The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 12 · 1 year ago

More Than Just Words: How Your Marketing Strategy Can Promote Equity


Those universities that prepared to go virtual and did it well are now reaping the benefits of the trust that they earned from parents and students.

What sets those schools apart from others?

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

Peter Ashley, Vice President for Enrollment & Marketing at Hanover College, about:

- How Hanover responded to the pandemic.

- How the marketing department addressed social justice.

- Hanover’s process for making marketing videos and the results.

- Tips for more relatable, entertaining, and educational video content.

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'tor 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 we explore ideas and insights by higher reed marketers for High Ed marketers. My name is troy singer and I'm here, as always, with my cohost, Bart Kaylor. And Bart I think we're going to be treated today because our guest is a neighbor of yours from your state and you are familiar with the institution. We're going to be talking with Peter Ashley. He's the vice president for enrollment in marketing at Hanover College. Hanovers one of the one of the small privates here in Indiana with a great reputation there in southern Indiana, and I've got a beautiful, beautiful campus and it's just going to be a great conversation with Peter just about some things that they're doing at Hanover and how they're approaching different different elements and he kind of gives us a little bit of insight into some of the marketing that they're doing and some new things that they're doing that they're really seeing some valuable results in. Yes, he has some great content. So let's bring and Peter in. We are honored to have Peter Ashley, vice president for Enrollment in marketing that Hanover College, which is in southern Indiana, to the podcast. Welcome, Peter. Thanks for having me. Peter, if you would please give everyone a glimpse of Hanover and your roll. They're sure so. Hanover College is Indiana's oldest college and it is a hundred ninety four years old and it is located, as you say, in southern Indiana, right across the border from Kentucky and along the Ohio River. It's six hundred and fifty acres filled with trails and and trees and a lot of natural beauty. We have about a thousand students, so there's a lot of room to spread out. It's got a great reputation, a strong regional reputation, and it's just a wonderful liberal arts college. But the natural beauty of the campus is what people often talk about when they come visit is how how roomy and how beautiful it is and again, the fact that's been here for so long. It's a powerful, powerful institution. For that reason that's great. Thanks for sharing that, Peter and shorter. I know we we kind of did a pre interview and talked a little bit about some things that. That's that's going on at Hanover and I think on everybody's mind is kind of we're coming out of the pandemic. I know that not only during the pandemic. I mean two thousand and twenty was such a high water mark year with the pandemic, with some of the social unrest that we had, with with different areas of our society, and I know Hanover's kind of had a unique perspective on your covid nineteen response and maybe even some of the social injustice response and and some of those initiatives. Could... tell us a little bit about that? Absolutely. So. They did happen a bit at the same time, which was as a challenge, but obviously the pandemic took hold of everybody and dominated everyone's decisionmaking. So one of the first things that we did was to convene a group of stakeholders across campus and really ask the question, okay, what needs to happen to make sure our students are safe and that our campus is preserves as much of a college field as possible. So obviously, that first round camp but pretty much every campus went home. We did the same thing, which was challenging as a residential campus, to pivot quickly to online learning, which we did, but we put in over the summer all kinds of safety protocols, processes, spacing out the classrooms, requiring, you know, all the things that that are, you know, public health experts expect. We also worked with a medical expert from Johns Hopkins University on our strategy and our contact tracing process to make sure that we were using the absolute best process that we could to do that, and we had a very successful fall term. We were able to stay in person all the way to the very end. I think a week before Thanksgiving we went optional remote to let students leave if they felt like they wanted to leave, because there's a bit of an uptick, as you know, in the cases. But our response was lots of lots of community action to students and staff and faculty about our protocols. We had a weekly in still have a weekly email that goes out with any kind of updates, updates on our case numbers, reminders to follow the guidelines and we've been very aggressive in holding students and staff accountable for following those guidelines and I think this semester we're still at facetoface. Our count, our our case count, is very low and what we learned is that students really appreciate a facetoface experience. There's questions of you know, why hiered? Why a Liberal Arts College? Why do people want to go to you know what? You could do everything on Line, but we learned is that people really miss being in person and our enrollment numbers actually are up so far for next fall and I think part of that is because we did stay facetoface and people really like that ability to do that. So that that response was dominating much of the summer. But then, of course, as you mentioned, the various police shootings and other killings and other active social injustice occurrences over this summer brought that very close to home for our campus. We have very passionate campus that's committed to social justice. Although we have a history that is not always perfect in that area. So we we try to look very candidly at what we do well and where we still need to grow. We live in a part of the state that's also not a not particularly diverse, so we have to really focus on bringing diversity here maybe people feel welcome and included and have some cultural changes, you know, on our campus and even in our community to help make sure that happened. So we're in the process of launching a equity and diversity and inclusion plan to the campus for review. That includes a number of process changes, activities,..., all kinds of things to help really improve the and drive home that campus culture of inclusivity. That's great. I'm so grateful to hear things like that because I think that those mean certainly the covid nineteen. It's great to hear how you guys did that and I think it I think I'm seeing a lot of campuses that the success of those who prepared and did it well. They're reaping the benefits of the trust that they have earned from the parents and the students to be able to come back on campus and and want that experience and I think that's great. And I do think that that that idea of just really helping with the with the SOFA social injustice. I mean, what are some of the things that your students in your campus is doing specifically about that? I mean, are you doing, you know, sessions and in seminars or inviting guests on campus to talk? How does that work? A good question. We've done a little bit of all of that. Having we had a number of events, just for example, around Mlka Day, which is a new recent holiday celebration for our campus, and we had a number of sessions that invited guest speakers. We had something and called, I think it's I believe this is called the Mlka round table, where we had between with music and video and guest lecturers kind of walk everyone through what what Mlk is life was about and what he was focused on what we can learn from that today. We are very open to we have some very vocal students who want things to change and we have some that, you know, that love it and it's just a matter of letting all the voices be heard. We've had a number of student led sessions where they would have either a protest, which was really very peaceful, but just you know, a chance to really vocalize their their perspective on on the what's happening in the world, their perspective on what Hanover can do better, and we're we want to hear that feedback and I think part of what helps, certainly from my perspective, is rather than just running around throwing the terms around, right of equity and injustice and what how do we it's just allowing people to have their say and really embrace those different opinions, do it in a way that's humble and and accepting any kind of responsibility, but also looking forward to how we solve some of these problems, not just get mired in in frustration but actually look forward. So we've done a number of sessions. We've implemented faculty and Staff Training on equity and inclusion issues, as I mentioned. We've had this plan that lays out changes in our recruiting strategy for employees to attract and retain more verse candidates, additional recruiting activities for our students, focusing on more of a need based approach to financial aid. So a number of things that we're doing looking at our student success model and how we, you know, retain first generation students more effectively help them succeed and do a number of practical steps to make sure that we actually are a more equable campus, as opposed to just saying, you know, having the words around, we want to be more equitable. Yeah, I think that's great. I think that you're demonstrating the fact that it...

...takes some of that intentionality to make change and I appreciate it on and respect that that Hannover's doing that. So try know you've got another question you want to ask. Yes, I wanted to switch topics a little bit and talk about Dr Lake Lambert and for those of us who are in the area, we know that he's the president at Hannover and I think he's a little different than a lot of presidents of colleges and universities, especially of your size, because he is out there, he's outspoken, he's charismatic, and just would like to know is that him in real life and give us a peek of how he is on campus. Absolutely so. One of the things that keeps me engaged and loving Hanover College is is working for Dr Lambert. He is about as genuine a person and as transparent a person as you're going to meet especially someone at that in that position. I joke with with someone that if he was more transparent we be able to see through him. I mean he's just been very transparent in what he's thinking and his decisionmaking. He's very open, he's extremely sharp, very tender hearted as well and in it is outspoke. If something needs to be commented on, he likes to respond and share his feelings on something. It's just a pleasure to have someone who's honest, transparent, happy to be out there. We you know, we we use them more. In some videos's he put on our Panther Mascot suit for some fun to tick tock videos. He'll just he'll do anything that, you know, advances the college. But he's also just very, very focused on the mission of Hanover College and making sure that that all those things were trying to accomplish, not just from the equating inclusion standpoint, but from the delivering the best little arts education we can to making sure Hanover college is growing and thriving and doing it in a way that's again very, very transparent, very approachable, great sense of humor, which I think is sorely lacking in today's world, but a huge benefit to for certainly for people at work, for him it's a big benefit. That's great and I I like the fact that you kind of indicated, kind of tying the first question with the second one, is that it seems like Dr Lambert is engaged in these social injustice initiatives. The talking about that of and I like the fact that it seems like speaking up when when others might be silent and needing to needing to speak out, and so that sounds like. Sounds like it'd be great to work with him. Yes, it certainly is. I know one of the things that kind of engaging, not only leveraging Dr Lambert, like you said, with with these ticktock videos and the mascot and other, you know, more serious videos. You've kind of touched on the fact that a lot of what's going on at Hanover, and especially, you know, in your role as a VP of enrollment in marketing, is that it seems like, you know, you're trying to develop a little bit more content, maybe, maybe leveraging video a...

...little bit more. So tell us a little bit about that, because I mean, not a lot of schools are leaning into ticktock yet. Not a lot of schools or are doing as much as they could with video, but it seems like you've kind of discovered some things that at least you're you're going down the path with it. Hanover. Yes, so we definitely have embraced video and by the way, I shouldn't I shouldn't say we've leaned into ticktock too much. We had a couple of fun videos. So I don't want to overplay the talk focus, but we do try to focus on more either messages from our president on various issues. We've also done a very large number of marketing oriented videos that really described life at Hanover. So which we can talk about that a little bit. But we know that the student that we're trying to recruit, and my role was just oversee marketing and recently is enrollment has been added to that. So now out the synergies I see between those two departments is tremendous, because almost everything we should be doing as a marketing organization in a higher it is to attract more students. So that connection is very clear to me. But we realize that, of course, the generation now is, you know, shorter attention span. Everything you know has to be very clear and in lively and video is a very good way to communicate with that with that audience, and so we needed more video resources. So we had a chance to hire a new videographer and I was able to hire two videographers because we had two such great final candidates that I made the case that hey, we will put these these guys to work quickly, and we did and we hired both. And one is a young woman who graduate from Depaul University, one is a gentleman who greased and graduate from Hanover, and so, having those two perspectives, both very talented videographers and photographers and within a few months they created more than a hundred plus videos on campus life, generating like a hundred thousand views very quickly, everything from campus dining to Greek life to a series we've created called beyond the classroom, where we take either a music program or even a knusiology program and take it outside the classroom and show what goes on in that program that doesn't just happen in the actual room. You know that for one program there was a whole focus us on the using the natural setting of Hanover to go on hikes and look at count waterfalls and to identify bugs and different things like that to all the ways that we provide a life for students beyond the classroom. So having those videos of really helped let prospective students know, as it is challenging sometimes to come to campus right now, what it's like at Hanover. We've also done a number of educational style videos. So one of the videos we've done is helping people understand their financial aid award letter, which seems very mundane, but we get a lot of questions about it. So it's trying to help them understand that. So it's been a huge boon for us to be able to create that content, to tell our story more effectively and to engage, you know, a number of campus stakeholders in that process. That's great and I just want to...

...point out a couple things that I hear you saying that could be benefit of other folks. Is that you know, because I've often kind of categorize different types of eddy videos. I mean you've got the edutainment, which might be that mascot tick tock video with your president where you're kind of letting people know about Hanover but it's entertaining. You've got the explainers, which sounds like the financial aid. You know, let her how to read that and you know, those could be screencasts, they can be videos, they can be all kinds of different things, and then you've got just kind of your general information. But I think a lot of the a lot of the listeners maybe when they heard you say that, hey, these two videographers that you brought on campus, they they produced over a hundred videos pretty quickly. I mean we're not talking, you're not doing, you know, fifteen minute videos. These are these are videos that can be utilized for social media, for email. Tell us a little bit more about, you know, what what your kind of rule of thumb is for for how you how these videos need to work. I mean they have got to be short. I'm guessing a lot of them are short, summer longer, depending on the need. Generally speaking, the videographers support the entire campus, but with a big focus on enrollment and also on advancement and development. So most of the videos are, I would say, three minutes or less and are typically focused on and you did a good explanation of the different types of videos we would do, but definitely focus on what it's like to be a student. Hanover, what can you expect when you're here. What I mean? One of the videos I got that that's gotten the most views was a two minute tour of campus with a basically a sped up camera going through and looking at all the buildings and all the different things, and that's gotten I mean I think it's gotten tenzero views maybe when it was pretty quickly, because it's two minutes, it's fun, it's got some nice music and you just zip through campus really quickly. Yeah, others, like the financial aid video, don't get as many views because it's very, very targeted right to certain people. So it's trying to find that mix of we know this one's going to get a lot of attention, we know this one is going to help a few people and we did want a featured a story a student who's who is an arts design major, who is learning how to become a tattoo artist and intern, is interning with the tattoo parlor, and so we had to a whole feature story on her, bunch of photographs of students and staff that of Tattoos. And I think you know, and it's kind of a risk because some people might be turned off by by tattoos but at the same time we've gotten tremendous positive feedback just because it's showing another angle of what, you know, what someone can do at Hanover Right, and I love that because I think that, you know, I'm a big believer in any type of content that you produce, especially for higher at is, is answering the questions that people have. And I mean if you're answering the questions people have, whether it's in, you know, the content on your website, whether it's a video, whether it's a blog one, you're going to get seo because people are searching Google asking the questions that they're looking for, but I think that you're also going to kind of earn trust, like you said, I mean there might be a risk in doing of Tattoo video, but at the same time you're answering the questions of well, what's it like? Is Is Hanover really conservative place? Is it? You know, are they open to this type of thing? And just being... to have those that wide variety of video and content that people can one answer the questions, get the answers to the questions they have, but then also just be able to put themselves in into the environment, into the campus, and start to feel what it would be like to be there. I think that's a brilliant strategy. So well done, Peter. Well, thank you. And also, I would just say, shamelessly putting in our tagline, but we've recently got a new tagline called a place to belong in a person to become, HMM, and the reason we did that was because that really captured what our college is striving to be and within that there are brand pillars that really focused and build out though that tagline. But it's resonate with with a students and staff quite a bit because it feels it feels like what we're trying to build at Hanover. You can come here and be yourself, you'll be known by the faculty because we're a small campus and you'll be successful because we prepare you for the future. And and the videos that we build just try to demonstrate that without necessarily saying you know explicitly that we're demonstrating that. We're really trying to show the meat behind the statement that that that's what we're trying to create. Peter, I love what you said about that and it reminds me of a quote from a book by Jay Bear Utility. He makes the point that success flows to those organizations that inform rather than those that promote, and it seems to me like Hannover's doing a great job of informing people about their about their brand, about their you know, what it's like to be on campus, as well as just about the you know, answers to the questions that people have so so well done. I really respect that, Troy. Thanks Bart and I agree and I would encourage all of our listeners to go out to the Hanover website and just open it and you you will see that from the very beginning it's a different look and feel than you would expect it. It is very visual and everything that Peters says kind of start making sense. Peter, we have a question that we ask all of our guests. Then it's if there's an idea or something that you're doing or if you would be willing to share it, if it's not too secret, or maybe it's an idea that you've heard of recently that others could implement soon. What would that be? Well, it's a great question. Try I'm always happy to share and I don't know if there's any secret sauce in a sense, because every every college has their own secret sauce. But I would say don't be afraid to have a little fun with some of your your messaging or marketing or a video. You know, I think we higher it can be sometimes very uptight and I think just try something different that's fun with a video or with a message, and just try something, especially social media. You know, you try something and it'll either go great or people will ignore it, as long as it's not, you know, offensive, but just try to go for something a little funny or clever. I think that's a good way to start venturing into this a little bit more. And then I would also say any chance you can personalize things. We've been trying to do...

...more personalizing of messaging is also something you can start implementing immediately in terms of your communication then your messaging here here, and thank you on both of those. Both Bart and I are big proponents of personalization and again, I would encourage our listeners to visit handover and their sites to get a good glimpse of what you mean when you recommend having a little fun with it. So thank you and Peter. One last question. Of someone would like to connect with you, what would be the best way for them to reach you. Sure they can reach me. The email and it's just Ashley at Hanover Dot Etu. So ash elley at Hanover Dot et you and be happy to hear from anyone and connect with anyone or answer any questions. Perfect. Thank you for being so generous with your time and your wisdom today, Peter. We really appreciate it. Oh, I appreciate it very much. Thank you so much, troy and bar you're welcome. The highered marketer podcast is sponsored by Taylor solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and by thing patented, a marketing execution, printing and mailing provider of higher red solutions. On behalf of my cohost Bark Taylor, 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 you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (92)