The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 62 · 4 months ago

Collaborative Conversations Create Creative Solutions

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Higher ed marketing is a constantly evolving industry. From the early days of MySpace to connecting with prospects on WhatsApp today, the need for continuous learning is paramount.  

In this episode, Stephanie Geyer, Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation at the University of Montana, shares how she has watched and contributed to the progression of higher ed marketing, why connection is so important, and the value of listening in conjunction with data collection. 

Join us as we discuss:

  •  How to use data for the betterment of the university
  •  How higher ed marketing has evolved with the internet
  •  Why meaningful connection is the most important

The High Red Marketer podcast is sponsored by the ZEMI APP enabling colleges and universities to engage interested students before they even apply. You were 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 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 hired marketer podcast, on Troy Singer, along with Fart Taylor. Today we have a wonderful conversation with Stephanie Guyer. She currently serves as a director of Digital Strategy and innovation in the Office of Marketing and communications at the University of Montana, but also she has years of experience as a consultant for RNL. Today we get a wonderful lesson on data driven marketing from someone who's been there and someone who has taught it for many years. Yeah, Stephanie. Stephanie's wonderful conversation. She actually was the little bit of the beginnings of the rnl e expectations report, which a lot of our listeners will recognize and have read many times over the last several years. So she talks a little bit about the history of that and the importance of what that has done for traditional High Ed Marketing and understanding especially digital media and how students are consuming web and texting and email and things like that. So really a great conversation there and she just brings so much energy to the conversation and wit and wisdom, and so it's a great it's a great lesson. So encourage you to stick around. Not to mention there is a special appearance from her dog Lucy. It's right. That adds that adds to the episode. Here is Stephanie Guyer. It's our pleasure to welcome Stephanie Guyer,...

...who is currently the director of Digital Strategy and innovation the in the Office of Marketing and communications at the University of Montana, to the high red marketer podcast and we are so grateful to have Stephanie with us because not only does she work now on the Eedu side of the fence, she comes with a lot of experience of the other side of the fence and we're going to try to get us much information and guidance as we can from her, from her years of experience. So thank you for joining a Stephanie. We are so happy to have you. Troy, this is the best meeting I have all day. Really happy to be here too, I must say. Conversations with Stephanie are so warm, so lovely and very entertaining and I'm excited, little bit nervous to know what's in store for this episode. It's so Stephanie, just tell us a little bit about your background. I know that your journey through hire at us has kind of been in a lot of different places and you've spent a lot of time at RNL, and I kind of want to talk the first little bit about that, because I think that what you did during your time at rnl is very interesting and a lot of people might recognize it. So just tell us little bit about where, where you are today, what your role is today, and then tell us a little bit about your background. Yeah, thank you. I I'm having such a good time. It's a delight to share this with you. I'm currently at the University of Montana, except that I'm not. I'm in Colorado, where I lived for the past twenty five years thanks to taking on my role at RNL many years ago. So I started in high read at a small private university in Pennsylvania, where I'm from, but I've been on the other side of the Mississippi for a very long time. And I started in marketing and was a client of then nor levitts and had a great experience. Just I was just on...

...campus a couple of weeks ago and I was doing this deep thinking exercise with my team and I was drawing on conversations that I had with Charlie Hutchins, who was a fabled hired consultant for many years, and things that Charlie taught me in one thousand nine hundred and ninety four that are still right and true and valuable to new professionals who are coming in and trying to trying to learn how to market to prospective students. So certainly the tactics that the actual channels that we have to use are really different, but the foundational pieces are still holding me up and I think serving a larger group as well. That's great and I know that you you know your time their University of Montana. You've been there for a while now and you've had a lot of great experiences. I think when we talked earlier, just the idea of, you know, kind of re experiencing that that you know, engagement with students and and some of the other things that have been going on with with maybe even some of our other podcast guests. Tell us a little bit about that. Yeah, I was hanging on campus with Alex Boylan from the college tour and we were really happy to have him back to celebrate the premiere of our episode for the University of Montana. And I know Alex was with you all and he's just so sweet and charming and funny and boy he has the best stories. Like definitely might take him out for a drink and I'm just name maybe name a country and see what it has to say about it. I love that. Yeah, right out of the gate, I started in April of last year and I was handed to really fantastic projects. One of them was the college tour episode and the other was a you visit virtual tour and it was a...

...lot. It was a lot to do right out of the gate for someone who didn't know her way around campus, didn't have any bank of students that I knew. I had to really dig in with my team get to know the campus really quickly and I had a first time experience that is really surprising given thirty one years doing this. I finally got the keys to the golf cart and I didn't put it in the clerk fork. I didn't. I didn't run any run over any students, but that that was a great moment and I think the wonderful outcome of it is that that experience walking campus, walking up to the or maybe driving up to the top and walking down, yeah, helped me kind of more deeply connect with the institution than if I just spent all of my days visiting campus, sitting in conference rooms talking. It was great. Isn't that funny? You probably had a little bit more the perspective of the student, where I hear so many college campuses a boy. If we can get them on campus for the tour, we can really sell them then, and you got to experience that. Yeah, got to meet a lot of wonderful people. We were shooting in Doug Emlyn's lab with Rhinoceros Beetles and but to visit with him and he, you know, shared a copy of his book with me was fantastic. I just thought, wow, I couldn't have I couldn't have stumbled into this any other way. That's great. That's great to hear. Part of your experience that you had at RNL was having a big contribution to the expectations report, which is widely known throughout the higher it community. If you would kind of share what that input is and what that excuse me, what it was and your experience and now that you're on the other side of the fence, what similar reports, how...

...you will utilize that for the better met of the university? It was probably one of the most transformational opportunities I experienced while I was working for our now we were sitting around conference table, as one does, and how was one of the younger consultants as part of Noll lots than our now, and so folks would turn to me and say, okay, what are these kids doing with the way days? And this was back in two thousand and five. Yeah, and you know, I had some ideas. I had been doing a little bit of research myself and we decided that we needed to create our own study, and this is something that I loved growing up in the null of its kind of lineage of Ur. Now is that we were given the opportunity encourage to do research to benefit our client partners. And so, with that ethos, that information leadership kind of mindset, the idea of coming up with a research study was quickly push through leadership and off we went. And and the early study was was very charming because we were asking questions like would it be okay if a college or university that you were interested in sent you and email and and maybe a few years after that, you know, questions about, Hey, what do you think of my space? Would this be a place where a college reuniversity might connect with you? So really a different landscape. But that the real joy of the experience was coming up with the study each year and bringing it to our community, our tribe and you know,...

...doing that for our own national conference or wide variety of other events that I was given the opportunity to stand up and say, Hey, here's a really ugly power point with the biggest amount of data that you can fit into a single panel. Let's talk about it. Yeah, and Lucy things that it's very exciting as well a data for anyway. So that was so much fun, not not the standing and talking about percentages, but the conversations that I had with people standing on stage, standing with them inline giving coffee and having them asked me about what? What about this particular thing, or giving me great question ideas. Yeah, people that I have to I have to just say that it was so valuable to me over the course of my career. I've been my first college website was in nineteen ninety eight and you know, I had done my first website, business website, in one thousand nine hundred and ninety four. I was I was a young pup right out of college and I told my boss at the time, Hey, maybe this website thing has some legs and marketers should be doing it. He told he assured me it was a fat and that wasn't going anywhere. Then he sold a website and so I got to do one. Well, my Alma Mater called me up and said, Hey, we think this might be something that schools ought to do. This was and so they did it. Chronicle wrote an article about it. US News World Report wrote an article and so we started doing a lot of websites as in addition to work that we've done with Motorola, RCA and a lot of consumer brands, and so I was always fascinated and you know your comment about, you know, two thousand and four, two thousand and five, you know, starting to ask those questions. I remember doing a presentation at a school, at a university, about facebook, you know, about this new web to point. Oh the idea of that. You know, facebook's going to go public this this fall. What does...

...that mean? What's that going to mean from you know, and I even have the slides. I was showing somebody the other day the powerpoint from I had screen captures of my space and what that was all about, trying to explain that to people. But it's fascinating how far it's gone and I remember. I remember eleven years ago when I started Taylor Solutions, I was working on a project and the at a university. We're working on their website, and I remember the marketer was in his the VP of marketing was in his office, and he said, how everybody, come in here, I've got the web in. Are Up for RNL. They're presenting the, you know, expectations report, and so we sit around. You know, there was like six of us also gathered around this one monitor watching this, and so it's it's been so valuable because I remember trying to tell people, no, students are going to be on the web. Students are on the web. You need to understand that. Trust me on that. And what I think the expectations did was it really put the data and the facts behind it and it really made digital marketing something that high ed marketers had to really understand, and not so much the hired marketers but more the administration. To your point, you know, being being a young consultant and being asked, what are these kids think about this? Well, you might have some ideas, but to actually have the data has made such a big difference. It really did, and it was a great lesson and reminder in the fundamentals of Web Development, which is it's all about the user. And you, you, sir, that's right. Take yourself out of it and and listen and watch and you know, through the actual delivery work I was doing initially with our now and then later on managing having the opportunity to do just really simple user testing exercises things like that fueled a lot of the evolution of that particular study. I'm tickled that so many other fantastic companies have picked up the mental and particularly...

...enamored with Simpson scarborough lately for some really fantastic research and deep thinking about our organizational structures. I have a few drones to be on that particular topic and I love that they're providing some data to help us frame our conversations and like the expectations to use the results to share with the rest of the campus community to get behind movement and Growth. Yeah, I think it's so important. We spoke to a another school recently on a podcast about the idea of international recruiting and using, you know, these app you know these these messaging APPs, whatsapp and telegram and some that we met and may have never heard of. But I think it technology and digital marketing and marketing in general is so fluid, especially in today's culture, in today's world. I mean, you know, I in my presentations I was make a note that says, you know, it's an Alvin toffler quote that says the Litter of the twenty one century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn on learn and relearn. And the whole point is, and I try to tell people. I said I might tell you something about social media or websites or digital marketing in the next ten minutes that this time next year I might come back to you and say, don't do that anymore, that's not what we need to do. And it's that's just the way everything is. And I think you know the reports, the data like expectations, is so critical these days to be able to have that kind of data. So we're just we're making wise decisions. Yeah, I loved having it to share with the community. I loved what I could learn from it in my own practice and leadership of a team that is developing and implementing strategies. Really a gift and again I'm glad others are picking up the mental and continuing to give and now that I've got that lovely got edu email address, that's that cool stuff...

...again. That's great. That's there you go. That's great. Well, speaking of DOT EDU and and websites and things like that, I know that you are. You're participating in some leadership with the Edu web summit. So tell us a little bit about that and and and what what that's going to be like this year. I mean, it's been a few years since conferences have been happening. It's it's going to be really different and big in I mean profound. It started with a conversation with the the folks that have eat web for years and have been great friends to me. I did a lot of the expectations presentations on their stages and have always been really grateful for that platform. Really Great Collection of, I think, kind of mid and upper level marketing leaders. It webbed of some advancement and development folks in there too. So just the folks I wanted to share my information with. Now thinking about them as a community and having the opportunity to really rethink what it means to attend a conference, and shelly enrich did some fantastic research the last year that they were we were in person in two thousand and nineteen, and learned that the thing that the participants, are attendees, value the most is that connection, that time at the coffee kiosk or that time, you know, sitting around having chicken dinner before the next speaker comes up, that connection with a speaker or a panel after the fact. You know, sure enough, the presentations fabulous, especially that day to one, but the time to connect, and so I took that to heart. I also had come to Jesus with myself about how I have been attending conferences for the past thirty one years...

...and I'm going to be super honest with you, I'm awful. I am an awful confidence attending. Terrible, terrible. You know, I'm a flipperty e gypbet. I don't sit well. If I'm not standing and presenting, I need to be walking around the back of the room or not proud of this, but it's true, sitting in the back, multitasking, and I understand my reasons why and they are not acceptable, but they are mine. And I thought, what can I do, what can we do? And the first thing I thought about was experience that I had with RNL and helping shape tracks for their national conference, which is a much different affair, huge on thousd fifteen hundred people all. It's a lot, lots of people, different interests. And I thought about that call for proposal experience and reading through all of those and finding some nuggets of really interesting opportunities and then some Dud's maybe right or God forbid, sales calls like Oh, this is a sales pitch. Yeah, and I thought, well, how can I reshape it? And Rich and shelly just said go, go, do the thing and the thing I decided to do is to curate a faculty and reach out into our tribe are people and say who who has some new ideas, who has a fresh perspective, who's doing something interesting, who has a voice that needs to be heard? And I found an amazing collection of people that are coming. And the real gift of this new approach is that I said a few words like hey, we may or may not have podiums, we may or may not have stages, you may or may not use powerpoint, or you...

...might decide that for part of your session you want everybody to stand in the circle and sing a song. I don't know. But what I want you to focus on as a faculty are solving the problems that we're all grappling with and coming up with meaningful solutions and, in the absence of actual solutions, deeper questions. What's the next question? Okay, we're trying to fix this thing. Is this really the problem we're trying to solve? KPI and performance measurement, team management, developing leadership and teams that may not be together in person anymore are some of the topics that are bubbling up to the surface, and so I kind of Tart. started to spin this idea out with some some near friends, some some pals that I knew I could trust to kind of get the vision, and they did and they they said more keep going. And so this event is giving people an opportunity to be in a room and be a part of what the conversation topic is and contribute in meaningful ways. And we understand not everyone who comes to a conference who wants to be in smart life. I totally get that. In spite of me being me, I am sometimes that person. I am sometimes an introvert and it's surprising but it's true. And I don't always want to be and not always want to be. Want to have the opportunity to listen and consider and maybe have a acquired a conversation later, which room for everybody. In this we are giving people, although we didn't do a call for Pope proposals, we have this really funky kind of palate cleanser part of the conference. I call it the Basil Survey. The Basil Survey is called give me a minute and you need only go and submit an idea to me and it will be thoughtfully considered...

...and I might push back and help the shape it a little bit more, but come up with an idea of how to spend twenty minutes and it doesn't have to be solving a problem. It could be twenty minutes of Shivasana and and and chanting own together for twenty minutes. That sounds lovely in the context of this big, intense thing that we're creating. Could be a single could be a on the disco, or could be, you know, some kind of demonstration of the cool thing that you did. Or Hey, I learned to crochet this summer. Let me show you how to Crochet. That's not true for me, but anyway. So you kind of get the gist. I think the other component that is different and interesting I take from the work I've been doing in recruitment marketing for all those years, which is man it's really smart to retain the students that you recruit. And so what if we were to retain the community that we build in this in this space, Philadelphia and July, a little hetty? Great. And so we've got this beyond the summit component, where we're adding platforms and resources for people to sustain connection, check in with each other, have a little accountability. Hey, did you do that thing that you felt would solve your problem how to go share with the rest of us. I'm as excited about that as I am actually getting to and through the event in Philly. I think that piece is going to be wonderful. That's very, very exciting and I I'm I've got it on my calendar. I'm going to try to see if I can make it, but I think it's I'm just fascinated with the with the format that you're looking at and then also just, you know, looking at the website and with the with the faculty that you have. Several of them I recognize and know whether podcast guests in the past. Jenny our Jamie Hunt and add up...

...at purdue. I know him and then I think we're going to be talking to Jenny pretty soon as well. So just just an exciting group of folks. So I would encourage everyone to go to the website if they haven't seen that yet. And what is that website? Oh yeah, it's idyu SUMMITCOM and we've been having a really good time making these explainer videos. They're cute little thirty two animated. Hey, we're doing something different. You might need it, might need a little more information. Watch this thing and hope, hopefully, it holps set the town and vibe for what we're going for. Thank you for sharing. We talk a lot about it on this show. Schools are really struggling today to make the same ads been work. CPMS are up eighty nine percent you over year. On facebook and Instagram, our college clients are no longer looking for rented audiences. They're looking for an owned community where they can engage students even before they apply. This is why Zeemi has become so crucial for our clients. With over one million students, close to tenzero five star ratings, consistently ranked as one of the top social laps and recently one of apples hot APPs of the week, there is simply isn't anything out there like it, and we have seen it all. Zeemi not only provides the best space for student engagement, but the most unique in action will data for their one hundred and sixty college and university partners. We know firsthand from our clients that Zeemi is a must have strategy for Gen Z. Check them out now at colleges. That Zee mecom, that's colleges dot Z e m ECOM. And yes, tell them Barton Troy sent you. We wind every episode up by asking our guests as there's an idea or thought that they could share that could be immediately impactful to our listeners. Would you have a fodder idea that you could share as we wind up our episode? You Bet I I was giving this some thought and I was reflecting on an experience I...

...just had on campus just a few weeks ago. I had been on campus a few weeks before that to celebrate our attainment of research one status at the University of Montana, and so there were parties and there was the college tour Premiere and Alex and all these things to do and we have some really big projects coming and so I needed to get back because I needed to use some research resources that I had in hand and some process stuff that I wanted to talk through with the team about all the different markets that we serve. And so I said, Hey, I'm going to be back in two weeks and we're going to have a whole munch of meetings and they're going to be long and intense and I'm sorry that that's how it's gone. And so my advice is this. Make time with your team for deep thinking and do it justice righte on whatever you need to write on and do something with those notes immediately afterwards. But give people a chance to really tune in on a concept or problem and opportunity and just everything's okay, like just get it all out there, let it be swirly. Here's another bit of advice related to that. If it happens to be March and you're wondering if maybe you should feed these people, do, you definitely should go to McDonald's and get a shamrock shake, or let's say fifteen of them, and as many chicken nuggets as you can carry, and you will have very willing, happy participants in your exercise. That is the secret, the big secret. Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing it with us. My collisence, Stephanie, in case you didn't share other secrets, or for those that were inspired by our conversation today, what would be the best way someone could reach out and connect with you?...

You betcha there are. There are many ways, certainly just looking for me. I think Bart, you and I are connected. Troy, I hope you and I are connected. On linkedin, for sure. Twitter is at Steph guy or, which is super simple, and there are so many email opportunities. I'll make this simple as well. Stephanie at Stephanie Guy Orcom. Hopefully that's easy enough. is a great way through email. I welcome the opportunity to talk with anybody that has questions. It's something that the pandemic took away from us to a large degree, and that's another piece that makes me so excited to get to Philly and be with people and hang out and be smart and be silly. But you don't have to wait until to lie. Stephanie, thank you very much for being such a wonderful guest. We appreciate not only your wisdom but you're warmth. Thank you, troy. I can't wait to come back. Let's plan it sounds good. Let let's do Bart. What thoughts would you have as we close the show? I think a couple things that kind of bubble up that I want to make sure everybody takes away. Certainly don't miss the opportunity that we've talked about with, you know, connecting on campus, and Stephanie kind of talked at the very beginning about falling back in love with with students and with campus and with just all that goes on to make a college campus. Don't take that for Grand Get out and actually, you know, spend some time with students. I know that several of our guests. I remember conversation troy with Mary bar how she said every every year at orientation she spends time sitting down with the new students in the families and learning why they chose and why they're excited to be at Ball State University. And so that's that's some research that you can do. That's just takes a little bit of time and maybe a couple shamrocks shakes in a and and some chicken nuggets. But I think that doing that type and then all so kind of the deeper dive in some of the data, the research...

...focus groups like what we just discussed, but also just looking at these different resources. There's a lot of different companies that are putting together research, a lot of organizations that are doing that. Start doing a little bit of your own homework and starting to digest some of that and get to know your prospects, whether you're working with traditional Undergrad which a lot of the expectations reports have historically been about, or if you're looking at more non traditional adult students and graduate students take the time to actually learn what they are at. Sometimes I talk about, you know, the watering holes that they hang out at and and kind of you know, you need to know who your prospects are and get to know them intimately through personas and different things like that. And then finally, I would just kind of echo a lot of what stephany talked about with the conference coming up. Now that the pandemics over, or nearly over, we pray, conferences are coming back up. It's a great opportunity for professional development. If you're listening to this podcast, you probably already tuned into preduct professional development and I would just encourage you to look at things like the web summit and others that are going to be coming up here in this summer and into the fall and next spring's great opportunity to network and we have to do all this together. I don't think anybody can do, as Brian Kenny from Harvard set on our episode fifty, marketing higher education is probably one of the hardest marketing jobs you can have, and so we need each other and this has been a great episode. So thank you, Stephanie. My pleasure. I appreciate the opportuny to maybe to connect with you guys who doing great things for our tribe. I appreciate thanks. Thank you. The hired marketer podcast is sponsored by Taylor solutions in education, marketing and branding agency and by Think, patented, a Marketing Execution Company bringing personalization and customization to your marketing outreach. On behalf of my cohost Bard Kaylor, 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 you think the podcast deserves. Until next time.

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