Top Ten Community College Promotional Videos

Doing ‘more with less’ is necessary, but that needn’t hinder creativity.

Community colleges don’t benefit from the things that ensure the prosperity of universities: history, prestige and power. What they do have going for them is the real and measurable value that they bring to the communities and local industries that they serve.

Universities promise to prepare students for a grand future in some even grander geography. Community colleges, by contrast, prepare you for a job – they are literally the training ground for local economies. This is the practical positioning that all community colleges should embrace.

It’s not uncommon today for university graduates to attain certification from a community college in order to find gainful employment. There is a vast middle market opportunity between training for trades and professional degrees such as law, medicine and engineering. This is the new frontier for community colleges.

Technology is an example. You don’t need a university degree to be a programmer and programming is one of the highest paying and most in-demand jobs available.

Community College Promotional Videos
We’re considering all video marketing activity produced by community colleges.

Community colleges don’t have the funds available for marketing that universities do, and it shows. Most video marketing activities by colleges are either developed in-house or produced externally on micro-budgets.

Community colleges have two marketing directions they can take. They demonstrate how they are just like universities, only cheaper and more practical. Or they are nothing like universities because they are cheaper and more practical.

Either way, emphasizing the practicality, the cost-effectiveness, and direct links to the community they serve will continue to bear fruit.

Here are our Top Ten Community College Promotional Videos:


Brand: Lewis & Clark Community College  {Godfrey, Illinois, US}
Production Company: Unknown

Some community colleges are pursuing potential university candidates.

  • “If you aren’t sure exactly where you want to go, we offer a great deal of options” is a pretty good message. Especially considering the vast majority of students considering post-secondary options have no idea what they want to do, and even if they do, that idea is likely to change.
  • The production values are very good in this video – on par with most university promotional videos.
  • The video highlights the requisite ostentatious stone edifices required at any institution aspiring to “higher learning”. If you’re going to compete directly with universities then I suppose it’s a good idea to look and feel just like a university (or not…).
  • I wish my university had some of the interesting courses shown in this video…

Brand: Washtenaw Community College, {Ann Arbour, Michigan}
Production Company: Unknown

Know your audience.

  • If you live in the University of Michigan’s backyard you have to fight really hard for attention.
  • This video hits its market perfectly. It knows exactly who its audience is and it’s been designed to get the attention of (if you can’t do this then nothing else matters), and resonate with that audience.
  • The choice of voice-over is excellent. Whether it’s the real voice of the guy you see on-screen doesn’t matter. Both the voice and the guy on-screen lend a great deal of authenticity to the video. Community colleges often want to feature their staff and administration in their videos. That’s usually a bad idea.
  • The overall pace and feel of this video is excellent. The muscle car make-over music suits the video to a tee. If I was looking for automotive training this is where I’d want to go.

Brand: Monroe County Community College, {Monroe, Michigan, USA}
Creative Agency: Unknown

Tell a story.

  • I could recommend to marketers to ‘tell a story” every time… and that would still be good advice. Everyone hates ‘marketing’. We all love stories. It’s that simple.
  • The production values are very good here. In fact if they were any better I think the video could actually lose credibility. Community colleges just don’t benefit as much from the superficial gloss common to some university promotions.
  • The message being communicated in this video is crystal clear: You can achieve a lot if you go to Monroe.
  • I really like the fact that this is a visual story as much as it is a narrated story. That’s important. The footage has to be engaging otherwise people won’t watch it.
  • Every community college should be producing these type of videos. If I was going to make one broad recommendation, with no other background knowledge (which would be silly) of the school or its marketing objectives, I’d recommend for them to go out and find the most interesting graduates with the most interesting stories to tell and produce a series of rich looking promos based on these stories. (Of course if everyone did this…)

Brand: Owens Community College,  {Perrysburg, Ohio, US}
Production Company: Unkown

Good quality promotion with an authentic feel.

  • Production values are very good in this promotion and even though it’s a standard ‘Your success starts here’ type of promotion, it has a very comfortable and natural feel to it.
  • The interplay of on-screen delivery and voice-over reaction is intriguing.  The voice-over basically is telling you how to feel about what you are watching. That’s what the best promotions do – they make you feel something.
  • If you’re going after a local market then this type of video can be very effective. If you’re pursuing a larger geographic market then it will likely fall short because everyone has seen this format before. If you can switch logos at the end of the video and really not affect the video… then it’s a generic ad.

Brand: Community College of Denver {Denver, Colorado, USA}
Production Company:  

Start your video by being interesting. Then you can sell your message.

  • “A large number of degrees and certificates are ‘stackable’.” Hmmmm, that sounds interesting… tell me more.
  • The goal of marketing always starts with first getting the attention of your intended audience. Without that, nothing else matters. Make sure that you’re saying or showing something really interesting in the first 10 seconds of your video. That’s critical. I don’t think organizations realize how many people never see their high quality promotions simply because they jammed 15 seconds of useless branding and b-roll into the front of their video.
  • The college chose its speakers well for this video. Most are engaging and have something you actually want to listen to. That’s really important.. and really difficult. A speaker can make all the difference in your video. I’d suggest that speakers have the greatest effect on the quality, tone and style and perceived value of your video. If you choose the wrong speakers your video will not work. No amount of production wizardry can make up for a poor speaker. In fact, (begin rant) I’d argue just turning on a camera in front of a great speaker will have far more impact than spending millions on high quality production shots featuring an average speaker. (end of rant)
  • “CCD is the real world.” Yep, I think this is a rich vein to mine for all community colleges.

Brand: Wayne Community College {Denver, Colorado, US}
Production Company: Unknown

Very inspiring.

  • We’ve seen this video before – that’ OK. It’s very well produced and it positions the community college really well.
  • Contrasting the aspiration and ‘reality’ shots is fun to watch. The video plays on all of our childhood fantasies (and realities).
  • This video does a good job of tugging at your emotions and making you feel something. That is the ultimate goal of all marketing.
  • The choice of voice-over talent was excellent. She delivered with an unusual, but effective, combination of both humility and passion.

Brand: Rend Lake College {Ina, Illinois, US}
Production Company: Arthur Agency

There’s still lots of room for creativity in college promotions.

  • This promotion is fun to watch. You can’t say that about many community college promotional videos.
  • Aside from the entertainment value in the creative concept, there is a lot of information communicated in a very short period of time. The quick cuts when the girl is walking, showing all of the different professions, presents a very powerful visual message – here are the opportunities available to you… at our college.
  • The music moves the video along nicely and the choice of the main character was excellent – she’s very natural and very relatable. The editing style is also very effective.

Brand: Community College of Aurora {Aurora, Colorado, USA}
Production Company: McCann Melbourne

All marketing starts with focus. The tighter the focus, the greater the chance for success.

  • We’re featuring this video because it represents what we believe to be one of the key marketing opportunities for community colleges. Micro-focusing their marketing efforts. While large scale branding will always receive attention, localized and specialized marketing efforts are where the real opportunities lie.
  • This video is about physical preparedness for fire safety training at the college. That’s really, really specific. It’s also really smart. What it does is associate the level of professionalism required on the job with the level of professionalism offered through the college program. If this first responder is taking the time to delve into the specific of preparedness for this course, imagine how good the course must be.
  • Associating your college with the professional organizations that you serve is smart marketing.

Brand: Algonquin College {Ottawa, Ontario, Canada}
Production Company: Unknown

Partner with the businesses you serve.

  • I’m cheating a bit here. This video is actually a Siemen’s promotional video that showcases their partnership with Algonquin College. It works both ways, or at least it should.
  • Community colleges should be promoting the activities and benefits of their partnerships with their main constituency – businesses.
  • I’m sure there are countless joint activities – training, research, marketing.. whatever carried out by colleges and businesses. These should be promoted vigorously because these are the ‘proof points’ that show how important the college’s activities are. They also highlight interesting partnerships with important businesses.
  • The quality of the video is very professional – which it has to be if it’s going to communicate how engaging and professional the relationship is.

Brand: Humber College {Toronto, Ontario Canada}
Production Company: Unknown

Try something new…

  • So instead of doing another ‘We are…” video or another ” Your future starts at…” video, why not focus on something you are doing that is interesting and that serves your community? Something that people might actually care about.
  • Humber college in Toronto has been running a ‘Greatest High School Teacher’ contest and this video captures some of the feedback that they’ve received. This video is smart on a number of levels.
  • High school teachers (and students) are the target audience of all colleges so creating a contest that involves both of those groups is very smart. Developing a video to promote this activity is even smarter.
  • The video is great to watch and it does a fine job at communicating some very positive feelings about the profound impact that teachers can have on people’s lives. Some of those positive feelings will just naturally fall to Humber, the creator of this video.
Jimm Fox

Founder

Jimm has been working in video and marketing for the last 25 years agency side, client side and in video production.

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