a more playful way. We went back to basic shapes as inspiration. I used triangles and circles throughout the piece to create visual interest. The photos were placed either in a circle, or photoshopped the background out to create softer lines to contrast the sharpness of the triangles.

Information vs Selling

How did you make the critical selling points stand out so that it was not only an information guide but a sales tool?

Every page had bright, fun, playful photography to break up the copy. I made sure there was never just a page of copy, so even without reading anything, it looked fun. All the salesy stuff was at the beginning of the book. And the info about the actual classes began at the back with color-coding. It made it easy for parents to know right where to look.

Positive Outcomes

As part of its summer school recruitment process, the guide has offered significant value to the Sun Prairie School District. As a result of this marketing initiative, the program continues to grow. The site has received more website views. There has been an increase in attendance as well as a high percentage of return students every year since it started.

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