Why St. Thomas uses infographics in marketing

I was hoping for a few details on the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business' use of infographics to market itself, so I spoke with Dean Christopher Puto.

The university worked with its PR firm to produce three since December. (The first is here, and the second one is above. It hasn't officially released its third yet.)

Puto says he was drawn by its relative newness. (I just remembered I posted something on this Macalester College infographic, but I'm not sure how much it's used in marketing.)

He told me:

"It's not everywhere just yet. It catches your attention quite well."

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The college has put them on its website, he said, and sent them out to several thousand prospective students and representatives of other colleges.

So far about 30 percent of the recipients have clicked on the link, Puto says, and he seems pretty pleased with the response so far. He says each infographic has cost less than $1,000 to make.

So what makes the infographic better than other forms of communication in marketing? After all, I thought videos were the Next Big Thing.

Puto told me it engages readers in a more convenient way:

"They're able to explore it and see something that it effectively, in a short form, on their pace, communicates. If you send a video, they've got to sit and do the video at its pace. You can't accelerate a video and get anything out of it, because the sound goes."

He said he can see St. Thomas ultimately producing about 10 of them, which would include topics such as the globalization of its programs and the credentials of its faculty.

For those who follow this sort of stuff, colleges that use infographics face an increasingly tough market, thanks to a backlash against the use them in other arenas over the past few years.

PR consultant Josh Jones-Dilworth writes:

"There’s just a lot more chaff now. The bar is set much higher for anyone who wants to play. I think this is a good thing. ... There has been a backlash first and foremost because a lot of the infographics out there right now are lazy mimicry, and they talk down to their audience. They’re pedantic. They don’t bother drawing the viewer in and making our neurons fire. They’re candy. Great infographics are more like a brain teaser, or a that first chapter in a find your own adventure booklet."