The University of Southern California Office of Admissions anted to create a plan that would communicate the unique benefits of a USC education to prospective students and their parents. This plan needed to not only attract the prime candidates, raising the statistics of admitted students, but also to communicate in multiple ways with other student groups, alumni, parents, and existing students. Designing these materials was impossible without a stronger understanding of audience and the complexity of needs and message.

The project began with a three-year marketing plan based on discovery and research. As opposed to a standard “spray and pray” campaign, the marketing plan was developed to focus on specific potential students in multiple areas: prime candidates, Hispanic students, broad achievers, etc. The marketing plan carefully addressed each group’s specific concerns and communication delivery approach. Each piece produced also asked the viewer to take a specific action to demonstrate interest. This action interacted with the marketing plan, dictating what the next communication vehicle would be.

Within the first year of the program’s implementation, admissions acceptance increased 17% for prime candidate students. Within two years, the quality of accepted students, based on GPA, SAT, activities, and other factors, had increased beyond initial goals.


Admissions Strategy and Collateral • Broadside


Admissions Strategy and Collateral • Broadside


USC Admissions Standards Manual


Undergraduate Website


Communications Strategy, Year 1 and 2


Admit Packet • Living at USC


Admit Pack • Welcome to USC


Graduate School Website


The Collected Writings of Steven Sample