The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 16 · 1 year ago

Why You Should Be Outcome-Oriented in Community College Marketing


Marketing for community colleges has long focused on affordability and transferability.

But in this episode, Jeffrey Fanter, VP Marketing & Communications at Ivy Tech Community College, explains why community colleges should establish that they are not just launching pads for an education, but also launching pads for a career as well.

What we talked about:

- How community colleges are adapting to changing times

- Showing outcomes and impact in community college marketing

- Focusing less on competition in higher education

- Seeing prospective students and families as customers

Know of a higher education marketing change agent you’d like to hear on the show? Does your university have an interesting story to be featured?

Connect with Bart Caylor or Troy Singer. If you’re not on LinkedIn, check out Caylor Solutions or Think Patented.

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to The Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.

You are 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, don't have relations marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketer podcast. I'm choice singer here with our cohost Bart Taylor, and Barts a secret that might not be a secret by the time this podcast is released, that we're working on a Webinar that we are very excited about putting on the finishing touches that is going to have a lot of useful information for Higher Ed marketers. Would love to hear your perspective and what you're excited most about it. Yeah, this Webinar and, like you said, it's it's probably out there for everybody who hasn't didn't have a chance to tend can download it. But we really are looking forward to talking about managing the tools and the strategies for High Ed success. So you know, your background is print. You know, I think patent it does a lot of a marketing execution through print. I do a lot in print and digital, and what we're going to do is we're going to talk about how to combine those two to really make successful direct mail campaigns, whether those are direct mail in a search campaign, whether it's as part of your comflow, different ways of yet leveraging the direct mail campaigns to do that through personalization, through print on demand, through, you know, informed delivery and a lot of mail. Three hundred and sixty types of things that you can do around the mailing that quite frankly, up until troy and I got to work together in the last year or so, I was unfamiliar with that and it's there's a lot of advancements in in the mailing system and direct mail that are pretty powerful that you can combine with digital. So really excited about that. Thank you, Bart in. Yes, and for the record, Bart and I are working on a couple of projects for customers and that's the reason why we're able to bring this Webinar to let people know if the successes were having with our current customers and to see if anyone else would like to benefit from that success. But today really want to talk about our guests, which is Jeff Banter and he's with Ivy Tech Community College and Bart you have a history with jets, so you know him pretty well. Yeah, Jeff and I did some work together several years ago and I got to know Jeff Pretty well through that. He's a great guy. He came to ivy tech from a from a background in college athletics and he's a he's a brilliant marketer. Really does a lot of really good things for for Ivy Tech. Has really kind of taken them to kind of a sleepy community, from a sleepy community college, to one of the know most impactful institutions here in the state of Indiana, and so really am excited about this conversation we're going to have with in the day. I think he has a lot of really good information and a lot of really good information for high end marketers in general, not just specific to community colleges. But I think he has a lot of really good wisdom to bring to the table. Let's bring Jeff into the conversation. I'm excited welcome Jeffrey Fanter, Vice President for Marketing in communications at IB Tech Community College, to the show. Welcome Jeffreys. You to be here. Thank you for the opportunity. It's our pleasure to have you. If you would tell everyone about your role at I be tech. Sure I have the pleasure and have had the pleasure for the last seventeen plus years of serving as a vice president for marketing communications at Ivy Tech Community College. Sometimes I let her own fact about Ivy Tech Community College where their largest singly accredited statewide community college system in the country and the largest post secondary institution of our education in the state of Indiana. And so just been throughout to be in this role at every Tech Community College. That's great. Thanks, Jeff. I appreciate that kind of giving us that that rundown. ...

You know, being here in Indiana, I'm really familiar with Ivy Tech and I know that you know just in full transparency for everyone. You and I have done some work before in the past and so but I also just you know, even growing up here, I know just the significance that ivy tech has had historically in the state of Indiana and you know it's traditionally you've established kind of that transfer, an affordability alternative, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in this day and age. But could you share some of the changes that advancements of how community college is, like Ivy Tech, are changing and the way that you are adapting to that. I mean a lot has changed in higher end in the last several years and thank you. Guys have done a good job of adapting to impact the students. Certainly, I think one of the ways, and you touched on the affordabilion and transferability, and certainly I think the folks has been to establish that and I think we've done a pretty good job at every tack. And the affordability is that access point for people to know they can afford to get into higher education and then that transferability is to move on to a four year institution. But I think what community college, and especially here in Indiana, have done exceptionally. Why, with every Tech Community College is established the fact that this is not necessarily just your launching off place for a four year degree. This this is a launching pad for a career, and I think that's a little known fact, or is becoming more of a known fact. But with Community College, people didn't always see them as the place where I can go to get a great career right when I leave community college. It's a launching up. Maybe it's a start of a job, and I really do believe there's difference between a job in a career. I firmly believe community college have now established themselves as a place to launch to a career and I think that's something that's the emerge, that would say over the last us, maybe five to seven years. It certainly there's more attension nationally and community colleges with respect to this concept of potens who could they be free across the country to create like a kid of fourteen tight model, and part of that is because people are knowing and embracing accepting the fact that community college is trained people to go into a career and sometimes people associated those careers maybe with some of the trade vocational things, but you know, we trained more nurses than anybody in the state of Indiana and sometimes people don't associate community college with that. I think folks are starting to understand more this is a launching off place point for a career and I think that's what's different about community college is bar probably in the last five to seven years, especially here in Indiana. I think it may be different other parts of the country, but here in Indiana because of the way higher education is kind of grown up with these regional campus that I you and produe had and in the role I be tact played more is that trade vocational school. I think it's changed over the years and I you know, it's been a pleasure to be a part of that and see people understand that better about ivy tech and the Roller Community College Boys. Yeah, Great. Out of curiosity, how would you define the difference between a job and a career? I think a job is, you know, I think about my own situation with my family. So I have a I have a nineteen year old daughter and a job for her as a job that she went to today where she went to a boutique, she worked in the store, she got paid the ways that she got paid, but it's not where she's going to be after she graduates from college. It's a job. It's a place too, frankly, for her. She's making some extra earnings for the summer. For other people, you know, a job may potentially be that earnings to frankly, put food on the table, which is an important thing, but really to then take your family to another level or take your experience as someone who is the bread winner and your family or the leader of a friendly to another experience. That's a career to me and I think a career is when you can start to support your family, supports yourself, support other endeavors that you want to do with in your life. A career gives you the means to do that. Well,...

...a job probably gives you an instant satisfaction what you need right at that moment, and I think that's what's difference between a job and a career and a job often, I think if you ask that people, they would talk about how they you change jobs multiple time. To Look, I've had jobs. I worked at Burger King, I worked at a shoe store. Those are jobs that not that they're bad places. The work, the great places work and there are a career passed with those. But when you ask me when my career is, I've had to career pass my life, one in college athletics and now on higher education. Those are different than my jobs that I had when I first came out of when I was in high school, first come out of high school, where those weren't the path I was going to be on forever. Okay, not that they weren't bad jobs, but I what my path was not to, you know, manage and run a burgher king and manage and run, at that time, Kenney shoes. My career, though, is where I am. Why isn't in in Conns athletics and now I'm in higher education? Yeah, that's great. I appreciate you kind of clarifying that and so many I hear it so much in different angles of color of higher education, you know, whether it's through the Community College Lens of Career Ready, and you know there's a lot of a lot of talk around career ready, around open skills and being able to transfer those credentialing, those types of things that we do some work with Western governor's university and we're learning a lot about some of the things that they're leading in that. But I think it's so important because there is this this idea, I think you know good, bad or ill, the idea that there's a certain path to a certain life. But I think that you're trying, you're making the point that community college is at least with Ivytech, those those paths to careers go different ways. They can neither go through the traditional four year that that people often do. They can also go through community college and they can do a combination of both. There's just a lot of ways to careers and I think that's refreshing to see that that come about. So, as as we kind of think about that and how the impact community colleges are having, let's kind of shift a little bit and talk about how to market that impact. I mean, and I think I just kind of illustrate a little bit, there's a there's somewhat of a perception out there that that sometimes community colleges have to overcome. You've mentioned a little bit yourself. Tell us a little bit about how and different ways that you're marketing ivy tech for that change and and to help persuade those people who might not want understand higher education and to understand that it's a path to a career. Well, one of the keys that bark for us in the steps that we took to the decision that we've made and what we're calling a brand evolution with respect to every tech community colleges, we did some research to try to figure out what our external audiences think about community college. What you said is correct. You know, community colleges across the country there is there is an element of perception challenge, perception issue. I call it a perception misunderstanding, but you need to then find out. So what is that perception and misunderstanding? And we found out from our external audience is really what the in it's it's a misunderstanding, slash lack of knowledge. They just don't understand what it is that an ivy tech credential can get them. They understand it's fordable, they understand credits transfer, but they don't understand what is the value in an ivy tech credential. I say this. So what question? So what does that detect give me? What does that I detect credential given? We learned in speaking to our exturnatis is that's the question they want answered and they don't want to to stay answered with kind of the Marketing Speaker, the marketing word of it gets you a high wage career, it gets you a high value job, which are those are the terms we used today and some of our marketing. They need data and support behind that. They need to they need proof, they need to see what are those highways jobs, what are those careers and and show me how much money you're going to make. So it's very outcomes drive and that's what we found out. So what we're trying to shift to is informing people this is what an IV tech degree gets you, based on the amount of money our graduates make, based on the types of jobs. Ever, graduates have not just potentially...

...what that type of job can get you, but what somebody who went to ivy tech that has that type of job gets paid, and I think that's extremely important because, look, we're in a market where other schools do the same thing. Our graduates at university x make this much money, they get this type of signing bonus. This is their media income and that's what they hear and that's what people digest in here. So we need to then jump into that market and say, well, this is when an ivy tech one gets you, and I I'm confident that people are going to be shocked when they see how much money some of our graduates that left attack within their first year make, not just not be type of community colleges in general. I think they're going to be shocked by that. And then, on top of that, secondary to that, messages all, by the way, it's affordable. It's more affordable amount of their options that are out there. And to your point about some careers do require a four year degree. Our credits will transfer on if, at a later day, you need to go pursue further education. was certainly is valuable for all of us to do, and our credits are going to continue you on the path that you don't need to restart. You know, in nursing and nursing to great example, you may you may start at one level as a nurse, but then you need to go and get your bs and we don't start over. You Take Your Ivy Tech Credits, do you go on? You've already finished two years, you get your BSN and now you make it even more of my money, more money. That's what a career is. You continue to progress within that. So that's the message that we feel confident here in Indiana. People need to know more about ivy tech and I would suggest you across the country community colleges could do a better job of talking to people about the outcome of what they're graduates do when they leave the community counts and really we could try to guess what that messages. But look, the marketplaces tell on us. I need to know how much money I'm going to make and I'm need to know what kind of job I get and I'm going to need to know what types of places I'm going to work at. Yeah, I think that's so critical and I think you bring up a point that I've seen a lot of different research studies. You know, I work with a lot of with Association of Biblical Higher Education, and they've they commission bar in a research to do kind of a study on, you know, what's expected from a from that type of degree. But it all comes down to outcomes. I mean, whether it's the student, whether it's the parents, everyone wants to know what is the return on my investment? I think everybody understands now that higher education is an investment. You know, thirty, forty years ago, you know, it was not the percentage of, you know, annual income that it is today. I mean, higher education has gotten expensive and I think that people want to understand if I'm going to put this investment in, what is the outcome? What what can I expect? And I think that what you guys are doing to kind of research that and then tell the true stories of what Ivy Tech is experiencing, what your grads are experiencing. I think that's a really, really great, you know way to express those outcomes. Let me ask you this when you are working with other schools, because, I mean we've got a lot of different schools listening to this and they might say, well, you know, I've got to we've got articulation agreements with our local community college. But how is the best way for other schools to market that path for people? I mean, obviously you've got a lot of the students that are going to career ready automatically, but you've got a lot of students who either whether they're in high school taking ape classes or dual credit or doing some things with Ivy Tech, who are you going to be pulling away with several credits, even if they go and get an associates or whatever to be able to transfer? What would you be your suggestion for, you know, the for year schools to be able to to market to this group of students who are walking away with a, you know, two years under their belt but want to continue on. Yeah, well, I think one important thing that we've seen here in Indian and I think it's the case in other states too, is let's kind of stop the competition game. But there are plenty of people in our country who need to be educated and there are plenty of seats in...

...all of our institutions, by our education that need to be filled. So its opposed to competing with each other? And if so, for example, as a community college, you might want to try to garner every corner of the market with respect to every student. But you know what, there's plenty of spaces and seats, especially here in Indiana with our our regional campuses that exist. Let's not be competitors, but let's make sure we share with a mine. Use this word customer, because they have a choice. They are a customer right share what the customer with their options are, because if the customer, potential student, believes they want to for year education, they believe that's their ticket, then make sure, whether you're the four year institution or the Community College. In this case, I'll use the for you institution as an example, if that's what they ultimately want, but you with the four year institution. It's not the right fit for that individual. Don't try to fit them into a bucket. That's not going to work for them and you know that a year later they're not going to be there any longer. Give them options that maybe the community causes the better rout maybe it's a financial decision, maybe it's just where they are with with respect to what they achieved academically in high school. Maybe it's with respect to they've been out of high school for a period of time and they really haven't taken many classes. So the better route maybe to go to the Community College to where there maybe twenty people in the classroom as opposed to two hundred people in the classroom. Put those options on the table for the consumer so they can see what they'll all of those are and let's not compete with each other because in the end we both can be a terrific resource for that potential student, starting at the Community College going on to for your susition. Look, I'll tell you that's if my experience at Ivy tact. So if I worked in admission during marketing at a four year institution, you can't replace a junior senior if they don't come back after their sophomore year or their junior year. There's no there's no magical junior or senior replacement. The place you find them is the community college. So partner at the Community College and you fill those seats because the data shows you not everybody that starts with this freshman is going to be the junior. That's just what the research shows. So partner with the Community College, because there's no other way to fill your junior seats or three hundred level of courses then taking people who have one hundred, two hundred level of course experience and where you're going to find them at a community college. And I think if we could really partner, and I think Indiana has done a great job of this, of we're all one seamless higher education system. Let's make sure everybody in Indiana knows that and you can move from one institution the other and make it seamless, of make it easy and approach it that way. I think that's a better approach for people to take and not be afraid that if you're at a four year and and that student goes home from the summer, it's okay, they pick up a class at the community college and then bring those cards back with them because, you know what, it's better that they're staying enrolled in the summer somewhere and staying in staying in higher education, because data shows that you continue to stay and rolled. They like the hood of your continue to retain is better. So there's nothing wrong with that. If they don't choose to take it at your for institution, that choose take it to community college and bring those credits back. Make it easy, make it seamless for them to transfer those credits in and you know on your website show you take this class at community college, acts it's going to transfer to this institution or to this class at our institution. So I think that's the approach higher education should take and let's be one product together and kind of compete less with each other because, as I said earlier to start this, there are plenty of people in America who can fill the seats that exist in high education. Plenty of people need it. We just need to be a bit more inviting to make that happen. I agree with you on that, Jeff. I think that. I think that not only are there plenty of people who want that, there are plenty of people who don't know that they need it and it would be better. We would be better served together in helping people understand the power of what you know higher it ISM. I'm a first generation college student... a Troyas as well. We know the difference that higher education can make in a life and the more people that understand that. And you're going to get me on a soapbox, but I think that that is that is the message that we need to be doing, as opposed to the the competition. So I appreciate that. Jeff, so try. I know you had a couple questions that you wanted to kind of jump in. Yeah, there's one, Jeff, that Barton knows, that I ask as we close every episode. You've been very generous and we appreciate the information you given us, but we also ask for one additional nugget. So let's assume that you're speaking to other successful community colleges leaders and if there would be an additional tip or idea that you've heard of maybe wanted to act upon, that you could share that they could implement rather quickly. What would that be? That's a great question and I think for me, and remember I mentioned to you, like my career tracks. First I came from college athletics and they moved into higher education. Might tip would be have honest conversations at your campus that these potential students, they have choices, their customers. You can't be afraid of that word. I think sometimes higher education is afraid of that word might tip would be it's okay, it's not a bad word in this space because they have choice. In the choice isn't always to pursue another institution, because I think sometimes people default to that. As customer know, the choice can be I choose not to choose higher education, just like as a customer of any product, often the choice isn't you bought another product. Often the choices you didn't buy the product at all, and I think that is something we can't be afraid of and we need to come into their space to to certainly make sure they know what the Roi on it is, what that return on investment is, and really convince them that this is the right move for you. And here is why, just like every day, we are marketed to as consumers and customers and people are trying to convince us as to why we should buy this product or buy that product. You know, higher education, that they don't always hear this as a product. Now it's probably as important of a product as any that's out there, but there's a reason why hospitals view patients as customers, because they have choice. But we all know and we all believe I think we'd all agree healthcare is something that's extremely important. But you see, it's funny. I related to you know you see billboards for hospitals telling you how long the ere weight time is. Well, they're clearly trying to talk to you as a customer because they know why you don't go to that hospital because it takes me too longer than they are. So that's how they position themselves. Higher education can make a different. I'm not saying we need to have a weight time on our education, but you know, it's interesting and higher education now we do talk to you about how quickly you can get you to agree and how quickly you get into the workforce. Is that maybe our weight time? I don't know, but I think that would be the advice I'd give. Try Is it's treated. It's okay to use that word. It's and let's have that on this conversation within our inner circles of higher education. It's not a bad thing, faculty member, when we use that word. It's okay. That's powerful and a great way to end our episode this week. So thank you, Jeff. If anyone would like to reach out to you for a question or maybe just to connect with you. What would be the best way for them to do that? The best way is my email at Jafanser, and that's a J F is in Frank A and tea isn't Tom be are. I detected out to you on my email constantly and I really enjoy having conversations with folks who reach out to me just for ideas, and also I'll coution you if I give you an idea, I wont one back in return. So I love ARN cover stations, because by no means am I an expert. I love to have conversations. My best ideas are those that I probably stilled from others. So as long as we can have a two way street and I can get something from you, welcome people to reach out. That's well. For the record, I think I owe you one because I'm taking that idea of that line and I'm running again.

Thank you, Jeff. As we wind up, Bart do you have any additional thoughts or comments that you would like to make? Yeah, I just wanted to kind of underscore some of the things that Jeff said. I think the idea of really kind of looking at our prospective students our perspective, families, you know, the different stakeholders that we have as high red marketers, seeing them as customers, because I think that, as Jeff pointed out, they have a choice. They have a choice on your school, they have a choice on how they engage with your school, whether they end up on campus, whether they commute, whether they do a number of different things, and so we can't take for granted the fact that, Oh, you know, this is just where we are and this is what's going on. And I really like Jeff Point about the fact that, you know, customers not a it's not a bad word. I you know, I started my career in corporate I learned a lot of different things and I remember, I remember the late S I was doing a lot of work with Motorola and I would go up to Chicago and there in their war room and we would be up there kind of seeinging the you know, the upcoming secret mobile phones. I mean they were they were just launching mobile phones at that time and and they had all these ideas of how to market to teenagers for those. And you know, I was also working in higher head at that time and so I would go back and you know, I wasn't giving any secrets, but I'd be like, Hey, what if we did this to these teenagers, because obviously motor roles put a lot of money and free searching that. I think that thinking of your prospective students as customers opens up your ability to look at a lot of business books that have to do with marketing and and be able to apply your role as a highed marketer in into those business books. And so I think that just trying to really kind of understand the whole nature of the way business works, the way customers work, the way choice works can certainly apply to Highad so I think those are some really second points. I agree and I hope from this conversation maybe we get feedback to either one of you directly about viewing the students as a customer and maybe we'll started something here. So again, thanks to both of you. Bart, I just realize we always to ask our guests the best way to reach them, but we should be telling people the best way to reach us. I know I am active on Linkedin and that's where I spend most of my time and I'm most responsive to new inquiries. So just search troy singer on Linkedin and I'll come up. Bart. That would be the same. For me, I'm very active on Linkedin, I think. Also email. I like Jeff, I'm on email all the time. So Kaylor at Kaylor Solutionscom and would love to continue the conversations there, and thank you both for this great conversation. The High Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Barts Company, Kaylor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and by Think, patented, a marketing, execution, printing and mailing provider of Higher Ed Solutions. On behalf of Bart Kaylor and myself, 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 you think the podcast deserves. Until next time.

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