The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 7 · 6 months ago

Using your Distinctiveness as a Selling Point

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

When you’re not a large public university, you have to market yourself in a different way. Especially if you’re a faith-based institution, a single-sex college, or even an HBCU, you’ve got to set yourself apart from the rest of the field. You’ve got to be distinctive as a selling point for your institution.

What does that look like? On this episode of Higher Ed Marketer, we talk with Ayana Hernandez, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations at North Carolina Central University. To hear her talk about how HBCUs are in her DNA was something special.

We also talked about:

- Working for an HBCU that she applied to attend when she was starting college

- The TIME Magazine cover that she keeps framed in her office and how she uses it to talk to her students about celebrating their successes

- What university life was like Pre-COVID, and what she anticipates it to be like moving forward

- The need to be distinctive in your marketing when you’re a mission-driven institution

Know of a higher education marketing change agent you’d like to hear on the show? Does your university have an interesting story to be featured?

Connect with Bart Caylor or Troy Singer. If you’re not on LinkedIn, check out Caylor Solutions or Think Patented.

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

To be able to really market anything,you have to really be inside of it listening to yeah. Yes, all all ofthose who are your audiences, who are your constituents, but on a college oruniversity campus get out literally B part of the campus. You were listening to the Higher EdMarketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in highereducation. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student,recreaitment, donut relations, marketing, trans new technologies andso much more. If you are looking for conversations centered around where theindustry is going, this podcast is for you, let's get into the show, welcome to the Higher Ad MarketingPodcast, where we explore ideas and insights by marketers and people thatwe admire in higher education, I'N, Troy Singer and speaking of people thatwe admire and hire it. I like to introduce my cohost bark, Kaylor, hi,Bard Heytroy. Thank you that Sou very kind of you to say it's been a pleasuregetting to know you, and I think that you are kind of you know the the upandcoming higher ed marketer. You know expert as well. I really admire a lotof what you've been doing on Linkedin and we're both power users on linkonand so we've Gott a chance to kind of see a lot of feedback from a lot offolks as they're, responding to the promotions for the for the podcast andwe're meeting. Some great people and one of the people that we've met todaythrough the network is our guest. So maybe you can tell us a bit better.Certainly a Yana. Her Nan Dez works at a historically black university and Ihappen to know she has some wonderful stories and wonderful backgrounds andwith historicaly byccolleges being very near and dear to me. I wanted to makesure that we represented them early within the podcast and I think she isan excellent person and everyone will see why when they hear her journey andthey listen to her story, why she is the best person that wee an premierfrom historically black clalligs great...

...well, so excited about that. So, let'sbring her in. I am honored to introduce a YanaHernandez Associated Vice Chancellor for university relations at NorthCarolina Central University to the Higher Ed Marketer podcast. Welcome meYonna. Thank you. So much troy, it's a pleasure to be with you this afternoon,andto be on your podcast. So I appreciate the opportunity to speakwith you in your audience. It's our pleasure. We've heard so much about youand we just look forward to sharing some of the wonderful things that weknew about you plus what we had in the preinterview with you here witheveryone else. So if you would, during the pre interview, you sharedlots of great things about your journey of where you're at today, one of thefascinating things is it weaves in and out of HBCUS, and I would like to knowif you can kind of share your journey with our listeners. Oh, absolutely so,historically, black colleges and universities have been part of my lifefor my entire life, and I say that because my grandmother, who was born inone thousand nine hundred and o eight attended a very small one of two allwomen hbcus in the country to this day been at college. For a few years, myparents were both products of HBCUS, and so it was always known whether itwas visiting the campuses that they really grew up on or for homecoming orgoing back to Reunion. You know when it was time for me t to select a collegeor university to continue my education at I looked at historical blackcolleges and universities, and I wound up attending and graduating fromspelman college in Atlanta Georgia and had an amazing experience whereeverything that I was told about hbcus and really the investment theprofessors put into you and pour into...

...you and the relationships that you willbuild, not only with your professors but with the young people who are incollege with you. I found all of that to be true and today having theopportunity to actually work at an HBCU that I actually apply to is kind oflike a full circle moment, and so hpcs are really a big part have been a bigpart of my life. As I said for my entire life. That's great. I appreciateyour sharing. All of that, and you know I know that, while not all of ourlisteners will be marketing for hbcus, obviously they often have kind of amission fit type of institution, whether whether they're an Hbcou or asingle SEC. You know HBC Ou, a single sex college kind of like what Spellmangoes for you or or Wabbash College here in Indiana, as well as just a lot offaith based institutions or even schools that are singuarly focused on aspecific programs. Such n art, school or maybe healthcare. Tell us a littlebit about how you know in your role and in the way that North Central NorthCarolina Cetral does their marketing tell us how that marketing needs to becrafted to communicate a little bit more. That unique aspect to draw thestue the students in the audience toward you, since it's really not aimedat everyone absolutely so the uniqueness of all of the institution,types that you mention from a marketing perspective is, you know, offer so manyopportunities, and I say that because whether it is an Hbcu whether it is-and you know another minorting serving institution, all of our institutionsare mission driven in some someway shape or form, and at the core of thatmission I would think- and I would I would often say- are the graduates, thematic matriculate, through our campus kind of those stories that that youwitness and you that you're able to share and being one who markets forthis institution on many of the different institution types. It'sreally coming to know the fabric of...

...what makes you distinct. What makes youyou meet, why are students selecting you when they in many cases have manyother options to attend a college or university? And so it's really findingwhether it's fitting that mission? It is also looking at everything from allof the the legacy of arent institution, but it's also kind of connecting thelegacy to kind of present day. Our institution happened to be founded asthe first Liberal Arts, institution or college for African Americans publiclysupported in the nation, and today we not only have like jazz studies but IAM,actually right now, sitting in our school of law, which was founded at atime when African Americans in this area and in the state did not were notadmitted to other law schools and so whatever y. u the mission of YourInstitution is the distinctiveness the stories and I particularly love to pullpoll from the student stories, the transformational power that are in theend. We Really do starve in many cases as an economic engine, not only intransforming our students lives, but their families lives, whether you servefirst generation college students or whether you serve commuter studentpopulation. I think all of us are very unique and fulfilling that mission alsocommunicating the outcome of the work that we're doing and the serf thestudents that were serving on our campuses. That's great that's great,and I know that when we talked earlier in the pre interview, you talked alittle bit about. You know something that you have on your wall in youroffice at a framed Time magazine cover. It kind of you use that for a couplereasons, and it kind of illustrates some of the points you just made. Canyou tell me a little bit about that? Certainly so I think throughout ourprofessional career, and especially in communications and marketing many times,we're still passionate about telling...

...other people stories. But this was anopportunity to actually tell my own personal story and my own personal kindof career journey, which began in magazine, publishing and weaved its wayto a nonprofit organization in New York and then weaved its way to a globalpublic relations agency and then weaved its way to thetwo university campus.And so this particular issue focused on thechanging demographics in America, and I was kind of randomly contacted by aresearcher and the author of the Piace, and I think it's really important forme to sometimes when I'm in the office, and it could be a tough day or achallenging day, just to look up at it and remind myself of my own personaljourney in the piece is there was a small paragraph that mentioned how myparents were both educators secondary. You know, educators, guidence, schoolcounselors and it talked about you know just the power of education and whatyou know I'v I spoke about previously about you- know: education, playing, amajor role in my life and when students come in my office they kind of are justanyone they're like they kind of look at it, and then they look back and thenthey look at me and then they're like Yo, especially with duent, ismissihanas at you. A'm, like yes and- and I said that could be you too. Isaid I would never have considered myself- someone who would be in Timemagazine. But you know this is something that you can also do. I am nodifferent than you and I look forward to like. I celebrate my successes. Ilook forward ton celebrating yours to so. It's a good reminder. That's apowerful way of getting that message to them when your students are in youroffice and in the past, you've also talked about how being distinctive mustbe a sebbling point for an institution. So obviously there are personal waysthat that is done. If you can tell us from your perspective of what it waslike before pre covid and then howwill...

...look like going forward well, I believethat covid obviously has touched impacted all of our lives. It'simpacted higher education, and you know I particularly as we're coming up onkind of the spring season and now we've almost kind of been in Covid for a yearI was at actually or our basketball champions are well. It was thetournament we were probably going to go to the championship, but I was at ourbasketball tournament when it you know we were like. Okay, we have to ourstudents, wron spring break and we were making that very strong pivot and sofrom a marketing standpoint, obviously or marketing his change. Ourcommunications has changed so much and much of what we sold to our studentsthat we're still selling is about. Also in experience that you receive when youcome here, and so how can you realys still position that you'll still get awonderful education? You'll still get a you know, high quality professors,maybe your might be learning in a different format now, but, for example,on our campus, like that homecoming experience, when have thousands ofalumni coming back and feeling that energy of the campus, you might notexperience that or week of welcome or you know first year, kinning ceremony.But what we have really tried to stress is we always try and make sure that thewhole student is nurtured on our campus and so even in covid terms and in covidtimes making sure that our students know that we have eresponsibility tothem. They have a responsibility to each other and our campus, and we haveactually been really proud that our students have embraced that that havethey've been. We have a very low percentage of our students that W wetest them regularly like many other campuses, but to really be able toshowcase that the fact that you can still come here. Yes, things will lookdifferent. Yes, things will be a little...

...bit different. We will all get throughthis together, but to still be able to sell the fact that this institution ishere to ensure that you are successful. We are producing a competitive student.We know that the marketplaces change. We know the industries have changed. Weare keeping up with that and we will still make sure that you're successfulwhen you graduate and give you those soft skills, because you may not havegraduated thinking that you'r you would start working from home, and so whatare those pivots from a career services and career planning and polacementstandpoint? So we, yes, we've all had to make very, very strong pivots, butjust making sure that our students- and as were talking about the theexperience that that experience, still exist, it might be a couple yearsbefore it comes back as we knew it, but we're still a community here and we'restill here to support you and being successful. I think that's so importantthat e point you bring up about the experience, because I think that'swhat's going to really differentiate a lot of small t, O medium size, privatesand publics to that matter, to be able to really be able to explain thedistinctive of what an experience is because it's it's too convenient now,especially post covid to just say whal. We know how to work from home. We knowhow to educate from hom. We know how to do everything from home, and I thinkthat the people who decide to go that route are going to miss so muchexperience in the distinctives that that a school like yours or other youknow, mission, mision, Oren schools and the things that we've talked aboutthese these. These distinctiveness of that experience is going to be soimportant and- and I think that I guess from a marketing standpoint, do youthink that that is going to be one of the key marketing points? Movingforward is really being able to articulate and distinguish yourexperience that you offer yes an and being transparent and knowing andstating that the experience has changed. I think that that's really veryimportant. I also you know strongly believe that in marketing anyinstitution, students- and I tell them...

...all the time there are best brandambassadors and so being able to tell students, okay well, the experience isa little bit different. For example, we opened our false semester having twonew resonance halls on campus apartment style living, and we do have studentsin those resinance halls, but that was for so many years. It's well actuallyabout a year and a half student saw these residence talls going up and tobe able to anticipate all of the kind of living and learning opportunitiesthat would be going on in those facilities, those buildings. It wouldlook a little bit different, but we are still we're still going to make surethat you are whole mentally in the classroom. We are a very we're going tobe very intrusive and I think that for parents you know those questions thatthey have about the safety of your campus and making sure that yes, duringcovid times, but when covid is not here anymore, making sure that his parentsliterally dropp their young person off if it's undergradat institution and wedo have graduate and professional programs, but that we're going to makesure we take care of you and we're going to be responsive to your needsand we're going to shift and pivot. As all of us have had to do. But reallyand as we talk about kind of selling the experience, the experience hasdefinitely changed. But what are those experiences that we can also offer?Maybe in an online platform and making sure students are part of that processand in marketing your institution and selling that the change that that wenow know to be are part of our campuses. You articulate that very well and I'msure that a lot of your colleagues are on campus does so I'm sure the parentsfeel that and they get that message weekly when we have the podcast weattenpt to provide our audience with one great idea that they can go awaywith and maybe apply that they can...

...clean from our guest, which today isyou, of course, for markers listening. Is there one idea that you like them tohave maybe from the dataseat, along with your journey as you're finishingup that you would mind sharing with everyone? Oh absolutely collegecampuses university campuses are so rich in so many wades, and one way I've learned how to trulymarket. This great institution is being really really intrusive and when I sayin truth, Tive I have gone to a student or I think it was it might have been.The centers director invited me to our lavender graduation and our campus isone that has an LGPTA center and for students to see a member of the campusand administrator coming out and supporting them means so much honorsSociety inductions I've gone to those are textile and design. Studentsusually have a fashion, show that where they show off the work that they'vebeen doing throughout the semester. Yes, it's football games, yes, it'sathletics, but it's also those other events that really help you learnexactly what you're marketing and to other examples. From my days and agency,crispy cram was one of my clients and we had a team meeting. It was probablyabout an hour and a half an in chrispy cream, and how can I best market andtalk about crispy Creane? You have to be there, you have to experience it andI also remember a a pitch that we were doing for a transit company, and so wesaid, okay, F, Om for us to be able to market a transit organization, we'regoing to take the bus to the pitch, and so we took the bust to the pitch, andso I would definitely pass along kind of the jewel about being intrusive.Knowing the to be able to really market...

...anything, you have to really be insideof it listening to yeah. Yes, all all of those who ere your audiences, whoare your constituents, but on a college or university campus, get out literallybe part of the campus. I know all of us are so busy in our job responsibilities,but it could be that after five o'clock, but when a student asked you to inviteyou to to a program or something make sure you go and show up and give themtea back afterwards. They so appreciate it, and it helps you really. I wouldsay: Do your job or just a little bit better. I love your use of the wordintrusive and I love your definition of it and I can see where little momentslike that would make a big difference throughout a students life, especiallyfor students that might feel a little different than some of the others oncampus. I also appreciate all e the wonderful, useful takeaways that yougave us throughout the podcast. If there was a if someone wanted to reachyou, someone wanted to get more information about you or communicatewith you. What would be the best way for them to do that, so I will share myemail address as well as my twitter account. I obviously need to be moreactive, I'm probably more active on then universtyes account, but my emailaddress is very reasable. It's just a Hernandas, so a her Nandez at NCC, UDoydou and on twitter, I'm a Yana Ay Ana Middle Initial D Hernandez, and soplease reach out to me I'm also on rinked in. Thank you very much for avery warm and authentic episode and for everyone else. Our listeners, thehighered marketer podcast, is sponsored by caless solutions and education,marketing and branding agency and by thing patented, a marketing execution,printing and mailing provider of...

...highered solutions. On behalf of mycohose Bart Cayler, I'm choice singer. Thank you for joining us. Thank you. Somuch you've been listening to the Higher EdMarketer to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the show inyour favorite podcast player. If you are listening without the 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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