The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 82 · 1 month ago

The Million Dollar Question: Our Aspirational Branding Follow-Up


A few months ago, we spoke with Shauna Davis and Mary Laphen Pope from the Lumina Foundation. They provided an overview of their Million Dollar Community College Challenge and explained why assisting community colleges with branding and marketing is so important.

Shauna and Mary return for this follow-up episode along with Dr. Angel Reyna, President of Madera Community College - the proud winners of Lumina’s Million Dollar Community College Challenge.

Join us as we discuss:

- Madera Community College’s reaction to winning the challenge

- Lumina’s top-10 candidate selection process

- Madera’s immediate branding and marketing goals post-challenge

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

- Lumina Foundation Community College Challenge

- Lumina Foundation Grand Prize announcement

- Madera Community College watch party

- Madera Community College submission

- Contact Dr. Angel Reyna

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website or search for The Higher Edge in your favorite podcast player.

You're listening to the Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, donor relations, marketing trends, new technologies, and so much more. If you're looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the Hired Marketer Podcast. I'm Bart Kaylor, your host. The Hired Marketer podcast is a place where we interview hired marketers that we admire for the benefit and hopefully the betterment of the entire higher ed community. Today we get a chance to revisit a conversation with Shauna Davis Mary Lapin Pope at the Lumina Foundation for Education And if you recall, we talked to them back in June on an episode about the million dollar Community College Challenge. It was a grant to help community colleges with their branding and they had a several hundred community colleges that applied. Ten were selected as finalists, and today we get to learn a little bit more about their winner, Madera College in California. And we've also got the President Dr Rainya on the podcast today, So great opportunity to hear about how community colleges are going to be leveraging this these grants from Lumina Foundation, and we talk a lot about how they're branding and how they're making a difference there at Madera, and it's not about, you know, a million dollars towards pay per click or towards billboards. They're really getting to the root of understanding who they are and making sure that the authenticity comes out in the way they communicate that. Let's go ahead and get started into our conversation. Okay, I just want to welcome everyone to the show today and I've got some great guests here at Great conversation with SHAWNA. Davis and Mary laugh and Pope from the Lumina Foundation. Back in June, we talked about aspirational branding, what makes your community college exceptional, and they had a chance to talk tell us a little bit about the million Dollar Community College Challenge. During that time, they...

...were in the middle of that that competition with a lot of different community colleges from all around America, and today we actually get to talk about where that ended up, and so Shanna and Mary, it's great to have you back on the show. Thank you. We're excited to be here. Thank you. Great to be here. So Shanna, tell me about what's happened since the last time we were together back in June. Oh, we just made a little announcement about the college that won the one million dollar top Grant prize. So, um, we are so excited about that. And I have been smiling since the day we made the announcement, between smiling and crying and laughing, like this is so much fun and so needed, and we're so excited to be able to support Madera Community College. Great. Well, just remind us a little bit about what the what the grant, and what the challenge was all about. Mary, could you tell us about that. I would love to so this grant as we know that um, right now, community college is now more than ever they need a new way to to connect with their community. So with that in mind, we challenge community colleges across the country to tell us how they would use a million dollars to transform their brand building and marketing efforts to connect with today's students. So what I do want to make clear is what this wasn't is that this wasn't a million dollars to do a one time big advertising campaign or big kind of billboard campaign, which is important. But now what we're looking for here, we were looking to work with the school to think about how can they transform their brand building efforts to connect with their adult students in in a more of an evergreen way, in a way that UM will last them come into the future. Very good. Well, thank you for that reminder, and Dr Niel, welcome to the High Ed Marketer Podcast. It's good to have you. Dr Anna is the president of Madera Community College. So tell me a little bit about your college and tell me a little bit about what the reaction was on campus. I mean, you know, I'm sure that was. It was a pretty big deal. It was, And thanks Bart for having me UM here today. You know, our college and then a community college is the Central...

Valley where the newest community college in the state of California, where the hundred and sixteen our students are primarily identify as Hispanic Latino x UM. We're in a rural, migrant, farm worker community area. When we had the launch party or the viewing party, we had a lot of students and faculty and staff and attendance. They knew we were a finalist. It was such a great and I want to describe it as a beautiful moment that just coalesced, you know, brought us all together and in a sense of community that we kind of were working towards, and a sense of pride in the moment. And I think, you know, the video of that viewing party will will kind of show that, and there was a lot of kind of spontaneous positive energy that just brought people together. It was just it was such a great moment and a powerful video as well in terms of the one we submitted. And people are still excited about that our community as well, not just our internal community. That's so exciting. And I just to remin find everyone, if you look at the show notes, you'll be able to see both of those videos will have links to those, so that you can share in the excitement that their community did. And I just want to point out I think that's so critical, and I think sometimes when we talk about brand building and we talk about marketing, sometimes we get so focused on the external, which is important, and certainly this is something about building the external brand and understanding that, but many times it's just as important for the internal audience. So we've got to really understand who we are, how we can talk about it, and how we can share that. Is that what you're finding Dr Manian when you start to kind of as you're unpacking this for your team. You know, one of the things that I mentioned is shortly after the announcement was made, we were in an auditorium. I told our folks is if we continue to center the students in the community that we serve in the work we do, that more of these types of recognitions are going to come our way because it's who we are in the work we're trying to accomplish. And I think it validated a lot of this work for a lot of folks on our campus. We're hitting in the right direction. You know, when you center...

...respecudents and the community, it's challenging work because you're trying to change the status quo, right, You're trying to fix something and it's not easy. Well, and I think that's one of the things that I've always been impressed with the Luminum Foundation and particularly with this challenge, is that really there's a specific need in this in this community. College area, I mean around that, especially when we're looking at post secondary higher education, sometimes they make the most impact with the least amount of resources. And so hats off to you Dr Mania and everyone there. So Shahna, you can tell me what was what stuck out about Mandera that that you guys were like, Okay, this this, these are the these are the winners. Yeah. So so just to bring your your listeners up to speed, we had hundreds of colleges that applied and then we from there, all of those colleges did an application, and then from there we came up with ten colleges that we felt did had the strongest applications and within that, when we say strong applications, not only the answering of the questions but also all they would use a million dollars to transform their colleges brand building efforts. And then from that top ten, uh, they went on to the second round in which they produced a two minute video. We did not give any college any any resources to do that. And the real charge there was can you convey with students as your audience. You're not speaking to Luminum Foundation, You're speaking to your community, right, can you convey your colleges promise to adult students. What Madera did exceptionally well was not only in the answering of the questions, but the I thought that their video really brought to life the spirit of what they were conveying in the application. They talked about having um, creating a visceral sense of belonging. They talked about pride in the community. They talked about their community and who attends their college and dr N has already mentioned that somewhat. And you know, they talked about this idea of you know, creating spaces and places generational transformation, and when you watch their video you see that just personified and it was...

...really a great example I think for all of the reviewers as we were going through that it was a tough decision, but what they did was so it was so simple, but it was so powerful. And dr and I'm guessing that you didn't go out and hire a huge film crew to come in and do this. I'm sure it was a little bit more marketing on a shoestring budget. It was exactly that, but it kind of went to the whole reason why we do the work that we do. It was a student that filmed another student. And anytime you can center your students and they're leading this effort, it just kind of exemplifies the work that we were doing, and we were just glad. You know, I'm thankful to the Lumina Foundation for seeing that they did an excellent job. You know, if you haven't seen the video, it's very powerful and I you know, I get choked up every time I talked about the video because it is that powerful. Every time I discuss it, even right now, you know, I get a little emotional just here in Shana and other people described the video because of how power full and the message behind it. You know, the students saying, I want you to believe something you already held, right, and that is a very powerful message to convey to students, and it just she exceeded above and beyond our expectations that not only the person that was centered in the video, but also the one that captured that moment right. To be able to capture that moment was powerful as well. We will be right back after a word from our sponsor. Today's podcast is brought to you by spoke Note The Simple Way to add video to anything. For looking for an innovative, effective way to get someone's attention. You really ought to check out Spoken Mode. They make these easy to use QR code stickers that allow you to record and share personalized videos with anybody. We're seeing spokenote stickers used on campuses in some really interesting ways, such as outreach to prospective students, maybe through acceptance letters, welcome messages from student ambassadors during the campus visit and orientation, student life applications like placing about me videos outside of dorm room, even personalized fundraising appeals from...

...the development office and athletic recruiting videos from coaches. The applications for spoke note in and out of education are really endless. Try them out today by placing an order at spokene dot com. Welcome back. Let's rejoin the conversation right here on the higher ed marketer. And I just want to point out to our listeners there are several things that Dr Yan just said that I think we've talked a lot about on the podcast and I write a lot about. It is the idea of you can do a lot through authenticity, through personalization, and through using the resources that you have. We all have in our pockets or in our bags these days. A broadcast you do that's more powerful than any you know, any commercial network had fifteen years ago. And the fact that we can use those with a you know, a few little, you know, extra add ons from Amazon, like a lavier Mike and maybe you know, some decent lighting that you can just stand by a window. There's ways to get really powerful videos, and it has more to do with the content than it has to do with the production value. Shanna and Mary, I'm guessing you saw a lot of really highly produced videos that didn't communicate the same amount of emotion. And sometimes I think that's one of the challenges in high red marketing, is that we get so caught up in the process and we lose the the authenticity that I think you just described, dr Na, So congratulations on that. It's the million dollar challenge and the million dollar question now that everybody's wondering is what are you going to do with a million dollars? Yeah, and and jokingly, we're gonna go to Disneyland and we're not gonna do that. It's gonna go to the sense of belonging, right Fancia, which was kind of the platform we were working on because it's what it's who we are and the work that we do. We've been working on creating the sense of belonging since the moment I arrived at the college. We were a smaller college. The sense of community, familial UM culture was already there. I just wanted to take it to the next level to include our students...

...and and that's kind of the work that we're working on and centering, and so we're looking through to accomplish that through spaces, as you mentioned, kind of multicultural center is something we're going to invest the money in, UM some murals around campus that reflect and represent the students that we serve. As I mentioned Hispanic Latin X pretty close. We want to revamp our website dwell for a you know, for a better student experience. There's a lot of work we need to do there as a new college as well. But we also want to create and host annual events on our campus that bring in the adult community, right and we're defining adults here twenty plus UM. And because there's a great opportunity in the state of California, but also in the nation, we're missing out on this population and we need to bring in UM just you know, in order to better our community and our society, etcetera. We need to move people from jobs to careers and we're hoping that you know this investment and and you know, I'd like to thank Lumina once again for believing in us, because we want to do that transformational work. We want to connect with those adult students in our community that maybe came to us left or didn't think about us, but now see us as a viable option to better their lives and transform their lives, whether you know, we can help them or we get out of their way. Because our students in our community they're resilient right the moment they arrived on our campus. Who knows how many obstacles they've had to overcome just to to get to our door. So um, the other thing we want to do is also hire some consultants to that point, so we can better understand the adult population and map that student experience. We want to go broader and say what have we not thought about that we need to be focusing on. So many times people think about branding that it's just a logo and it's not and and what you just described murals spaces, sense of belonging. That's all about branding. And I love you guys are...

...recognizing that you're understanding that it's understanding your audience better. That's that's so exciting. So congratulations on that. I'm sure that's going to be so exciting to see that. And and I guess Mary, I'm going to ask you a question as as madea kind of starts their process with this first. Um uh, you know grant from the challenge, what's the future for Lumina on this? I mean, certainly this is I didn't get a chance to ask Dr Nia, but I'm sure that a lot of people have talked about what's happened here. I mean, I'm sure there's a few film crews that came out on campus to talk to you guys about this. So tell me about you know, what's the future of this and the success that now you see. Yeah, so we're just getting started. Um it seems like where it seems like the end, but it's just the beginning because we have um granted the funds to a Madeira as well as our nine finalists to do the work. But we're also taking everything that we learned from all those hundreds of applications and thinking about how can we support the field at large. So We do have a couple of things that are coming UM coming out and I and leave when this podcast airs, they will have been recently released. One thing that we really that came to light I think in this process was the importance of the websites of our community colleges. And that's something that I think for all of us we know that UM when we find our information online, but at the same time, the website tends to be the last thing that we attend to because it's kind of the bootstraps, you know, effort. So something that we will be offering our website workshops that will be available to all community colleges across the country UM. There will be two available and that UM. To register for those, you can go to Luminu Foundation dot org. Forwards last challenge, we are partnering with small Box UM to to offer our website workshops, like I said, for all of our community colleges across the country UM to really dig into how they can use what they have on hand to really energize those websites and make them even more appealing to adulders in their community. We're also partnering with no weed It Consultants to bring some of those lessons that we learned around with the importance of brand building and how you can start to...

...operationalize that work. We're bringing that to the field as well. So we will be offering a Marketing Academy UM from through November through the spring of next year to community colleges across the country as well. And that's another free UM offering that will be available, and again a Lumina Foundation dot org forward last challenge to register. I will say those are one time offerings, so it's something that we will not be able to offer those recordings. Content is just that awesome UM for both of those, So I encourage folks if they're available to make some time and log On'd love to see you. That sounds great, and I think that's a great resource. I'm a big believer in pressure professional development and uh AND, so I would will put those links in the show notes and I'll get those out in the newsletter as well. So well, this has been such a great uh AND and celebratory conversation. Again, Dr Nick's congratulations and very excited for for Madera and and Sean and Marritt. Has been great to have you back on the on the show. I guess one last question We always end with kind of a practical, pragmatic question. It's like, well, somebody wanted to go out and do something today this afternoon to really move the move the higher ed marketing at their institution forward. Dr Rinia, what what might you suggest, especially whether it's a community college, a small school, whatever. I mean, you've you've learned a lot over this this process, So what what might you suggest that somebody do? From a tip standpoint, this is going to be very much common sense, I know your audience. But more importantly, and we talked about this, bart be authentic because people can see it and people can feel it um and they know whether you're trying to pull a fast one on them or not. And I think the lesson learned for us here is the authenticity piece came out and our students internally and externally in terms of the community really saw that. And so my advice to anyone is just be authentic and the work that you do. If anybody had any questions or wanted to follow up, obviously, Sean and Mary you've indicated a Luminu Foundation slash challenge is a good way for them to reach out to you. Specifically about some of these resources. Dr...

Rainny is a good way for them to reach out to you, either LinkedIn or an email that you might want to suggest. Yeah, LinkedIn is a good way to get a hold of me, or an email. It's my first and last name UM at Medetta College dot E d U. Very good and we'll put that in the notes as well. So it's been such a pleasure having you all here. Thank you so much for the chance to to be on the show today and very grateful for it. Thank you, thank you for having us. The Higher ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Kaylor Solutions, an education marketing and branding agency based in Indianapolis. If you want to listen to more podcasts get resources from today's show, go to Higher ed Marketer podcast dot com and you can look up this show and the show notes. Thanks so much you've been listening to the Higher ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're listening with Apple Podcasts, we'd love for you to leave a quick rate of the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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