The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 69 · 4 months ago

How to Amplify Your Students' Voice for Success

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

If there was ever an episode to give you a roadmap to success in higher education, it's this one.  

Kathy Payne, VP for Enrollment Management, and Kathy Howell, Associate VP for Marketing Communications at Delaware Valley University, join us today to talk about their roadmap to success by amplifying their students' voices.  

Join us as we discuss:

  • The two Kathy's road map to success at Delaware Valley.
  • How the college tour played a role in the success of the school by emphasizing the students' journeys.
  • How Delaware Valley has been able to differentiate itself with robust experimental learning systems. 

The High Red Marketer podcast is sponsored by the ZEMI APP enabling colleges and universities to engage interested students before they even apply. You're 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're 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 each week we interview higher Ed marketers that we admire for the benefit and hopefully, the betterment of the entire higher reed marketing community. My name is troy singer and I am here each week with Bart Taylor, and today we talked to Kathy Howell and Kathy Payne from Delaware Valley University, and our conversation is how to amplify the student voice for success. They not only give you the results of the big success that they have experienced over the past year, but they give you exactly how they reached it, and I think this is an episode that's not only going to be entertaining but very informational and an episode that everyone can take something away from. I agree, Troy. This is like, if there's ever an episode that gives your roadmap for success, I really feel like they do it. I mean they kind of said here's where we started, here's what we did, here's how we continued and this is the success that we saw and a lot of it has to do the things with that we've talked about on several other episodes and you know, without giving too much away, just pay attention and this might be an episode that you actually, you know, listen to a couple of times and maybe even take some notes. So I really excited to have this conversation for you. Here's our conversation with the Cathy's. It is my pleasure to welcome Kathy Payne, VP of enrollment management,...

...and Kathy how VP of marketing communications, from Delaware Value University in Pennsylvania. And if you would, if one of the Cathy's would give us a glimpse or introduction to Delaware Valley University. Sure, thanks, Troy. This is Kathy Payne Um so. Del Valle is a four year private university in Bylestown PA. We have around two thousand students. We have undergraduate majors, nine masters, a doctor of ED, variety of adult education options. Um. Interestingly, we were founded in eighteen ninety six as the national farm school based on the idea of science with practice. We're celebrating our hundred and twenty fifth year, so it's a really exciting time. Um. The university is known for being a close knit community. Um, but in fact we sit on over a thousand acres spanning across three different properties. So really unique and lends itself to the academic offerings that we we have available to our students. We offer a robust Um academic offerings, businessing, humanities, agg and environmental science. Um. Most known for our programs in that school, as well as life and physical science. Um. We have unique program offerings and equine dairy science, Zoo Science, to name a few. Um. I joined we all in March of twenty, which was an exciting and, Um, wildly unique time in and of its help Um, and I'm lucky to have the partner that I do in Kathy how so, and from this point forward they will be better known as Kathy P and Kathy h. There you go, along with Bartsi and troy es so we don't feel alone. Got Exactly so in our initial conversation with the Cathy's Uh we identified, or I guess they admitted, although they are it's a wonderful university, there was some what...

...we would call opportunities and I would love for you to share with our audience those opportunities for anything, just to set a foundation, because we the solutions and the come up, as we'll call it, is what we really want to emphasize later in the episode. So, if you would so, this is Kathy H we we really viewed two pretty big challenges that Kathy and I started working on essentially two years ago, because I also started in March. and Um, the first one is name recognition and visibility. We're in a very crowded higher reed market here outside of Philadelphia. Our Name, Delaware Valley University, gets confused a lot. Um People think we are in Delaware. We are not in the Delaware Valley outside Philadelphia. And the second thing is that are really important point of differentiation, beside some of the unique programs that we offer, is our experience three sixty program and, as as Kathy mentioned, that really started with our founding in on the basis of science with practice, and our founder, rabbi Dr Joseph Crosscoff was was really a visionary, because other schools, from what we can find in our research, we're not looking at this idea of science with practice at that time. He was really a very formative thinker in a lot of ways and a lot of schools now have experience learning, experiential learning, but most of them have what's really an internship program at del Valle e three sixty is really something much more. It starts with the first day of class. It goes through all four years. Students actually are doing not only internships but research, civic engagements, study abroad, various leadership opportunities and their really building their resume from day one and this...

...culminates in a Co curricular transcript that supports their preparedness and success beyond graduation. That's great and I really love some of the things that you're doing because one I meet with so many different schools and we talk about okay, tell me what what's different about your school? How are you different? And and the first thing, especially a small a lot of privates do about your size, is well, we are, you know, small college. We've got, you know, very intimate relationships between the president, the professors and the students. Small class. Well, everybody does. That's how you're different from the big state schools. How are you different from the other three thousand privates that are out there? And so I really applaud you for being able to articulate and and differentiate yourself with this robust experiential learning program because I think that, yes, some other schools have that, but the way that you describe it and articulate it, I think, is so well done and so well it's thoughtful and I applaud you on that because I and I use that as an example for our listeners, really, if you do have something as unique as as e three sixty one, branded okay, and and that that starts to one, separate it from if you're just calling it experiential learning, because everybody else calls it experiential learning, you're just gonna be one of many by calling it a three sixty. I think it's a really good brand point, but I also think that just the idea that you know, being able to describe that as well done. So sorry that was a long winded way of saying Nice job on that. And then also I wanted to let you know that you're not alone with that visibility opportunity. I hear so many schools say. I'm tired of hearing we're the best kept secret. Um. You know, so many people use that Um, and well meaning people, board members, other people. It's like, well, we're just the best kept secret. Maybe we should do something about that. Obviously that's what you're working on and would love to kind of learn more about how you are addressing that, because I think that the idea of one being able to describe yourself, articulate yourself, but now getting yourself out there. Let's talk a little bit about that, Troy. I know you've got kind of some questions about that actually flowed...

...right into what I wanted to ask and having them now, they set the stage of the opportunities that they identified. What are some of the increase of the improvements that have been experienced? So if you would kind of lead us down that path, absolutely, UM, as I've said to many trustees and my colleagues for quite a few months, this has been a really fun year. Um, we actually implemented a new CRM, which I mean I'm not telling anybody here anything that they don't already know? Um. The efficiencies that you gain from having a really slick, automated system that allows the team to focus on those relationships cannot be understated or overstated. Um. We also are seeing really healthy numbers all throughout our funnel. So for fall two, Um, we have over growth. First last year and APPS accepted students and we're currently sitting at the largest number of freshman deposits in six years. Um, roughly increase over last year in nearly twenty eight first the year prior Um. Additionally, Um, and this goes to, I think, the visibility question, we have deposits right now from seven states where we had none last year, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Hawaii. Um. We also have deposits for more local counties where none existed last year. Um. So not only are we sort of broadening our visibility outside of our core market, but we're getting into different areas within the core market, which I think is really important for us. Um. We have strong academic quality, nice spell shaped curve with the class Um. I've been trying to poke holes and find, Um, you know, what's going to go wrong, and I've yet to do it and we actually hit our goal as of May one, which was wildly exciting for this campus. So it's great. That's really exciting and congratulations on that. I know a lot of schools are not in the same boat, but I think that goes back to the the intentionality that I hear in your voice and what what Kath H has been talking about is that being able to...

...describe yourselves, being able to articulate that and be able to take advantage of opportunities that come along. I mean, it's it's one of those things that, Um, you know, there's a lot of different ways and a lot of schools are trying different ways. I mean everybody's, you know, uh, you know, looking at what's that silver bullet, and there's not a silver bullet. I mean, let's just be honest with that. I mean there's a lot of hard work that goes up to setting the table for something to happen, which I think that you guys did a lot of, but obviously something came along that you then also took advantage of. Tell us a little bit about that. We talk a lot about it on this show. Schools are really struggling today that make the same at spen work. CPMS are up eighty nine year over a 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 Zemi has become so crucial for our clients. With over one million students, close to ten Tho five star ratings, consistently ranked as one of the top social laps and recently one of Apple's hot APPs of the week. There simply isn't anything out there like it, and we have seen it all. Zem Not only provides the best space for student engagement but the most unique and actional data for the one sixty college and university partners. We know firsthand from our clients that Zee me is a must have strategy for Gen z check them out now at colleges dot Zem dot com. That's colleges dot Z E M E dot Com. And yes, tell them Barton Troy sent you. So Um and I'll start, Kath and please jump in. Um. Back in spring of, actually now it would have been fall of, we were approached by the producers at the college tour and Um. After some initial conversations with their producers. Um, and then, obviously, if allow up, conversation with at P...

...h. We basically went to the president and said we can't say no to this and sleep at night. So, Um, from there we went on to Um really get into the project, Kath please. So the project featured ten of our students covering different majors, different types of backgrounds, different interests, and Um, they filled on our campus and our kids were amazing. They did just an excellent job. And, uh, what we found was they really did the most effective job of explaining our story. So that challenge of really differentiating e three sixty was so clear when the students told their stories and explained what they were studying, where their passions were, what they were doing. It really brought it, brought it to life in a way that only video can bring something to life. And we didn't, we didn't stop there. So, yes, now we have this this segment, this thirty minutes segment, ten individual episodes. Um, we marketed that thing everywhere. We marketed it internally, we marketed it to our internal audiences, our faculty, our staff, our students are board, and we marketed it externally through press releases and and uh we had a launch party on the quad when the kids came back for school in the fall, with a big screen television and popcorn and a red carpet and UH social influencers. They're um posting all along throughout the night. A lot of local media came. We had big searchlights on the quad. It was an amazing party and really gave a fun start to the fall season. And we then took the messages and the phrases that came out of the college tour, the students words themselves, and integrated those into our entire recruiting campaign for the last eight months. So our view book has, at the very beginning and introduction to the college tour and Qr codes all the way through that link students to each of the messages as they relate,...

...whether it's where we're located, e three, sixty Um, a number of different majors, so that anybody looking at our view book could instantly view the video and and understand more about del Bell. We made a purpose just to jump in. We did make a point also of having one of the segments highlight location Um to kind of get at that sort of confusion surrounding where actually are. We situated in. Doylestown, is a really lovely area, so being able to put some focus on that for prospective families was great as well. Kathy, I fell in love with your town through that episode and you probably have. Yes, thank you. I was. I was setting up for that in fight we we then took the phrases the students used, things like be a wildlife warrior, best decision I ever made and a great place to call home, and integrated those into an outdoor campaign with pretty extensive use of buses and billboards in our core market area. We also had a very aggressive digital campaign through a number of platforms, um probably the largest being google, but other platforms as well. And then we also had an organic social media campaign. So we created tool kits for each of the ten students who were part of this project and gave them frames to use and ideas and they pushed out their story to their friends to get that more organic sharing going within their age group and Um, the success was wonderful. Kathy already mentioned the success that she's had in terms of the recruiting for this fall. I can add that Um new visits to our website during this period where up sevent over the prior year. Web traffic conversions from social media posts, so not not from the ads, but from the organic social media. We're up forty three percent versus the prior year. And, you know, in addition to...

...those, you know the metrics that we can that we can look to in marketing. There really was a sense of pride, I think, by our student community in our capus because, you know, we're a small campus that doesn't typically have enough money to do exciting things and this was really a big deal that our students got excited about, our faculty got excited about. It's really been a it's really been a big success. Yeah, I think it's a pride point, Um, and I do think that it really was a smart investment. Um. And it didn't stop that sort of the production, I mean the production value of the episode is Um, it's pristine right, but it doesn't stop there. We heavily used all the different collateral that we received a role B roll, I mean the drone shots of our beautiful campus. The list goes on and on. So, UM, are O. I. You know, while while difficult to define in a very stycinct or distinct way, um heavy usage of the collateral. I mean it paid for itself already. Yeah, and just to bring context to this, I think I'm so excited about everything you talked about. I mean I could probably talk for another hour about some of the points you made, but I think just to bring context ever our listeners, in case you haven't heard some of the other episodes. Um, we worked with Alex Boylan, UH, one of the executive producers of the college tour, uh, and and you can go back and listen to that episode. But you know, basically they're going around different campuses and just kind of addressing that problem of how can people experience more campus college visits without actually physically going there? And so it's actually a a streaming, uh television show that streams on Amazon prime and several other outlets, and I think that the thing I really like about this that I kind of want to point out, and we've talked to a couple of their folks. I think Lindsay Nyquist from Fort Lewis. They were the first episode of the College Tour and we were the book ends of the Season One. Yeah, yeah, and so there on season three or four now and you know,...

...up to fifty or sixty different tours. But I think the thing that's important for for me to point out to everybody because, I mean, you know, there's only so many episodes that the college tour is going to be able to do and so whether or not you have them come on your campus, that's a different discussion and we're not necessarily doing that. But what I wanted to point out is that you guys, and you use the word investment, you invested in what you had done. So you did a you had had the had them come on and had you only done that and had them, had they put that on Amazon prime, there would have been a handful of people that would have watched it, would have learned about you and would have understood it. But what you did is you amplified that into so many more things, which I again, I applaud you guys. You're kind of doing everything that we've been talking about on this higher Ed Marketing Podcast, in the sense that, you know, you took the quotes, you took the student stories, you took what was going on in there from the voices of the students who sometimes we forget they're the best representatives of our school. Yeah, and and you know, sometimes I laughed that people will say, you know, what do you think we have to do? Bart? You know, well, I'm a fifty two year old white male. I don't know. We need to talk to your students and find out what they are liking, you know, and I can give you the channels and give you the direction, but don't ask me to know what's trending on Tiktok right now. To to make a big yeah, and so I think that it's it's such a wonderful thing and so, you know, we'll talk more about it as we go along, but I just Um, I'm I really think and I just want to kind of keep bringing that home to our listeners. Is that you know, yes, you've got these tools that you've invested in. How can you amplify them and get every last bit of juice out of them? I think that's part of the key. And is that kind of what you feel like? I mean, as you look at the success, it's not the fact that you guys just signed up for the college tour, it's everything that you did after that. It's true statement. It was the full integration. I mean it was the partnership between enrollment management and marketing. It was it was campus wide. Quite honestly, there was. There was a local pride that stemmed from it. But the biggest takeaway for me was what we just...

...talked about, that the students are the reason that we're here. who better to serve as an ambassador for the actual student experience, whether it's academic or social, Um, inside or out of the classroom? There is, they are it Um. So that was certainly the learning moment for me. Um, you know, I've been in higher education for almost thirty years at this point, but and they're the reason that I come to work every day. But at the same time, just hearing those authentic stories, Um, it was a moment for me to to really just see all this colony. Yeah, and you mentioned that it was such a pride point on campus. Obviously, we we have the two of you representing marketing and enrollment. How did play out for advancement? I mean obviously that that had to have a play into it too, because, I mean that's the reason why people are asked to give and why they feel that they are empowered to give. They want to be a hero in these lives of these students and how it's affecting lives. How? How was that leveraged and used an advancement. Well, we we shared some of these stories, certainly in the fundraising effort, and it all really fell under the umbrella of our hundred anniversary that we're celebrating right now. But we used it's one of the things. So we took the college tour and spread it through a lot of mediums and to a lot of different people, but we also were able to weave it under the umbrella of our anniversary as an example of students learning by doing, as they have from the very, very beginning. So we've had we're not in campaign mode right now, but we've had an excellent fundraising year. On track to do but I don't have the statistics with you, but on track to reach their goals and have a very, very successful year, and I have to believe the college tour was part of that. Absolutely and they use one other area cat that I think that this was so important, was part part of our strategic plan, is to expand corporate partnerships. Um, certainly and supported the mission in support of our students, the sixty program Um, and we had an event...

...this year that was hosted for the first time. It was the inaugural event, and I don't mean to step more about that bookathy was able to utilize so much of what we got from the college tour. Um, for that event in particular, we did. We we utilized footage from from the college tour and a few other things and created a new video for this corporate audience. We also, Um, utilized footage from the college tour in a documentary that we put together for a hundred and twenty fifth anniversary, which was called the vision indoors and it was, you know, started with the life of Cross cough and that just won a gold digital marketing award, by the way. Um, that I mean the college tour video, both the main segments and the B role have been used so many times and so many places. Um, even even to the point where, Um, some of our students in h in an English class, we're putting together a video and we gave them access to all the B rule and they used to create their own projects and it's amazing. Yeah, that's great. It's it's made it all the way down to students having access to the footage that we that we obtained. Wow, great. In the previous conversation that we had, you mentioned that you don't plan on stopping utilizing this tool. I think the term Evergreen, the content is evergreen. Before we close, if you could just touch on that? Sure. Um. I think it was really important for us, regardless of when these students ultimately graduate, right. Um, it was really important for us, when defining the segments, to hit on, you know, what is and will remain really important for our prospective student families to know about Dour Valley University. Um. and honestly, you know, I have...

...visions of of doing more and building on this. Right, Um, we're going to continue to incorporate and fully integrate it. Obviously it's going to morph and change over the years, Um, but these students again, their stories. That is what prospective students and their families want to hear. that. That is it, Um. You know, I have big ideas about doing outcomes, right, visiting with these students that were in the segments after graduation. Where are you now? What's going on? Um? Kathy and I had a fantastic conversation just yesterday about well, we sort of have a different toolkit now having gone through this process. Right. What can we do in house? Um, how can we change the way that we are creating our new and additional collateral, sort of using that as as the guard rails for us Um, getting back to again those student voices and driving at home. Um, I think has been a huge game changer for us and I don't plan to stop that. I need great thank you for sharing u. As we bring the episode to a close, would like to ask you if you have either a final thought or maybe a piece of advice that you could offer to others that you've learned from this experience, that they don't have to have had the college tour on their campus, but you know that they could benefit from doing well. I think what we've already talked about here. My biggest piece of advice was let your students tell your story. You know you and you don't have to bring in a Hollywood crew to do that. It's great if you can, but you can still have your students tell your story. They're they're the best ambassadors that you're going to have and they're the ones who can really explain what it's like to be a student on your campus, Um and and share that with prospective students. So that's that's what I would recommend. Yeah, and I think Um, certainly we started this by saying what a great part ownership that the Kathy's have. Um, but I think that...

...that's hugely important. Um. You know, operating in silos serves no one. Um, integrating on all fronts. I think there's halo effects to be gleaned. Um. You know, we talked a little bit about development. We talked about enrollment management, Um, brand reputation, Um, the the importance of that relationship cannot be overstated. So, Um, I'm very lucky and blessed to have Kathy as a partner to do that. Right back catch up. Thanks. What a great way to what a great way to end our episode. For anyone that would like to reach out and ask you questions about what we've talked about today, what would be the best way for them to contact you? I'll give you my email. Um, Kathy K A T H Y DOT PAYNE P A Y N E at Del Val Dot Etu, and the other Cathy K a t h y dot Howell, h o w e L L at Del Bell Dot e d U. Thank you both for giving us your time and your wisdom. Bart, what would your final thoughts be before we close? Yes, thank you both for being on the episode. This is just this is such a great episode and I would encourage people that are listening to go ahead and rewind it and listen it again because, I mean, there's some things that I think that are very critical that I made a couple of notes as we were listening and, you know, even starting at the very top, the importance. I mean, if all we talked about was just how to create differentiation for your institution so that you could articulate that and create brand around that, the idea of you know, naming and claiming that E. three sixty and being able to articulate it as well as you do, that could have been an episode in in and itself, and so that's such an important part to kind of think about and to look at and I think that we we we glossed over. It was only probably twenty seconds of this entire episode. Was the idea of you took the time to actually upgrade your crm and Um, the idea of, you know, Autumn eight things so that you can relate Um. So many schools,...

...especially enrollment management, we end up pushing so much paper, we end up just kind of checking boxes. You know, I, yes, I made those fifty voicemail calls, but the idea that you're actually spending time in those relationships and building those that trust that's so critical, and having a crm that can do a lot of that automation is is critical and again, could have been another whole episode just on that. But also I think that the I'm sorry, Kathy, you're gonna say them Um, but I think that the idea to just to kind of get back to kind of what the core of this episode was about, was this idea that you're not going to be able to have every campus. Cannot have the college tour in a Hollywood crew come on and do what they did. But I think that you heard in this episode, there's basically a recipe that they're using. That is that as that success, it's hearing the students speak, helping them tell that story and and utilizing the things that they're saying in the way they're saying it in your marketing to really kind of amplify that out and I think that that's, you know, one of the ways that again, look at the script, look at the recipe, follow the recipe and apply it to your own school. I mean again, you might have a small school. I know there's several colleges that that I work with that are very small, you know, under five students. There are a lot of things in this episode that you can do, that you can learn and it's it's getting giving voice to your students and that's going to be able to create some of that Evergreen continent and I'm really, really excited about that. And and and again. We've talked on a couple other episodes, troy. I remember the episode we had with University of Kentucky about the importance of the partnership between enrollment and marketing. I can't overestimate that or over over state that, I should say, in the sense that you can see in this episode and see the success of the numbers that that have been talked about in this episode, of just how critical it is that enrollment and marketing work hand and Glove and and work out success get rid of the silos. Life is too short, there's too much on the line and and we've just got to roll up our sleeve and lean into this together.

So excellent episode, so so excited about everything you guys are doing and just congratulations. You've earned it. Thank you so much. This episode of the Higher Ed Marketer podcast is majorly sponsored by Zemi, where students share stories and connect in exclusive college communities, also by Kaylor solutions and education marketing and branding agency and, I think, patented a marketing execution company combining print customization and technology for deeper engagement. On behalf of my co host, Bart Kaylor, I'm troy singer. Thank you so much for listening. 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 do you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (90)