2015 Excellence in Education Spotlight: Marketing Innovation at Aveda Institutes South

by Jamie Newman | December 8, 2015
AISouth Owner Jim Petrillo (photo credit: AISouth) AISouth
AISouth Owner Jim Petrillo (photo credit: AISouth)AISouth

MODERN SALON's Excellence in Education annual recognition program celebrates leading cosmetology schools, highlighting innovative programs and best practices in eight categories and two divisions (single location and multi-unit schools).The 2015 Excellence in Education honorees were announced October 24 at the American Association of Cosmetology Schools conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Among 38 schools recognized, top honorees were named in each category. In this Excellence in Education Spotlight series, MODERN SALON connects with each of the top honorees to further explore programs and how schools are collaborating to develop the future of professional beauty. Here, a closer look at the 2015 top honoree in Marketing Innovation, multiple locations.

The Aveda Institutes South (AISouth) put the spotlight on scholarships this year to generate interest among prospective students. The campaign utilized both traditional marketing tactics and new social media platforms, and increased lead generation by almost 33 percent.

Attracting the Best and Brightest

The scholarship campaign produced by AISouth this year employed every facet of consumer engagement for a fully integrated promotion.

The campaign was marketed during the Catwalk for Water hair and fashion show, one of Aveda’s community care initiatives to raise money to promote clean water around the world during Earth Month in April.

“In our institutes, we tie our scholarship awards to this brand-aligned mission and fundraising effort, so prospective students can experience first-hand the difference of Aveda,” Jim Petrillo, one of the AI Institute owners, says.

To prepare for the event, AI Institute team members canvased high schools and other high-traffic areas with traditional printed pieces. For the digital component, they posted on Facebook, placed web banner ads and sent e-blasts through DemandForce and SalesForce to solicit participation in the scholarship contest. All communication funneled back to the institute’s website, where a page dedicated to the event had all the details for entrants to upload written or video submissions stating why they want to attend and AISouth and why they should receive a scholarship.

“Finalists from our video/essay contest are selected to participate in the Catwalk for Water hair and fashion show, where one full scholarship and multiple partial scholarships are awarded,” Petrillo says. “This show allows the prospective students to showcase their natural talents with hair, make-up and fashion. In addition, outfits made from recycled and repurposed materials are strongly encouraged—the creativity and beauty presented during these shows is inspiring.”

During the event, the school streamed the action live using the apps Periscope and Meerkat.

“The technology allowed us to conduct real-time conversations with our target consumers who were able to comment on the event and request more information about our schools,” Petrillo says. “Of the 710 scholarship submissions received, we enrolled 55 new students. Compared to our normal close rate of 5.4 percent, the scholarship raised the percentage to 9 percent, representing a 32.66-percent increase in lead generation, and $587,880 in additional tuition revenue.”

Using these new apps have also allowed AISouth to build stronger, more authentic relationships.

“Going live on these apps means your followers are seeing a real, unedited visual of your brand,” Petrillo says. “We use this opportunity to connect on a deeper level than our traditional marketing allows. We can answer questions in real time, take them to events they might not otherwise be able to attend, and really establish the heart of our brand that a print or digital ad cannot convey.”

The schools have also embraced Facebook as a marketing tool, with videos seamlessly integrated into students’ newsfeed to encourage two-way engagement. For prospective students, there’s a gallery of Facebook videos that can be accessed at any time.

“Live streaming conversations for students and guests, effective Instagram promotions, Facebook engagement—at AISouth, innovative marketing is just part of the daily equation in presenting an authentic and fun brand experience,” Petrillo says.


School Spotlight: Aveda Institutes South

Name of school: Aveda Institutes South

Location: Hammond, Louisiana

Owners:  Debra Neill, Edwin Neill, Jim Petrillo, Tom Petrillo

Established: April 1997 

Average enrollment:  190

Best student perk:  “A world-class education utilizing a state-of-the-art digital curriculum and access to nearly 8,000 AVEDA salons and spas worldwide upon graduation.”

AACS member? Yes Year joined?  2005

What is one big idea you've adopted from an AACS event or talking to another AACS member? “We’re more involved in the government relations aspects of our business thanks to the education we receive at AACS.”

What one major improvement are you planning for your school in 2016? “We will continue to expand the use of digital learning in our schools, through the LearnAveda digital curriculum as well as other programs that benefit student learning.” 

What schools or educators inspire you?

“We are inspired by the entire network of Aveda Institutes across the country,” Petrillo says. “When we come together as a group, the entire Aveda Institutes education program benefits due to the transparent exchange of best practices and the innovation and creativity that each school brings.”

What does the Excellence in Education award mean to you? “The AISouth team was very excited and proud to receive the Marketing Innovation award! We have celebrated internally and are working on some external announcements to share.  Our leadership team is a cross-section of all areas of the business—we come together on a regular basis to set strategies; the creative team then takes these strategies and brings them to life with their creativity.  So the award is truly a reflection of our entire team working together to showcase AISouth and the world-class educational opportunities the Aveda Institutes provide.”

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