By Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM, Xerox Corp. Graphic Communications Business Group Service Bureau and Direct Marketing Segment Reaching college-bound students with marketing messages has transformed into a booming business – whether marketers are pushing energy drinks, cell phones or even college admission. For graphic communications providers who are well versed in multi-media personalized communications, institutions of higher education can be a source of new and ongoing revenue streams.   Facing increased competition for students, deep tuition discounting and a traditional pool of big donors that is nervous about finances, colleges and universities have increased their marketing spend over the past decade, according to a recent report from Lipman Hearne. In 2001, the median marketing spend for a midsized college or university was $259,400. In 2009, that figure reached $800,000—an increase of more than 100 percent. A similar gain is seen in smaller colleges and large research universities. The report also indicates that colleges and universities allocate 12 percent of their marketing budget to direct mail activities.  Cathedral Corporation, a service bureau in Rome, N.Y., created a direct mail piece for St. Mary’s University that communicated different messages to prospective students based on gender,  residency and desired course of study, with additional variable content addressing their interest in athletics, community service or leadership. The piece, printed on Xerox digital technology, increased the university’s inquiry pool by 40 percent, and the school enrolled its largest freshman class ever.  Keiger Printing in Winston Salem, NC, used cross-media to increase awareness in Salem College. The campaign combined print with e-mail, personalized URLs and a YouTube video. The customized brochure was printed on a Xerox iGen4 and included more than 500 possible combinations based on intended major, additional interests and ethnicity. With the cross media campaign Salem College was able to decrease mailings by 20 percent while increasing response rates by an astounding 303 percent. The campaign also led to subsequent print jobs for Keiger.  Both Cathedral Corporation and Keiger Printing utilized information readily available on prospective students or created a means to obtain additional information through websites or PURLs. With the power of digital printing, the companies harnessed that information to create communications tailored to each individual.  Higher education marketing offers a wealth of opportunity for marketing communications providers. The printed page – especially when paired with electronic vehicles – still grabs attention, strikes up emotion and forces a prospective student to react.  This translates to new business and increased revenue for print providers who use the power of personalized communications to grab the attention of today’s college-bound students.