There are only 900 students at Agnes Scott College, a women’s college in Decatur, Ga. It makes sense that they’d send their admitted applicants something more than the usual “You’re admitted” thick packet. Instead, they’ve decided to mail a booklet with scented pages. As described in this article:
"The smell of pine accompanies a photograph of campus trees. A few pages later, an aerial shot of the Quad comes with a whiff of freshly mowed grass. The idea is to convey the experience of strolling through the campus, especially to students who have yet to visit."
The smell campaign is apparently the brainchild of RHB, a higher-education marketing company based in Indianapolis.
I wonder, though–between the expensive marketing consultants, the graphic design, the (smell-inspired) printing and the shipping, how much did it cost? Will they get their money’s worth? It’s hard to imagine any 18-year-old feeling more of a personal connection with a college because of a booklet that smelled like various plants.
What if they'd done this instead?
Each of the 800 accepted students receives an email sharing the good news. Inside that email is a link to a two-minute video featuring the admissions officers who read her file to thank her for applying, offer congratulations, and tell her specifically what made her application compelling. The admissions officers would tell her how impressed they were that she worked 15 hours per week during her junior year or that she sung the lead in the school musical after the original lead got mono. They would tell her how much they loved her essay about training guide dogs or babysitting her little brother. They would tell her that the English professor whom they showed her graded paper to saw great potential in her writing.
Then they would sign off by telling her how much they wanted to meet her in person and that they hoped to see her on campus in the fall. They would encourage her and her parents to call their office numbers or email them if they had questions.
Not a sales pitch. Not a goofy video with songs and dances. Just admissions officer to student—“Thank you for letting us get to know you. Here’s what we loved about your application. Here’s why we think you’d love it here. We hope you’ll join us.”
Would it take time? Of course. But I’ll bet it’s cheaper and more effective than smelly paper.