The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 2 · 1 year ago

From TikTok to Print Ads: Innovative Marketing in Higher Education


Marketing has never been more important for institutions than it is right now. How are you able to recruit prospective students during a pandemic? How do the ways you communicate to parents and students differ during this time?

These questions and more are answered on this episode of The Higher Ed Marketer. Bart Caylor, President & Founder at Caylor Solutions Inc, and Troy Singer, Senior Account Executive at Think Patented chat with Jamie Hunt, Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Miami University of Ohio


- Transitioning into a Chief Marketing Officer role during a pandemic

- How marketing visions have pivoted and evolved during 2020

- Keeping teams engaged, motivated and feeling supported remote

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.

But I really encourage the listeners to see the future as of blanks late and see filling that planks like as something that feeds the soul rather than something that drains energy. You are 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, don'tor relations, marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversation centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to episode two of the Higher Ed Marketer podcast. I'm troy singer in here today with the cost of the show, Bart Taylor. How's IT GOING BART? It's going well. Thanks, Troy. It's exciting to be here on episode two. Really looking forward to our interview today. Yes, as M I we all have had to pivot and adjust all across their lives with the covid nineteen pandemic. In today we're going to talk about how that has affected our professional lives and the marketing that we do with today's guest. Tell us a little bit about that, Bar, sure we're going to be talking with Jamie Hunt. She's the new Chief Marketing Officer at Miami University of Ohio. She's gotta tell us a little bit about what it was like personally and professionally having to pivot in the middle of the pandemic and how that affected her life, as well as her role as a chief marketing officer. I think it's always interesting going into a new role like that and some of the ideas that she has I think are great. So I'm really excited to share this with everyone. Awesome. Let's get started. We are very excited to introduce Jamie Hunt, chief marketing officer at Miami University of Ohio. Welcome, Jamie. Thank you, I'm happy to be here. Well, we're happy to have you, Jamie. Before we dive into the professional part, will love to know if you can share one or two personal passions that you have that we may not be able to see in your linkedin profile. Sure. So.

I have a ton of hobbies that keep me busy when I'm not working. I so, I paint, I've write. I have told people that if I'm not creating, I might as well be dead. So I'm always trying to create. I'm also super interested in turtles and tortoises, which is an interesting, strange hobby. When I retire I want to have a tortoise ranch. So right now I just have my little friend Clementine, who's next to me, but she promises to be joined by many other tortoises in the years to come. Well, that is wonderful, and you have recently moved to the southwestern Ohio area. So could you share something, maybe a favorite thing that you've discovered since you've moved here? Yeah, so when I moved to southwest Ohio I had never set foot in Ohio before I actually moved to Ohio, site unseen because of the pandemic and I had no idea what it was going to the landscape was going to be like, what it would feel like in this region, and I was so excited to find all the trails that there are around here. Miami University has seventeen miles of trails on campus and then there's a ton of state parks and city parks and country parks and awesome, awesome trails and planscapes really beautiful with the rolling hills and the river bluffs and all of that. So I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful this part of the world is. Yes, and it'll keep you hiking and running for years to come. Thank you for Shanne a little bit more about your personal experiences, Bart Yeah, thanks, Troy and Jamie. I was just going to get started on our on our conversation here. When I reviewed your linkedin profile, one thing that stood out was when you started your new role there at a Miami University of a September of two thousand and twenty. You've already kind of referenced the idea that you know, showing up an Ohio side unseen because of the pandemic. Tell us about what that transition was like. What was that like, you know, personally, just kind of setting into that new role? Yeah, I really underestimated how challenging it would be to move during a pandemic. My husband and I took the lockdowns really seriously in the...

...spring and so we hadn't set foot inside of a store or interacted with any human not part of our household between March and July. So when I was off for the job and we put our house on the market, suddenly we had to have strangers in our house. We had to do. Go to thows to do some home improvement projects, and that was sort of daunting and anxiet I producing for us after all those months of not engaging with people. We ultimately decided to drive straight from Winston Salem to Oxford, with just one stop to pick up some food through a drive through because we were so anxious about the travel, and we ended up arriving here at eleven o'clock at night, so I was still sight on seeing technically until the next morning. I have to I lived here for about, you know, ten hours before I got to see what it looked like here, but it was it was worth it. The biggest challenge, honestly, was not being able to stay goodbye to my friends and colleagues in person. There are people that I had not seen since we left in March, not having any idea that we would still be in this situation, and not being able to hug them or say goodbye to them in person. That's still kind of breaks my heart that the last time I saw them I didn't know was going to be the last time I saw them. Yeah, yeah, I'm sure that that was hard, and I mean the the pandemic. I don't think any of US estimated what it would be like. You know, I think that the idea of the toll on even mental health sometimes, I think is is underestimated on what this has been so far. So I'm curious. I appreciate your sharing personally first and foremost, but I'm also curious just professionally. I mean I know that any time any of US moved from one school to another or we were changing our career path, that certainly, you know, put some challenge in just in a normal time. But I was just curious, you know, how did that work during the pandemic? I mean you're going into a professional news new era, your chief marketing officer at a major school and you've got a team that you're going to be working with and you're in the middle of the pandemic. What was that like? That was also challenging. I'M NOT gonna lie Um it's hard. You don't realize when you start a job how often you...

...poke your head into somebody's office and ask questions and learn more about what do I do about this? What do I do about that? And there was no ability to do that. I was working in the office suite with one other member of my staff. So and I tried not to bother them too much, but I had a ton of questions and it's really a new challenge to lead a team you've never met in a pandemic all of the issues that come along with that. That through a virtual means, so just having meetings with people via zoom and having all team meetings via zoom. And then sort of layered on top of that was it was September, so the academic year was just starting and all of the issues that come up at the beginning of the academic year in general, and then all of the issues that come up when you're bringing thirteenzero college students to campus during a pandemic just hit. I told people I had a thirty minute honeymoon because at thirty on my first day I was just diving straight into that, that covid situation on our campus. But I've had to make sure that my staff still understands that I have an open door policy and that open door looks like slack. It looks like, you know, making a phone call and getting on my calendar to have a conversation. Have the some of that face virtual, face to face in her action and making sure that people understand that I'm still well. I guess I'm not. Still making sure that people understand that I'm available to them, I'm a resource to them, I'm present and I want to interact with them, and having that relationship with them despite the pandemic has been really important. Right from what you described, obviously things were different than when you prepped and when you were interviewing. So could you give us one or two examples of how you had to change your expectations? Yeah, so I was interviewing in June and July and at the time everybody was thinking we were going to be back to full in person classes in the fall and the institution I was coming from...

...was opening a little bit earlier than Miami was opening, but we kind of thought we were going to be more back into the swing of things than we were. Miami ended up having a five week delay where they had five weeks of online classes. So that kind of gave me an opportunity to get to know the lay of the land a little bit before students came. They move started moving in about two weeks late, but I don't think anybody expected the scope and scale of how the pandemic would influence higher education. I personally didn't predict that we were going to have as many students who wanted to be back and as many students who really didn't want to be back. It was sort of like a fifty mix of what students and parents wanted, and that divide has been really challenging to navigate, I think, for most of us in high education. Yeah, I think you're think you're exactly right. I mean, I've a lot of the clients that I work with it. It is kind of a little bit of a segmentation on either side where you know, you've got a lot of students are just, you know, committed to fully wanting to get back to a full, full on college experiences that is maybe they knew a year ago, and then you've got a lot that are just a very hesitant, the parents are hesitant and there's a wide range there. So tell me a little bit about as you as you got started there in September, I mean obviously interviewing and prepping, you know, you had maybe a certain type of vision, and probably a vision that you even cast during your interviews, about what what the marketing vision would be for Miami of Ohio going forward. And but, but, tell me. I mean once you got in there and in September and you're adjusting to slack and not having that chance to have everyone in a team one room meeting things that were used to. Certainly you had to start to change a little bit of how you were looking at that vision, at least the the tactical execution of that vision as as it related during the pandemic. So how did some of that change, or maybe tell me a little bit about what is that marketing vision going forward and how has the pandemic impacted that? Yeah, so prior to the pandemic, Miami was poised all out a new brand platform. When my predecessor left and Covid nineteen hit, that effort was put on pause and now that I'm...

...on board, I decided to kind of continue that pause to give us an opportunity to do a little bit more brand research. We really want to understand how our pandemic response has impacted our current brand perception, but we also need to know how the pandemic has changed people's mindsets about what is important to them about the college experience, what concerns they have about the college experience and all of that. So we're doing some additional brand research and are going to tweak our platform accordingly before we roll that out to the community. And beyond that said, we've tried to be pretty innovative with our marketing tactics this fall. There's a lot of changes that have happened because you can't bring students physically to campus for large group tours or for big events, and that's been really central to the Miami experiences of residential campus and it's all about that student interaction and that student experience. And we can't have admissions counselors on the road and there's no college fares occurring. But we have to get in front of students and the ways that we have done them have had to change because we have students who are have zoom fatigue, so it's not necessarily that we want to suddenly fill the rest of their days up with more zoom meetings. So we've done some some AI retargeting, we've done some connected TV, we've done some ticktock advertising, we're looking into some influencer marketing to just try to get in front of them in new ways and I think it's really working. As institution, and probably everybody right now is having to rely more on marketing than the quote unquote sales side of things, because we can't get on the road, we can't get people to our campuses, and so I think we've done a really good job of supplementing what we have done in years past and it's showing. We have our applications are up about nine percent right now, which is really good. We'd had some some slow declines and applications over the past few years, nothing to be super concerned about, but to have that that large of an increase at this point in the middle of a pandemic is something that we're...

...really happy about. That's great and I I'm sure that most of what you talked about there is the traditional Undergrad what about some of the other audiences? I mean certainly parents and current students, current parents and and maybe even to the to the degree of how development, marketing and donor relations and just community relations, how has that been affected as well? Well? It's been interesting. Our parent relations are really strong. I think at Miami we have someone who's dedicated to parent relations. We have a really active facebook group for parents. We have about Eighteenzero students and we have about thirteenzero parents in that group. So that's a huge percentage of our students. Parents are in there and they're active. It is dozens of posts a day, honestly, and we're pushing out our messaging to them at the same time pushing it to the students because we know they want to know. They have a lot of concerns. Their concerns might be different than their students concerns, and so we want to make sure that they're seeing information. In addition to their students, we want to keep our board of trustees engaged and understanding what's going on. We want to keep our alumni engaged, understanding our response the Pantem and some of the social unrest that we had this summer, making sure that we're keeping everybody in the loop, connecting with our legislators making sure they're aware of the decisions that we're making. We've had to be really nimble, just like I suspect almost everybody in higher head has had dad Ted to do with the governor making mandates, are passing down regulations or things that he would like to see us do, making sure that we're communicating back to him that, yes, we're doing that. Those are important, we understand it, but getting in front of those people. I think has never been more important parent connection previous to the pandemic. I think it would be a real challenge to build that on the fly at this point. But making sure that parents understand everything we're doing. I don't think anything is more important right now. Yeah, beyond, of course, communicating with students, but making sure parents are in the loop, and prospective parents so that they know what we're doing to keep kids safe and...

...what we're doing to keep our campus healthy during this crisis. I think you're right on that and I'll speak as a as a college parent myself. I've got it, you know, as a junior at Butler University here in Indiana and I'm freshman at Pretty University. And even before the pandemic, I noticed that the more schools engaged with us, even in the in the in the process of looking for schools, my students looking for schools, the schools that were actually engaging with us as parents kind of floated to the top because those are the student those are the schools we were talking about. Because, you know, mom and I didn't get a fiftyzero emails from all the schools. We got one or two, and so I agree with you. I think that making sure the parents are engaged in communications, whether it's during the pandemic or even outside the pandemic, is so critical. Yeah, absolutely. We did a lot more print this year than we did in the past years because we wanted to make sure parents were seeing things, and that's the best ways mail it to the house and have the parents able to get their hands on it. I believe we either have recently sent our plan to send a piece that is just directed directly to the parents that they get an understanding of what's going on. There's no way to overstate how much influence a parent has on college choice. That's exactly right, Jamie. You have shared so much with us today and, like we said at the beginning of the PODCAST, we like to at least have one or two great ideas that can be shared so others can benefit from it at schools that are listening to it. So is there anything that you haven't shared that is discovery or maybe just the pet idea that you could give to us here at the end? Yeah, absolutely, everybody should start a tortoise pay. That's my pet identerful. All Right, I think now is really the time to start thinking outside the box and I know that the stress of the pandemic is wearing on all of us and that generally means creativity suffers. We've been doing this for ten months and we're tired...

...and we're slogging through it and it's all of us. But I really encourage the listeners to see the future as a blank slate and see filling that blank slate as something that feeds the soul rather than something that drains energy. Right now, marketing has never been more important to meeting institutional goals. We are the front door and they're the sales team is having to do all kinds of new tactics that aren't as front and centers they've been in the past. So we really need to be out front and doing creative, creative things. This is our time to shine. This is our time to show leadership how much we can move the needle. It's our time to show leadership the value of marketing and how marketing can drive sales, and it's the time that we can show the Roy of our work. And so I think if there's something creative and innovative that you've wanted to try, now is the time to do it. I feel really lucky. The president here at Miami gave me a large sum of money and said, I don't care if you fail the things, just try something new and innovative, try something creative, and that's what we've done and we'll see if that pans out. He saw that this is the time to try things, to take bold steps, and I encourage listeners to do that too. But I also encourage listeners to understand and and realize that their teams and everybody that you're working with is also living with a lot of anxiety about what's going on in the world. We all have zoomed fatigue, we all have stress, we've all grieving experiences that we've lost, weddings that we've missed, hugs that we haven't had and lost family members and friends, and I think if we can give each other grace through this time and really understand that our audiences are feeling all of this too, and when we communicate with them we need to be cognizant of that, I think that's really important. That's great, Jamie. Thank you for such a beautiful and applicable response to that question and I thank you for joining us and sharing all of your expertise today. You definitely provided plenty of useful takeaways. Thank you so much...

...for having me. It's been a great discussion. I'm happy to be part of it this episode of the Higher Ed Marketer podcast. It's sponsored by Taylor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency, and also by Think, patented, a marketing, execution, printing and mailing provider of higher it solutions. On behalf of my cohost Bart Taylor, I'm troy singer. Thank you for tuning in. 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 you think the podcast deserves. Until next time.

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