The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 79 · 4 months ago

Purpose Driven Marketing Through Brand Storytelling


The most important part of storytelling in higher education is creating stories where students can easily insert themselves and be an active participant. 


Chad Wilson is the Vice President and Executive Creative Director of Marketing at Grand Canyon Education, an education service company that provides an array of support services in the post-secondary education sector, including work with their key client, Grand Canyon University.  

Chad oversees everything encompassing strategic work including creative vision, creative development and consumer research to dynamic media plans and multi-platform initiatives. In this episode, Chad breaks down purpose-driven branding, marketing, and storytelling and why it is important in higher education marketing.  

Join us as we discuss:

  • The definition of purpose driver marketing and what it means to Chad
  • The importance of aligning the DNA of your brand with your students’ values
  • The importance of authentic storytelling in marketing 

GCE Agency Vimeo showcase: 

The High Red Marketering 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 Red Marketer podcast. I'm troy singer and yes here with Bart Taylor and for this episode. I commit to you if you listen to it to the very end, you will be moved, you will be inspired and you will learn things about high ad marketing that you just did not know. Today we are talking with Chad Wilson, the vice president and executive creative director of marketing at Grand Canyon Education. I'm sure that you are familiar with some of him and his team's work and that's why we invited him to be on the podcast. But, as you'll see within this episode, he is a leader. He exudes it, he lives at. Higher Education is his calling and I can't say enough of the feelings you get while listening to this conversation. Yeah, Chad does such a good job of articulating so many great things about higher education marketing. Um, you know, he he also exudes his own faith and a lot of what he is his own purpose driven and what he does in his marketing and how that comes out through through the through the work of Grand Canyon Education and Grand Canyon University. He just has so many good things to talk about. I mean we talk about storytelling, we talked about Um brand, we talked about, you know, mission alignment and and really understanding your consumers and their DNA and how that aligns with your school. So a lot of great things and, as Troy said, I mean stick around the whole episode. You might even want to listen to this episode a couple of times. There's just so, so packed full of good conversation and good information, a lot of practical things. Um. And and again, if I always say this, you know some of the smaller schools. If you're listening, don't don't tune out and say, oh well, we're talking about Grand Cannon University. There pound guerilla. That's not gonna apply to me. It does. We make sure that it's practical and it's going to apply to just the smallest schools. He's got so many good things to say about that. So I really think you're in for a treat. Today we're talking to Chad Wilson about purpose driven marketing through brand storytelling. Here's our conversation Chad, although Bart and I are very excited about speaking your truth around purpose driven marketing. But before we get into the conversation, is there something that you've learned recently that you think would be worth sharing? I love to read and just learn from other folks their trials and tribulations, Um, and any type of, you know, expertise field. So what I've been really um getting into recently is just different perspectives on leaderships and I've been reading a book entitled Extreme Ownership from Jocko Willing and, Um, I'm not through with the book yet, but I'm deep into it and boy, I'll tell you, there are so many lessons and this book about leadership and many of them you may have, you know, in your own world, like been implementing, but to hear it in the context of from a navy seal Um, you know, operator, commander, etcetera, and how important really strong leadership is. It's really interesting in the concept around extreme ownership can be kind of summed up in this quote by Jocko that I found really interesting.

I just thought I would share it with the broader audience here. A leader must be attentive to details, but not obsessed with them. They must be strong but have endurance. The leader must be humble but not passive. They must be close to subordinates, but not too close. A leader must exercise extreme ownership, but employee decentralized command. They must have nothing to prove but everything to prove. So you know, when I think about those words said there with my own team and other teams within my marketing group, I couldn't agree more with it. You know, there's so many, so much to meet to what he said and when you can have this concept of extreme ownership what you're doing, what that means is like when everything goes down, if anything goes down on your team, you, as the leader, you own every bit of it. There could be fault with what you did, you could be fault with one of your team members, but it's your issue if somebody on your team didn't execute to the agreed on plan. So what happened? Start with yourself on it and move forward. So it's really great. Thanks, Chad, and I think you've hit on the reasons why we wanted you as a guest and the organization that you lead. I think a lot of marketer, especially in higher education, will be familiar with the results and the work that you do leading into it. If you could please tell everyone about Grand Canyon Education and then your roll as vice president and executive creative director, give us an introduction and what that entails. So Yeah, Chad Wilson, vice president, executive creative director. Um, I work at Grand Canyon Education. We Are Higher Education Service Provider Company. Um. So what that what that means really is is we help universities do a lot of different things, but one of the main functions is enrollment marketing services. Sometimes it's account being and some other other issues that they may need help with. So it's it's quite quite broad. Um. But particularly what what I do is, Um, I manage marketing activities for a big portion of what we do for our clients. Um, we have a number of clients that are in higher education space. Um the one of the pre eminent names that might folks might know. It's grand can university. We also service a number of other UM partners for specific programs, Um in nursing, and there's many of them around somewhere in that that realm. And we also service K twelve education Um, all encompassing. So if it's a public school or a private school or a private Christian School, Um. The idea is education is super important all levels of it. It's the great equalizer and we want to help folks achieve their dreams and their goals through education. So that's really a summary of kind of what we all do at g C. Thank you. And we had a previous conversation and we had a robust conversation about the topics that we were going to discuss today, storytelling, marketing and branding, and when we tried to figure out what we would title this episode, You came back and said purpose driven marketing through branded storytelling, and that was so compelling. So I would love for you to describe what the definition of purpose driven marketing is to you. Purpose driven marketing is has become a buzzword in the industry, not just in education. Marketing, but in just marketing industry period, and I would just like to spend a moment to just kind of discuss, you know why I think that that term purpose has been co opted by brands that big,...

...small, international, you know whatever, um to fit within this kind of trend of purpose driven marketing. And when, when I think of purpose driven marketing associated with what we do for Grand Canyon University, for instance, there's purpose built into the framework of of what the institution does. Without purpose, GCU wouldn't exist. And what's interesting about it the students that attend Gcu the purposes in them. So what Grand Canyon University does, number one is recognized that. So Grand Canny University Um is fortified with all of the things you would think of higher institution, Education Institution, so excellent academic programs, many different Opportun unities for different students, Um, Bachelor's, doctoral, master level programming, uh, all of those things in c double a, opportunities for the the traditional campus, all the things you think of an highergy institution like. That's what GCU does. But what's different is the approach to the student, because the purpose lives in the student and whatever their goal, passions, calling is. That's where the purpose and the beauty comes from. Now, tying back to how I was saying, some of the other marketing trends are happening with this purpose driven marketing. What I see out there, UM, in many instances is, you know, you've got a lot of big brands out there and they have board of directors like many many, even small ones do as well, but they have to follow up with their e s g metrics, and these e s g metrics could be just things that are natural to their business. Sometimes they're not. Maybe they have to answer something that the board is or maybe their investors are like saying hey, this, that or the other thing. So then they're put in a position to say, how do I find a purpose that we can rally behind and then create a marketing connection and then get that out to the our consumer base and hopefully it will resonate, so on and so forth. So I think in a lot of those instances it's a manufactured kind of purpose driven marketing strategy and I think the audiences and the consumers see it and it's unfortunate, and I just wanted to draw the distinction there because I really feel at the you know, GC is a Christian University. So there's missional aspects to what they're doing. That is undeniable and when you look at it through a Christian world perspective, it's it's just even more Um, powerful of a purpose kind of mindset going into what they do. So, whether it's through just their communications, through Enroman counselors or faculty and staff with students, or or in our marketing, Um, it's there, it's baked in, it's that's what it is. I love that and I think that, as you were talking about it, because that was gonna be one of my follow up questions, was the idea of, you know, a lot of places, especially, you know, Christian universities, will say, well, we're mission driven marketing or were mission driven, uh, in what we're doing and that that seems like that's a piece of Um, purpose driven marketing. But even like a, let's say a state school, if they have a you know, I'm thinking of Purdue University. Ethan Braden has been on the show a couple of times and you know, there there's is the pursuit of excellence and and so their purpose is excellence and everything that they do and that's going to come through in the way the admissions counselors engage with the students, the customer service, the academics, those types of things. So it's so. What I'm hearing you say is that purpose driven marketing isn't necessarily mission driven all them. That might be a subset of it and there might be natural ways that different types of institutions can fit up under the purpose, but at the end of the day everybody needs to understand and what their purpose is. Is that correct? Yeah, absolutely.

Understanding your your values, understanding your consumers values, how do they align, and then making sure that the DNA within both our symbiotic is really the core of it. So with with G C U, the brand is really built because of the reflection of the student body that attends G SEU. Right Um, which which is pretty Um. It's a beautiful thing really. It's I don't know how to describe it in words. If you step onto the campus you are you kind of walk into a different world. Everybody is gracious, everybody is welcoming. It's it's like I used to work in a five star, five diamond resort through college, my Undergrad and one of the things I learned was just excellent customer service and it's almost like everybody at Gcu has those qualities just baked in there and it's just wonderful. So like there's just this nature about it Um, and it doesn't have to be the students or it doesn't have to be the athletes or the faculty, of the staff, whoever you come in contact with at g cu, you just you end up with a smile on your face and you leave and you're like wow, what a remarkable place. And it's because there's such an alignment with the mission, the passion for what they're doing, Um, and everything. So it's really unique. So it's a I think it's a DNA alignment Um, which is really interesting. But I'm guessing, because I do a lot of work with different Christian universities. Even though that alignment might be there and there might be those things on campus, getting everyone to understand how that translates into marketing is often very difficult, and so I'm guessing that what you're doing with the purpose driven marketing umbrella and the way that you are then defining the brand and communicating the brand, that takes a lot of work and it's not something that just because you know, the school's mission aligns with the prospective students mission. That's this basis. That's the start, but I'm guessing there's a lot that builds on top of that. I mean, just from a pure marketing perspective, you have to you have to look under the hood, so to speak, and and really get to know your audience is really well, Um, through research, you know, tactics and other things, and just conversations and Um engaging and having conversations. I think conversations are one of the best tools that a marketer could have, um, in any in any type of marketing. But yeah, you know, we also look at from a leadership standpoint. They look at not just the programs that are important for getting the students Um career ready for whatever their purpose is ultimately going to be, and how those aligned, but when we're talking about alignment of messaging and stories that we can leverage in marketing, the the executives and the leaders of the universe diversity in the institution, they're they're following a path through Christ in so many ways that they're developing programs that address needs in the world and they're they're looking back at those needs and saying how can we as an institution, solve this thing by whatever? Is it a different program? Is it a different access point Um for students that may not be suited for a four year college degree? Or maybe it's a some other way that we can get them or maybe they're having a huge amount of struggle in their high school and they don't have tutoring Um available to them. Can we offer a tutoring program? Oh yeah, we can. Well, let's not just do that, let's turn it into a scholarship opportunity for some our lower income neighbors and let's change their life. Okay,...

...that sounds great. So now there's a program that has impact and now you have a marketing message that you can use Um to to share that message and bring more people in and and really change lives. And that's ultimately what I think higher education marketing is about. And when you're talking about purpose driven like that, is life changing. That's future generation altering. A lot of great things that can come out of that when you're when you have invested interest in all those things. So that's great, so inspiring, because troy and I've talked before on the podcast. I mean we're both first gen students and have experienced that ourselves and part of the reason, that's why I'm, you know, moved out of the corporate world into higher ed because I wanted to kind of give back to that that impact. So that's great to hear. You had mentioned earlier about just the conversations and the research and some of the other things. What kind of team does that take? I mean, tell us a little bit about the team at G C and and and the team that you are leading. And from a marketing and point what what does that look like? Let me just give a little bit of a kind of a top down scenario. I'M gonna keep it brief because I could go off in all these different tangents. But you know, we have a CMO and then there's two vice presidents, myself and my counterpart. Um counterpart oversees a whole different side of the department. I oversee the creative side, Um, and my creative team is built up of creative brand marketers. I even have a media kind of strategist side to the brand marketing team, which isn't common for a creative group. Um. They also deal with consumer engagement, research and strategy development that informs the creative and then the other side, Um, is all my creative folks. So my CD, my art director, my our directors, my copywriters, I have a multimedia group. So photographers, Um, uh DP, so, director of photographer, Um, editors, so on and so forth. Photographers. I might have said that before in a video at any post production team. So Um, pre robust group of really smart creative individuals. and Um, we we, we dig down in deep and we we, we, um. We love what we do and I think that's really important in any occupation that you might have. But one of the things that I try to get my team to constantly do is, like, what are we solving for? What are we trying to get out of this? What else is there? What are we missing? Um, do we really understand the full nature of this program that we're putting out shoot? What kind of research do we need to really kind of around that square peg that fitted in the right hole? Like what are what are we doing? So the mindset is to learn and grow and try and fail and get up and do all of those things. So I think I'm going off on a tangent on all a bunch of different parts of this but Um, yeah, you know, and I think because the way that I have my my work set up. It's not a traditional type of you know agency model where, Um, the brand people are way over there and the art directors and the writers are over here and maybe there's some digital people interspersed and then we go higher a bunch of different external production people. Um, we have done that and we do that often on, depending on what we're executing. But we have a great team that does a lot of stuff just in house and they're excellent, excellent people. So yeah, that's great and I think that, uh, and you and I talked about this before and I just remind our audience. I mean, you know, I know that there's a lot of small schools that are listening and sometimes I think that, just pragmatically, I think you kind of set a few little things that I wanted to point out to everybody, but maybe you can expand a little bit more. But I mean you've got people that are learning, you've got people that are focused on content and focused on, you know, understanding the consumer and things like that. I mean what what do you think is kind of that that skill set that even just the smallest teams need to have? I mean, I think sometimes people get overwhelmed. They asked me, you know, I'm at a conference. They're like, Hey, I've got two to have people on my team.

You know what, what what? I've got an opportunity to hire one more person. Who should I hire? What should I do? Um, and I and sometimes it's it's difficult, but I think that sometimes the skills that you're looking for is more valuable than, you know, a position necessarily. I think I think you you nailed it. Um. If you have a really small team, and look, we've we've grown over the years. We were really small when we were first marketing GCU. After the leadership group came in, two eight there's just a few people, maybe before people on the team. So totally understand that perspective. But it's the traits and it's the character, the character of the people. Right. So, you know, you you first have to understand the vision, ultimate ultimate vision, and understand that and they go, Oh my God, that's a huge whale. I can't just do that right. You want to eat the whale all in one bite. You have to just be pragmatic about it and say I'm gonna eat this thing by after by after bye. So just looking at Um, the resource, your human resource, not human resources in terms of the department resources, on your team, and if they have the characteristics of people that want to jump in and help and and learn and grow and and also understand like you're gonna fail and you're gonna drop the ball, but that's okay, we gotta get it done and we're gonna learn from it and you know, those trials and tribulations make you better in every endeavor. I truly believe that. So if you have people that are willing to put that extra effort out there and say, Hey, you know what, I'm not a I'm not a video person, but I understand that if if we're doing an email journey, because that's something we can we can do with a small team of three, instead of just a written testimonial, I'm gonna get a camera, I'm gonna go figure out how to use the thing, I'm gonna go sit with a student and I'm gonna put it on video and I'm gonna put it an email because it's gonna be more engaging, and then we can see how that performs over a written testimonial email thing and then before you know, you have an ad comparison. You get more engagement and you're like, okay, great, look, I've proven this out, boss, this is the way we need to do email journeys, so let's invest in a real va fucker for a person. So I'm just throwing some thoughts out, but you know, it's really just getting out there and trying. Yeah, exactly, and your example is exactly spot on. I use it all the time. I tell people that, you know, what we have in our pockets these days with our our smartphones has more power than the average broadcast studio did ten fifteen years ago, and I mean the quality that you can get out with sticking your iphone or your galaxy on a on a tripod and getting a twenty lobby or Mike off of Amazon and, you know, a couple of ring lights. You can get some decent stuff and you don't have to have a huge team, you don't have to have a huge videography department. It's something that the average content person can do and I think sometimes, I think you said it well, you've got a willing just just be willing to step out there and try something. You might fail, you might not, you might actually hit it out of the park and, uh, you know, I had. I had somebody a little tiny Bible College. It was just him. He was the marketing and admissions director and you know, he heard me say that one time and he went back and and did that and he, you know, got it on eye clips and did a little logo that animated their logo and put it up on facebook and he had more engagement, more people engaged with it, on something that he did on the fly than he ever had before. And so it's that trial and air stuff. So thanks, Chad. That's a great, great thought. I think about it in teams, in sports a lot. I'm sorry, I just I wanted to add onto their like if you've ever played a sport, you know you have a role, right and when you're out there on the field and thinking soccer specifically, and you might be a striker or a front frontline person, if you're gonna be hesitant to do something that's gonna put the team in an advantageous position, then you're not living up to the vision of what the goal of that team is to do, which is to win. So you have to be willing to to maybe take a punch in the head when you're going up for a head or to hit the ball in the net like that doesn't real good.

But Hey, if you hit it and the goalie doesn't hit you in the head, guess what, you've scored, you in and then that's great and you've learned from it. So you just gotta put yourself out there. 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 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 Me 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 Zem is a must have strategy for Gen Z. Check them out now at colleges DOT Zeem Dot Com. That's colleges dot Z E M E dot Com. And yes, tell them Barton Troy sent you. Chad. We want to make sure that we tap into your branding experience and take the conversation there. A lot of people know Grand Canyon University and you said you do a lot of work for them, but you also do work for smaller universities and under the Grand Canyon University brand there are other things that you're developing brands for. So if you can introduce our listeners to that. And then, Chad, what we like to do is tap into your experience and the recommendations that you would give teams as they approach their branding. Well, I think I will use the G C U Um University enterprises is a way to kind of get into the additional branding opportunities. So Um, one of the things that we do for GCU is is not only the GCU brand Um, but it goes all the way down to the low funnel enrollment stuff. So it's full funnel everything we do for for GCU. But what GCU also has um and and this is where it gets a little fun for the team because, Um, it's not just about, you know, higher education marketing. It's when they're they acquired um hotel and they have a hotel Um and they have all these different enterprises. They have a beverage company called grant, any beverage company. They have a golf course, Um, and a printing and Promo Company and a bunch of different eateries, restaurants and things like that. So we get to help GCU brand those businesses and, Um, you still use the principles within marketing and branding that you would in any any sort of function, right or if you're an agency or anything else. But you you get to play in a different sandbox, which is great because it opens up the creativity. I think whenever you're looking at it work, you just don't. You don't want to be stale. Um, and when you can do what you do, Um is your passion, which for me it's marketing and creative development and branding, you you get to look at a different side of the house and go wow, look at look at that empty place. What do we get to do over there? Oh, this is a marketplace that I'm familiar with because I'm that consumer. Or you know, I like this. I like off. So I'm an. I do like off. I don't play it enough, but point being, as a Golfer you're gonna have a different approach to marketing than a non Golfer. But regardless if you are aren't, you still have to apply those those principles and then really get to work with the different stakeholders and discover what those the mission and the vision is for that entity and how that needs to come to life and things like that. So I think that the team...

...enjoy the variety of work around that type of opportunity. Yeah, and I know that. I know that. I've you know, my background is corporate marketing as well. As you know, twelve years ago just focused entirely on Higher Ed. But I noticed that over the course, you know, like you talked about being able to brand the restaurants, the golf course, the hotel. You know, there's there's something in that type of branding. So that's a little different than higher Ed. But it's but it's not. I mean there's marketing, is marketing, but there's different audiences and things. But I think one thing that's unique about Higher Ed that I've noticed over the years that that I think that I I don't take for granted. I think sometimes people who have been in higher end their entire career might take for granted. Is just the way that the faculty influence marketing on a on a college campus, I mean academia. We need to respect that. I mean that's certainly the tradition, but sometimes academia can put things into the marketing realm that is challenging for us as marketers to kind of navigate. Tell us a little bit of out how your team kind of approaches that. I'M gonna use this as a transition to the evolution of the G cu mission, because when i read this mission to you you'll understand why I wanted to use this to connect to the faculty piece, because this this this is also really part of the theme here of the purpose or of the marketing angle. But Um, this will help put context and how, Um, the academio side, academic side, Um and marketing kind of come together to on the same playing field. So, Um, this is an evolution. This has been you know, the original mission was was good and sound, Um, but over time GCU really started to to live the mission in. President Mueller put put some teams on it and this is what they've developed and it's gonna be coming out soon. So M G SU AS A missional, Christ centered university with an innovative and adaptive spirit that addresses the world's deep needs by cultivating compassionate Christian community, empowering free and virtuous action and serving others in ways that promote human flourishing. Through academic excellence, the university equipped students with knowledge of the Christian Worldview, instilling them in a sense of purpose and vocational calling that enables them to be innovative thinkers, effective communicators, global contributors and transformative leaders who change their communities by placing the interests of others before their own. It's a lot, right, but it's deep, it's impactful. Every time I read it I get the chills. Um, we put together a video that articulates it Um really well and really exciting to to help them launch this thing. But what is so valuable in that mission? To answer the question about the academic piece, everything that the academic folks are doing is to help the students have human flourishing opportunities. So what is that? What does that mean? Their whole job under the provost and everybody is to provide the students with the knowledge and the critical skills too. Once they get out into the real world, is to put those things to use, but without understanding the human flourishing aspect and the vocational calling that comes from Um uh, being a person on this earth. Um, and if you're a Christian, you understand that we're all children of God, we're all equal, we're all from the same playing field, that this vocation is your avenue to live your life and for you to pursue those dreams and build your community and do all of those amazing things with your family, your loved ones, your friends, so so on and so forth. Um. So I think when the questions and the hard conversations happen around the table...

...with faculty, Um Deans and provost and whatnot, in the back of everybody's mind it's like, how are we able to get the right communication out about whatever program or whatever detail that needs to be from an academic standpoint into the consumer's mind through this Lens Um? And it's hard, it really is hard in a lot of a lot of cases. But if you can connect that, um brigger, through the academic structure that Gcu offers or any institution offers Um to the students in goal of having this life in this vocation too, to become whoever they want to be. It's like this little Um light, light in the bottle type of situation. Um. So I think just because everybody at the table kind of understands this, it makes those conversations, even though that they can be hard sometimes, Um, at the end of the end of the day we're all trying to solve for that end goal. Um. So they understand that when I'm talking about a message, I want people to feel emotion when they're they're talking about a program or investing their savings into a degree program. Want them to feel that this is the right thing. I can I can be that person solving this problem for whatever community is, and if the language and the visuals that we can put in front of them Um to help them better understand that Um has to come in front of a academic phrase, then let's have that conversation and figure out how we can work together to get the communications solidified. That's cool. I love how that is all you know. You start with the mission and the branding and you kind of monografy it all together and then you know you've got these elements that start to come out this and I think probably one of the key elements, Um, is that storytelling, because the storytelling is what connects that emotional level. I mean it's so often people get tired of me talking about the emotion. I need to see more emotion. Emotion needs to be because, I mean, that's that's the nature of story. Tell me a little bit about how storytelling starts to play into being able to execute and explain the mission. So I call it undeniable, authentic storytelling. So what does that mean? Is that another marketing trend, Buzzworthy, buzzworthy thing? Maybe, maybe so, um, but I think what what that ultimately means is you have, you have so many stories, some of the you know earlier, earlier on, or you're talking about you you have friends that work in really small colleges or universities with a marketing department of one or two people. Right, that person, the one person that you referenced before, if he probably trips over stories all day walking down the hall. What are you gonna do with those stories? How are you going to tell them? What what are they? Which one should you tell first, or or which one she tackles second or forth whatever. Um. It all depends on on what Um what the other goals are. But when you're talking about undeniable authentic storytelling is is there something that other people within the subset can relate to? Can they see themselves in that story? Can they can they relate a part of it? Can they um imagine themselves Um at the end of that story? Um, Oh that that could be me earning that particular degree or that. This, this story really resonates to me because I have a sister and brother, a mom or dad that had a similar story. So now I'm invested emotionally with this a little...

...bit deeper. Um. So those campaigns Um that we've rolled out over the years that really lean into that, I think, are the ones that they resonate the most. They move Um, people from UH fence sitters onto the right side of the fence. Um, whether it's immediate or downstream, I don't really care for at least where I stand from a brand marketer perspective, creative market perspective. I just want them to to make that ultimate decision to come over Um. And there could be a lot of other tactics that bring them slower faster over. But my point being is, Um, if you can find those stories and tell it in a compelling way so people get emotionally invested because they can relate to it, then I think you're you're winning there, and we have a number of examples that I could go on about. Um. So yeah, I think that's important. I mean you've talked about, you know, their storytelling, it at a messaging level, at a campaign level, but then I also think that sometimes people forget their storytelling it even just a photograph level. Um, you know, the the idea that you know so many times people get tired of me talking about this, but you know, all somebody will say, Hey, can you look at our website? You know it's it's a lot of times it's a smaller school and you know they've taken pictures in the middle of summer when nobody's there and they're just empty, empty pictures with just buildings. And I said, what this shows me is that you've got a physical infrastructure, that that is a college, but I don't see any people. I can't see myself in this. And now all of a sudden the photo is a fact and not a story, and I guess that's the basic version, I guess, unless you've got some other ideas. I would love to hear your perspective on this. But even a photograph, if I put as if I put somebody in there doing something intriguing, now I have a story that somebody need starts spinning through their mind and they can then relate to it and engage into that photo. Um. Is that some of the things that you're thinking about? Yeah, absolutely. Um, still imagery. You're absolutely right. It is a storytelling construct. Even if, even if you're just capturing moments of activity vibrancy on your campus or in a program setting, a lab setting, be intentional about it. Don't just snap the photo. Think about what's happening and why you're there taking that photo and Um, and and tell that story. So, if it's just a general campus image, to your point, don't just show a blank canvas and think that the audience is going to see that and go, Oh, I can see myself sitting on that Park Bench. Put Somebody in that Park Bench doing something that you would commonly see that they can then go, oh, that reminds me of my friend or me, my girlfriend could be you know, whatever the thing is Um and Um and own it. And in what I your I said somewhere along the line you need to know your DNA really well. The beauty, the beauty about GCU, to be frank, is the DNA is is all there. We we know our things. We know we're Christian University, we're Um, free market, U, entrepreneurial, visionary, Um, getting deep into the sciences and bringing all these worlds together in a beautiful way. So what do we what are we what are we showing? We're showing those things in active participation and the when you take any if you go to our website and you look at some of the main imagery, you'll see you'll see the stories there. You'll see that Um. Yeah, so I think that's a good what I loved about just the still photography thing is that a lot of people just think, oh, we just need a picture, just go get a pictures. It's not. You gotta think a little bit more about what you're putting out there. Yeah, and it doesn't take much. Just take a little bit more time and go...

Um. And that can be for athletics and Um like, like I said, just general, you know, campus visuals or even particular college Um Story. So if you're in an engineering program or some other science thing, like yeah, it's cool to show all the equipment, bells and whistles and those things get I you know, people look at it, but what else can you add to those images to make somebody really want to be there, be in that, in that environment? As we bring the episode to a close, we would like to ask you, Chad, if there was a piece of advice that you could offer marketers out there that they can or should implement immediately. What would that be? I kind of would just go back to that. You have to try. You just have to get like I don't know what the thing would be for everybody, but they know they're struggles and if they're Um tiptoeing into the water, don't just be calculated about it. So don't be cavalier. Let's not be cavalier, let's be calculated, but get out there and try. So, going back to that email example, I think that's a really simple and there's super complicated automated email journeys, teams of I don't know, people that can do stuff, you know whatever, or you can be a nimble group or your own Um person building out a journey but you know what, what do you think? Or what are the what is the literature? The quick Google search say about Um engaging better, engaging emails? Oh, it's video, but then let's figure out how to get a video into our emails. You know, just be be calculated about it. Try. You'RE gonna fail and that's okay, and in earlier part you said you might not. And if you don't, then then that's a you hit it out of the park, but I'm not saying that failing is what you want to do. But when it happens, don't don't knock yourself down farther. Just look at what happened. They own it in an extreme way. Fix it and then, and then modify and grow and be more incinacious about it. Thank you, Chad. From the very first piece of advice that you gave us about the extreme leadership book and then also sharing the g cu mission, you have exuded leadership and we see why you're a leader in your or in our industry. For those that would like to reach out to you after this episode, in either contact to you or get to know you a little bit better, what would be the best way for them to do so? Me Up on Linkedin Chad Wilson and just when you search, just put Grand Kenyon Education, Chad Wilson and all I'll pop up. I was hoping I had some sort of easy extension, but you know, it was your l's get a little goofy Um, you know, and you can hit me there or yeah, all my other so shows I kind of try to keep that a little bit, you know, private, a little bit. So I think Lincoln is the best and if you want to look at some of the storytelling work, I've put together a showcase piece on our video so video dot com, slash showcase, slash G C E AD agency, and that'll give you an opportunity to look at our sizzle reel, but also a number of longer forms, deeper emotional storytelling pieces that we've done specifically for our partners. So thank you chat and if you don't mind, we'll put a couple of links in the show notes to make sure people can see examples of your work in some of the things that you mentioned today. But do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share? Yeah, I just wanted to say and encourage everyone, and you've heard me say this the last couple of episodes. Hit rewind and go back and listen to some of this again. I mean there's so much depth in what Chad was talking about, especially around the mission. There was just when he was talking about some of the new things that that G C E is helping Grand Canyon University do...

...and and and kind of align some of their mission to then be able to, you know, really communicate the D Na. I think is so important, and I also think that there's just so many key elements that that Chad's kind of bestowed on us with with just the idea of some of the leadership elements, as well as just looking for ways to kind of fail forward, Um, you know, keep looking for ways that you can do something different or outside of your comfort zone, Um, and and be okay with it just maybe not working out to the percent that you wanted it to be. I mean, and you learn something, all the better. We we live in a digital age and it's it's not like you're gonna have a a skid of brochures you have to throw out. I mean, there's a lot of things that we can fail forward on that are not gonna really do much damage it, but it's gonna it's gonna get you skills that are going to go a lot further, and so be willing to take a few risks and and try some new things. I think that's great. Thank you, bark. The Higher Ed Marketer podcast is sponsored by Kaylor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and, I think, patented a Marketing Execution Company combining print and digital assets for better outreaching communication. On behalf of Bart Kaylor my co host, 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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