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Cuesta Survey Gets Results

Executing a complex community survey is a challenge. Getting it into the hands of community members, generating excitement and interest, and getting those surveys returned and tabulated can be a daunting task.

That was just the job Stephan Gunsaulus, Cuesta’s Director of Marketing and Communications, was ready to tackle. Cuesta College was looking for an effective way to reach out to residents of San Luis Obispo County to provide input for the 2011-2016 Educational Master Plan. As an accomplished marketing veteran, Stephan knew an integrated approach, utilizing both print and digital delivery, would be needed. The question was how to execute such a strategy. Much to his delight, Casey literally walked in the door with the answer; Casey's new "cross-media" marketing solution.

"Educational plans are notorious for their low response rates. It's not hard to imagine why; who is going to get excited about filling out a long survey?" said Stephan. To ease the chore, Cuesta's Marketing Team and Casey teamed up to use state of the art tools to automate and add excitement to the survey project.

The campaign started with an oversized postcard, direct mailed to a target audience of college graduates throughout SLO County. "People with a degree tend to put a high value on education," explained Stephan, "thus by extension, we calculated that these would be the community members most likely to be interested in helping community education." The clean, eye-catching design of the card featured Cuesta College President, Dr. Gilbert Stork. It captured the recipient’s attention and directed them to their own personalized survey web site (PURL) that matched the look and feel of the mail piece. Stephan Gunsaulus added, "The online survey site made it much easier for the recipients to respond, and the added personalization helped affirm the message we were trying to send out; that we valued each individual response and greatly appreciated their help. On our end, it also gave us a really easy way to collect and tabulate all the response information we received".

To further increase the survey's reach, an Email invite was sent out primarily to staff and current and former Cuesta students. The look and feel of the Email blast closely matched that of the direct mail piece and the online "landing page."

In order to fuel more excitement, respondents to both the direct mail and E-mail pieces were awarded for participation by being entered into a drawing for one of several $100 gift certificates to popular restaurants around SLO County.

In the end, Cuesta College collected more than 1600 completed surveys (with more than 50 survey questions), with fully tabulated results. Rather than being tied-up with calculating results, Cuesta staff was able to focus on analysis and follow-up.

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