The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 9 · 9 months 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 EdMarketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show willtackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, don't have relations, marketingtrends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversations centeredaround where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let'sget into the show. Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketer Podcast, where weeklywe explore ideas and insights from marketers we admire. I'm Troye singer here witha marketer I admire, Bart Taylor. In Bart, we get to talkto exceptional marketing executives in the BLUEGRASS state today. Yeah, Troy, andthank you. I really appreciate working with you two. This has been agreat, you know, Journey that we've been on and we when we firststarted to kind of promoting the high ed marketer podcast, had someone in theMedia Department at University of Kentucky reach out and say, Hey, we've gota great story about how marketing and enrollment are working together at UK. Wouldyou mind if I pitched you on that? And so we listened and heard themout and thought, boy, this is going a great story. Let'shear about this, and so really looking forward to having this conversation today andwe'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 themeamong some of our previous interview he's has been how marketing and communication apartments arecustomarily known for aligning with their alumni offices and how that is changing for someschools, and at the University of a Kentucky they are aligning more marketing communicationswith enrollment and we're going to hear more about that and the success that theyare having. Yeah, it's a fascinating conversation and I think it'll be reallyworth 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, associatedvice president of enrollment management of the University of Kentucky. Welcome to the bothof you to the highered marketer podcast. Thank you. Thanks so much forhaving us. Really looking forward to this conversation, as are we and Iknow that we agreed to talk about some wonderful things, including how to bestthe ligne marketing and enrollment. But before we get into it, could youboth give us a little bit of a background, or at least what yourroles entail, and would love to know your path to that cause I happento know they are unique paths. Julie, want to go ahead and start,sure, I'll start. So I am the chief marketing officer here atthe University of Kentucky. I've been in that role since December of two thousandand eighteen, so fairly new to that role. Prior to that I wasin a similar roll down at the Academic Medical Center down the street for UKhealthcare, 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 placecalled Keenland, which is a a major...

...sporting a horse racing and auction,Horse Auction Vitinue, and so I do have a varied background. Always beenin marketing. Proud graduate of the University of Kentucky. I tell the storythat I came here on a full academic scholarship first Gen. feel very fortunateand came here thought I was going to study medicine, that I was goingto study pharmacy, something like that, and then I really did not enjoyall of those sciences that go along with that and remember my advisor saying tome, well, why don't you try something different just to see? Allright, so I took a business class it over at the Gatton College ofbusiness and, as I like to say, it was like a little confetticanon wentoff 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, JulieChristine. Yes, so I have been in enrollment management in a number ofperforms for over two decades now. I started just a couple of months beforeJulie in my current role from July of two thousand and eighteen in the churchchief enrollment officer for the university. Prior to that I had come to theUniversity 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 forthe College of Dentistry. So dental professional admissions a little bit different prior tothat I worked another large public institution, since I had started there in twothousand and one and worked in enrollment management in undergraduate education for a number ofyears. 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 andceramics, and I remember my father say just do what you love and therest will come, and it certainly has, because I don't think many people thinkthat they are going to go into higher administration, but those were soit was so formative. I had a great academic advisor and I've a studentathlete had great academic advisor. That got me thinking about the opportunities in workingwith college students, and so admissions was where I felt and the statistical sideand this kind of art in the science of this work really mels with myceramics degree that I actually have as long as well as a master's and workingon 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 aboutearlier was when you both started your rolls back in two thousand and eighteen theway that each of the offices, marketing and enrollment management worked with one anotherwas really different than it is today and I know that the way it istoday is being touted in seen is a very successful story. So maybe tellus a little bit about the journey that where it was and the reason orthe decision to change that and why it's working so well now. I thinkwe can jump by by saying that it's working really well now for a couplereasons. One Julie and I partner really, really well together and she's got agreat team. I think that we...

...also benefited from coming in at thesame time to a brand at the university that was pretty done out and anddidn't really have much identity. We struggled with how do you, how doesthis really talk about who UK is? And so through the uncovering of anew brand strategy and that work, we work so closely together and really sawsuch value in what each of us brought and all the data we uncovered andkind of grew into it and then just kind of clung to each other thinkingabout like this could be really great and we need to continue this and howdo we make it stronger? And I don't think I realized how much ofa Unicorn we were. I think that was a surprise to me for acouple of reasons. One is, I outline my background, I actually alsoworked at an agency for a few years as an account manager and when Icame in here, this is also what I did done at UK healthcare isset it up as an agency model. And so what we have are twopeople devoted to enrollment management from our team. I have another one who's devoted tohousing and dining one who works only with the current stuart population. Atthe way we view this as Christine is our client and we actually almost practicallyembed 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 partof that. They go to Christine's meetings, she works with them very directly andshe tends to work more with them on the more tactical implementation and thenshe and I work on the strategic side. And when she was referring to thebrand strategy development, that was one of the reasons that I was broughtdown here was to develop and put a fine her point out what is theUniversity of Kentucky's poreent and what is our brand promise? And what I liketo say is that you can come to the University of Kentucky and you cando anything and you're going to achieve it in a community that both challenges youand support you, and I think it's that unique tension that that is whatmakes 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 wedevelop that out, then we developed the creative expression of that brand, whichis what we call wildly possible, and so we talked about you can comehere and anything is wildly possible. We like to lean in on words likedream boldly and achieve greatly, and so as we collaborate, she and herteam were so much a part of that brand strategy development. It's not likewe 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 thekey to a strong brand strategy implementation is it has to be both aspirational andit has to be authentic. It's great.

It almost seems like you're even livingout that brand promise internally with your own offices. I mean the factthat you're collaborating and doing some bold things with with that. I think that'sreally good. I think it's interesting too, whenever I talk with different different enrollmentleaders or marketing leaders. So many times, I think in higher educationespecially 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 timesmarketing 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 alot of the need for any creatives on campus, and so I find thateven some of the schools that are are still struggling a lot of times thatthat alignment between enrollment and marketing is sometimes still wanting because of the priorities ofbeing under the advancement arm. I mean is it? Have you guys kindof 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 necessarilysee it that way because I've always felt like marketing is a strategic enabler andwe need to have a seat at the table when the strategy is being developedand if it's so much better to understand what is the strategic goal, becausethen we can develop the tactics. The example I uses. I don't liketo have people call and say I need to billboard. Okay, well,you may need a billboard, what are you trying to do? And atthe end of the conversation will determine whether a billboards the right way to doit or another way to do it. And the fact that Christine is verydata driven and so am I, I think, really lends itself well,because we have our brand strategy, but we also have a strategic marketing planthat, again, we developed and one of with with them and with herteam in mind. And you know, strategies one and two really focus onenrollment and how we build the esteem of that brand among perspective audiences. Andso when we developed that strategic marketing plan, we had to know numbers. Wehad to know what are we what are we trying to reach, becauseif it's a huge stretch, then that tells you how you need to resourceand do we have the right people in the right spots? And so Ican. I'll kind of let Christine speak to that, because I think whenshe came in what she was challenged with is she was really asked to stretchthose 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 getthere. Yeah, absolutely, I think the push in the push in thepoll. It's really our brand strategy. As you mentioned, Bart, wereally do live it out and July mentioned the embedding of her team members,particularly Katie Benett, on our team, on her team, and not justone meeting but multiple meetings where the data is provided. So just because youknow, we're talking about events and what's going on. Well, wire eventslagging. Having Katie in the room is... critical because we can not onlyrespond to the data but then react to it. She's also in our broaderrecruit and meeting where we have our college recruiters come in. So then wehave the Intel there. We will look at our social media and here thingshappening, and so this brand strategy is also a living, breathing thing thatthe tactic shift based on the winds of what we're going through in the pandemicis a great example. But to Julie's point, when we started where wewere, I was charged with growth and, you know, growth in different waysand needing to be able to do that in a very strategic way ofwhere we going to put our funds, where are we going to put ourrecruiters, where are we going to launch our digital assets? Where are wegoing to physically mail versus who gets a phone call, and so so thisability to have so close a tie is really critical and and the push inthe pull of it. You know, Julie Brings Information based off of whatthey're seeing in the response rates, in the open rates and the clicks inthe 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 butthen what are our high school counselor saying? Where is it that a lot oftimes will have meetings because we see behaviors in the data that then makeus think something's not quite clicking, and then it's how did we how canwe communicate differently, or how is somebody reading what we're doing? And sometimesit's because a change is made in a college or like the Honors College andmaybe the way that it's being the information is being received is is not whatwe intended, and so that ability to really go back and forth is socritical. And you know, wherever marketing is housed, I think that it'sthe it has to be the the oonus of the enrollment management, chief enrollmentofficer 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'renot going to be able to look at data and have that inform and reallymove things forward in the way the institution wants to, whether the goals orgrowth goals, or the goals are selectivity or the shape of the class thoseare. You know, it has to be a very close relationship for itto be successful. That's great. I love the collaborative language in the waysthat 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 onepisode one and he kind of talked about that. You know, we're notshort order cooks. I mean the idea of the marking department is not justhere to take your order and go fulfill it. I mean we need tobe, like you said, at the table. We need to be talkingabout things, we need to understand the data, asking the why is thehouse, the the win and the what questions, just to be able tobe able to really kind of speak and talk and make strategic decisions, notbecause, you know, by bringing all of our strengths to the table,rather than just saying, Oh, well, you guys are creative, just godo what I want you to do, because this is the creative I needthat I have. No we're all coming to the table to kind ofbring all that together and I think that, Troy, you talked a little bitabout, you know, the agency...

...model, and Julie made a commentabout that. Maybe you can kind of pick up on ask a few questionsabout that. Yes, Julie, you gave a great example of how thatworks with enrollment. Are there other relationships or how does that agency model workwith 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 anaccount manager who works mostly with housing and dining, because we do have alot of opportunity. Are All of our dorms, or, excuse me,residence halls, or at least they're all quite new, and but with thatcomes the obligation to make sure that they're being used and that we mark atthem. 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 ahigher GPA and are more likely to graduate in four years. So suddenly thatbecame a real compelling proof point when we're talking to families about this is whyyou 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 successstream, working with current students. So she is embedded with with that particulargroup and she helps do everything from text reminders to students who need to gettheir advising appointment going to shoe runs the editorial with some other folks on thePR team for a newsletter that we do once a week called wildcat rundown thathas all the great information that a student needs to know, and the openrates on that thing are through the roof. And so you know, she's reallygood 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 theright time. You're really when you can most influence them. And so everybodyknows their their peace. And then we have I'm a big believer. I'ma big believer in the daily huddle and I believe they should be short.It did. They cascade. And so, for instance, one of the thingswe do in them every morning at nine o'clock, we huddle and itdoesn't take us more than fifteen minutes and it's all of my direct reports andthen my counterpart, Jadel, who's the chief communications officer, his direct reports. We get on there, we do around Robin. We share out withthem anything that they need to know. They share with us any barriers tosuccess, anything that we need to do, and then what happens is then thosepeople then meet with their direct reports at ten o'clock and that we andit should never take more than fifteen minutes. But everybody is aligned that way andthere'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 havea creative director who works in the role of making sure that we're assigning agraphic designers to they're also aligned with account managers, so the same graphic designerworks on a lot of the same accounts... that they understand and become partof that embedded team. We have videographers, photographers and all of that works jointlywith the PR team and so we're just in every college as a communicatorand then we meet with the college communicators once a month to share with themanything that we need to share from the university level. That's great and I'msure, Christine, that you maybe even feel the residual as one of theagency clients. But certainly if something's going on in the housing and on campusrealm 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 retentionto degree. I'm not sure that's part of your you know, part ofyour purview, but certainly those things are going to make a huge difference.Yeah, I think that it really does. All of the weights. I feelI just said this last week. I feel like we're really hitting onall cylinders because of the way that the agency model works and the kind oftentacles going out and then coming back in and then feeding one another. It'samazing how much Intel and information we have and how that information then helps informeverything else. Some people think, well, I'm only focused on this population andthis is really what my goal is, but that population then becomes our currentstudents, and so there has to be this this seamless process of whatare 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 tellingthem? How are we sharing just how do you get to college and thatUK 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 thatthen hopefully becomes part of what they experience in their first year into theirsecond as they then graduate and become a lums. We've leaned into our alumnifor that very reason. We want them close. We want them to knowwhat words, what we're telling we want to hear from them so then wecan see how is it going? How have we changed and what is thisexperience like? So to that point, when we have meetings, that retentionmeeting, which is a huge broad table, we have our first time freshman meeting, huge broad table, housing and dining, will give reports if wesee things that are happening in terms of our LLP applications. So all ofthese things inform the students across the life cycle through to graduation or whatever theircareer plans or life plans are, and the agency model has really, Ithink, sped up that knowledge base. I think Julie you can agree withme that when we both started we knew we had gems and stories on thiscampus and we had real hard time surfacing those. We knew, Oh thisstudent over here and this faculty member over here. That is because of alot 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 connectwith. Before it would just go off into what do we do with thisand get lost in the ether. And now, like I said, justfeels like we're hitting on all cylinders and a lot of that has to dowith that alignment and embedded nature and then...

...that idea that we really are tryingto keep that brand promise and who UK is is is this and we wantyou to experience it. For the right student, it's going to be agreat 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 thatthe way that it's aligned right now has been extremely helpful in getting us ina very short period of time, very short period of time, to places. I think we thought it could be five, six, seven years beforewe got to this and our were easily readily, you know, surfacing someof this. That's great, great, thank you. Wow. We areat the time that we try to keep it to for every episode, butunfortunately we are only halfway through what we wanted to cover with the both ofyou. So we're going to divide this into a two part episode and Bartwe're going to continue on next week for everyone else, but for us isjust 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 secondpart of our conversation with UK. The High Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored byTaylor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and by Think, patented onMarketing Execution, printing and mainly provider of highered solutions. On behalf of mycohost, barred Taylor, I'm troy singer. Thank you for joining us. You'vebeen listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss anepisode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'relistening with apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a quick rating ofthe show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves.Until next time,.

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