The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 77 · 4 months ago

How To Market a University with Teresa Flannery


While there are common elements across marketing (the 4 P’s), higher education marketing presents some unique challenges with the diversity of audiences, the buying cycle, and the customer journey.

Today we welcome Teresa Flannery to talk about her book, How to Market a University. In this episode, Teresa unpacks the language, frameworks, tools, and tactics that CMOs or aspiring CMOs will need to lead the world of marketing in higher education. 

Teresa Flannery has spent her entire career in higher education. She was the first marketing director and chief marketing officer at the University of Maryland and the first Vice President of Communications at American University. Recently, Teresa accepted the role of Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer at CASE.  

Teresa’s book, How to Market a University, engages leaders and CMOs in discussing their work and its strategic nature and purpose. 

The book has also been developed into a master course on Enrollify, a digital resource hub designed to empower the modern enrollment marketer. 

Join us as we discuss:

  • The idea for the first fully digital professional development experience for enrollment marketers through the book How to Market a University and master course. 
  • Why are Higher Education organizations in the best position they’ve ever been in? 
  • Why Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are coming from outside higher education to roles inside the sector? 

How to Market a University: 

How to Market a University Master Course: 

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 High Ed Marketer podcast. This week we are so excited to talk to Dr Terry Flannery. As most of you know, she is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at case and she is also the author of a book that both bar and I are fanboys of. It's called how to market a university and, as she does with everything she touches, she really brings authentic information through our podcast episode today. Yeah, try. I really am so grateful that Dr Flannery could join us today. Terry brings, like you said, authentic communication, warmth, the way that she's just passionate about what she's doing. It's so clear and it's so clear that she's been successful. Um, the book is Great. Uh, you know, much like our podcast. It's it's simple into the point. You know, the Higher Ed Marketer is simple, into the point. How to market a university is simple, into the point, and I think that's one of the things that really draws troy and I to to the book. And one thing that's really exciting, we'll talk about a little bit more and unpacking on the on the conversation, is that there's also a master course around the content of the book, Um, that that you and your institution can take at a very affordable price, just to kind of here a lot of expertise from Dr Flannery as well as fifteen of the leading thinkers in Higher Reed Marketing, and so I would encourage you to kind of listen to that part and maybe take advantage of that in the show notes as well. Here's our conversation with Dr Terry Flannery. Here's a wealth of knowledge that we are looking forward to getting from you during our podcast. But I'm going to ask you this initial question of is there anything that you've learned recently that's interesting or something that you think would be worth sharing. Yeah, I think Um, something that's really struck me in the last week is how hungry people are for meaningful in person connection to different contexts for that. So I'm seeing in my office how important it is, if we're bringing people back into the office to work on certain days, that it shouldn't be just to do what they could do at home, looking at their screen and having interactions that they could do anytime. It's got to really be reasons to be there together. And then, uh, sort of a different context. First in Person Global Leadership Summit for case in three years, and people were so happy to be together, so grateful. The connections were almost more effusive than they have ever been and you can just see that it's meeting a need that can't easily be met in any other way. That's great. Yes, I recently just attended a higher Ed Conference for the first time in person in a while and I concur I felt that energy too, and people were talking about it and excited to be together. So thank you. We've seen you in social media and Linkedin a lot lately, but for some of our listeners who may not know who you are, please let us know and then a little bit about your new role that you've taken. Sure. So I'm someone WHO's worked in higher education my entire adult... Um, I've only ever worked in higher education. My experience is, broadly speaking, in the areas of student of average, where I started out, enrollment and admissions, where I was for eleven years, and then, Um, the remainder of my career, the bulk of it working as a marketing and communications professional, leading that work at three institutions as a member of the executive team, and I've just transitioned to a new role as the executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer at case, which is the council for advancement and support of education, and it's a professional association that represents and serves the professional development needs of folks who work in integrated advancement in the education sector. So that would represent, broadly speaking, people that do marketing and communications work, people that do alumni relations work and people that do fundraising and development in higher education and in independent secondary schools. So it's a chance to broaden my leadership impact for a global association that represents almost member institutions in schools and about nine thousand advancement professionals across the world. We appreciate the work that case does and I'm so glad that you are part of that leadership team. The reason why we invited you on because you have a book that has been getting a lot of attention and as a result, I think a certain curriculum has been created. So, for those of you who don't know, her book is how to market a university, and that's right to the point and I think gets the attention of a lot of higher reed marketers. Could you tell us a little bit about the backstory of the book, why you wrote it, and then maybe a couple of highlights to get US started? M Sure, I don't think I would have ever had the nerve, um or the courage to think about writing this book on my own, but I was approached by the editor of the Johns Hopkins University Press, the editorial director Um, and he came to me and said that they had this series for higher education leaders, UM, practical little books Um that helped presidents, Provost Trustees think about how to work successfully in higher education. So there are books on how to run a college, how to work with the university board, and he really felt like they needed a book on how to market universities and he noticed that higher education leaders, presidents especially, are just hungry to know how to do this work well. They want to know how to organize it, how to resource it and how to measure success in that area, and he so. He says that he asked ten people who should write the book and they all gave him my name, which I think was strict lead flattery, but it worked and I was thrilled, of course, and then once I had agreed to do it, then it was terrified. But it's been quite a privilege to write this book and it really is uh important to note that the target audience, for primary audience, is really those hired leaders Um. So I was speaking to them, trying to help them understand our work and its strategic nature and purpose. But I had a secondary audience that we've included and how how I wrote the book, which is chief marketing officers and their teams. So every chapter in the book has a set of discussion questions that are designed to engage leaders and CMOS in discussion about where they are on that part of the work. That's great and I really appreciate it because I I'm reading it and it's it's just fascinating and really practical information and I love the fact that you've created those, Um, those listening sessions and those talking points that the teams can work through. Um. I also recognize that, Um,... know some of some of what's happened as you've taken content of that U of that book and partnered with our our good friends over it and rollify. We've had Zach on the on the on the conversation on the podcast at a time or two, and several of the other folks that are on the online master course on how to market a university. Um, Ethan Branden from purdue and UH and Jamie Hunt, a lot of really good friends of the podcast have been on that as well. So tell us a little bit about kind of the evolution of that, you know, taking the book and then getting it into a master course. Yeah, so Zach approached me about doing a podcast related to the book and once he started reading and he said I'm not sure we can do this justice in one session. Um, would you be willing to think about doing a series? And I said, well, Shark, yeah, well, I'll take a little more time in preparation, and then he came back to me again and he said I got a really crazy idea, um, but you know, we have an idea, we have some thinking about maybe developing a series of master courses. Would you be willing to use your book as the subject and be the expert and help us develop a prototype for this course? And they've got a really uh with enrolling and rollified. They've got a really wild premise that they imagine developing the first fully digital professional development experience for enrollment marketers, which isn't keeping with the podcast that you guys do and a lot of the other content that's out there. Um. That align beautifully with my interest my new role, obviously at case and um in Um, thinking about how we continue to mature this profession and develop a group of professionals who have been raised in higher education to do this work. Well, thinking about what's the right channel or format to develop um the material in a way that it can really have the most impact. And so the course. It takes a master course approach. So I'm sort of the stage on the stage a little bit, but I didn't want to. I knew you don't do asynchronous courses in that way. That doesn't work right. So the first thing I did was call fifty. I phone fifteen friends, some of whom you've mentioned, Um, and said would you come play with us so that your expertise rounds out my voice and we're not just learning from one person? They all said yes. I'm grateful for that. They shared incredible expertise. So Zach traveled all around the country to interview them all and have them contribute content on different aspects of the books chapters as we went along. Um and then we developed a series of both sprint exercises. Every session is a sprint exercises designed make you stop for two minutes and just think kind of right in a rainstorming mode, really quickly, which helps kind of get the juices flowing, even if you're in an asynchronous format. Um. And then there are some exercises that are developed to apply the material in the book in a much more specific way your institution when you leave it. So it's been um very successful in helping people to engage in the content in a different way. That's great and I and just for everyone's reference, will have in the show notes links to both the book and the Master Course, Um and UH and and that would be a great opportunity and it's very affordable. I mean obviously the books affordable, but also the master courses as well, and so you'll find details on that. But I am I'm fascinated with that in the sense that, Um, you know, what's the what's the feedback been so far? I mean, obviously there's a lot of opportunity here and Um, you know, we know that there's, you know, five thousand institutions, uh, that that are recognized in the United States, and a lot of different sizes. I mean we've got tiny, tiny schools all the way up to too large, Um d one schools. What's the feedback been and how? How has that kind of impacted what you're doing? It's been very rewarding. So, if there are five thousand recognized institutions, then we've got...

...ten percent of them already registered for this course, which I think is impressive. Right. Um, we have more than five hundred entities that have registered and a bunch of them are not just individuals but um institutions that have purchased the institutional access and they're using the content for um either lunch and learn trainings with either the immediate marketing team or the enrollment team, or maybe a broader campus communicator group, but they're coming together for each of the sessions, watching them and then talking together about the content. And then others are using it as a different means of conversation with the leadership. So there are some that the president, the UM chief development officer, the chief marketing officer, chief enrollment officer are watching it together and then having conversations. So I would say, you know, in just a couple of months we launched the content in Um, well, let's see, end of April and we're at the recording of this session late July. So that I think that's pretty good pick up for a few months and it's it's doing good things for the book sales and that's good. I'm so glad to hear that. The feedback has been great quantitatively too. I mean qualitatively as well. We talk a lot about it on the show. Schools are really struggling today that make the same at spend work. CPMS are up eight nine year over 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 thousand five star ratings, consistently ranked as one of the top social lapps 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 their 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. Bart and I both think that any listener, if you haven't had a chance to go out and get the book or purchase the course, the police do so. Terry, in a recent conversation we had with you, you express your optimism and the opinion that the current state of Higher Ed organizations is very strong, and we'd love to know if you can expand upon that opinion for our listeners. Yeah, I would say the opportunity is better than it's ever ever been in higher education. We've been able to demonstrate, particularly during the pandemic, maybe more on the COMMS side than the marketing side at first Um, but eventually in both areas, how integral our role is to meeting institutional priorities and strategic goals. Um and institutions are getting it and leaders, if they don't have the structure or the leadership or the organization to do this well, are really kind of recognizing they got to get game in this regard, and so people who have developed this area of expertise and have a track record of demonstrated experience are going to be really in the driver's seat in terms of opportunities they've had um to lead the work and be a critical part of the Um team at their institutions. I think that's tempered, though, with something that's really challenging, which we're seeing, and that's true of the entire sector, including marketing and communications and in the area of enrollment, which is that the great resignation is really affecting us. You know, the latest survey data that's coming in from a couple of different sources is saying that half of our professionals and Higher Ed are thinking about leaving higher education. EXCEPTOR entirely. They're not...

...leaving work, they're going to work somewhere else, and so you've got this great opportunity at the same time that you have real potential loss because the challenges and the rewards are not in a balance that people find, um attractive. So it's strong in some ways, the opportunity is great in some ways and in some other ways I think we've got real work to do. I find that interesting, Terry, because I agree with you. I think that there's a there's a there is that great resignation that's happening. I'm also fascinated with how many people I see that are coming outside of higher education into the chief marketing officer roles, UM, coming from health care, coming from other, you know, non related education, Um, you know verticals. I'm fascinated with that too. and Um, I'm just curious. I mean, as you I guess my question is more along the lines as as you are a lifelong career in higher education, Um, and we see people that have been in higher education honestly getting burned out and moving outside, and then we're seeing other people outside of higher education coming in and really making a huge difference, Um, in what they're doing, bringing bringing what I would consider more of you know, what is going on in the in the know commerce world into the Higher Ed Marketing type of roles. Where do you think that's going and and how does that affect things? And and I guess as a follow up question is, and we'll get into a little bit more detail about this, it's the difference between a chief marketing officer and a vice president of enrollment slash marketing or vice president advancement slash marketing. So I know I just confused everybody with like three or four questions at once, so I apologize, but let's first start with kind of so let's first start with that thought about, you know, people coming and going from the from the career, from different paths. Well, I don't think people are just burnt out in higher education. I think it's safe to say that that's not the only sector where this is learning. I think people are looking to make change right and I think people are looking for environments where, Um, they can have meaningful impact and meaningful work. And a lot of times, if you're not in higher education, you're coming from another environment. You're looking for a more UM mission driven, uh, compelling, Errand that gets you up every day. That's related to transforming lives in society, which is what higher education does right. So I think that's the attraction. Coming outside. Um, I would say um sometimes the movement within the sector can be just as refreshing. We're refreshing. I've seen a couple of CMOS who were doing great work at the institutions that they were at just move somewhere else. The opportunities are right to make a move and put yourself on the driver's seat in terms of what's what you require in order to have a set a spying role and have it set up in the right way in the first place. So that's always good. But if people are coming from outside and they're bringing practices and tools they can help us develop in higher education, Great. I would say, with a caution, though, that I have seen people come from the corporate environment, from sectors like healthcare, insurance finance, some who do really well and others who crash and burn, and when they crash and burn there's usually a couple of patterns behind it. One, they thought we worked nine months a year and they thought they'd be able to put up their feet any fond months, and then it would be an easier job. Ha, y'all know that's not true. I'm exaggerating, but still they think it's going to be a slower pace and nothing could be further from the truth. Um. The second thing is that, Um, they underestimate the strength of the culture of the academy and they don't take the time to learn and understand and appreciate it so that when they are trying to make decisions, they're trying to create the expectations for the pace that...

...something will take, they do that in a way that they can move successfully as a leader in that environment, and sometimes they make real mistakes because they've underestimated that important I think that's a really fair way to say it. I think that there's a lot, often, many times that that that friction happens, even even in different ways, and not just in the marketing realm as well. Um. So so then let's talk a little bit about the that CMO versus the you know, vice president of blank plus marketing. Um, I know right now. You know some of the some of the reports show that CMOS report to the president of them have a seat at the cabinet. Um. Sometimes that you know that from a CMO standpoint. That's one thing. For also, most of the time from some of the smaller schools that that I've worked with, with the with the VP of advancement or enrollment slash marketing, most of the time they're at the cabinet as well, but there sometimes is their their marketing acumen is not as strong as what a CMO might be. So let's just kind of unpack that a little bit and tell me what your experience has been and how you see that shifting. There's still a lot of variability in the structures that we used to organize the work in higher education and we haven't settled on a model, but it's definitely in transition. And the data you mentioned about reporting to the President or chancellor and having a seat at the table comes from the latest CMO study that Simpson Scarborough developed Um, that they released late last year, beginning of this year, Um, and that's a trend that continues to increase. So that's risen every year. Um. So it's great to see marketing and communications have a seat at the table where strategy and institutional decision making about priority and resources are being made. That's an advantage right Um. But sometimes that results in Um uh, xturing or disintegration of all the things that marketing and communications should be influencing, and really that's true of any structure. So I have real trouble where enrollment is in one place and advancement is in another place and there isn't a leadership influence for marketing that's equal, because I think it really gets driven down to a functional level where it's more marketing and service of these other goals and it becomes a primarily promotional activity and it diminishes the importance of all the other aspects of marketing in terms of strategy, price product in place in the classic four PS of marketing. That don't ever get considered when it's operating as a tactical instead of a strategic function. If you have people who are leading those areas that have marketing reporting to them, they may not have expertise to really know how to organize it, how to resource it, how to measurement, and so that's which you're losing when the function is driven further down into the organization. And so, depending on where you are because of resources or history, and there's really, as I said, different models, the most important thing is to find leaders who are willing to collaborate with each other and think about the integration across the functions, regardless of where marketing sits in that environment. If they can recognize the value of the work and be willing to work together, then the structure doesn't matter quite as much. I know that sounds idealistic, but that's what's required to surmount the hurdles of that kind of structure. And then there's all kinds of tools, and we talked about them in the book and and the course, to to help you with that integration and collaboration. There are ways you can account for that or gain that out a little bit, but it takes real intention and more. Yeah, I like that right there with the intention. Um, yeah, when we had I mentioned Ethan Branden from Perdue University earlier and he was on the podcast and something that has...

...stuck with me that I've that I've borrowed with a lot of clients, giving him the credit, but it's one of the things that he talks about is that as as marketers, we have to stop being the short order cooks and we have to be the chefs. You know, we can't continue to just deliver this by Monday and make it look prettier and uh and and palatable. We have to kind of ask the hard questions. Is this? Is this moving US toward our overall goal as an institution, either for for, you know, advancement, or for enrollment? and Um, I think that that you're exactly right that collaboration has to happen, those conversations have to happen. Um. It's sometimes it's easier, when we're all tired, to just say, you know what, I'll just take the orders and just get them done. Um. But that is a downward spiral that can really destroy an institution pretty quickly if, if no one's at the helm for the marketing or the communications. Yeah, yeah, and I think it's incumbent on the marketing professional to act like the strategic thinker that they should be. Others will not know, they often don't understand the purpose of this work or how to organize it. So it's not going to be up to them to decide this is what you should be doing. You have to lead, you have to really lead. I think I think that's really I think that's really important, a really good way to say that, Terry. As we close our episode, would like to know if there is something that we didn't cover or a piece of advice that you could offer that could be implemented immediately, either by a marketing individual or a small marketing team. I'd like to encourage everyone to be empowered to act like the strategic marketing function that they hope to lead and represent. If you, um I, feel like you're being reduced to an order taker or that you are only valued for the work you do for promotional activity, then I'd encourage you to, for Find Your Institution Strategic Plan. Go Look, go find it and see what it identifies as the key strategic priorities of your institution and then think about in your role, in your specific role in your office, what could you do to connect your work to the meeting of one of those goals. And if you start to talk about and ask questions and act like that is your role, people will start to understand. You've got to walk the walk in order for them to understand really the purpose of marketing. So find that strategy somewhere at your institution and start connecting your work to it today. Thank you for that powerful response and the rest of the conversation we've had with you and uh, we're fans of you. I hope that comes across and we're so happy that you're a guest and to also further your mission and your influence and anything that we can do for you, we are willing to do so. Terry. And speaking of which, if someone wanted to contact at you and follow up, what would be the best way for them to contact you? Sure, Troy and Bart, thank you for this opportunity. I've loved it. I'm fans of you guys too. Um. We're all part of this community where this connection helps us right and if people want to connect with me, the easiest ways are through twitter. I'm at Higher Ed Wonk on Linkedin, Teresa flannery. Yes, it uses my formal first name. It's a little scary sometimes I think someone calls Me Teresa that it's my mother calling U or at case. You can reach me at t flannery at case dot org. And thank you again for the opportunity. You're welcome, but we consider it our pleasure and honor. Bart, did you have final thoughts that you would like to share before we take our episode to the end? Yeah, Troy, thank you and and Terry, thank you so again for being on the show. It's been great, Um, and if you've gotten anything out of this episode, I would just really encourage you to read the book, to you know, download the master course and...

...take that. There's just so much wealth of information and what Terry shared with us today, what she's shared in the book, what She's shared in the master course, as well as her fifteen friends and what they bring to that. Um, just so many, so many really. I mean industry leaders, Bob Johnson, Um, the folks at apology, Um. You know, just a really a lot of really good thinkers, people who have been in the seat that you're sitting in, people that have been doing the work that you've been doing. Um. They bring a wealth of knowledge and so I really encourage you to look at those two things. And I really love that final thing that Terry talked about with just really trying to have some empathy and compassion and understand where you are and if you want to be at a certain place and you're the one that can start that. Um. I've seen that happen many, many times where, you know, I might be working with someone who's an art director or somebody who's who feels like they just don't have the authority to make change, but just by your attitude and the way that you approach things you can make change, and so I would encourage you to do that as well. So thank you so much. It's been a it's been a pleasure to have you the Higher Ed Marketer podcast that's sponsored by Kaylor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and, I think patented a marketing execution company combining direct mail and unique digital stacks for a higher ed outreach success. On behalf of Bart Kaylor, I'm troy singer. Thank you for joining us. You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're listening with apple podcasts. We'd love for you to leave a quick rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars do you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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