The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 1 month ago

Be Like Disney: Reimagining Campus Visits w/ Dr. Tony Turner


Disney is renowned for creating a magical experience for each and every guest. Institutions who focus on creating a unique VIP experience for individuals and families on campus visits will build a meaningful and lasting connection.

In this episode, we interview Dr. Tony Turner , Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing at Charleston Southern University , about creating a Disney experience for campus guests.

Tony talked with us about:

Treating families like people, not just one more deposit

Qualities of the Disney experience to emulate on campus visits

Building a scorecard for prospective students

Check out these related episodes:

Episode 1 w/ Ethan Braden at Purdue

Episode 2 w/ Jamie Hunt at University of Miami

Episode 22 w/ Phil Cook at Lee

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

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Higher Ed Marketer in your favorite podcast player.

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 studentrecruitment, donut relations, marketing, trans new technologies and so much more.If you are looking for conversation centered around where the industry isgoing, this podcast is for you, let's get into the show, welcome to the higher red marketerpodcast. I'm troy singer here with Part Kaylor, where we interview weekly, hireet marketers that we admire for the benefit and hopefully the betterment ofthe entire higher red community. Usually we know the people that we areinterviewing beforehand, but this next gentleman came to US recommended hisname is Dr Anthony Turner and he's currently the vice president ofenrolment and marketing at Charleston Southern University Bart. Can you tellus a little bit about our guests today, yeah Tony came to US via James Stan onepisode, seventeen with Houston Baptist University. When we interviewed James,he said Hey. I think that I think this podcast is great and here's some otherfolks that I think you ought to talk to and and Tony was one of them, that theintroduced us to and Tony was in the midst of the transition every summer.There's the musical chairs that starts in hired- and you know Tony grabbed hisseat at at southern Charleston, southern in South Carolina and so we'vehad some pre interviews with him. And one of the things I really like aboutTony is he's very personable he's down to Earth and I think a lot of what he'sgoing to talk about. Not only is it practical and pragmatic that reallyanybody can do it any size of institution, but I really like the factthat he is just so authentic and and that really comes across in hispersonality, but it also comes across and how he leverages that authenticityfor the marketing of of the institution, and so I think, there's some reallygood points to take away from this particular podcast. Wonderful. Now, let's bring into the conversationDoctor Anthony Turner Bart, and I would like to welcome DrAnthony Turner. Vice President of enrollment, in marketing, at CharlestonSouthern University to the high red, marketer podcast and earlier Anthony,told us that most of his friends refer to a Mas Tony, and he gave mepermission to do that to so. Welcome to the podcast Tony thanks for having me Troy and bare.Thank you for having me here. I'm looking forward to our conversationtogether, as are we and what we had talked about earlier. I can't wait toshare with our listeners and if you would Tony Give us a little bit aboutyourself and your role at Charleston southern sure, so I recently transitioned toCharleston Southern University, and so some people would say I'm wet behindthe years here at Charleston Southern, so I'm still getting my bearings orwhat not. But when it comes to enrollment, I've been in the Romanfield for about twelve years, I've worked at two actually three otherinstitutions, and so one in Pennsylvania, one in Chicago andactually worked at a for profit school also in Chicago, and so there aredistinct differences between working, a for profit, school and a nonprofitschool, and that's for a different day and a different segment in time. But but I've been in the enrolment fieldever since really early, two thousands working as a missions counselor all theway to a vice president. So I feel like I've, been in every single role andhave a pretty good grass of just in Roman in general, and then myeducational background is least my doctorates in higher red. And so Iguess you can say I have been bitten by the High Red Bug and how it's my lifeand I thoroughly enjoy working in...

...higher education. That's great thanks,Tony for count of that introduction, and I think that yeah we have. Wealways have a pre conversation with our guests, and I know we talked earlierjust about some of the things that you know drive that passion that you havein Higher Ed and I think one of them that really stuck out to troy- and Iwas this idea of being authentic, with your interactions with your futurestudents and- and I think, a lot of people would you know- certainly youknow nod their head to that pretty quickly, but tell us a little bit aboutwhat you mean by that, because I think that sometimes that's not always thecase, even in our best intentions. Yeah Yeah, I'd love to talk about that, andso I think you know all of us that work in enrollment. You know we work withnumbers all the time and I often tell my staff, you know. Enrolment is one ofthose areas where, on a college campus, you feel like you live in a fish poleand everybody knows your business, it could be. You know the president or thejanitor or whoever they they might come up to and say. Oh, I hear in Romansdown or you know, whatever you want to add to that everybody knows yourbusiness, and so it's easy to get in this mode where you feel like well,we've got to have so many students, and you know I follow the math and theconversion rates and all those numbers- and so sometimes you get in thispattern of just one family after another and trying to get thosedeposits which are important. But then you kind of lose kind of thatuniqueness of each family. And so what I hope to accomplish with with my teamis that each individual student matters, and what I mean by that- is that eachstudent is a person. I'm sure all of you can remember a time or maybe youhave multiple experiences where, when you go to a business or a restaurant orsomewhere fun, where someone took particular interest in you and how itmade, you feel I'm sure all of us have been in a place where we just feel likewe're just a number. But when someone takes that time and is really personalwith you, that makes you feel really special, and you remember thatexperience and many times you talk about that for many many years and I'msure we all have those unique experiences, whether it's that specialteacher that you had in high school or college, or some personal friend orwhatever it is. You remember those moments, and so, when it comes to enrollment, you havefamilies that are different. You know, sizes have different backgrounds, havedifferent experiences, particularly those that are first generationfamilies who have never embarked on this journey of a college search andand these families are overwhelmed particularly today, when you havecollege costs that seem to continue to rise. There is over four sand plusinstitutions in the US all different shapes and sizes. So it's easy to belost in that, and so how do you use institutions stand out, and I really dobelieve that institutions really stand out when they start looking at familiesas as really as special people intreating them in such a way that theyfeel like they're partnering with you in the process where they feel valuethat they know that you know you really did my best interest at heart and notjust looking at them as what we need, one more deposit and so going the extramile and making them feel special, because I guarantee you when they're athome and they've visited four or five colleges and they're at the kitchentable. Looking at the different colleges, they visit they're going togo down a list and when they see your school, that maybe went the extra milemade them feel special they're. Going to remember you that you know what thatwas a great experience. They really treated me as a person and there's alife with it, they're going to want to go with you, because you saw them passthan just a number and being real authentic with them. I think it tailswith that and one of the comment with that. It's also being really open andhonest with them and not saying you wouldn't be, but when you sit down talkabout finances and and really explain... look, this is what the cause isgoing to be. You know you might have a ten thousand dollar gap and we wouldlove you to be here. How can we work through this and you have to be okayand say you know what with what you're telling me it might be a stretch andthat's okay. Families would really appreciate you being open and honestwith them and working with them then saying you know what we'll figure itout and then they get here. They had a bad experience and then they're goingto feel like that. You really did a bat switch on them, and so that's all partof being authentic, with families as you work with them. Tonia really likewhat you said there, because I think that that authenticity is so critically.It reminds me of a conversation. We had an episode. Twenty two with Phil Cook,he's The new NAKHA Executive Director and was at Le University, and he reallytalked about you know the idea of selling that four year experience tothe future of students and families and the importance of that experience, andhe also kind of talked about authenticity and talked about the ideaof really making sure that you are genuine with them. Because I mean heinvites every family after they do the the campus tour into his office just tokind of have a conversation with them and get to know them, and I thinkyou're right. I think sometimes it's so easy when we're looking at numbers orfeeling the heat from being in that fish bowl and having everybody kind ofsay: Hey how's, enrollment, where the numbers at you know every week it getsto be a little old, but but I think being intentional to being authentic. Ithink is a really good thing, and and are there things that that, as at yourlevel ad vice president level, that you try to really go out of your way tomake sure that happens? I mean I'm not sure, are you inviting everybody intoyour office, or are you just making sure that you're around on those visitdays and things like that? Usually I try to so here's a perfectexample. This morning we had we had about five guests that were that camein for a visit today I had a bunch of I had a bunch of business cards and wentout to a lobby. I said Hey thank you for being here at Cs and I gave everysingle one of them e one of my business cards. I said if you have any problemsor issues, please let me know, and so just being that personal, I'm justasking questions where you from and and asking those questions even down to ifthey have like like a little kid with them. You know one of my counsellorswent and grab. We have these eye patches that we give because we're thebuccaneers, and so we have I patches, so he giving a little kid those patchesand so making. Everybody feel welcome, because, even though that that littlechild is not going to enroll in college for a very long time, but just takingnotice even in them makes the family feel like, while they really are takinginterest in the entire family and not just my son or daughter, wos looking toto enroll so yeah those those days I try to get out, I still go out andrecruit still, so I will be at a fair or two fish do I have to do now, but Ilove doing it for variety reasons, and so I'm still out there and I'm stillrecruiting and just yesterday I'm another example. I was at a restaurantwith another peer of mine, whether the VPS and we're just grabbing a burger,and I was talking to the waitress, just kind of sharing her story with me andshe's, going back home on Sunday to take a gap here, and I said well, whatare you interested in and just started talking, and I say you know what beforeyou go home, you really should come to our school for a visit. Her Win mybusiness cards. Well, I got back to the office, she had emailed me and said:Hey. I really want to take up in that offer, and she was here at ten o'clockin the morning went on at campus tour, and so it's just those things that Ithink we need to take notice to be conscious of that really make a bigdifference. Yeah Yeah! I love that and I love the fact that you we talk toSoman of our guests, about the idea of personalization and that especiallyeverybody wants to be known. I mean especially generations Z. I think theyreally have that that kind of hard wired into them and when we take thechance to be authentic and and intentional with them. I think thatreally does really pay off in big ways. So I'll go ahead and think troy hasanother question. Yes, along the lines...

...of what we've talked about of beingauthentic. I also know that you like to create unique experiences whenpotential students come on to your campus for a visit and you've evendescribed it as creating a Disney experience. If you could describe toeveryone what you mean by that yeah, no, it's great! So you know you hear thethe saying that Disney is the most magical place on earth and you know Ithink it is until you're on the long lines waiting to get on a ride orsomething. Then you know my opinion changes a little bit, but but you know, when you go there,everybody's smiling, you know it doesn't matter what their job is, thatthere's this, it almost seems like a euphoria almost that they're all justreally excited to be there and kids. It doesn't matter what their ages are.They're just really excited to be there, and so Disney's done a really good jobof just sharing with people hey. This is who we are and when you go there,you just feel the energy and the excitement and that you just want towant to be there. Those magical moments- and I just remember my kids- you know-were there it's hot and kids start complaining. Then someone comes up tous. Hey you guys, look like you could use some water just pass out bottlewaters. Those little details that to make our experience better, and so, ifyou take that mindset of just you know how everyone is special and how can youlook at your campus visits and those those events and make that uniqueexperience for them? So I'm sure a lot of you have signs. You know in yourdriveways on your the parking leut. If you don't, I mean that's something youcan easily do is like put a sign out when they get there that they know thisis their spot and you're. Walking on that, and that's really easy to do.Many of us already have that, but even just maybe just as are coming intocampus, you know having sign, saying, Hey, we really really appreciate you.We welcome you to campus said they know that they are the VIPs coming to campusand that's really what you want to create to when they walk in. You knowyou might have something ready for them, but just so that they know that you'regoing above and beyond, and that they just feel that that warmth and that'sreally that's really important and I don't and you might not be a fuzzyperson, but everybody likes that that type of feeling special and so there'sthose small things that you can do getting that information beforehand asmuch as you can and it isn't to be intrusive. But just you know smallthings such as you know. Are there certain colors, you, like you know, andso or is there like? Even you know? Is there certain candy bars that you like,or things like that, so when they, when they show up, you have maybe theirfavorite color shirt and you have a favorite canyon bar or things like that,favorite drink, those things to really personalize the experience for them andin those details of small it details. They seem like a lot of work, but inthe long run the yield is a lot higher because those families see that you areactually real and that you're going all out to make them feel feel welcome.Yeah, I think that's a great point and I I remember taking my family to Disneyfor the first time you know ten years ago and my daughter was, I guess shewould have been four or five at the time, and so she had her Princess Bell,dress on and we were going to the breakfast with the princesses in Epcotand part of the strategy that Disney does, and I don't think we necessarilyhave to do this as colleges, because when we have visitors visiting familieson campus, it's pretty easy to see the difference between a visiting familyand regular students, but at Disney they gave us all these first visitbuttons to where, with our lanyards and everything, and so it was very clear tojust anybody that was a Disney cast member to be able to say that family.This is their first time visiting. So, let's make sure we go out of our way todo even more, and so I remember walking across step Cot. You know early in themorning nobody's there. You know a lot of the gardeners are out tending thegardens and the one woman stopped and...

...she just stood up and said. Well, lookat you princess. You are just gorgeous this morning and just kind of laid allthese. Compliments on my daughter and she's blushing and wants to spend forher and show her dress off, but that that gardener was not her jobnecessarily to do that. But I think that Disney has done such a good job ofrecognizing that everybody plays into that magical experience and I've hearda lot of people. I know Tim fullers, one that often speaks to you know ittakes a campus to recruit a student, and I think that you know, even if youhave somebody if it's a faculty member or if it's, if it's a gardener or agroundskeeper out on the on the tour route, who takes the time to justwelcome them on campus and thank them for coming. That does say a lot and Ithink it gives that it gives that magical experience, that people go homeand they talk about, and I think that that that idea of being authentic andcreating those experiences for the families, I think it does make adifference and it doesn't take a lot of resources. But I think to your point:it just takes some some thought and it takes some intentionality and it takesjust being authentic, and I think that I think that most of the schools thatare listening to this that's well within their reach. Something that Iwould like to add is on a project that Barton. I are working on, there's amechanism where we do get information from the potential students like whattheir favorite color is, what their favorite music to study to is and whattheir favorite snack to have when they are steadying and all different typesof things. We get that, so we could put it in our outreach. What a good idea toutilize! Some of that information, like you, said for when they're coming intocampus, having some of those things available, maybe having country musicin the background again personalizing it Bart, and I do it from a outreachperspective yeah, but that's certainly information that can be utilized duringthose campus visits. So I think you've, probably given bart an I and nuggetthat we're going to take away from this speaking of Tony as we come to a close,would love to ask you if there was another nugget or a tid bit somethingthat someone listening could take an implement right away. An actual itemidea that you have yeah so something that I've been working on for last acouple of years. It's not a hundred percent perfect, but it's pretty closeis all of us. You know have hundreds and sometimes thousands of prospectsand inquiries, and you know the whole drill, and you know it's easy to getall those names, work, em, all and call them, and that takes up a lot of timeand having been a missions counselor. I remember those days in the officemaking seventy five a hundred calls a day and trying to call through andgetting a lot of nose, and how did you get my name and and all those differentthings, and so you know you're burn up a lot of time and one of the thingsthat I had done at my first institution I started implemented my secondinstitution, and here that I will be working on is, is this idea of scoringand so often times? Maybe in your serum solution, whatever you use, you canstart scoring your inquiries based upon their behavior, and so you know, forexample, you maybe you sign, you sign a number to a person who turns anapplication. Maybe they come and visit, they click on four or five emails, andyou would establish those parameters and based on their their interactionwith your school, that pretty much tells that they're really engagedperson that they would want to move the final they want to move further in thefunnel and so, but what I? What I do is that I put alitte metrics at the beginning of the funnel, and so once they hit a certainnumber that I establish an let's just say: For the sake of our conversation,it's ten. They hit that ten number.

Well then now I know that person is aqualified inquiry or qualified applicant and I move them along theprocess, and so in my interestin with him is a little bit more intentional,because I know they're highly engaged versus someone. Maybe they click on oneout of seven emails and maybe they smit their fast fun. I'mstill going to you know, put them in nurturing campaign, but I might notspend as much time with them right now because they're not showing that greatdeal of interest, and so it's a great way to do that to help not on yourcounselors prioritize, who's really engaged, but also it's a great way toreally truncate your funnel and work with those who are highly engaged andso you'll increase your O, your real rate. Why? Because you're working withpeople who are really interested so it's kind of like the idea of if I needa hundred students ton roll, I could knock on ten thousand doors and find ahundred students. Or would you rather go to the street and say you know whatall the trents on this particular street are going to say? Yes, I'drather do that work at ten sand and that's the whole idea of that scoringmodel is so each campus can identify. What are those trigger points thingsthat she would score and certain activities might score a little higherthan others like a campus visit versus open up an email, but whatever that isyou tally that up and you would determine what that score is and thatyou would pass them on as a qualified inquire, how you want to qualify themand that will lead to a hire you right, because you're working with engagedpeople versus working with a bunch of people and you're not really sure who'sengaging who's, not engaging. Thank you Tony, and I think that's something thatany emissions counselor or admissions the partant could implement, based ontheir particular parameters, their experience, what happens at theirschool? We appreciate you sharing your time and your wisdom with us today. Ifsomeone would like to reach out to you what would the best way for them to doso be yeah, you know they can always email me.So my email address is a turner, so a Turner at C s? U N! I V died. U, and sothat's the best way to get a hold of me. I'm always checking emails and mostlike all enrolling people morning afternoon and night, you're checkingemails so more than like I'll get back to you a lot quicker on email than Iwore over the phone. So that's really the best way to get a hold of me. Thankyou, Dor Turner Bar. Do you have any partying words for US yeah? I justwanted to kind of just kind of point out a few things and I kind of pointthis out, because I think that we have heard this and on many of the episodesI mean, we've gotten nearly twenty five twenty six episodes in now and but whatwe're hearing over and over and over again, whether it's Ethan Braden atPerdue, Jamie Honda, University of Miami. You Know Phil Cook at Lee oreven today, with with Tony Turner at Charleston Southern, this idea of being intentional on the way that weengage with perspective students and families. The fact that we need to bepersonalized, we need to be humans. I think that even to the scoringconversation here at the very end, it's so important for us to understand thatyou know there are things that the computers do really well, automation,you know, being able to do nurturing campaigns, follow up keep peopleengaged. Those are the tasks in the and the tools that computers and automationare really really well made for, but when we start getting into that smallerend of the funnel, when we're talking about the hundreds rather than thethousands or the tens of thousands that's when we can really start to rollout that individualized authentic engagement, that's really going to makethe difference with people, and I think...

...those are the things that especially alot of the listening schools that are smaller or mid size, a very similar toCharleston southern. Those are the different things. That's going to setyou apart from the other schools that are bigger, maybe the maybe the stateor community colleges that just cannot afford to be able to do that.Personalized touch as well as most of the time it's going to reflect, who youalready are, whether you're a faith based school or a private institution.Most of the characteristics of those types of schools are already extremelypersonal and so really be able to leverage the computers and theautomation to be able to do a lot of the things that are overwhelming foryour admissions team, but then really sorting and passing out the things thatonly people can do and that people do best, and so I think that a lot of whatTony's talked about today from the scoring to the the authenticity in theway that he engages with the families to just the Disney experience, it's soimportant to kind of remember that only you and your people can do that. Youcan't rely on any programs or systems to do that. So that would be mytakeaway, troy well said. Barton, thank you. That brings us to the end of ourpodcast and I encourage you to reach out to any of us. If you have aquestion or would just like to connect each week, we are brought to you by twocompanies, Barts team, at cales solutions, and they are a marketed andbranding agency dealing a lot with strategy and I think patented. We are amarketing execution, printing and mailing provider of Higher Ed Solutions.On behalf of Barton, I thank you so much for joining the podcast 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 with Apple Podcast, we'dlove for you to leave a quick rating of the show, simply cap, the number ofstars, you think the podcast deserves until next time. I.

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