Word of mouth is a powerful form of advertising. According to industry research, this is true for two basic reasons. For the hearer, the direct words of someone you know brings credibility for the reputation of the one making a recommendation is on the line. Second, we generally trust those we know.
During my presidency at Davis & Elkins College, I have met hundreds of alumni whose graduation years span from the 1940s through 2020. Hundreds and hundreds of times I have heard stories and testimonials concerning the quality and lasting impact of the four years spent on the D&E campus. In various versions, alumni describe their transformational educational experience at Davis & Elkins College.
When you have a wonderful “product” and there are thousands of loyal and passionate “customers” of that product known as alumni, it is high time for some word of mouth advertising. Alumni, who have experienced how D&E changes lives, need to share that news with prospective students! D&E’s First Lady is spearheading an initiative called SPARK that provides just such an opportunity.
SPARK is an acronym for Senators Promoting Admission Recruitment and Knowledge. Knowing it only takes a spark to ignite a flame, I challenge all who love D&E to think seriously who you know that may benefit from some word of mouth advertising about a wonderful college set in the beauty of the West Virginia highlands. Sharing your love of D&E may be the spark that brings a student to this institution and sets their life on a trajectory of hope and promise.
Some have said they don’t know any prospective students to share information about D&E. I challenge you to think of who you know … and who they know. Do you know anyone who has a child or a grandchild in high school that is looking at potential colleges? Do you have a friend at work, an acquaintance at church, or a neighbor who has children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews? Do you have a connection to youth sports, community theater, scouting or youth ministry? Our circle of influence is often greater than we realize.
Providing a name and contact information to our Admissions Office is the only SPARK needed to get the ball rolling. We will provide information and work with prospective students to share all that D&E has to offer and explore if the fit is right for an incredible collegiate experience. Will each referral from an alumnus result in a new student at D&E? The answer is clearly no, as there are so many factors that go into the critical decision of where to attend college. However, some of the referrals will result in new students, and it just may be that without your word of mouth advertisement, D&E would never have been on the radar of a prospective Senator.
Student referrals can be submitted on our website at www.dewv.edu/spark/ or by calling our Director of Alumni Relations Wendy Morgan at 304-637-1341. It only takes a spark to ignite a fire.
The journey continues….
Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College