The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 1 month ago

How to Articulate Distinctiveness: Making Your Small School Stand Out


Marketing can be a difficult proposition for small institutions in higher ed, but intentional collaboration with vendors and other schools can add incredible value to their brand.

Dr. Nathan Long , President of Saybrook University , gave us the secret sauce on how they found partners who helped double their enrollment in less than a decade.

By coming together as collaborators rather than competitors, small schools can serve all their students better.

Join us as we discuss:

- Challenges facing smaller institutions and higher ed (6:30)

- How intentional collaboration helped Saybrook boost enrollment (13:00)

- Advice on social media opportunities for engagement (25:44)

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

- Dr. Nathan Long 

- Twitter 

- Saybrook Insights Podcast

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 Hybrid Marketer Podcast. I'm Troy Singer here with Bart Taylor. Today we're talking to Terry Hughes Lazell. She's the communications director at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and today the conversation revolves around marketing to the best of the best, and for Michigan State University, they have a problem of having lots of applications but then finding the best mission fit students and marketing to them. And this is where our conversation picks up with Terry. Yeah, it's a really good conversation. And I think that you know, depending on your school, you might be in the same place they are, or you might be aspiring to be in that place in a few years, depending on where your enrollment numbers are. But I think that the the ideas that you know. Isn't it great to be able to pick and choose the best of the best for your class as you come in. And that's pretty typical a lot of times with some with some medical schools, And so we'll talk a little bit about that. But Terry has a lot of really good ideas, and she has some really good stories and and some good perspectives on storytelling. Here's our conversation with Terry. Terry, we usually start our conversations with our guests by asking them to share something that they've learned recently that is either interesting or unique. So is there something that you can share with us to get our conversation started today. A few months after I started here, I was working on a piece on a new endowed chair in honor of one of our professors, Dr Terry Taylor. She is a dio dr rostopathic medicine and works in Malawi studying malaria and trying to help rid the world of this disease. And so this endowed professorship brought me to a conversation with her, and somebody mentioned Dr Ken Taylor, her father. He is He was my family physician In fact, the last time I saw him, I was a sophomore in college and was a great guy. So, you know, it just shows you how small of a world it is and how we end up together in many unique ways. That is wonderful. And now that you are the communications director of a College of Osteopathic Medicine, if you could tell us a little bit about and that's used college and how you got there. Sure well, m s U is my alma mater, so I'm very happy to be here and representing my... I was working in the Division of Student Affairs and Services and then transitioned to to this role UM in March. I have a background in journalism and I have a background in health, and it just seemed like a good fit and a good time. So I've learned a lot about the college in the short time i'm here. There's fantastic people in this college, UM, And so a little bit of the history is back in Michigan. In nineteen sixty four, group of osteopathic physicians, along with the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, successfully obtained a charter to establish an osteopathic medical college in Michigan. It started originally as the Michigan College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pontiac, and it admitted its first students in nineteen sixty nine. But that same year, the state legislator enacted an act that required a school of Osteopathic Medicine to be located at an existing campus, a or a state university that already had a college of medicine, And so the college charter was transferred to the board of Trustees at Michigan State, and then the college was relocated here and East Lansing at our East Lansing campus in nineteen seventy one, and it became the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. So our dean din Al Muftano likes to say, we're Michigan's medical school, and we're the and we are the largest medical school in the state. So I do like to brag about that just a dad. Well, that's great, and that's that's a great history kind of setting everything up. And I think one of the things that I'm fascinated to kind of talk through a little bit more is just the idea of how to market you know, one of the best of the best, I mean Certainly, Michigan State University is recognized as one of the top schools in the nation, and certainly the Osteopathic School of Medicine is a big part of that. So tell me a little bit about that, because I mean, certainly, I'm guessing that you know a lot of schools. You know, we have a lot of different size schools that that are on the podcast, everything from you know, tiny schools a hundred and fifty to three hundred students listen to this all the way up to you know, big colleges like Michigan State. UM. Some schools are struggling with their high ed marketing to actually get enough applicants to actually fill their class. Sometimes, though at least my experience with different schools of medicine, that's not necessarily the case because a lot of times there's more applicants than spots in the class. Tell me a little bit about Michigan States College of Osteopathic Medicine. So a couple of things make us unique in the College of Osteopathic Medicine arena. UM. We're we're in the Big Ten. We're the only College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Big Ten, and we're part of a public medical school UM, and we're part of a major research university just like you said, so that that does kind of set us apart. And like all DO colleges and all m D colleges, we compete against all medical schools for students. One of the unique things we have here were I think one of a handful of do programs that have both a D one PhD program. So if people research doctors, people who plan...

...that type of career are interested, that's something we can also offer. We have three sites for our for our college, so we are at the m s U East Lansing campus, but we also have a site at the Detroit Medical Center in Detroit and the McComb University Center in Macomb County, and so Southeast Michigan UM offers us an opportunity for students to see different things and participate in different ways. But we're very much one college, and so we try to make students feel that no matter where you are, you're part of of this one college and this one huge network. And so one of the interesting things I think for us is we have a several programs, but one thing that students are interested in is it is getting some hands on UM experience as early as possible, and first and second year students here can do that. We have several programs UM that that they can get involved in, includes our street medicine program Whereat. Each one of our locations, students with faculty advisors go out and meet people where they are and and actually learn about them, put hands on, you know, become their physicians in some cases try and also become the bridge to other services that these people may need. So for our students, it's a wonderful opportunity to really get to know patients and how to serve them because the DEO profession has that look of it's about the patient, not the illness. We treat the illness, but we are always looking and focused on the patient. It seems like the idea of having such a such an amazing program but also having those unique programs like in Detroit and like the street medicine and some of the other things. And we'll get into maybe some stories about that in a moment. But I'm just curious too, because I mean, you know, you've got an opportunity to market to a lot of students that might be really good mission fits. I think that you had told me earlier. You've got to you've got a class that you can take in of three hundred, how many applications do you typically get on that typically we're um somewhere between seven and eight thousand applications. Wow, that's that's really incredible. So there's seven to eight thousand students that probably would I self identify as mission fit because they've they've picked your program and they said, hey, this this might fit me a little bit, and and you know, this is this is kind of where I want to go. And maybe as you are marketing the opportunities with street medicine, and I think you had said that you even get a chance to do that as a first or second year medical student, which is amazing. Why don't you tell you tease that out a little bit more and tell me a little bit about how all of that place together in the way that you put the marketing together. Well, so for and it's not just street medicine, we have so many community integrated medicine programs. See i AM is one of those worst dents can have that opportunity to...

...serve in communities in other ways, there's the sports Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment Program and the in the Student Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Programs clinic so that they all have opportunities to join these as well as some of our global opportunities to serve people who do not have access to regular medical care. So there's plenty of opportunity for students to get hands on learning but also to expand their volunteering that they've probably done before. That the students with a rich history of service really fit well with our college. And so those are some of the things that we do and and and do market to that because that's really a fit for us and a fit for the profession. As I think about that, I know a lot of graduate schools, and you know, professional schools are listening, and you know everybody has the genad and all kind ends of things. And I know with medical schools is the m CAT. How do I mean? Certainly that's where a lot of school a lot of schools are are recruiting from the m CAT lists and things like that. But help me understand a little bit about what are the watering holes that you are actually going to find those mission fits service oriented do students that are interested in that? I mean, but I'm curious because I mean that's one of the challenges that I talked to a lot of schools about, whether it's a professional, you know, graduates level, or even if it's a faith based school, it's like you've really got to go where the watering holes of your prospective students are. And with Generation Z that's sometimes hard to figure out. Yeah, I think really they kind of come to us and then we we feel figure that out in the our admissions team obviously, and in the others that help with that in the interview process, and and get a feel for that student and what they want to do with their medical career and what they have been doing prior to that. And we also have several pre college programs so that UM we are working with high school students so that they can get a little bit of a taste of what osteopathic medicine is in some summer programs, in some high school programs, and then we also have programs for undergrads when they come here that um can get them a little bit more uh experience, that knowledge of program. I think that's so exciting because I've I've heard a lot of different schools talk about the importance of getting especially younger students on their campuses. And I love the fact that you guys are doing that from a from a college of medicine standpoint, in the fact that you know, statistics show us that the more students are on campus, you know, everybody says, boy, if we can get them to a campus visit, you know, they'll come. And that's that's a traditional, you know, traditional undergrad line that you hear a lot. But but I love the fact that you guys are even doing that with with the professional and the graduate level of courses. I think that's a that's a brilliant move on that as well. Um one question before we kind of move onto the next thing to her that I wanted to talk a little bit...

...about is tell me a little bit more about your personal experience on that street medicine program, because I I think that you know, you had told us in the pre interview that you know, there was a great opportunity and as a higher ed marketer, you know, and you know and putting yourself in the midst of what these students are experiencing is a great way to tell the stories. So tell us the story of that. Well, we are working on a magazine spread on our incredible programs and so I UM was lucky enough to go on the photo shoots to Macomb and in Detroit. UM we still have one set up coming and lancing, but so I could really see the experience hands on, and it was incredible, UM, just watching the service of these people and our partners, because we have partners at all of these programs to whether they're providing materials or their side by side with the students and the faculty advisors, and so there's so many people who just want to be there and help for our Macomb program. It is in the heart of city on the bus line and they set up shop. They see some of the same people quite often, you know, but it's it's building relationships. They then try and help them with other services, get them to clinics, whatever that might be. But they but nobody's turned away. So they come and they receive more than just healthcare. There's always some snacks, there's always water, there's always some things, there's conversation, there's just having that camaraderie with with these patients and and these students. You know, they're all in and these patients know that they you know, they feel that they build trust and and that's why they see them return so many times. And in in Detroit it's more, I guess, I would say on the road. So we went from site to site. We were at one point under a bridge and and they were treating this gentleman who had some sores on his feet, and I remember him looking up and he counted the number of people that were there and said, there are eight people here just for me. That was just heart touching. And these and for these students, it's you know, when you ask them what does this mean for you, and they say, well, it's gonna make me a better doctor, because it's it really teaches you to be humble and in the moment and and really um have compassion for people and learn not just about medicine but about people. And and everybody has a story and they take the time, they listen, They want to support, they want to help their I knew from that, from taking those trips with those students that I was not doing enough to serve my community. They they're incredible. And the faculty advisors that stand next to them, I couldn't say enough about you. Turn around and they're you know, in there grabbing trash and putting things away and taking care of other things, you know, just just being part of that community. Yeah, we talked about so many times higher ed marketing and and just the importance of story and being storytellers. I think sometimes that that that terminology, that word get kind of overused sometimes that...

...we forget exactly what it means and and how to tell a story. And I just think that just the way you told that story about you know, the patient looked up and said, there are people here just for me. I mean, that's the kind of tugs the emotional heart. That's the kind of that's kind of the gold of higher ed marketing is how can we make sure that the perspective students see themselves in the story and it moves them emotively so that they choose to make that that choice to kind of pursue where we're going. So thanks for sharing that personal story at Terry. I think that was really beautiful. Thank you. Yes, that's very moving to me too. As we end our conversation, Terry, would there be a piece of advice that you could offer listeners that you feel they could implement immediately. My advices immerse yourself and where you are and really learn it so you know, I was lucky to have that opportunity. But not every day do I you know, do I get to go out on stuff like that. But every day I get to meet these incredible students who tell me their stories, share their stories, this incredible faculty that I swear never sleep. You know, they're they're everywhere, they're doing everything, they're supporting these students and and they don't want to be anywhere else but helping them. So I think it's it's fully immersing yourself and knowing from day one that you have to learn what that college, what that area is all about. Whether you're in a division, you're working for the full university, you're in a college, but what does that mean? And and what is that culture? And I have never been in a better place than I am now, and I can wholeheartedly say that. And congratulations Terry. It's well deserved. If someone would like to reach out and contact you for any reason, what would be the best way for them to do that? Probably emailing me and my email addresses. It's an odd one, so we get those here at him as you but we still love the university. It eight U G H E two six zero at M s U dot e d U great, and we'll put the show notes as well. Yes, again, thank you for your time and thank you for the wisdom that you've shared with this today. And best of luck to you and the School of Osteopathic Medicine there at Michigan State. Thank you, You're welcome part. Any any final thoughts that you would like to share. Yeah, I thought this was a great conversation with Terry, and thank you so much for being a part of this. Terry, it's it's been wonderful to have you on the show. And one of the things that I just want to kind of reiterate to everyone, I mean, there's been there's some great stories that that Terry talked about, and you know, some some nuggets that you can take away on just you know, some of the ways that they are doing their enrollment and high ed marketing there at at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State. But one of the things that I mean, her her last comment there in the takeaway is what I want everybody to kind of, you know, take a takeaway. I mean, seriously go back and...

...listen to it again if you need to, but immersing yourself as a higher ed marketer is going to be critical. You know, I don't care if you're at an osteopathic college, if you're at a small Bible college, if you're at a state school bringing in, you know, filling a class of you know, thirty thou students or whatever it might be. Being a really good storyteller and being a storyteller from a first person standpoint is so powerful. Um, yes you can hear the stories. Yes, you can talk to the students. And that's really important, and I think Terry talked about that. You've got to immerse yourself into that student culture, immerse yourself into the classroom, into the faculty, into I mean, if you've got a biology program that does a lot of field work and they're going out to the streams and working on you know, uh, you know, building building all kinds of things out there, go on that trip with them, you know, go along with the photographer, the videographer. Because as a as a marketer, you're either going to be directing that or you're going to be you know, crafting that or or writing that or designing that. The more you can be exposed to that, the better it's going to be in the better and the more authentic your storytelling is going to be. So I really love that that immersion type of tip from Terry, and again, thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you. The High re Marketer podcast is sponsored by Kaylor Solutions and Education marketing and branding agency and by Ring Digital, a digital marketing agency adding transparency and accuracy to your digital marketing campaigns. On behalf of Bar Taylor, I'm Troy Singer. Thank you for joining us. 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 rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars do you think the podcast deserves. Until next time, lssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

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