The McRae Agency
Brochure Case Study
The School for Enlightenment & Healing Inc. (SEH) is a San Diego-based healing arts school that provides training in spiritual growth through the development of hands-on-healing skills. Established in 1994, SEH's program involves three years of training that is designed to accommodate working adults and out-of-state students. Students graduate from the program with the preparation necessary to create their own spiritual healing practices.
The objective of the program is spiritual evolution, self-discovery and personal growth. The numerous healing techniques taught at SEH, including hands-on-healing, subtle sense perception and meditation, are all means to achieve students' personal growth and healing goals.
Before embarking on the project, we talked to SEH's staff regarding goals and expectations for the brochure. In addition, we utilized student surveys to obtain more information on the target audience and to gauge perceptions of the school from its students. We utilized this feedback to determine the direction of the brochure, as we gained insight into what attracted students to the school, the student profile and demographics, etc.
We also conducted an extensive strategic planning session that included a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). We identified goals, objectives, target audiences and key messages that were referenced and utilized during the brochure project. This was the first time the school's staff had undergone any kind of formal brainstorming and planning, and they found the exercise to be quite "enlightening."
After several meetings and discussions, we strategically developed the following goals:
Goal: To effectively communicate the unique nature of the curriculum offered by the school to prospective students.
Goal: To position the school's director as a 25-year veteran in the healing arts.
Goal: To differentiate and elevate the school from other schools in today's New Age movement.
Goal: To create an informative, appealing brochure with a shelf life of five years that could serve as a direct mail piece.
The brochure would need to be very professional to add credibility to the school and differentiate it from "fly-by-night" organizations. However, the brochure could not look too extravagant since that might give the impression that the school was too lax with the spending of its students' tuition money. Additionally, we would need to strike a challenging balance between a spiritual look and feel and a professional image for the brochure.
The previous brochure, a two-page newsletter design, was rather unsophisticated and unprofessional. Simply, it needed a drastic "face-lift." The result of this "lift" was a tri-fold, four-color brochure on glossy stock. The application and registration form was also entirely redesigned as a brochure insert piece, and an academic year schedule and information insert was created as well.
There were numerous challenges to the project including the client's small budget and the fact that the client was accustomed to spending virtually nothing on collateral, i.e. making copies, writing and designing in-house, etc. Additionally, the client required that the brochure have a shelf life of five years, which meant that we had to incorporate registration and schedule inserts without dating the brochure. Furthermore, the piece had to act as a self-mailer.
An additional challenge was communicating abstract, nebulous concepts to prospective students, which often are skeptical. Shaping messages out of some of these concepts oftentimes felt as though we were "sculpting fog." We also had to combat the popular perception that anything "New Age" is non-scientific and of questionable credibility, and thus position SEH as a professional school with a unique approach to substantive, real-world issues. To further fight this perception, we had to communicate the director’s exemplary track record and knowledge of the healing practices while emphasizing his teaching skills as well.
In addition, the school's philosophy lends itself to being very relaxed, often highly informal and unstructured, thus making it difficult to get tasks accomplished in a timely, efficient manner. Add to this the fact that the client wanted the brochures completed prior to a major workshop which was quick on our heals.
We wrote, coordinated and produced the brochures within budget and well within deadline. The client was extremely pleased with the end product and has received very positive feedback, especially from returning students.
The client saw a phenomenal response from phone requests and a direct mail campaign that resulted in the mailing of 1,000 pieces to-date. The number of students registered for fall classes saw a 50 percent increase, and a second class was added for the spring because of the demand. The client indicated that they experienced a drastic increase in phone calls and interest resulting from the brochure. They have stated over and over again that the new brochure exceeded their expectations.
Applicability Collateral development, writing, strategic planning