The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 9 · 1 year ago

Messaging for the Individual: How Data Can Help You Create Engaging Stories (Part 1)


How do we help uncover and explain the most informative and persuasive information to prospective students?

How do we tell stories that get them excited about education?

We start by finding and utilizing data, analyzing that data, and then creating segmented marketing messages that will move the needle.

Bart Caylor, President & Founder at Caylor Solutions Inc, and Troy Singer, Senior Account Executive at Think Patented chat with Christine Harper, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management at the University of Kentucky, and Julie Balog, Chief Marketing Officer at the University of Kentucky about:

- How to utilize data to drive segmentation in messaging.

- How to engage undecided students using data.

- The difference between innovation and ingenuity.

- How the University of Kentucky is helping communities.

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 the Caylor Solutions or Think Patented websites instead!

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

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, 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, where weekly we explore ideas and insights from marketers we admire. I'm Troye singer here with a marketer I admire, Bart Taylor. In Bart, we get to talk to exceptional marketing executives in the BLUEGRASS state today. Yeah, Troy, and thank you. I really appreciate working with you two. This has been a great, you know, Journey that we've been on and we when we first started to kind of promoting the high ed marketer podcast, had someone in the Media Department at University of Kentucky reach out and say, Hey, we've got a great story about how marketing and enrollment are working together at UK. Would you mind if I pitched you on that? And so we listened and heard them out and thought, boy, this is going a great story. Let's hear about this, and so really looking forward to having this conversation today and we've been so much so that it's going to end up being a two parter. Yes, it is, and, as you know, a common theme among some of our previous interview he's has been how marketing and communication apartments are customarily known for aligning with their alumni offices and how that is changing for some schools, and at the University of a Kentucky they are aligning more marketing communications with enrollment and we're going to hear more about that and the success that they are having. Yeah, it's a fascinating conversation and I think it'll be really worth everyone's time to listen to both episodes and I'm so excited about it. Well said, let's get into the conversation. I'm excited to introduce Julie Baylog, Chief Marketing Officer for the University of Kentucky, and Christine Harper, associated vice president of enrollment management of the University of Kentucky. Welcome to the both of you to the highered marketer podcast. Thank you. Thanks so much for having us. Really looking forward to this conversation, as are we and I know that we agreed to talk about some wonderful things, including how to best the ligne marketing and enrollment. But before we get into it, could you both give us a little bit of a background, or at least what your roles entail, and would love to know your path to that cause I happen to know they are unique paths. Julie, want to go ahead and start, sure, I'll start. So I am the chief marketing officer here at the University of Kentucky. I've been in that role since December of two thousand and eighteen, so fairly new to that role. Prior to that I was in a similar roll down at the Academic Medical Center down the street for UK healthcare, which is part of the university system. In addition to that, I've worked in the nonprofit room and I have often also worked in a place called Keenland, which is a a major...

...sporting a horse racing and auction, Horse Auction Vitinue, and so I do have a varied background. Always been in marketing. Proud graduate of the University of Kentucky. I tell the story that I came here on a full academic scholarship first Gen. feel very fortunate and came here thought I was going to study medicine, that I was going to study pharmacy, something like that, and then I really did not enjoy all of those sciences that go along with that and remember my advisor saying to me, well, why don't you try something different just to see? All right, so I took a business class it over at the Gatton College of business and, as I like to say, it was like a little confetticanon went off in my head and I'm like this is what I'm supposed to do, and so I've been in marketing ever since then. Thank you, Julie Christine. Yes, so I have been in enrollment management in a number of performs for over two decades now. I started just a couple of months before Julie in my current role from July of two thousand and eighteen in the church chief enrollment officer for the university. Prior to that I had come to the University of Kentucky in two thousand and ten and worked in professional and graduate admission. So I was the Student Affairs Office as well as the admissions director for the College of Dentistry. So dental professional admissions a little bit different prior to that I worked another large public institution, since I had started there in two thousand and one and worked in enrollment management in undergraduate education for a number of years. Interestingly too, I think it's funny how you start down one path. When I started my collegiate degree, I was it between molecular genetics and ceramics, and I remember my father say just do what you love and the rest will come, and it certainly has, because I don't think many people think that they are going to go into higher administration, but those were so it was so formative. I had a great academic advisor and I've a student athlete had great academic advisor. That got me thinking about the opportunities in working with college students, and so admissions was where I felt and the statistical side and this kind of art in the science of this work really mels with my ceramics degree that I actually have as long as well as a master's and working on my doctorate right now milds into it. I see nice play on words. was that's great. One of the things I know that we talked about earlier was when you both started your rolls back in two thousand and eighteen the way that each of the offices, marketing and enrollment management worked with one another was really different than it is today and I know that the way it is today is being touted in seen is a very successful story. So maybe tell us a little bit about the journey that where it was and the reason or the decision to change that and why it's working so well now. I think we can jump by by saying that it's working really well now for a couple reasons. One Julie and I partner really, really well together and she's got a great team. I think that we...

...also benefited from coming in at the same time to a brand at the university that was pretty done out and and didn't really have much identity. We struggled with how do you, how does this really talk about who UK is? And so through the uncovering of a new brand strategy and that work, we work so closely together and really saw such value in what each of us brought and all the data we uncovered and kind of grew into it and then just kind of clung to each other thinking about like this could be really great and we need to continue this and how do we make it stronger? And I don't think I realized how much of a Unicorn we were. I think that was a surprise to me for a couple of reasons. One is, I outline my background, I actually also worked at an agency for a few years as an account manager and when I came in here, this is also what I did done at UK healthcare is set it up as an agency model. And so what we have are two people devoted to enrollment management from our team. I have another one who's devoted to housing and dining one who works only with the current stuart population. At the way we view this as Christine is our client and we actually almost practically embed those account managers in Christine's team and there's a great deal of trust those. Those account managers that we have an em are pretty much just seamlessly part of that. They go to Christine's meetings, she works with them very directly and she tends to work more with them on the more tactical implementation and then she and I work on the strategic side. And when she was referring to the brand strategy development, that was one of the reasons that I was brought down here was to develop and put a fine her point out what is the University of Kentucky's poreent and what is our brand promise? And what I like to say is that you can come to the University of Kentucky and you can do anything and you're going to achieve it in a community that both challenges you and support you, and I think it's that unique tension that that is what makes us special. And Christine was very instrumental as we developed that brand strategy. We really did have the student population in mind, and so as we develop that out, then we developed the creative expression of that brand, which is what we call wildly possible, and so we talked about you can come here and anything is wildly possible. We like to lean in on words like dream boldly and achieve greatly, and so as we collaborate, she and her team were so much a part of that brand strategy development. It's not like we had to educate. They walk the path and so the words they use, the the way they represent us, it's authentic and I think that's the key to a strong brand strategy implementation is it has to be both aspirational and it has to be authentic. It's great.

It almost seems like you're even living out that brand promise internally with your own offices. I mean the fact that you're collaborating and doing some bold things with with that. I think that's really good. I think it's interesting too, whenever I talk with different different enrollment leaders or marketing leaders. So many times, I think in higher education especially more so than and maybe at some other industries, it's so siload, I mean all the different areas of the university or Siload, and many times marketing is kind of been borne out over the years out of the advancement office. I mean, you know, the Alumni magazine is really what drove a lot of the need for any creatives on campus, and so I find that even some of the schools that are are still struggling a lot of times that that alignment between enrollment and marketing is sometimes still wanting because of the priorities of being under the advancement arm. I mean is it? Have you guys kind of witnessed that or maybe at some of the other organizations that you're part of? I think for me, the way I approach it, I don't necessarily see it that way because I've always felt like marketing is a strategic enabler and we need to have a seat at the table when the strategy is being developed and if it's so much better to understand what is the strategic goal, because then we can develop the tactics. The example I uses. I don't like to have people call and say I need to billboard. Okay, well, you may need a billboard, what are you trying to do? And at the end of the conversation will determine whether a billboards the right way to do it or another way to do it. And the fact that Christine is very data driven and so am I, I think, really lends itself well, because we have our brand strategy, but we also have a strategic marketing plan that, again, we developed and one of with with them and with her team in mind. And you know, strategies one and two really focus on enrollment and how we build the esteem of that brand among perspective audiences. And so when we developed that strategic marketing plan, we had to know numbers. We had to know what are we what are we trying to reach, because if it's a huge stretch, then that tells you how you need to resource and do we have the right people in the right spots? And so I can. I'll kind of let Christine speak to that, because I think when she came in what she was challenged with is she was really asked to stretch those numbers and so a lot of times she's she's telling me, well, this is where we're headed and then together we figure out how we can get there. Yeah, absolutely, I think the push in the push in the poll. It's really our brand strategy. As you mentioned, Bart, we really do live it out and July mentioned the embedding of her team members, particularly Katie Benett, on our team, on her team, and not just one meeting but multiple meetings where the data is provided. So just because you know, we're talking about events and what's going on. Well, wire events lagging. Having Katie in the room is... critical because we can not only respond to the data but then react to it. She's also in our broader recruit and meeting where we have our college recruiters come in. So then we have the Intel there. We will look at our social media and here things happening, and so this brand strategy is also a living, breathing thing that the tactic shift based on the winds of what we're going through in the pandemic is a great example. But to Julie's point, when we started where we were, I was charged with growth and, you know, growth in different ways and needing to be able to do that in a very strategic way of where we going to put our funds, where are we going to put our recruiters, where are we going to launch our digital assets? Where are we going to physically mail versus who gets a phone call, and so so this ability to have so close a tie is really critical and and the push in the pull of it. You know, Julie Brings Information based off of what they're seeing in the response rates, in the open rates and the clicks in the in the digital we're talking about what we're seeing in the high school, not now in the high schools, but in the zoom rooms. But but then what are our high school counselor saying? Where is it that a lot of times will have meetings because we see behaviors in the data that then make us think something's not quite clicking, and then it's how did we how can we communicate differently, or how is somebody reading what we're doing? And sometimes it's because a change is made in a college or like the Honors College and maybe the way that it's being the information is being received is is not what we intended, and so that ability to really go back and forth is so critical. And you know, wherever marketing is housed, I think that it's the it has to be the the oonus of the enrollment management, chief enrollment officer to say hey, come with me, partner with me, because if not, you're not going to make the strides that you need to, you're not going to be able to look at data and have that inform and really move things forward in the way the institution wants to, whether the goals or growth goals, or the goals are selectivity or the shape of the class those are. You know, it has to be a very close relationship for it to be successful. That's great. I love the collaborative language in the ways that you're talking about that. I know that in your comment, Julie, about you know, people come to us and say we need a billboard. Well, why? And Ethan Braden from Pretty University, he was guessed on episode one and he kind of talked about that. You know, we're not short order cooks. I mean the idea of the marking department is not just here to take your order and go fulfill it. I mean we need to be, like you said, at the table. We need to be talking about things, we need to understand the data, asking the why is the house, the the win and the what questions, just to be able to be able to really kind of speak and talk and make strategic decisions, not because, you know, by bringing all of our strengths to the table, rather than just saying, Oh, well, you guys are creative, just go do what I want you to do, because this is the creative I need that I have. No we're all coming to the table to kind of bring all that together and I think that, Troy, you talked a little bit about, you know, the agency...

...model, and Julie made a comment about that. Maybe you can kind of pick up on ask a few questions about that. Yes, Julie, you gave a great example of how that works with enrollment. Are there other relationships or how does that agency model work with other departments as you relate to them? Yes, we've extended it beyond enrollment. We did mostly start with enrollment initially, but I also have an account manager who works mostly with housing and dining, because we do have a lot of opportunity. Are All of our dorms, or, excuse me, residence halls, or at least they're all quite new, and but with that comes the obligation to make sure that they're being used and that we mark at them. And and so one of the things that she did, for instance, is she figured out that the students who live on camp empus have a higher GPA and are more likely to graduate in four years. So suddenly that became a real compelling proof point when we're talking to families about this is why you want to live on campus, because there's a there's a real factor there. We also have somebody who is completely devoted to the current the student success stream, working with current students. So she is embedded with with that particular group and she helps do everything from text reminders to students who need to get their advising appointment going to shoe runs the editorial with some other folks on the PR team for a newsletter that we do once a week called wildcat rundown that has all the great information that a student needs to know, and the open rates on that thing are through the roof. And so you know, she's really good about keeping a pulse on what do we need to know? Because, you know, I like to say, at the end of the day, you know, marketing's getting the right message to the right person at the right time. You're really when you can most influence them. And so everybody knows their their peace. And then we have I'm a big believer. I'm a big believer in the daily huddle and I believe they should be short. It did. They cascade. And so, for instance, one of the things we do in them every morning at nine o'clock, we huddle and it doesn't take us more than fifteen minutes and it's all of my direct reports and then my counterpart, Jadel, who's the chief communications officer, his direct reports. We get on there, we do around Robin. We share out with them anything that they need to know. They share with us any barriers to success, anything that we need to do, and then what happens is then those people then meet with their direct reports at ten o'clock and that we and it should never take more than fifteen minutes. But everybody is aligned that way and there's no surprises. And so that those are all the ways that, from an agency standpoint, that we're trying to do it. We also have a creative director who works in the role of making sure that we're assigning a graphic designers to they're also aligned with account managers, so the same graphic designer works on a lot of the same accounts... that they understand and become part of that embedded team. We have videographers, photographers and all of that works jointly with the PR team and so we're just in every college as a communicator and then we meet with the college communicators once a month to share with them anything that we need to share from the university level. That's great and I'm sure, Christine, that you maybe even feel the residual as one of the agency clients. But certainly if something's going on in the housing and on campus realm obviously some of that data that you're they're hearing, that you're learning, I mean, is is going to help with transfers, gets to help with, you know, the way that you're selling the university and maybe even retention to degree. I'm not sure that's part of your you know, part of your purview, but certainly those things are going to make a huge difference. Yeah, I think that it really does. All of the weights. I feel I just said this last week. I feel like we're really hitting on all cylinders because of the way that the agency model works and the kind of tentacles going out and then coming back in and then feeding one another. It's amazing how much Intel and information we have and how that information then helps inform everything else. Some people think, well, I'm only focused on this population and this is really what my goal is, but that population then becomes our current students, and so there has to be this this seamless process of what are we telling our students from the time that they're early college, like we're, you know, but we're out in middle schools? Where are we telling them? How are we sharing just how do you get to college and that UK can be an option, or just college in general can be an option? And then, as they get closer, what are we sharing with them that then hopefully becomes part of what they experience in their first year into their second as they then graduate and become a lums. We've leaned into our alumni for that very reason. We want them close. We want them to know what words, what we're telling we want to hear from them so then we can see how is it going? How have we changed and what is this experience like? So to that point, when we have meetings, that retention meeting, which is a huge broad table, we have our first time freshman meeting, huge broad table, housing and dining, will give reports if we see things that are happening in terms of our LLP applications. So all of these things inform the students across the life cycle through to graduation or whatever their career plans or life plans are, and the agency model has really, I think, sped up that knowledge base. I think Julie you can agree with me that when we both started we knew we had gems and stories on this campus and we had real hard time surfacing those. We knew, Oh this student over here and this faculty member over here. That is because of a lot of Julie and her team's work and also the way that they're embedded. This college is will say I have a student that you really need to connect with. Before it would just go off into what do we do with this and get lost in the ether. And now, like I said, just feels like we're hitting on all cylinders and a lot of that has to do with that alignment and embedded nature and then...

...that idea that we really are trying to keep that brand promise and who UK is is is this and we want you to experience it. For the right student, it's going to be a great experience and you will do things that you didn't think you could do, and so that that piece is is really critical for us and I think that the way that it's aligned right now has been extremely helpful in getting us in a very short period of time, very short period of time, to places. I think we thought it could be five, six, seven years before we got to this and our were easily readily, you know, surfacing some of this. That's great, great, thank you. Wow. We are at the time that we try to keep it to for every episode, but unfortunately we are only halfway through what we wanted to cover with the both of you. So we're going to divide this into a two part episode and Bart we're going to continue on next week for everyone else, but for us is just going to be about five minutes from now. So, Julie Christine, thank you and we look forward to everyone joining us next week on the second part of our conversation with UK. The High Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Taylor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and by Think, patented on Marketing Execution, printing and mainly provider of highered solutions. On behalf of my cohost, barred 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 you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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