Culinary School Cooks up New Enrollments


A culinary school provides hands on training and a simulated work-like environment to prepare students with the skills, techniques and professionalism to achieve life long career goals. The center offers courses in hotel operations and commercial cooking and catering. The school enjoys a fairly steady enrollment due to their work with government assistance programs to help provide veterans and the disabled with the skills to achieve and maintain a rewarding career.


The success of the culinary school’s programs with their current government assistance clientele encouraged them to extend their program offerings for general enrollment. The center believed they could expand the impact of their programs by allowing more people the opportunity to learn and grow in the hospitality field. With a goal of increasing new student enrollment by 10 – 15 students per session, the school turned to Advance 360 because of our reputation for excellence, credibility of our expertise and data, and our team infrastructure to fully support and monitor their digital marketing efforts.


The Advance 360 digital team worked closely with the client to identify the types of student prospects to target and the most relevant geographies to reach them. With two locations in the New York metropolitan area, the digital team focused on the 5 boroughs of New York and developed a multi-channel strategy to connect with the optimal audience including Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Facebook Lead Generation, and Display Remessaging. As the campaigns became established, the strategy was expanded to include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and TrueView Video.

SEM (paid search) campaign to drive leads and conversions. The Advance 360 search team developed an exhaustive list of relevant search terms/keywords to connect with potential students with an interest in hospitality, cooking and culinary education. Naturally, with the vast number of general consumer searches for cooking-related topics, the search team also implemented an extensive list of negative keywords such as bakery, demonstration and celebrity chef names, for example, to maximize the search budget and prevent budget loss due to incompatible appearances on search result pages.

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Facebook Lead Generation ads extend brand awareness with a call to action. Facebook lead ads were targeted to Veterans to inform them of the government assistance programs as well as recent high school students who are just starting to think about a career path, and people specifically interested in a culinary career. Lead generation ads delivered prospect information immediately to the client’s email and CRM.

Display Remessaging ads reinforce the brand message and offer to recent website visitors. Among potential students that came to the school’s website via organic or paid marketing efforts to learn more about their programs, visitors that did not convert were served additional digital display messaging to keep the client top of mind and encourage conversion.

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SEO (organic search) expertise strengthens client’s website to improve organic rankings on search pages. The search team reviewed the client’s website and updated existing titles and descriptions with optimized content. They created a unique page for Veterans with fresh content and optimized images. The team also reworked and optimized their Google Business listings and helped to get their blog page functioning.

TrueView Video can provide the most engaging level of messaging to connect with an audience. What better way to highlight the school’s facilities, meet faculty, glimpse classes in action and hear from satisfied graduates to make a lasting impression on prospective students?

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per month on average

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Average 120 leads per month

Search & Facebook campaigns drove a high number of actionable leads to the client.

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56% Video View Rate

TrueView Video campaign garnered a 56% view rate which is over 2X the industry standard.

SEM 6% conversion rate

Client campaign conversion rate exceeded the education industry average by 77%

12-15 new students per
enrollment period

Campaigns achieved the client’s goal of 10-15 new students per session

Compelling Content, Downloads Top Performing Email Marketing

Whether you market in the B2B or B2C space, you likely use email as a primary tactic for lead generation. When used properly, attribution can be tracked from the email open rate to the site visit, and eventual appearance in-store or on your client list. In fact, in 2017, 205 respondents representing Business to Business marketing professionals named email as their top lead generation tactic.

So what should your email include in order to perform better than your competition? With surveys, trivia, or games and loyalty programs at the bottom of the list, many of the ideas that once served you well are becoming obsolete.

Compelling Content for each
Stage of the Buying Process

B-B2Bemail-icon-1content Compelling Content, Downloads Top Performing Email Marketing

56% of respondents named compelling content as the number one priority of any email campaign. Your customers will grow to trust that opening your communications provide a benefit. This may take time and dedication, but loyal clients are well worth it.

Downloadable Content

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Offer the material they just read as a download. But be sure you aren’t just restating already consumed content. The download should be more illustrative, provide further insight, or some other element to surprise and delight the audience — rewarding them for their click and print.

Audience Segmentation

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Not everyone cares about every topic, and your audience should be able to opt in or out by sharing their preferences. You don’t want to send an existing client the introductory offer, or the new client the 20% off for the item they just purchased. Know who you are messaging, and be sure the content of the email is relevant to him or her.


B-B2Bemail-icon-4automations Compelling Content, Downloads Top Performing Email Marketing

Emails should be sent to your clients based on actions they took, or “triggers.” Take the thank you email, for instance. The completion of a transaction should always trigger a message of genuine gratitude for their business, without the hope of something in return.

80% OF MARKETERS IN NORTH AMERICA NAME LEAD GENERATION AND BRAND AWARENESS AS THEIR TOP REASONS FOR CONTENT MARKETING. Begin with these tips for your email campaigns, and measure the results. You’ll find what others have found — that compelling content curated for your exact customer will build trust and the feeling of “special.”

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Your Biggest Marketing Challenges

If you are like most marketing professionals, you know that the list of challenges is long and sometimes overwhelming. As life-long practitioners of the craft, we seek ways to make things easier, better, convert more readily, generate more sales. We champion brands, strive for awareness, and pain to grow engagements. But we aren’t alone. From a North American survey of marketing pros, here is their list of challenges. Maybe it mirrors your own.

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Source: Statista

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Drive Enrollment and Combat Declining Numbers

Falling short of e-commerce revenue goals and experiencing a negative ROI on their marketing strategies and campaigns, our client needed a digital marketing strategy that efficiently allocated budget dollars to reverse this trend ASAP.

Offering online trainings and accreditations for specific industries/tracks, with no brick and mortar location, they had to be top of mind to drive a strong return within a set time-frame.

Advance 360 developed and executed an integrated program that ultimately increased their online enrollment while decreasing the investment they were making in SEM.


SEM has increased as a result of newly implemented campaign management.

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Public, four-year state university leverages re-targeting to bring in Top Recruits

How can a state university recruit the most impressive student prospects online? Especially when there’s no database that tracks students by GPA or academic performance. For the College of Science at a four-year state university, recruiting high schoolers who excel in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) was a top priority. The state university worked with Advance 360 to reach STEM students online and increase enrollment in the College of Science.

We developed a four week digital campaign leading up to National Decision Day, when seniors choose which college to attend — researching the 40 top-performing STEM high schools in the four closest states. Half of the campaign went toward mobile in-app ads, geo-targeted to those schools. Any student who engaged with an ad and then left the area were retargeted later using the other half of the budget. In total, the university spent less than $3,000 to deliver 250,000 ad impressions over four weeks. By National Decision Day, the results were in.


How Much of Your Budget is Digital?

In December of 2016, just 25% marketing budgets averaged 70% of their dollars to digital efforts. 11% of those polled responded their budget less than 10% digital. Yet nearly half of the marketers cited content development as a leading tactic in their marketing.

80% of marketers in North America name lead generation and brand awareness as their top reasons for content marketing. But it isn’t enough to develop compelling and engaging content if you don’t take steps to bring your audience to it.

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Ensure that your website is mobile friendly. The smartphone is the preferred access point for 87% of users. If your site can’t be easily viewed and your content easily found while in line for coffee, the site and its architecture needs work. You must build the foundation for your business first, and that foundation is your website.

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Use pixels wisely. A re-messaging pixel is simply a device for finding someone that visited a page of content a second (or third) time. What you re-message these visitors with should be consistent with content they read, and over time introduce new topics and calls to action. These re-messages can drive your audience further down the funnel, introducing concepts or products that will pique interest. But don’t lean to heavily into this budget. Dial the re-messaging up too high, and your audience may be served multiple messages from you on the same page—wasting your precious dollars.

B-step3 How Much of Your Budget is Digital?

Social Media is a great place to start if you haven’t dedicated much of your budget to digital. With it you’ll learn how to target an audience, set a budget, and even list-match. These concepts can be expanded more broadly in digital display messaging, as you (and your budget) are ready. But don’t expect to “post and run.” Social media is a long play: you can’t disappear for weeks at a time. You must pay to play in this space, though you can start very small.

B-step4 How Much of Your Budget is Digital?

Open the digital floodgates. Sync your social media efforts with your digital display ones, using your learnings about what is most engaging. Segment audiences that you know have a propensity to convert, and experiment with frequencies to influence them to do so.

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Whatever your budget, recognize that when used properly, digital can dramatically reduce the amount of waste in your marketing spend, by highly targeting your exact audience and serving messages in their natural internet travels. Lower cost per acquisition? Check.

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Community College Garners Record Engagements (+253%)

The higher education market is highly competitive, especially for two-year colleges and community colleges that compete with four-year universities for students. Additionally, community colleges battle the negative perception that they are the post-secondary destination of “last resort.”

Community colleges thrived during the economic recession as students who were struggling to pay for a four-year university or to find work looked to improve their academic and professional credentials. As the economy recovered, community colleges have had to get creative in their marketing to potential students. Our client approached Advance 360 to construct a strategy targeting a very specific audience of community college prospects — summer transient students.


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The local community college was struggling to reach the summer transient students. These are students who live in the county, are eligible to take classes and have credits transferred back to their original institutions. In addition, the local community college wanted to reach the parents of children that are most likely to participate in summer classes.

The strategy that was created revolved primarily around three tactics to reach parents and students. First, targeting geographically, to focus on very specific locations where the likeliest audience exists. In this case, targets included six college campuses that would function like “feeder schools.” In social media, Advance 360 targeted students enrolled at schools nearest the community college and/or within a 40 mile radius of the city. Responsive Rich Media, or RRM, communicated the advantages of summer classes at the community college, in an engaging way.


B-CCengage-statsb Community College Garners Record Engagements (+253%)

Graduating Godly Individuals: Grace Christian University

Grace Bible College, a Grand Rapids, Michigan based institution in the community of Wyoming, is completing a comprehensive rebranding project. The scope of this effort included not just a rebrand and retooling of the organizational identity, but also a name change.

As the College was transitioning to its newly-awarded University status, it was also analyzing consumer sentiment, brand equity, shifting perceptions, and marketing efforts of recruiting in the Christian higher-education academic environment. “Our mission is to graduate Godly individuals prepared to serve Christ in Church and Society,” said Grace President and graduate Dr. Ken Kemper. “The transition to Grace Christian University will honor their legacy and strengthen our future.” This change positions the University to continue its great work under a new name.

“Our mission is to graduate Godly individuals prepared to serve Christ in Church and Society,” said Grace President and graduate Dr. Ken Kemper. The transition to Grace Christian University will honor their legacy and strengthen our future.”

Of the decision to bring a professional firm into the Grace environment to assist with the process, Brian Sherstad, Executive Vice President had this to say. “Even the decision to investigate the potential of a name change was significant for Grace. We knew we only had one chance to get it right and sought professional guidance. As we began the selection process for a firm able to guide us through the rebranding process, we saw a clear difference between Advance 360 and other firms.”

“Advance 360 brought to Grace’s rebranding exactly what we had hoped. They accepted our initial data collection efforts and added to that body of data. They understand the dynamics brought by multiple layers of institutional stakeholders and helped us gain buy-in. The entire process had clear deliverables as well as a clear path to reach the end goal.”

The years-long process to reach a new name and brand included town hall sessions, charrette style workshopping with stakeholders, and prayerful discussions by the Board of Directors and Administration. The new logo and image of the University will be integrated during summer 2018, and the first graduates of Grace Christian University will occur in 2019.

The Stages of Renaming

“All existing data should first be analyzed,” said Anne Drummond, Advance 360 Senior Creative Director. “Once we’d read, questioned, and discussed the available information, we were able to craft exercises that would help stakeholders to clearly articulate missing pieces.”

Workshop activities resonated with participants, but also provide opportunity for a broad spectrum of stakeholder participants to share individual ideas, listen and comment on others’ thoughts and feelings, and identify ideas and elements that most closely resemble their vision for the organization. This information was combined with prior survey results, town hall meeting sentiments and analysis of other colleges’ experiences in rebranding from either a college to a university including a name change. In addition, a study by Barna Group, produced in partnership with the Association for Biblical Higher Education offered market context and statistically relevant input.

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Of this process, “Advance 360 clearly identified both intended and unintended consequences at each point of decision giving us the information we needed to make good decisions with confidence,” said Sherstad.

From an initial 163 unique naming conventions, the final name was fashioned, and the design work begun. Using a three-step process of a) compass point b) exploration and c) refinement, the brand’s visual identity took shape.

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Former Name and Logo

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New Name and Logo

The new name and logo have been shared with students, faculty and donors.

“The attitude Advance 360 demonstrated at the beginning, as well as through the entire process, was one of being honored that Grace would trust them with such important work as our institutional identity. From beginning to end, Advance 360 demonstrated that our trust was well placed.” ~Brian Sherstad, Executive Vice President, Grace Christian University

William & Mary Athletics’ Social Campaign Draws Record Attendance

The College of William & Mary sought assistance with ticket sales for their basketball season. With a layered targeting approach, Advance 360 used lat/long targeting (also known as geo-fencing) to target students on campus, with messages specific to student ticket pricing. List-matching and social media targeting was used to find alums within a specific radius of campus, and those viewers were encouraged to engage with the purchase of season or single tickets. Additional audiences with an interest in basketball, special events or sports were also targeted and delivered messages around the affordability of tickets, and specific athletic events and dates.

Overall, this campaign achieved record attendance for the University, tripling the men’s basketball audience and quadrupling the women’s audience YOY.

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Recruiting International Students

According to the Institute of International Education, more than one million college students studying in the U.S. are international students, and 47% of those are from China or India. Due to limited funding, more than half of these students elect not to make a campus visit before starting classes. The US has always been the destination of choice for international students, making your digital marketing strategy around an international audience even more necessary.

We’ve outlined some strategies below to help universities marketing to prospective international students:


If you were an international student, how would you go about searching for universities in the United States? You would probably search for something like: “programs for international students in the United States” or other similar phrases. Having your university’s web page appear on the first page of that search’s results will enable you to be visible to international students. If you are a very small university it may be hard to compete with larger ones through organic search results, which is where paid search can help. 

Digital Content

Digital content is all about knowing who your audience is and writing for them. Use relevant and useful content to attract prospective international students, like rates specific to international students, as well as information, and answers to frequently asked questions to help make their decision easier. By providing as much relevant information as possible, you will be a step forward ahead of your competition. Remember, your content strategy will elevate your SEO rankings, too.


study by showed that international students use their mobile device to visit websites, download university apps, take a virtual campus tour, and view university social media. Having a mobile-friendly website that is engaging and has a fast response rate will allow you to make a good impression on international students. But before you have prospective international students looking at your website university, you need to get noticed. Mobile marketing will allow you to reach the audience you have intended while getting your university’s name out there for prospective international students to notice and research.

Social Media and Other Grassroots Strategies

International students want to communicate with admissions counselors, international services, and students during the admissions process.

  • Use your international alumni to intrigue prospective international students. Create testimonials that you can quote and refer to on your social media accounts. You can also use your international alumni to create a page on LinkedIn. Invite current and former international students to join the page so that perspectives can view it and find someone to connect with that went to college abroad and can give them valuable advice.
  • Use your social media account to promote materials that are important to international students. You can promote materials about the number of international students there are on campus if they are relatively high, or you can promote materials about clubs/organizations that are on campus to help international students feel acclimated on campus.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Using Instagram is second nature for current teens which is why utilizing your university’s Instagram and advertising on the platform will help increase your university’s brand presence with international students. Posting pictures of campus and students will give international students a feel for campus life without physically being there. Keep in mind that generic photos of campus are no good, make sure the pictures capture candid moments.