The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 1 · 8 months ago

Driving Affinity Through Innovative Marketing at Universities


From the private sector to Purdue, Ethan Braden has already created a legacy that university marketers across the U.S. admire.

On today’s episode, Bart Caylor, President & Founder at Caylor Solutions Inc, and Troy Singer, Senior Account Executive at Think Patented talk with Ethan Braden, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Purdue University about:

- Advice on transitioning from the private sector to a public university

- University marketing campaigns during COVID-19

- How having an incredible team led to winning the AMA Awards in 2020

- Why diversifying messaging to audiences is critical for adoption

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.

The notion of marketing is the catalystof exemplary customer experiences. The idea that we are the drivers of thoseexperiences that we are the drivers of the brand and not the driven. You werelistening to the Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketingprofessionals in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questionsrelated to student recruitment, donut relations, marketing, trans newtechnologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversation centeredaround where the industry is going, this podcast is for you, let's get intothe show, welcome to episode one of the Higher EdMarketer podcast. I am one of your host, Troy Singer and I'm here with my cohostBart Kayler how's it going to day Bart, try it's going great, I'm very excitedto get going and and this being our launch of our higher ead marketerpodcast. It's exciting to be here today and really looking forward to it as iny now to get into it. It seems that highred marketing, along witheverything else in life, has been effected greatly by Covid Nineteen. Canyou tell us a little bit about today's show and the guest that we have yeahwhen we first started thinking about launching this podcast? I think that wehave to first look at the reality of where things are. I mean it'd be greatto be able to just jump in and start talking about, higher ad marketing,which we are, but also being able to look at it in the context of thereality of the world around us, and certainly in the last year, it has beengreatly impacted by covid nineteen and I don't think that's going to changeany time soon, and so today's guest is Ethan. Brayden he's one of the leadersat prutty universities, the vice president of marketing andcommunications, and we're going to be talking with him about not only thefact that he and his team Wen the American Marketing Associationmarketers of the year they swept that this year, but they also did theirhigher Ed Marketing in the midst of a pandemic, and part of that was rollingout a new brand and rolling out a protect purdue platform that reallyallowed them to communicate with all...

...their constituencies in a way thatreally helped them navigate the pandemic and do it in a successful wayand actually grow their class in the midst of that. Well, we both have beenfans of Ethon for quite a while and we're so excited to have him on sowithout further ado. Let's get started, we are very excited to have eath andBrayden Senior Vice President of marketing and communications at ProduUniversity with us today on the Higher Ed Marketer Welcome Ethin. Thank youguys, ethen. I had followed you for a while before I realized that yourecently came to Pudu and the Higher Ed Marketing Space from the private sector.Could you share the story of how that transition took place and any learningsthat you would offer others that are thinking of making a similar transition?Certainly know? I was very fortunate to follow to purdue my Mentr, who alsobrought me to lily in two thousand and six Dan Hastler. So in the summer ofeighteen, we began to discuss the fact that he was going to stay at purdueaudibling on his third attempt to retire and become entential, the chiefmarketing officer and run the hundred a D fiftyt anniversary. There prudueneeded a great number two, so we discussed the idea of following up ithim up there, learning from him being his his number to his lieutenant and iflucky enough, earning the opportunity to succeed him when he retired.Unfortunately, in April of this past year, two thousand and twentyufortunate enough o earn that opportunity, but in terms of coming tohire it from the private sector of and ask that question a lot and I think,there's actually far ore similarities than there are differences. Awso.Honestly, it's a complex, oftentimes, commoditized, competitive, difficultmarket where great marketing is paramount and needed, and in its facelike a university with multiple colleges, departments, players, etceeinfluence, withaut authority as key, and we saw that in the private sectoras well, but the other day. I think it's equally is complex equally asfinecally as challenging again with an incredible beneficiary to our workd hatbeing students and families that will hopefully come up to Predu nuniversityand have a great experience as they would have previously with ourmedicines. An my in my previous creer...

...great great, that's, that's that'sgreat, thank you ou and then, as I'm kind of also just kind of picking backon that. I noticed that this year you won the American Marketing Association,Hig Red Marketor of the year with your team. Maybe you can tell us litit aboutthat. Yeah we were fortunate to sweep and it alall credit goes to the team tobe named the individual and then a couple days later find out that theteam was also named. Marketing. Team of the year was just a treat had a fewpeople say to MEA. I think this is an important point. You know that was fast.You've been there. Two years done a lot of work, but t you know t the oftherday. You know if you can, after it for two years, whether it's an fitness orin finance or professionally. If you get after it every single morning andwork to get a little bit better, a lot can be done in two years and thankfully,and thankful of a very impressive and devout team that has a DNA that justwants to make great impact of Preuniversity wewere able to achievethat. But the other day you know the other part of this is having a verysupportive board, President Daniels and other leaders who want a brand thatdoes justice to Pretty University to its hundred and fifty one years ofhistory to it. Six hundred and thirty thousand alumni they want a brand thatreally shines when we put it out there as marketing communications, the waythat those alums feel when they see it, and we need to do justice to it.Thankfully, to thousand and twenty was a good opportunity to do so. Well,that's great and speaking of two thousand and twenty. I know that yourhaving such a great teant, that's really trying to make an impact. I'msure that was very helpful. As you rolled out the protect purdue in themiddle of a pandemic and as a parent of a produced student I was, I was veryimpressed to see that kind of roll out and when, when we dropped my freshmanoff on campus an in August, I was you know, relieved to see what was going on,and I was impressed over the course of this semester. So maybe tell us alittle bit about that campaign, how it came to be and how the marketing playedinto that yeah. I think a few things you know number one team extends beyondthose that wear the pretty bage and for us we've got some great partnersconsultant spenders, as well as an agency and partnership here withology,and they played a huge role, especially in an initially formulating theattitudes, bliece Behavioris, the audience, understanding the objectivesand the phases that we really wanted to...

...execute, with protect Pordu really fromMarch or April on now began with President Daniels. To be very frank,the quest the call to learn from the hundred D fiftih anniversary, but witha much more important, adversarier foe in the form of Covin nineteen and toamply all of those learnings about synchronized, compelling and consistentmarketing communications to create the attitudes Bolese behaviors that we weregoing to need on campus to thrive to survive, to get through the ca you knowget through that semester. So it was really a pickup of what we'd learnedover the last year about getting on the same songsheet about deeplyunderstanding those attitudes, beliese behavior, that we were going to need toeither change or reinforce or create. You know in a community of fifty Hosanoto be successful and then to bring those to life. I have a associate on myteam who likes to use the Disney example, and she says you know atDisney. You can't go thirty feet without finding a trash can. If youhave a real commitment to cleanliness for ut, it was don't, go thirty feetwithout seeing remind or protect prordu believing that it, you knows, twent forseven wherever you go, need to protect ourselves, protect others and protectthat produce community. If we were going to do this successfully,presidentially an open, the pudued President Nich Daniels, who youpreviously mentioned and also was the governor of Indiana one time I believe,wrote an uped piece in the Washington Post early in the pandemic. So if youcould tell us how that fit into the campaign, was it the spark or was itthe camp part of the campaign structure at all? But I'd say it was the tip ofthe spear, especially in front of the curtain. The reality is, you know:Mitch is guided by science he's guided by his his executives, his leaders, hisdeans, his scientists on campus, and so a lot of work had been. You know, putinto place Lon before he made the declaration that we would be open. Heattasked our veteranarian deam will ie read and our business ghoold Dean DavidHummels to lead a safe campus task, bors, where they really looked underevery rock to understand the problems, the challenges, the headlinds, as wellas the solutions to potentially being able to reopen. You Watch the science,especially as it protect as it pertains... the diversity of audiences andconstituents. We have when that's an eighteen year old, freshman or you knowa seven, your eight year old, facalty member and everything in between, andso when you saw that declaration, it was guided. You know, by his experts,by his cabinet and by the science, but he was the tip of the spear really atPretty University and in North America to say. I think we can come back andlive our mission open residentially, but we'll have to do it in a way.fundamenally different than anything, we know whereby we would protect themost vulnerable and then find a different way to operate with everyoneelse that would be present and so that op ed was really a function. I think ofleading the way he does he's an incredible situational leader leadersalways have arrows in their back, and we see that, but the end of the daythat decision was very guided and by no means just on his own, that's great andbeing a parent of a freshman. I love seeing that message. Even before we saton foot on campus. I was excited about that. But if I remember correctly,there were some of the community that weren't as excited about it and maybeput some arrows in the back. That is you kind of referenced and and pushedback. So they not only were you rolling out the messaging for differentaudiences, but getting pushed back from some of those audiences of well, it'scommon when a stakes put in the ground so tell us how you handled that as amarketer and any tips that you might have for others, because I mean trueleadership is going to end up that way, and I think that you know a lot ofschools could learn from your example. Yeah. I think, there's a lot of thingsthere. You know the first piece again is being guided by science and beingguided by the experts of a university community right that save campustaskforce really identified what were the headwens the Tailens to potentiallydo this. Moreover, he assembled the protect Produ Implementation team withfolks leading functions of their expertise. To be able to do thissuccessfully. The Porton Trustees approve the measures o the protectoryPlann three times over the summer and additionally, as you think about thefaculty staff employees et Ceter, there were eighty town halls before we opendschool that were directed at them to bring people along to hear the concernsto create confidence, competence and perceptions, as well as realities ofunderstanding, and there were fifty of...

...those as well for families and students.So you know, coalition building continue to evolve as the scienceevolved overcommunicating doing it, with empathy, providing avenues to hearthe other points of view and solicit information with our protectrativewebsite. For instance, all of those were key and keeping the ball moving,but also not leaving anyone behind, and you know, on the other thing Ihighlight with that, protectprotu implementation team, no we're everymorning with Mitcha, eight thirty, there's two deans associated with thatthere's our progost there's AR vice progost to teaching and learningthere's great representation from all the corners of campus they're, helpingGuyde those decisions throughout the course of this summer through the fall,and that will only continue the spring. That's a great deal of commitment foreveryone on that team. I mean a dailing meeting like that. A that is a lot ofcommitment, applaud that so tell me a ittle it about. I mean, obviously inthe middle of protect produe. That's not all that you guys were doing. Imean you still had he the business of a regular highred, marketer and marketingteam to attend. To I mean you're, certainly going to be working oninvolment persistence, retention, visits to campus, as well as otherthings that have to do with development with Donar relations or communityengagement and relations, so tell us how all that fit together, because Imean it didn't just stop with protect purdue. You had to kind of implementthat into everything else. It tell us about that. The sequence I think isinteresting, because into January we rolled out our new brand platform right.A really a response to the hundred a D. fifty years of giant leaves anniversarycampaign that took us through eighteen and nineteen. But the idea was afterthat celebration of a hundred fifty years were all of the departments wereall the communicators where all the colleges going to go back to theirdisprecorners or we're going to continue together. You know on the samesongsheet in key, and so we rolled out our new brand platform that really wasfounded in our essence of Pretty University. S is about the persistentpursuit of innovation, where boiler makers bring their best and learntogether to build a better world, and so you know as we faced covid fiveweeks later. After that brand platform launch, we saw the students go home,but we were right in the midst of of cential yield right, it's march andyou're, starting to talk about August. The first key was to look at that andsay instead of throwing the playbook...

...out the door, how do we continue totell the world who we are and what we stanind for and we orchestrati a playcalled air cover was really all along our sixteen serxcuse be two weeks eachbut eight pillars of messaging that continue to communicate, especiallythose Adminu students and families that, when others run out perbly runs in whatyou can count on from a produ education, the innovation, the persistence, thecollaboration, affordability. We made sure we drove consistent messagingduring those periods well about a month later, as that had begun, protectPrordu was launched and again its right squarely with our brand persistentinnovation together in this instance to combat that foe. That is covid nineteenand we ran that play throughout the course of the summer, in unison, withoir colleges, with our departments as Jamie Gilpan INS, sprot social says youknow for brands. During that period of time, social bedia was about the onlydoor that was open, or at least digital was pertaining to visits Etceera, andso we really ran that playe throughout the course of summer or we're fortunate.I think, with all that collective effort to have the largest freshmanclass we've ever had. That's great congratulations. Thank you Ethan. Imust say that was so inspir when others run out boiler makers run in, and Iwill take that away from our session to day for sure. I would like to ask you we ask of our guest one thing that theycould provide our audience, which is an idea that they could take away fromlistening that they could apply either now or very near in the future. Isthere an idea that comes to mind that you could share that others couldbenefit from now? I think it's the the point of view that I've really tried tobring to pretty university from my previous career. An that is the notionof marketing is the catalyst of exemplary customer experiences. Theidea that we are the drivers of those experiences that we are the drivers ofthe brand and not the driven, we have three goals on my team. The first isTho cultivate. Excite ind unite a world class marketing community at pretyuniversity. So I have a team on sixty five there's another three to fourhundred people on campus that are working in some sort of communicationscapacity. So how do we cultivate that... How do Yo excite that group ut?How do we get them on the same page so that what they put out looks and feelscompelling in consistent? That is a that's a proactive method. The secondpiece of that was to get away from being the driven the shortever cook ofRandom axs of marketing on Pretty University to be the driver of greatpositioning of great understanding of great promotion and great protection orpreservation of our brand. So again, that idea of the deriver and then thelast idea that I's not for us it's for external audiences, and so at the endof the day, when we put our marketing out there, it's got to have thatunderstanding. It's got to have that target N, that Naim to really be aboutdriving affinity so that people are going to take our information they'regoing to feel something with it, they're going to recall and they'regoing to take some action based on with that sort of idea. I think that propsmarketing it brings it to the table as a material contribution to therealization of the organization's ultimate goals right. We need omaterially contribute to Miss Daniels, realization of purdues future, not bethe shorter cook in the back, and so I encourage all of your listeners, all ofour markers and higher education, to really step up and think about theircontributions and how they can be the driver of really great brandproliferation versus the recipient of orders of others. That's great! Thankyou so much ethin for for what you've shared today. Thank you forparticipating and kind of letting us in a little bit on the inner workings ofthe marketing team of the year in the Marketr of the year from Ama and reallyexcited about what you've shared today. I don't know if there's any lastparting thoughts or any additional thoughts that you'd like to say. No, Ijust I wish everyone a really happy and healthy and and hopefully productive,two thousand and twenty one. We realize that purduing particular that thissemester will be different and likely more challenging than the one that wejust fought and so we're gearing up for it. We continue to be somber and Soberaabout our perspective on it will go out at every single day. As Mich said, westarted early, we threw the kitchen sink at it, but it the end of the day.It's about creating culture, it's about the culture that we needed from ourstudents to really protect Prudu and I'm sure that's the the case anywherein higher education start early, throw everything you have at it and get thatculture right. But this is going to be... interesting semester. I wisheveryone the very very best: O luck is they combat it will ethen. Thank you.Thank you for joining us and sharing your exrertise with everyone. Today.You definitely provided plenty of useful takeaways and to our listeners. This episode ofthe hired Marketor podcast is sponsored by Cabo solutions and education,marketing and branding agency, and also by thring patented, a marketingexecution, printing and maling provider of higher esolutions. On behalf of mycohose Bard Caylor, I'm troy singer. Thank you for tuning. It you've been listening to the Higher EdMarketer to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the show inyour favourite podcast player. If you are listening, withauple 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.

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