The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 16 · 5 months 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 EdMarketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in highereducation. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to studentrecruitment, donut relations, marketing, trans new technologies and so much more.If you are looking for conversation centered around where the industry isgoing, this podcast is for you, let's get into the show, welcome to the High Red Marketerpodcast, I'm troy singer here with our co host Bart, Cayler and Bart a secretthat might not be a secret by the time. This podcast is released that we'reworking on a webbing that we are very excited about. Putting on the finishingtouches that is going to have a lot of useful information for higher redmarketers would love to hear your perspective and what you're excitedmost about it. Yeah this weapon are and, like you said it's it's probably outthere 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 andstrategies for higher ed success. So you know your background is print. Youknow I think patent does a lot of marketing execution through print. I doa lot in print and digital and what we're going to do is we're going totalk about how to combine those to to really make successful direct malecampaigns. Whether those are you know, direct male in a search campaign,whether it's as part of your conflow different ways of leveraging the directmale campaigns to do that through personalization through print on demandthrough you know, informed delivery and a lot of male three sixty types ofthings that you can do around the mailing that you know quite frankly,up until troy and I got to work together in the last year or so I wasunfamiliar with that and it's there's a lot of advancements in in the mailingsystem and direct mail that are pretty powerful, that you can combine withdigital. So really excited about that. Thank you, bark and yes, and for therecord Bart and I are working on a couple of projects for customers andthat's the reason why we're able to bring this Webi to let people know ofthe successors were having with our current customers and to see if anyoneelse would like to benefit from that success. But today really want to talkabout our guest, which is Jeff Panter and he's with IV, tech, communitycollege and Bart. You have a history with Jeff, so you know him pretty wellYeah Jeff and I did some work together several years ago and I got to knowJeff Pretty well through that he's a great guy. He came to ivy techfrom a from a background in college, athletics and he's a he's. A brilliantmarketer really does a lot of really good things for from Ivy Tech hasreally kind of taken them to kind of a sleepy commute from a sleepy communitycollege to one of the most impact institutions or in the state of Indiana,and so really I'm excited about this conversation we're going to have within the day. I think he has a lot of really good information and a lot ofreally good information for hired marketers in general, not just specificto community colleges, but I think he has a lot of really good wisdom tobring to the table. Let's bring Jeff into the conversation, I'm excited to welcome Jeffrey PanterVice President for marketing and communications at IV, Tec, communitycollege, to the show welcome Jeffrey Ye, be here. Thank you for the opportunity.It's our pleasure to have you. If you would tell everyone about your role atI detect sure I have the pleasure and have had the pleasure for the lastseventeen plus years of serving as a vice president for marketingcommunications, that I metech community college, sometimes a let a one factwhat I chete community college, where their largest singly accredited state,wide community college system in the country and the largest post secondaryinstitution of ire education, the state of Indiana so just been thrilled to bein this roll at I be Tech Community College. That's great thanks. Jeffappreciate that kind of giving us that...

...that run down, you know, being here inIndiana. I'm really familiar with Ivy Tech, and I know that you know just infull transparency for everyone. You and I've done some work before in the past,and so, but I also just you know even growing up here. I know just thesignificance that ivy tech has had historically in the state of Indiana,and you know it's traditionally you've established a kind of that transfer, anaffordable y alternative which isn't necessarily a bad thing in this day andage. But could you share some of the changes that advancements of howcommunity colleges like I vitachuco are changing and the way that you areadapting to that? I mean a lot has changed in higher ed in the lastseveral years and I think you guys have done a good job of adapting to impactthe students. Certainly, I think one of the ways and you touch them at theaffordable and transferability, and certainly I think the folks has been toestablish that, and I think we've done a pretty good job at I be tack and theaffordable. Is that access point for people to know they can afford to getinto higher education, and then that transferability is to move on to a fouryear institution, but I think what community college, and especially herein Indiana, have done exceptionally, why, with a Ritec Community College, isestablished. The fact that this is not necessarily just your launching offplace for four year a degree this this is a launching pad for a career, and Ithink that's a little known fact or is becoming more of a a known fact, butwith community case people didn't always see them as the place where Ican go to get a great career right. When I leave community college, it's alaunching up. Maybe it's a start if a job, and I really do believe there isdivertin a job in a career. I firmly believe community colts have nowestablished themselves as a place to launch to a career. I think that'ssomething that's the emerge. That would say over the last, maybe five to sevenyears. Certainly, there's more attention nationally on communitycolleges, with respect to this concept of potentially could they be freeacross the country to create like a cad, a fourteen tight model, and part ofthat is because people are knowing an embracingaccepting the fact that community colleges train people to go into acareer, and sometimes people associated those careers, maybe with some of thetrade vocational things. But you know we trade, more nurses than anybody inthe state of Indiana, and sometimes people don't associate communitycollege with that. I think folks are starting to understand more. This is alaunching off place point for a career. I think that's what's different aboutcommunity colleges bare, probably in the last five to seven years,especially here in Indiana. I think it may be different other parts of thecountry, but here in Indiana, because of the way higher education is kind ofgrown up with these regional camps that I, U in produce had and, and the rollarchitect played more, is that trade vocational school. I think it's changedover the years and I you know it's been a pleasure to be a part of that and seepeople understand that better about Iviek and the Roller Communin colpoysyeah great out of curiosity. How would you define the difference between a joband a career? I think a job is you know, I think about my ownsituation with my family. So I have. I have a nineteen year old, daughter anda job for her is the job that she went to today where she went to a boutique.She worked in the store she got paid, the weights that she got paid, but it'snot where she's going to be after she, graduates from college is a job. It's aplace that, frankly for hers, she's Megin some extra earnings for thesummer for other people. You know a job may potentially be that earnings tofrankly put food on their table right, which is an important thing, but reallyto then take your family to another level or take your experience assomeone who is the bread winner in your family or the leader of a Franyais.That's a career to me and I think a career is when you can start to supportyour family support yourself, support other endeavors that you want to dowithin your life. A career gives you the means to do that. Well, a jobprobably gives you an instant...

...satisfaction. What you need right atthat moment- and I think that's what's different to en a job at a Creari a job.Often I think if you asked it people, they would talk about how they youchange jobs. Multiple time look, I've had jobs. I worked at Burger King. Iworked at a shoe store. Those are jobs that not that they're bad places thework, their great place work and there are a career pass with those. But whenyou ask me my career is I've had two career pass, my life, one in college,athletics and now in higher education. Those are different than my jobs that Ihad when I first came out of when I was in high school or first came out ofhigh school, where those weren't the path that was going to be on forevergoat, not that they weren't bad jobs, but I want my path was not to you, know,manage and run a burger king and manage and run at that time. Kenny shoes. Mycareer, though, is where I am. Was I in college ef, I like said now, I'm inhigher 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 highereducation. You know whether it's through the Community College Lens ofcareer, ready- and you know, there's a lot of a lot of talk about career,ready, around open skills and being able to transfer those credential ingthose types of things that we do some work with Western governors universityand we're learning a lot about some of the things that they're leaving in that.But I think it's so important, because there is this this idea, I think you know good bad orill. The idea that there's a certain path to a certain life, but I thinkthat you're trying you're making the point that community colleges, at leastwith Ivy Tech, those those paths to careers, go different ways. They canneither go through the traditional four years that people often do. They canalso go through community college and they can do a combination of boththere's just a lot of ways to careers, and I think that's refreshing to seethat that come about so as as we kind of think about that and how the impactcommunity colleges that are having let's kind of shift a little bit andtalk about how to market that impact. I mean and- and I think I just kind ofillustrate a little bit- There's a there's somewhat of a perception outthere that that sometimes community colleges have to overcome. Youmentioned a little bit yourself. Tell us a little bit about how in differentways that you're marketing, Ivy Tech for that change and to help persuadethose people who might not one understand a higher education and tounderstand that it's a path to a career. Well, one of the keys to that bar forus in the steps that we took to the decision that we've made it while we'recalling a brand devolution with respect to Avete community colleges, we didsome research to try to figure out what our external audiences think aboutcommunity college. What you said is correct. You know community collegesacross the country there is. There is an element of a perception challenge,perception issue. I call a perception misunderstanding, but you need to thenfind out. So what is that perception in misunderstanding? And we found out fromour external audiences really what they and it's it's a misunderstanding, alack of knowledge. They just don't understand what it is that an IV tercredential can get them. They understand it's fordable, theyunderstand credits transfer, but they don't understand. What is the value inan ID te Crinito? I say this so what question so what does Achete give me?What does a idete prenatal give we learned in speaking to our senonnes?That's the question they want answered and they don't want it to stay answeredwith kind of the marketing speaker. The marketing word of it gets you a eyewage career. It gets you a high value job, which those are the terms we usetoday and some of our market. They need data and support behind that they needto. They need proof. They need to see what are those highways jobs? What arethose careers and and show me how much money you're going to make? So it'svery outcomes, Durven, that's what we found out to what we're trying to shiftto is informing people. This is what an idete degree get you based on theamount of money our graduates make based on the text of jobs. havegraduates have not just potentially...

...what that type of job can get you, butwhat somebody who went to ive that has that type of job gets paid and I thinkthat's extremely important because look we're in a market where other schoolsdo the same thing. Our graduates at university acts make this much money.They get this type of signing bonus. This is their median income and that'swhat they hear and that's what people digest and here so we need to then jumpinto that market and say well. This is when anidete one gets you and I I'm confident that people are going to be shockedwhen they see how much money some of our graduates that left agete withintheir first year, make not just Tarete cal community cousin JEM. I thinkthey're going to be shocked by that and then on top of that secondary to thatmessage is oh by the way it's affordable, it's more fordable on oftheir options that are out there and to your point about some careers dorequire four year degree our credits will transfer on if at a later date youneed to go pursue further. Education was certainly as valuable for all of usto do and our credits are going to continue you on the path you don't needto restart. You know a nursing and nursings a great example. You may youmay start a one lavas a nurse, but then you need to go and get your BS. Wedon't start over. You take your avete credits. Do you go on you've alreadyfinished two years to get your BS and now you're, making even more of a moneymore money? That's what a career as you continue to progress within them. Sothat's the message that we feel confident here in Indiana. People needto know more about IV tech and I would suggest you across the country.Community colleges could do a better job of talking to people about theoutcome of what their graduates to do when they leave the community cut, andreally we could try to guess with that messages. But look the market place istelling us. I need to know how much money I'm going to make and I'm goingin to know what kind of job I get and I'm going to need to know what type ofplace I'm going to work at yeah. I think that's so critical and I thinkyou bring up a point that I've seen a lot of different research studies. Youknow I work with a lot of with Association of Biblical HigherEducation and they commissioned Barna research to do kind of a study on youknow, what's expected from a from. You know that type of degree, but it allcomes down to outcomes. I mean whether it's the student, whether it's theparents, everyone wants to know what is the return on my investment? I thinkeverybody understands now that higher education is an investment. You knowthirty forty years ago, you know it was not. The percentage of you know annualincome that it is today I mean higher education has gotten expensive and Ithink that people want to understand if I'm going to put this investment inwhat is the outcome? What can I expect- and I think that what you guys aredoing to kind of research that and then tell the true stories of what Ivy Techis experiencing, what your grads are experiencing? I think that's a really areally 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 ofdifferent schools listening to this and they might say well, you know I've gota we've got articulation agreements with our local community college, buthow 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 readyautomatically, but you've got a lot of students who either whether they're inhigh school, taking AP classes or dual credit or doing some things with IV.Tech, who are you know, going to be pulling away with several credits, evenif they go and get an associates or whatever to be able to transfer. Whatwould you be your suggestion, for you know the four year schools to be ableto to market to this group of students who are walking away with a you know,two years under their belt, but one to continue on yeah. Well, I think oneimportant thing that we've seen here in Indiana- and I think it's the case inother states to is let's kind of stop the competition game,but there are plenty of people in our country who need to be educated, andthere are plenty of seats in all of our...

...institutions to vior education thatneed to be filled so as 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 withrespect to every student. But you know what there's plenty of spaces and seeds,especially here in Ingian, with our our regional campuses that exist. Let's notbe competitors, but let's make sure we share what them on us. This wordcustomer because they have a choice. They are a customer right care. Whatthe customer with other options are because if the customer potentialstudent believes they want a for your education, they believe that's theirticket then make sure whether you're the fouryear institution or the Community College, in this case I'll use the fouryear stitution as an example. If that's what they ultimately want, but you withthe four year institution, it's not the right fit for that individual, don'ttry to fit them into a bucket. That is not going to work for them, and youknow that a year later, they're not going to be there running longer, givethem options that maybe the community causes the better rope. Maybe it's afinancial decision, maybe it's just where they are with with respect towhat they achieved academically in high school. Maybe it's with respect tothey've been out of high school for a period of time and they really haven'ttaken many classes, so the better route may be to go to the Community Collegewhere there may be twenty people in the classroom, as opposed to two hundredpeople in the classroom. Put those options on the table for the consumer,so they can see what the all of those are and let's not compete with eachother, because in the end we both can be a terrific resource for thatpotential student, starting at the Community College, going on to fouryears. Suton. Lo I'll tell you this. If my experience had I atteck. So if Iwork in admissions or a marketing in a four year stitution, you can't replacea junior senior if they don't come back after their sophomore year or theirjunior year. There's no there's no magical, junior or senior replacementthe place you find them is a community college, so partner of the CommunityCollege, and you fill those seats because the data shows you noteverybody that starts with his freshman is going to be the June oer. That'sjust what the research shows so pardner with the community cose, becausethere's no other way to fill your junior seat or three hundred levelcourses, then taking people who have one hundred two hundred level courseexperience and where you going to find them at a community college, and Ithink if we could really partner- and I think Indiana's not a great job of this-so we're all one seamless higher education system. Let's make sureeverybody new Miana knows that and you can move from one institution to theother and make it seem less to make it easy and approach it. That way, I thinkthat's a better approach for people to take and not be afraid that if you'reout a four year and and that's coon goes home for the summer, it's okay,they pick up a class at the community college and then bring those creditsback with them, because you know what it's better, that they're stayingenrolled in the summer somewhere and staying in staying in higher education,because data show is that you continue to stay in role. They, like the hood ofyour continue to retain, is better, so there's nothing wrong with that. Ifthey don't choose to take it at your fore institution, they choose ticketsto community college and bring those credits back, make it easy make itseamless for them to transfer this credit Tude, and you know, on yourwebsite, show you take this classic community callejas it's going totransfer to this institution to this class at our institution. So I thinkthat's the approach higher education should take and let's be one producttogether and kind of compete less with each other, because, as I said earlierto start this, there are plenty of people in Americawho can fill the seats that exist in her education. Plenty of people need it.We just need to be a bit more inviting to make that happen. I agree with youon that Jeff. I think that I think that not only are there plenty of people whowant it, there are plenty of people who don't know that they need it and itwould be better. We would be better served together in helping peopleunderstand the power of what you know Higher Ed Ism, I'm a first generationcollege student and a troy is as well.

We know the difference that highereducation can make in a life and the more people that understand that, andyou know I you're going to get me on a soap box, but I think that that is.That is the message that we need to be doing as opposed to the competition. SoI appreciate that Jeff so try. I know you had a couple questions. You wantedto kind of jump in yeah, there's one Jeff. That Barth knows that I ask, aswe close every episode, he've been very generous and we appreciate theinformation you've given us, but we also ask for one additional nugget. Solet's assume that you're speaking to other successful community collegeleaders and if there would be an additional tip or idea that you'veheard of May be wanted to act upon that you could share that they couldimplement rather quickly. What would that be? That's a great question, and Ithink for me and remember I mentioned to you like my career tracks. First, Icame from college athletics and they moved into higher education. My tip would be have honestconversations at your campus that these potential students they havechoices their customers. You can't be afraid of that word. I think sometimeshigher education is afraid of that word. My tip would be it's okay, it's not abad word in this space because they have choice and the choiceisn't always to pursue another institution, becauseI think sometimes people default to that. As customer know, the choice canbe. I choose not to to tire education, just like as a customer of any product.Often, the choice is that you bought another product, often the choices youdidn't buy the product at all, and I think that is something we can't beafraid of and we need to come into their space to to to certainly makesure they know what the Aroin it is, but that return on investment is andreally 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 peopleare trying to convince us as to why we should buy this product or by thatproduct. You know higher education that I don't always hear. This is a productnow, it's probably as important of a product as any that's out, but there'sa 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. Health care issomething that's extremely important, but you see it's funny. I related toyou know: you see bill boards for Ospitals telling you how long the Erweight 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 toolong ago in the or so that's how they position themselves. High Educationcame a different, I'm not saying we need to have a white time on oureducation, but you know it's interesting and higher education. Nowwe do talk to you about how quickly you can get your degree and how quickly youcan get into the work force. Is that maybe our wait time? I don't know, butI think that would be the advice I'd give try. Is it's treated it's okay touse that word? It's and let's have that on this conversation within our innercircles of higher education, it's not a bad thing. Faculty emon! We use thatword. 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, ormaybe just to connect with you, what would be the best way for them to dothat? The best way is my email, a j, J fancher and that's a j aphis, frank, aand TS, and to br at I dthat to you, I'm my email constantly and I reallyenjoy having conversations with folks who reach out to me just for ideas andalso I'll caution. You, if I give you an idea, I won't go back and return. SoI t I love him his conversations, because by no means am I an expert. Ilove to have conversations. My best ideas are those that is probably stolefrom others. So, as long as we can have a two way street and I can getsomething from you- welcome people to reach out- that's growl for the record.I think I owe you one because I'm...

...taking that idea that line and I'mrunning again thank you Jeff, as we wind up Bart, do you have anyadditional thoughts or comments that you would like to make yeah. I just wanted to kind ofunderscore some of the things that Jeff said. I think the idea of really kindof looking at our prospective students, our perspective families. You know thedifferent stake holders that we have as higher ed marketers, seeing them ascustomers, 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 withyour school, whether they end up on campus, whether they commute whetherthey do a number of different things, and so we can't take for granted thefact that, Oh you know this is just where we are and this is what's goingon, and I really like Jeff Point about the fact that you know customers not ait's, not a bad word. I you know I started my career in corporate. Ilearned a lot of different things and I remember I remember in the late S I wasdoing a lot of work with motorology. I would go up to Chicago in there intheir war room and we would be up there kind of seeing the h. You know theupcoming secret mobile phones, I mean they were. They were just launchingmobile phones at that time and and they had all these ideas of how to market toteenagers. For those- and you know I was also working in higher head at thattime, and so I would go back and you know I wasn't giving me any secrets,but I'd be like hey what? If we did this to these teenagers, becauseobviously moto roles put a lot of money into researching that. I think thatthinking of your perspective, students as customers opens up your ability tolook at a lot of business books that have to do with marketing and be ableto apply. Your role is a higher ed marketer in into those business books,and so I think that just kind of really kind of understand the whole nature ofthe way you know business works. The way customers work the way choice.Works can certainly apply to higher, and so I think those are some reallysalent points. I agree, and I hope from this conversation maybe we get feedbackto either one of you directly about viewing the students as a customer.Maybe they started something here so again, thanks to both of you Bart, I just realized. We always askour guests the best way to reach them, but we should be telling people thebest way to be just. I know I am active on Linkin and that's where I spend mostof my time and I'm most responsive to new inquiries, so just search, troysinger on Linkin and I'll come up Bart. That would be the same. For me, I'mvery active on linked in, I think, also email. I like Jeff, I'm on email allthe time so kayler at Kayler, hyphen solutions, com and would love tocontinue the conversations there and thank you both for this greatconversation, the higher ad market or podcast is sponsored by Barts Company,Calor Solutions and education, marketing and Brandin Agency and bythink patented, a marketing execution, printing and mailing provider of HigherEd Solutions. On behalf of Bart Kayler and myself, troy singer, thank you forjoining us. You've been listening to the Higher EdMarketer to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the show inyour favorite podcast player. If you were listening with Apple Podcast, we'dlove for you to leave a quick rating of the show, simply tap the number ofstars. You think the podcast deserves until next time. I.

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