The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 11 · 1 year ago

Show, Don’t Tell: The Power of Video in Higher Ed Marketing


Small to medium sized colleges, a lot of them private, all experience the challenge of trying to differentiate from public and other private schools.

This challenge makes it even more critical for colleges to align their marketing in a way that can impact the major driver of institutional revenue and growth: enrollment.

In 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 Suzanne Petrusch, Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing at Presbyterian College about:

- How the Central Marketing Organization came about.

- The people you need on your higher ed marketing team.

- How to use video in your admissions marketing.

- How COVID changed higher ed marketing, and strategies for 2021.

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.

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't a relations, marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversations centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketer podcast, where, each week we explore ideas and insights with marketers in higher read that we admire. My name is Troye singer and I am one of the two hosts of this show. My cohost is Bart Kaylor, and Bart, I was thinking that I don't acknowledge this enough, but you're working with colleges and universities, with their marketing departments, every day. So if you would please give us a day or two in the life of Bart Taylor, that's happened over the past week. Oh well, thanks, Troy. I appreciate that and it's been a pleasure working with you on this podcast. I think for me this week, and I'm trying to kind of manage this, I end up having a lot of a lot of zoom meetings and I'm, I'll be honest with them, getting a little zoom fatigue. But it's a it's a pleasure and an honor to be able to build relationships of a lot of the colleges and have them just reach out and say, Hey, we've got this idea that we'd like to talk with you about, or hey, we've had some challenges with the way that we're doing something. I had a conversation today with a with a client that's been utilizing firm for for digital marketing and and we've done some digital marketing. I mean certainly we work with different different schools in different ways, but they were just curious about how we might handle something. So it's just a matter of helping and and kind of navigating as a partner with these different folks to just be able to help, you know, help them figure out the best way to do their own high red marketing. And sometimes that's US helping and coming alongside some of sometimes it's US giving some ideas of you know, hey, you got to look into this or look into these other things, and I think that's part...

...of what we'll talk a little bit with Susanna Day about. Thanks, Bart and you know it's not a secret that I admire the work that you do, as I get to see a lot of it as I execute it with print mail and some of the strategy that you put forth, and I thought it was good to try to spotlight it. And now, as you as you talked about Suzanne, I'll turn the spotlight to her. Today's guest is Suzanne Pertruche. She's the vice president for enrollment and marketing that Presbyterian College in South Carolina and I know of her because of her Dayton roots. or She's done work here with the University of Dayton and now she's doing dynamic work at Presbyterian and, as Bart knows, for school is a typical school that both of our companies work with. So we thought it would be good to highlight her and have some of the people that we work with listen on how she's doing dynamic things at Presbyterian. That's great. I'm excited to hear the conversation. So let's get started. Well, let's bring Susanne in. Today's guest is Suzanne Pertruche, vice president for enrollment and marketing that Presbyterian College. She is welcomed into the hired marketing podcast. Thank you, Suzanne, for joining us. Thank you so much, Troy and Bart. I am very excited to be here with you this afternoon. The reason why I reached out to you is the size is Presbyterian College. It's a typical college that both barts organization and my organization work with and we felt it would be useful to just kind of look into your organization, I here it's a high functioning organization, and see how your current marketing department work. So if you would, if you could first give us a glimpse of your role and Presbyterian College. I came to Presbyterian College in two thousand and sixteen and for all but a month and a half have served as the vice president for enrollment and marketing. And... this institution that means the offices that are included in the portfolio are undergraduate admission financial aid, and we serve undergraduate as well as our graduate students in financial aid, and then marketing and communications. We have the central office and I know that today we're also going to talk about the specific enrollment marketing function. So PC is a very small institution. We have almost one thousandree hundred total students, approximately a thousand of whom are undergraduates, and so we are the smallest division one school with a football program in the whole country. That makes us stand out in a different way, but it also puts some challenges in front of us. We're very much focused on the liberal arts, the personal attention delivered by the faculty, the student experience, so all of those things that one would be thinking about when looking at a marketing marketing program within a liberal arts education, but also then raising the questions of how do we differentiate pc in the market place, how do we stand out to prospective students when we are a very small player in a market in specially in South Carolina, that tends to be dominated by to state flagship institutions and a number of regional publics? That's great. I think it's interesting. Is as kind of what you talked about, because I think you're right, a lot of folks that we know are kind of in the same place that you are, small to medium size college. Is a lot of them private like you are, and trying to differentiate not only from the publics but also differentiate from the other privates, I think is challenging and I kind of you know, as you were kind of doing that introduction. Heard you talk a little bit about this Central Marketing Organization and how critical it is to kind of Aligne because you're such a small school, how critical and necessary it becomes to align all of your... in a way that can really impact that. The major driver of institutional revenue and growth is enrollment. So tell us a little bit about that Central Marketing Organization, how it came about and how that's going. It had, as I understand, reported to enrollment at one point in time and went through a move that I would says fairly common in was situated in advancement and we made that shift again in two thousand and sixteen so that I would have the opportunity to take a look at central marketing and how it really fits within the context of all of the needs of the institution. With really only two primary sources of revenue, enrollment and fund raising, we're not the type of institution that has a significant number of alternative revenue streams and when I took it on we had four total positions in that office, one of which was empty. So I had three people very dedicated to the institution but trying to do a tremendous amount of work with not much in the way of resources, and so one of the big questions we had to begin to tackle was how were we going to expand that office's capacity at a time when we were writing a strategic plan and fin linding that one of the accepted pillars of the strategic plan would be sharing our story. So I always just cringe a little bit when I hear someone say this, but that idea of the best kept secret, and truly it hasn't mattered the size of the institution where I've been or the relative market position. It's always talked about in the best kept secret, and I recently heard a candidate for a position on campus talking about his current institution as...

...the best kept secret. So, whether that was the actuality or not, we had to try to fight against that and in many ways that meant producing sufficient collateral in all forms and being able to tell stories and that would resonate with various audiences, from prospective students and their parents to other influencers in that college choice process through to current students and their parents, because we have to remarket the institution to them every day. We can't simply assume that they've been rolled and therefore they're going to have one hundred percent satisfaction. Subtle reminders of why they chose this institution and what it means to be part of this community are so important to them. But then, of course, continuing on through that student to alumni lifespan spectrum, making sure that we have alumni and other friends the institution foundations, all of which see value in supporting the type of work that's happening here, so that they're going to contribute to the institution financially and make future learning possible for students. Great and so how big is your team right now? He said kind of when you got there was it was three. Where are you at now? When I arrived it was three, but there were four positions. As part of the strategic plan process, the then president made a financial commitment to expand the size of that marketing team and so we actually grew by fifty percent. At are high in the Central Marketing Office, we had a total of six individuals working there. Now, during the pandemic, we were looking very carefully at cost considerations for the institution and so, through attrition, moved to a total of five individuals and we're currently... a state of flux, which we might might discuss in a little bit. But that's central marketing office. At its high had six individuals serving a variety of stakeholders on campus, with the biggest outside of our area being advancement, but certainly campus life, academic affairs, the President's office, everywhere you look on campus, and then also partnering carefully with our colleagues in athletics. But there's such demand in the admission office. I will also share with you that we have now two people who are dedicated solely to enrollment marketing and I would love to be able to continue that line of the conversation with you. Yeah, and we'll get into that. I want to clarify just a couple things because I know that a lot of times I have a lot of my clients ask me. Well, you know, hey, we're college, were small, we've got thirteen hundred students, we've got whatever it might be. What do other schools have? I mean, do they have like a graphic designer? Do they have a writer? What? How does that marketing team made up of? Are they investing in social media? People? Tell me about this. These five or six people that you've had plus the two additional ones that will get to about the pod. Okay, so if we look at the structure and keep it at the six, we have the executive director of marketing and communications and then three people reporting to that director. We've gone through some various iterations of this, but will focus right there for now, so that we have a director of digital marketing, a director of media relations and then a graphic designer, formally a director of creative services. The other two people have been situated under digital marketing so that we would have a digital marketing specialist whose primary responsibilities focused on social media. That can take up such... Andre normous amount of time and it's not just a matter of going out and capturing what's happening that day. It really needs to be a strategic planful exercise so that we have a full editorial calendar with it, but we also can be agile enough to be able to pick up of the moment happenings on campus so that we don't miss those things. So the Digital Marketing Director had primary oversight of the whole area, with special focus on the web, and then the team member working with her social media but certainly assisting with other things including data analytics in looking at our efficacy in all of these efforts. And then the director of media relations had the content writer, which was one of our added positions so that we could develop more stories to process quickly and to make sure that we were pushing those through the website and other venues. But you had mentioned the magazine in an earlier conversation, thinking about the types of indepth stories that we would want to share in the magazine as well, and we actually keep those two people so busy we could go with more people writing for the institution, and so we've been pulling in alumni writers, faculty writers who want to make contributions. It's really one of those opportunities that we want to harness the talents of others so that we can continue to tell those stories of the institution. Thank you for sharing that because I, like I said, I think that sometimes there's people who say, well, I guess we need a Web master, we need a graphic designer, we need a rider, we need a video person, we need I mean, they can go through and segment every piece of digital marketing, every piece of regular marketing, and feel like I can't do that because I don't have a dedicated person, but it sounds like a lot of a lot of the philosophy at pc is... be a little bit more of you know, we wear a lot of different hats. We take responsibilities for what we're doing and we lean into what we're doing as opposed to, you know, trying to be just so specialized that we can't reach across the island help out. I think that's a fair characterization. Yes, great, wait, we talked a little bit. You kind of we're talking that you wanted to talk a little bit more about this embedded group within your admissions team and I understand that you're kind of calling that the satellite marketing pod. Tell us a little bit about that. Well, it really came out of my own experience at other institutions and I think I've been pretty fortunate to always have a dedicated enrollment marketing team and in fact that was my own pathway. While I started as an admission counselor and moved up through several levels, I didn't become a director of admission. I became a director of and the term used at the time was operations, but it really encompassed marketing and a all of the related areas and so it sits very close to my heart and my own interest and I was able to use that to propel myself into other leadership roles than so I love the area. It really builds everything together for me. But in coming to Presbyterian College, I was watching what people in the admission team were actually doing and what their strengths were, and so someone who was with us was titled As an Associate Director of admission, studied at Presbyterian College, had a degree in English, was tremendously gifted and creative in the area of writing, and so he was doing a large part of this. I thought let's recognize that in a specific way. We don't have to stay with this title of Associate Director of admission. He has an opportunity for advancement by being given a director title and let's make sure...

...that we're really drawing attention to the the skill set and knowledge base that he has with enrollment marketing. So he was the first person already physically embedded in the office of admission, having been a member of the team for a long time. So understanding the daily work and where some of the challenges are and opportunities and working with prospective students and their families and and counselors and other audiences, and the volume of work was increasing significantly and if you'd like, I can touch on why. That was the point where he said to me the other year really need another team member. I could use a graphic designer, and so we were able to fight for and add that position. But in hindsight that title was very limited and knowing what I know now, I would have started with a title along the lines of assistant director of enrollment marketing rather than graphic designer. That doesn't begin to really cover what this person's responsibilities are within the yeah. And and what are some of those responsibilities? Because, I mean, I know that you've talked about in our earlier conversations using video for a lot of outreach during the pandemic, but is that? Is that kind of what kind of came out of those those two embedded folks, they working together, have done a lot of the video and I will tell you that that is not their background. So someone in our central marketing team did study at the undergraduate and graduate levels video production and we have been able to use his skills for all types of other videos on campus. But in the admission video world. We have partnered with a local provider in order to help... capture footage on campus and edit it with a somewhat tongue in cheek view in many cases of the admission process. So we are the Blue Hose, and I didn't mention that when I was telling you a little bit about pc, but it is then the name by which our athletics teams are known, and we have appropriated that to include all students at the institution so that, as we're describing that traditional liberal arts environment, what's this memorable piece that we can use and actually extrapolate from there what it means to see yourself on a path that might be different than what most of your friends are going to be doing in the next year. And we also know that the admission process is highly stressful. So if we can have some fun during this still taking care of making sure they know the key points of how they'll benefit from coming to this institution, but to make it fun and enjoyable and to provide an experience that's going to be memorable, we want to do that and so we've tried to make that flow into the video as well. Through much of the editing, scriptwriting, etc. So it's a combination of the talents of those two people in the admission office working with the actual video skills of our local provider. That's great. I love how that partnership works out and I that's something that we talked a lot about on some of the blogs and things. So that's that's really good and I really appreciate the the inside and all that. I think it's some I think it's interesting to that your videos have been what I kind of Colin, you know, term edutainment. I think that, you know, generation Z, they want to be entertained as much as they want to be learning and educating. I think that's one of the reasons why Youtube is such a popular channel for for that particular generation, and so I love the fact that you've leaned into that and made made some of those admissions.

You know, process videos more, a little bit more tongue and cheek and Educat, you know, entertaining, rather than just making them all this is the process, this is how it's going to be, because that's going to that's going to differentiate you by adding a little bit of that entertainment and from what I understand from my focus group before. You know, students at home, my children to in college now and to still in high school, they really want to be. They notice and they pay attention to those schools that are entertaining them as much as they're educating them. So I appreciate you saying that. So try. I know you had a couple questions you wanted to kind of dig into. Yes, and it was along the line of the video. I know that they leaned into it this year and I think one of the reasons why is because of COVID. So we'd like to know if you could describe how that is made a difference in a way that you promote the school and do you see some of those changes lasting even after you're able to bring prospective students back on campus? So one of the videos that we had created before we went through the big change at this time last year and having to be remote, not only in how education was delivered on campus but and how we interacted with prospective students and families, was an offshoot of the old MTV cribs, and so we have pcing cribs and it's funny because you can really feel now the timeline for the original show, from which we so liberally borrowed, because sometimes I'll hear our admission counselors asking are visiting students if they're familiar with MTV CRIBS and they're not. The parents like, they're not there like. But the student we featured has such tremendous energy and he in fact recently was a contestant on American idol, so you can imagine the kind of entertainer that I'm talking about. He did an incredible job and that actually was able to be repurposed because, of course, at this time last...

...year we weren't having on campus visits. We reopened for visits in late August, early September, but we are limited in what we show. So it's not the visit of old where they're going in all of the key academic buildings and the dining facilities and the residence halls. We in fact don't take students in any residence halls right now. We want to be particularly respectful of those students who are living on campus and their health and safety. So as part of our admission presentation we show this video and it allows people, in a fun way, to have a glimpse inside some of the residence halls, whether it's a facility they might live in right away or something they wouldn't experience, such as our newest buildings, our apartments, until there are perhaps in their junior or senior year at the institution. So we don't have to cover as much physical ground and we can also maintain covid protocol when we show that. But certainly there have been other videos and we intentionally drive students to videos through other types of communication so that we're really looking at this layered approach and will soon be launching a new platform that will allow us in fact track who's viewing the video, so we'll have an opportunity to understand more about the students viewing habits, what things are resonating, how that informs future production. But perhaps more importantly, how can our admission counselors take that information and of course not say to somebody, well, I know you watched whichever video five time. Little creepy, a little creepy? Yes, too much big brother, but how can they take that information and begin to shape their conversation with their student about what they know that students interest or points of concern might be? And...

...we do that certainly with other things are digital stats. What are students doing on our website? How long are they staying? How often are they visiting certain pages? So it all goes to further inform the conversation and to hopefully make those conversations a much tighter part of that relationship building process that ultimately results in having a student come to PC as a future blue host. I love that and I love the fact that you are leaning into those analytics and and and I love the fact that you're telling us all of this because again, it goes back to you know, a lot of the folks that I work with are small schools like yours, almost identical, and the demographics as far as the size and you under two thousand type and so many times I think it's like, oh, we're so small, we're not a state university, we don't have a big department. But I love the fact that you are. You know, you're still doing a lot of really good things. I mean use utilize in the video, utilizing the statistics, analyzing what's going on. You're doing a lot of smart marketing and that's a lot of what I try to encourage folks is to look at how you can be smarter with what you're doing. Yes, we all have a limited budgets. Yes, we would all love to get to where we think we need to be, but what can you do with what you have? And so I think you know, plaud you and your team for for doing that and doing that well. So so tell me a little bit about you know where where you think it's going to go soon and and what your plans are here for kind of the next year or so. Well, I appreciate, first you mentioning that team and I want to use this opportunity to thank them because I think that's a big part of the success that we have and I could not sit in a room alone and do this without the people I'm fortunate to work with. And so part of this process is making sure that we build trust so that when they get some creative ideas and want to take some risks, I can give them the freedom to do that and to have a very good sense of what...

...those results are going to be. So I think we need to continue to be risk takers and COVID has probably changed things permanently. We've been fortunate to be in an environment where we could invite guests to campus again, but, as I mentioned, they're not experiencing everything that they would have. Before the pandemic we were in a great place to be able to very quickly offer online programming for students, from our own information sessions to participating in college fairs and high school visits to one on one appointments. We still offer some of those virtual opportunities, but for for our type of institution, we feel strongly that the inperson piece works better and we hope that we'll be able to return to that. But I think that in many ways, as institutions have cut travel budgets and looked at whether or not the big college fairs will return, we're going to have a blend probably going forward between that in person experience and the delivery of virtual experiences for students and we need to find the best ways to allow them to consume information at their own time. So even before the pandemic we wanted to have not just a virtual tour but a self guided tour. I think the next piece of that you'll see is people who are able to do that with virtual reality goggles. And how does that augment the tour and make it richer so to the extent that we can focus our limited resources on things that are going to tell a richer story to those students. That's how will prioritize our personnel and financial resources. That's great. That's great, Suzanne.

Thank you so much for giving us such an in depth and sincere look into what you're doing and as parts set all along, I think it's going to be helpful for a lot of our listeners who are wondering are we doing things like others are, or even creating ideas of some of the things that they can look into and implement. And along that line, we end every episode of our podcast by asking our guests is there a new idea or something intriguing either you're doing or something yet you recently read that you would like to share? That might be helpful as for others to implement here in the next thirty to sixty days? Well, thirty sixty days makes it challenging. I have seen so many types, types of marketing tactics being looked at. For me, I wanted to get a much better understanding of how others are perceiving our brandon instead of just looking at the aspects of social media, we can see engaging with a partner for true social listening. I think that that piece might be something that schools could look at in a short time frame to determine how those conversations are taking place, what the depth is and to identify the types of holes they may be missing through their current capabilities, to at least ask the question, is it worth investing with a partner to be able to have a much bigger picture of where we are as an institution in terms of our social presence? So that that would be one thing that would come to mind. It's something that we're engaged in now and I'm anxiously awaiting the results. Yeah, and I just want to add to for the listeners. Is that Susan you're talking about kind of these platforms. He's listening platforms, which...

I think are great, even as a short term, and you might already be doing the Suzanne's just going to google and doing some Google alerts. So anytime there's a mention of your name, the school's name, you know, anything that has to do with the school, you can put in a something in Google that says anytime somebody mentions this sends send us an email, and that's a really good way to at least be able to be aware of what's being said online about your institution. In a way that is is better than being blind, and so, Suzanne, thank you for mentioning that. Oh, you're welcome. I appreciate the question and wish we had many more hours to continue to throw those thoughts together, because the world of technology, I think, presents us with limitless opportunities. Yes, that will be careful what you ask for, Susanne, because Bart and I plan to do this podcast for a long time, so we may be inviting you back for a second and third conversation, but we do really appreciate your time that you gave us today. You mentioned cool videos and a lot of other things. If someone wanted to reach you to get an indepth look at what you're doing, especially those videos, if they are up there public, how would the best way for them to reach you be? Well, somebody wanted to reach out to me, I would say that email would probably be the easiest opportunity, and my email address is the first initial of my first name and my full last name, so it's S P e T. Are you, Sch at Presby prees by Dot Edu. I'm available on Linkedin. They certainly are welcome to find my information on the school's website and if they want to see some of those videos, beyond the blue dot org is our admission micro site. Perfect. Thanks, against Suzanne. We appreciate you off in your time in wisdom so we may share it with others. And, as I end every podcast,...

...with our commercial. The High Ed marketer is sponsored by Taylor solutions and education marketing and branding agency and by Think, patented, a marketing, execution, printing and, mainly provider of high it solutions. On behalf of Bart and, I thank you for joining us in your continued support of the podcast. 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,.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (92)