Dear Duck friends, don’t go getting your feathers ruffled, but we’re loving the color orange, and Beavers, and Corvallis, and it seems like they love us back. But never fear: the last time we checked, beavers and ducks really can share the same pond. Read on for details about what we’re doing to help the OSU Alumni Association share its story and recruit members.
The OSU Alumni Association does a lot of communicating, to a lot of constituencies. From current members, to students, and across campus, there’s plenty going on and thousands of people who need to know about it. Last year, the group decided it needed a steady go-to for graphic design support, plus an infusion of outside creativity and strategic thinking. Beyond simply getting the work done, the team was looking for help framing messages and cutting through the clutter that competes for members and prospective members’ attention.
There was a two-day pause between learning that Verb got this contract and when we were put to work. We love that kind of energy and speed.
First we jumped into all things football. Every away game demands a suite of printed collateral, and a complementary set of electronic images. We summoned up all the fun we could muster and quickly produced tickets, invitations, eNews banners and the like to promote tailgaters and watch party participation. We had such fun creating a custom look for each venue and opposing team.
Football season was over in a flash, and there was another flurry of special events demanding elegant invitations. It was deadline time for ads placed in the popular Stater alumni magazine. Another member favorite is the association’s calendar. We quickly brainstormed a variety of concepts, dispatched a photographer, and created 2012 from start to finish.
Springtime is membership recruitment time, and we created campaigns for lapsed members, people who have donated but not joined, and alumni in Beaver-heavy geographies, like Seattle.
Through all this work, we’ve lent more than our graphic design abilities. We’ve tried to give voice to the joy, pride and fun that OSU represents to graduates. We’ve also employed all we know about direct marketing, particularly direct mail. Most of all, we’ve been available to staff for brainstorming, for second opinions and for problem solving.
After the initial catch-up period, we were able to catch our breath and sit down with the calendar and a budget, to learn about the bigger picture goals. Membership levels are declining for all but one alumni association in the PAC 12, and one of the things we’re doing to help OSU reverse the trend is to research what it is that’s working for that single outlier. Most alumni associations offer the same programs and services, so we’re curious as to what’s behind the anomaly. Once we find it, we’ll add that to our quiver of strategic and creative tools. We look forward to reporting back on the results this has for OSU.
In the meantime, the pressure has eased on the association’s staff – or at least let them address some of the many other projects. Our function as an extension of their team is rewarding for everyone. We believe every organization needs to have this sort of an arrangement in place to allow them to stay true to strategy, on time and to meet goals.
We competed for this work in 2011. We’re told that what won the team over was our flexible approach, sense of creativity, and our roots in alumni associations. We’d worked for the UO Alumni Association on occasion, and Cathy knows the nuts and bolts (and balance sheets) from her time on the UOAA Board of Directors.
Today, here’s what Ben Danley has to say “We could see that besides their purely professional qualifications, the Verb team has an edge of creativity and humor that would serve our creative well. But it’s served our staff well. There’s so much going on, and there are so many deadlines that Doug and Cathy’s steadiness, combined with their flexibility and sense of humor, is a relief valve for us.”