CubedThinks: Clearing Plans 2020 Part 3 – Creative

CubedThinks: Clearing Plans 2020 Part 3 – Creative


We find ourselves in unprecedented times where we are all having to rethink and readjust our approach to Clearing. What we know has changed. Moving forward, we must be agile and never lose sight of our audience. 

The Current Mindset:

We understand emotions will be heightened due to great anxiety and stress amongst prospective students in the current climate. Therefore, we need to take this mindset into consideration with all Clearing comms in the coming months. It’s become essential that we strike a balance between being direct and having a more empathetic and supportive tone, so we appeal to the aspirational as well as the emotional.

The ‘Emotional Hook’:

To influence prospective students, we need an emotional hook that gets their attention, promising them some form of personal gain e.g. what the university can give them.

For best results we’d recommend a three-stage creative process for Clearing.

  • Firstly, in these uncertain times it’s important to send out a ‘bridging post’ prior to Clearing. It needs to be warm, human and reassuring for prospective students at this destabilising time. Slightly longer copy may be needed (delivered in short sentences) to emotionally connect but important to offer a positive bright future from (X) University.
  • Once we have emotionally connected, we can softly steer the conversation towards Clearing. This second post uses shorter copy that still echoes the positive bright future but gives students a definite course of action: to register for Clearing. To soften the CTA, a reassuring hashtag can reinforce the emotional support from the university e.g. #AlwaysHereToHelp
  • Finally, when clearing starts, the students’ mindset will change again. They will now be focused purely on their future, so we need more direct messaging. We need to them give a strong reason (emotional hook) why (X) University will benefit them (emotionally as well as intellectually) so they feel that they can realise their ambitions.

Creating Standout:

We need to make sure that every post has thumb-stopping standout within a prospective student’s social timeline as there is huge competition. Below are six recommendations to get noticed.

  • Always use emojis as this improves engagement by 48%. Gen Z speak visually and emojis have become part of their language. They scan for emojis as these jump out in their timelines. It’s important to choose your emoji carefully as it will set the tone for your post.
  • An interesting visual or eye-contact from an image will always improve engagement – stay away from generic visuals as they are easy to ignore.
  • Use words like ‘limited’, ‘hurry’, ‘time’s running out’, ‘only (X) places left’ to create urgency.
  • Visually, use one or two strong bold colours. It exudes confidence and is much easier for the eye to digest.
  • All content we produce needs to be genuine, real and transparent as students are very sceptical of advertising. If it’s deemed too staged or stylised it can do more harm than good.
  • Make sure your comms are visually relevant to this audience. Draw on current design trends such as coloured monochrome, doodling, textures, line art, colour gradients etc.

These could improve your post by 5% – that 5% could make all the difference.

George Bell, Creative Lead