Learn With Us
Learn With Us
Access podcasts, videos, articles, and more.
Discover With Us
Discover With Us
Discover the best new software, tools and services for enrollment marketing — and even your next gig
Subscribe With Us
Subscribe With Us
Join 3,000+ enrollment marketers in wrestling with ideas that are reshaping higher ed
Views of the CMO: Preparing for the Future of Student Experience Marketing
Enrollify - The Application 1 - Jenny Petty V4
[00:00:00] Corynn: Hey, y'all and welcome to the application. A podcast, nestled nicely in the enrollify podcast network, [00:00:15] this is your guide Corynn Myers, and I am so excited to share my love of higher ed marcomms student experience and campus squirrels. My friends at RahRah were awesome enough to sponsor all the insights and ideas I get to share with you over the course of the application's episodes.
[00:00:29] Corynn: So let's get it. [00:00:30] Okay. So first your name, your title, your institution and then get into
[00:00:35] Jenny: your. I'm Jenny petty. I'm the vice president and chief marketing communications officer at the university of Montana. And I would say my day to day, like most [00:00:45] marketing professionals is not predictable. We're working on a lot of big strategy moves right now, as well as the day-to-day work that all institutions have to keep going.
[00:00:55] Jenny: I would say in this role, a lot of my focus is on people and [00:01:00] leading and making sure people have what they need. As well as managing up to the cabinet on campus and making sure that the work we're doing as represented as a strategic partner and positioning the department in that way.
[00:01:14] Corynn: [00:01:15] Awesome. And you are hiring or have hired actually for a new position.
[00:01:19] Corynn: Can you talk a little bit about that?
[00:01:23] Jenny: Yeah. So we recently hired someone who's going to come on board as a brand experience manager. And the [00:01:30] Genesis of that position. When I came on board at the university of Montana, I was kind of two-fold was one, how do, how do we do a better job of aligning the brand and the brand pillars with the campus vibrancy and the student experience.
[00:01:43] Jenny: And two, it was [00:01:45] preparing for the next what's on the horizon for a lot of us in higher ed marketing, which is this, this move from being more tactical focused to kind of this holistic view of the student experience. And how we can use the [00:02:00] brand to help drive belonging on our campuses. So we hired this, this role.
[00:02:05] Jenny: I'm lucky that this person is coming from a background in marketing, but also in student affairs. And I think that combo is, is going to be really valuable to the [00:02:15] department. This person will be working as kind of a liaison between our department and other departments on campus. And I describe it like this.
[00:02:24] Jenny: She won't be. Planning events per se, but her job will be to [00:02:30] how do we elevate events or experiences on campus so that the brand pillars are woven into that design. And how do we take what you know is a standard event and elevate it. So it's something memorable and a powerful moment for people on campus.
[00:02:44] Corynn: [00:02:45] It's amazing. So how do you imagine, how do events change ideally with this position being the liaison.
[00:02:55] Jenny: You know, I think they become more intentional. So I think, you know, when we think about admissions or [00:03:00] enrollment events, we all tend to kind of follow the same pattern. There's a formula almost for what we know is successful.
[00:03:06] Jenny: And I think. We have to start adjusting to gen Z. And what gen Zs, gen X parents expect out of [00:03:15] events or out of institutions. What we know for research is that gen X is typically really UN they don't trust institutions. And so it changes the way we speak to them about this place. That changes the way that we, we market to them.
[00:03:29] Jenny: How do we [00:03:30] help them connect with us and each. I think for gen Z they are so super passionate and their values are different than millennials or younger millennials, even they're just a different [00:03:45] generation. And so I think this position is, is really about, you know, making sure that we are aligning the consumer expectations with what we can deliver as a brand and eventually mapping the student journey and fighting.
[00:03:58] Jenny: Spots where there might be friction [00:04:00] and figuring out how we solve for that friction or finding those moments that can be really powerful and elevating them in a student journey. You know, you think about we on this campus, we have a strong percentage of first-generation students. And so you think about [00:04:15] even that end of that first semester, what a mark and time that is for those students.
[00:04:19] Jenny: They're coming here with, with more than just trying to get an education, right? A lot of the time they're fighting. You know, maybe family didn't want them to leave home and go to school. [00:04:30] Maybe their family doesn't value higher ed the same way that they do. So there's a lot that this position is going to take on.
[00:04:37] Jenny: And I'm lucky in that the president here is really supportive and understands that a good portion of it is experimental.
[00:04:44] Corynn: That's [00:04:45] awesome. And you ma you mentioned expectations. And I love the, the human experience kind of flow. It's, you know, my expectation. Of an experience, which is essentially all things are just experiences, right?
[00:04:57] Corynn: Institution does just made up of serious experiences. [00:05:00] And so my expectations of experience, and then how I perceive that experience based on those expectations, then forms, attitudes, and then future behaviors of what I'm doing. Right. And so you mentioned expectations and it's interesting to me that two [00:05:15] students seemingly the same kind of students can experience.
[00:05:19] Corynn: But come away with different perceptions based on those expectations. And I'm wondering if you're seeing what I'm seeing in higher ed in this shift, this [00:05:30] starting to talk about putting the student experience at the center of everything. And it's not a new concept by any means. That's not, you know, student experiences that has been talked about forever, but it feels like suddenly it's having its moment where we're realizing that if you were to [00:05:45] put the student at the center, All things kind of fall into place better and more effectively do, are you seeing that trend?
[00:05:54] Jenny: Yeah, and I think it also seeing that trend, but I think it's also a reaction [00:06:00] to what we're seeing in changes in our, in our industry as a whole. I think it is in LA in alignment with that trend of placing student experience. I think marketing communications. In higher ed becoming consumer centric is a long time coming.
[00:06:13] Jenny: And I think it's been a place [00:06:15] on a lot of campuses that people have struggled with. But I also think for those of us who are looking to what the next five or 10 years are like moving towards a more experiential model and focusing more on consumer needs and wants and aligning with those. [00:06:30] Isn't a lot of reaction to the fact that we've built this house of cards.
[00:06:34] Jenny: On rented land in terms of like the way we've used, paid social, Google, apple, and we've got to change with that and we've got to be ahead of it. Like we [00:06:45] cannot wait until the house of cards with Facebook falls completely. So we've had these easy wins. Like I remember the days when you could build a community on Facebook with tens of thousands of followers for no money at all.
[00:06:56] Jenny: And we've built. A lot around that. And we've got to [00:07:00] prepare for like, what happens when that goes away. Are we aligning our content strategy in an inbound model to attract people and educate them and give them the information that they want rather than what I think we've come to reliant on [00:07:15] some of these paid social avenues.
[00:07:19] Corynn: I love that analogy. A house of cards on rented land is literally social media
[00:07:25] Jenny: and yeah. Yeah. I mean, and so much of our brand equity now is [00:07:30] tied up in that. And what we know from like the Edelman report that came out this year, right, is that consumers are trusting owned spaces more than they're trusting media outlets.
[00:07:40] Jenny: And I think we are missing a huge opportunity to build our own [00:07:45] owned. You know, we have our websites, but who's using. As much as we're using social to build community. I think we've got a huge thing on the horizon of meeting to align our brands and using our own spaces to our advantage.
[00:07:58] Corynn: Right. And I [00:08:00] think it's interesting to look at student experience and how it can be a differentiator between programs.
[00:08:06] Corynn: Right? So gen Z I think is, is looking at higher ed and saying, I can do. 30 different programs. They all aligned, like, what's the [00:08:15] difference between all of them. And if you don't have a difference, you're not going to be picked. Right. And so this idea of experience and understanding expectations, I think that's like upwards of like 85% of consumers, [00:08:30] which are students, students are consumers, right?
[00:08:31] Corynn: So you're, you mentioned marketing outside of higher ed. These individuals are not those living in higher ed. Right? They're consuming. And having experiences with brands who are answering with them within two hours of an inquiry immediately, [00:08:45] even via Twitter, they are having Amazon delivered to them within 24 hours of ordering things.
[00:08:51] Corynn: They've got websites who are personalized and know what they're looking for. And all of these things create expectations of all [00:09:00] other experiences they have with organizations. And as higher ed looks to these other things that are happening outside of higher ed, to me, it's almost scary to think that, you know, as a, you know, as a higher ed marketer, we know that [00:09:15] urban is like 10 years behind.
[00:09:16] Corynn: Right. We're all kind of 10 years behind things. And so this catch-up of like, how do we, how do we become experiences that align with expectations? To their regular consumer B habit habits, especially with gen Z who [00:09:30] has never known a world without a mobile phone in their pocket. Like, are you seeing institutions, or obviously you're looking to the future and looking at these experiential opportunities, but are you seeing ways that higher ed can catch up to these [00:09:45] expectations with considerable?
[00:09:48] Jenny: Yeah. I think, you know, as you were saying that in my head, all I was saying to myself was like, preach girl preach, like these expectations that are setting, right? Like even when you think about the way you use Netflix and how Netflix is delivering [00:10:00] personalized content based on. You know what you've done in the past or what they think you will like.
[00:10:05] Jenny: I think personalization is definitely something that higher ed has to start thinking about. It's no longer about just getting caught up in the last 10 years. It's about leapfrogging to [00:10:15] what is right now. And I think personalization and. Being really intentional about UX and experience. You know, when we think about the student experience, right?
[00:10:24] Jenny: We started talking about events like on-campus in-person events, but we have to think about it as a whole [00:10:30] ecosystem of you know, it's, it's that first touch where they might be visiting the website, or they might be seeing, you know, an ad or something like that. That all is part of the experiential.
[00:10:41] Jenny: Even when they get materials in the mail for prospective students, like [00:10:45] I'm a big believer that anything we send in the mail should also be a sensory experience because it's part of how do you differentiate and how do you create that memory and muscle memory of like, oh, when I see the university of Montana, I feel these emotions.
[00:10:59] Jenny: [00:11:00] So that I think thinking about it as an ecosystem instead of these one-off pieces, right? Like I think the Simpson Scarborough CMO report just came out and it talks about. You know, how many institutions still have the website sitting under it? [00:11:15] There's a disconnect, even on our campuses of how we are structured to design for the student experience, right?
[00:11:21] Jenny: Like how many campuses have campus life under student affairs and there's no marketing touchpoint or marketing influence, like we're missing a huge [00:11:30] chunk of that ecosystem just in our struggle.
[00:11:34] Corynn: So interesting. And like kind of riffing off of like the Google micro-moments we're ha there are micro experiences that kind of culminate to this overall experience.
[00:11:44] Corynn: And like we said [00:11:45] earlier, those experiences really do change the way a student perceives how your institution operates. So like, if I have a bad experience on your website, my expectation was defined how much this program costs. I didn't find it. And now. [00:12:00] Me, going back to your website is very, it's much less likely now.
[00:12:04] Corynn: And I'm also expecting not to find what I want. So there's a cycle of like that first touch and then looking for information and suddenly we've got, you know, I I've, [00:12:15] I've waded through higher ed websites after higher ed websites. And it's like, you know, it's got three NABS and you're not even sure why.
[00:12:22] Corynn: And it's like donors and alumni and. And then like academics and like it's uses internal language. [00:12:30] You're like, what is, I don't even know what's going on and I'm in higher ed. Like I,
[00:12:35] Jenny: and then you find yourself on a page, it's a PDF about tenure promotion. And you're like, how did I get here? And why is this on this website?
[00:12:41] Jenny: And yeah, absolutely.
[00:12:44] Corynn: And site [00:12:45] search, like search is still a number one way for gen Z every generation to find what they're looking for. These results. And it's just a very interesting way to approach websites, but like you [00:13:00] said, it's often under the IP department and they are very smart about it. Not as smart about UX.
[00:13:06] Corynn: And so this shift again we talk about silos all the time, right? Silos, silos, silos, but like you said creating experiences that are memorable and [00:13:15] will result in applications and retention and all these things. Require cross communication. And so I guess, are you seeing technology or innovative ways to take those [00:13:30] silos work within them?
[00:13:31] Corynn: Because you can't obviously going to change overnight, but also be able to cross pollinate data and insights and information to better enhance that as those experiences for students. Are you seeing anything like that? [00:13:45]
[00:13:45] Jenny: You know, I think what I'm seeing at the university of Montana is this, this desire and this leadership style that trickles down that is so focused on collaboration and relationship building.
[00:13:56] Jenny: And so I can't speak, I know there are so many challenges [00:14:00] at other institutions, but I can say what I have found here that is so refreshing is that it is based on, you know, the. When I started did sit under it and we've had some really raw, honest conversations about like the limitations of that. [00:14:15] And I have found in the CIO, a partner, not somebody who's an opposition to me.
[00:14:19] Jenny: Like everybody's moving in the same direction. And I know there are institutions where that's like darn near impossible and it's a lot of patients, you know, I think [00:14:30] what I hear from a lot of CMOs and what I'm seeing in a lot of thought leadership pieces. Is this unhealthy level of resentment building up about the fact that so many marketing communications shops on campuses are still being used as a print [00:14:45] shop rather than a strategic partner.
[00:14:48] Jenny: And, you know, I've, I've done my fair share of complaining about that. But what I want to say to folks is like, at this point in time, as a COO and higher. That's [00:15:00] part of the job is changing and influencing and persuading our campus partners to see the value of marketing. And that can be exhausting, but I feel like there is some freedom when you [00:15:15] surrender to the fact that it's part of the job right now, and that we are paving the way for the next generation of CMOs and higher.
[00:15:22] Jenny: It makes it feel more like something you're working on as part of a legacy for the industry, rather than something that you're pissed off about all the time. [00:15:30] Right, right.
[00:15:31] Corynn: I think there's definitely something to that. I think a lot of the work as I worked in central comms, there was a lot of like, you were the brand police and like, you know, we don't want to work with you and that kind of stuff.
[00:15:42] Corynn: And that was some of it was [00:15:45] actually warranted. Some of it was brand policing and there were things that the central comms office did that was not collapsed. It was very like, you know, top down, you can't use the logo that way, which is, you know, I think in, in higher ed, [00:16:00] especially the people I've met in higher ed are so genuine.
[00:16:04] Corynn: They want to do their best. They're trying their best with the resources they have. And honestly, it's almost just inviting a conversation and offering help, no strings attached kind of [00:16:15] stuff that really got me into real. Where it was. That's what changed the dialogue and got us a collaborate. My, my favorite.
[00:16:23] Corynn: Part about working at university of Michigan. Unfortunately it was during COVID because we were forced to work [00:16:30] together across campus in ways we had never done before quickly collaboratively and without any sort of like resentment, because we had to have time for resentment. Things were happening too fast.
[00:16:40] Corynn: And so I got to work with the student life department, who I had never worked with their war and my entire life at [00:16:45] the university of Michigan and the central comms office, which is bizarre to me. But. Had the opportunity to do that and the relationships and the processes of things we built together were amazing.
[00:16:55] Corynn: And I think that it's almost that forcing [00:17:00] together of teams was good for us. Unfortunate circumstances, obviously. But I guess, are you, so you mentioned you brought the, are you partnered with it? Have you brought the website or maybe parts of the website strategy underneath.
[00:17:14] Jenny: [00:17:15] Yeah. So one of the first things I did was standing up a digital marketing team because we didn't have that.
[00:17:19] Jenny: And part of what attracted me to the opportunity at the university of Montana. That I get to build a team, not from scratch. There was a great team that I inherited that was really focused, very heavily on [00:17:30] coms. But yeah, so we stood up a digital marketing team. The mechanics of the web still do live in it, but we're going through a strategic enrollment planning process right now.
[00:17:39] Jenny: And one of the things that we're working towards is a larger website govern. Strategy. And [00:17:45] so part of that strategy is continuing to build out the digital marketing team on our side to focus on UX and content and the website as a marketing tool, rather than, you know, what it becomes on a lot of college campuses, a repository of [00:18:00] information that is not structured in any meaningful way and has a thousand CMS users like.
[00:18:05] Jenny: Just one of those things that but so we are in the it department has been completely and totally supportive of
[00:18:11] Corynn: that. That's awesome. I think it's great to hear about [00:18:15] supportive. I mean, again, I think people realize our shortcomings, especially when faced with this kind of revolution of CX and UX and all these acronyms we use internally.
[00:18:26] Corynn: And I think it's great to see them be like, yeah, let's, let's [00:18:30] talk about this. Cause I'm not an expert. I'm an expert in this area. Which we definitely need, but I also need your expertise when it comes together. I think it's, that's the magic and it doesn't have to necessarily mean we completely blow up the silos.
[00:18:43] Corynn: It just means we're kind of punching [00:18:45] holes and holding hands almost through the silos,
[00:18:48] Jenny: you know, and doing exactly totally. I mean, I love punching holes through things, so that's exciting. Yeah, I mean, and I would say the other thing is like I just finished reading radical candor for the first time. I feel like I'm like decades behind [00:19:00] reading.
[00:19:01] Jenny: Yeah. I mean, I do think there is, there is this element of being radically candid with your partners on campus, right? Like we can't behind the doors complain about the fact that we're not being positioned or thought of as a strategic [00:19:15] partner. If we're not in the rooms explaining why we're a strategic partner and showing the results of what we can do and framing things like there's so much education that has to happen with our.
[00:19:26] Jenny: And I have found when you take that time. And sometimes it's exhausting and [00:19:30] sometimes people are like, no, I just want a damn postcard. And you're like, okay. But when you take that time and you find, I think fit, it matters, right? Like I part, the other reason why I was attracted to this place is because the president here is phenomenal.
[00:19:43] Jenny: He's a non-traditional president. [00:19:45] And I knew that I was going to have the support. I've never worked with a president who understands brand promise before, and he talks about it all the time. So I think we also have to demand more out of our institutions as marketers. And so if [00:20:00] there's somebody who's an aspirational CMO, my advice is don't you dare go anywhere where it's not a cabinet level position.
[00:20:07] Jenny: Like don't shoot yourself in the foot and show up, you know, where you're a couple layers buried beneath a cabinet like that. That's an indicator to you that you're [00:20:15] not valued as a strategic. That's really good advice. This is my, I might've just like taken this off another rank, but this has been in my head for weeks.
[00:20:26] Corynn: This is great advice. That is like, seriously. Like, [00:20:30] it's almost like you, like, you know, the, the marketing CMOs who are basically like under development under development managers, like you're like. Who designed
[00:20:40] Jenny: this. Yeah. And who's driving the strategy, right? Like if you're under a [00:20:45] development office, like that sends a message to you, that your role as a marketer in this place is going to be very focused on fundraising and relationship.
[00:20:54] Jenny: Like, that's it. Right. And it. You lose all the other pieces that we all know [00:21:00] collaborative, like the collaboration that's needed to build a brand, right?
[00:21:06] Corynn: Let's talk about rara, the generous sponsors of the application. They truly fit right into my obsession with experience management, because they built an app to ensure your students [00:21:15] can discover access and connect with resources, programs, and generally all things happening on campus.
[00:21:20] Jenny: Check them out at
[00:21:25] Corynn: So back to this position that you've hired for their starting mid-March it sounds [00:21:30] like yes. So events, liaison, I guess, like, what does success look like for this position? Like you're looking back five years from now, what does that, what does it look like? What does success look like?
[00:21:42] Jenny: That's such a great question.
[00:21:44] Jenny: I [00:21:45] think, you know, five years from now, if we could look back and we could say. That we charted the student journey and we showed what that ecosystem looks like. And we found the friction points where we knew we were either losing enrollment or we were [00:22:00] losing brand equity, or there was reputation management spots that we were losing out on.
[00:22:07] Jenny: I would be so pleased with this position. I also think the, some indicators of success would be in things like. The conversation [00:22:15] around the brand, what's the organic conversation happening? What are, what is, what are people feeling when they interact with the university of Montana? I think those would be some major indicators of And I guess my third one would be like, have we had a lot of fun doing this [00:22:30] because what's more fun than brand experience, not a lot there's room.
[00:22:34] Jenny: There's like room for so much creativity in that space. So if we haven't had fun in five years, we have seriously messed up.
[00:22:41] Corynn: Yes, I think that makes you a marketing nerd, but that's okay.
[00:22:44] Jenny: That's a given. [00:22:45] So given
[00:22:46] Corynn: what is more fun than brand experience?
[00:22:50] Jenny: Nothing. Nothing. So I, my poor, my poor husband is like a tradesman and he's just like, oh my God, stop talking.
[00:22:59] Jenny: My
[00:22:59] Corynn: husband's a project [00:23:00] manager. Like, you know, like the lead. You're like, you know, like very type a and he, like, I think he probably has a heart attack every time I talk about like the chaos of everything in marketing.
[00:23:12] Jenny: Totally.
[00:23:13] Corynn: Oh, that's funny. Okay. So you also [00:23:15] mentioned the house of cards on borrowed and or rented land.
[00:23:19] Corynn: What are you doing different to differently different? To, to guard against the continued decline in organic reach and engagement. [00:23:30] The potential loss of like Facebook in Europe, essentially, I guess enlist, like these, like other like tick talks here now, like what are we doing? Like, how are you building something that's made of brick on owned land, I guess?
[00:23:43] Jenny: Yeah. So I think in, in [00:23:45] my mind, what I'm trying to do here, right, is like we have a lot of foundational building to do just in general and we're doing that. We're doing it really quickly. March 1st will be my first year at the university of Montana. And when I reflect back. First of all I'm validated and how exhausted I've been.
[00:23:58] Jenny: But second [00:24:00] I'm, I'm blown away with what this team has gotten done in a year. So we've been building a lot of foundational work, but the second piece is like looking forward where I think we need to invest. Time is heavily in content strategy is heavily in like, how are we aligning our [00:24:15] storytelling in a way that's meaningful for our audience and delivering them value?
[00:24:18] Jenny: Because I think now more than ever our content content is so CR it's such a crowded. On online, like it's and I think there's [00:24:30] something to be said for putting out less but better content. So I think aligning the content strategy strategy with what's valuable to our audiences is one of the main pillars that we're building on.[00:24:45]
[00:24:45] Jenny: And. The second is that we're working on a really exciting personalization project on web. So we are looking at, you know, our perspective, student audiences, how do we build an experience for them at the top of the funnel that is special and feels [00:25:00] like they're not being talked at from our brand, which I think a lot of higher ed brands do, you know, it's all about, we are this, we are that not about here.
[00:25:07] Jenny: You will, or we want people like you. And so we're working. Carefully on, you know, what our [00:25:15] prospective student journey feels and looks like. And then the third I do think is this brand experience and brand strategy work. You know, it's, it's, I don't have all the answers to this yet. I'm lucky that I get to experiment with this role, but those are the [00:25:30] areas that I see as the places that we need to be investing.
[00:25:34] Jenny: And in some ways it takes me back to like early in my career, like I was an early adopter of hubs. And I still, to this day, I'm so bought into the inbound methodology because I think it makes sense. And [00:25:45] I think the inbound methodology was all about building on your own land. So I don't, you know, create what I think about it.
[00:25:51] Jenny: And I'd love to know your thoughts on this too. But for me, it takes me back to thinking about, you know, blogging is like one of the oldest [00:26:00] social medias out there. Like, I wonder if we're going to be kind of taking a look back at some of the tactics that worked. Before social media and finding ways that we modernize and elevate those older tactics.
[00:26:13] Corynn: I, I [00:26:15] agree. I think there is this interesting cyclical kind of pattern of what so with convincing of our, we call it utility, right? So like overly helpful content that you create and push into the world [00:26:30] just for help, just to be helpful in general to your audience. And your audience is like, wow, this is incredibly helpful.
[00:26:35] Corynn: And it starts growing Brandon. Right. And they start reading content and they start consuming content, spending more time with your content because it's genuinely helpful to their lives. [00:26:45] And so this is like financial aid 1 0 1, not like how did a financial aid at my institution, just how to financial aid in general, I'm making this a verb.
[00:26:53] Corynn: I'm not sure. And like this super helpful content that is no strings attached. And, [00:27:00] but it creates this ecosystem of individuals who either convert. They use you, they, they evangelize your brand right there. They're talking about your been advocating on your behalf. Right? I don't use sprout social in my day to day, [00:27:15] but I tell everybody how amazing sprout social is purely because of their blog content, because I love it.
[00:27:21] Corynn: It's so helpful. They've got data and reports and things like that. So I think there is something to this where higher ed has to look at, not. The [00:27:30] audience that they're talking to, but their affinity audiences, right? Who are the people who are influencing students and prospective students outside of their peers and parents to directly ones, right?
[00:27:41] Corynn: How can we create this system of helpful content? [00:27:45] That, again, you just mentioned inbound, right? That's a HubSpot basically model, like you said, 10 years ago is make. That's good, good content, not lots of content, good content that will draw people in and eventually pull them [00:28:00] through. And if they convert great, but if they don't, they are still your people who are talking about you.
[00:28:05] Corynn: So I think that's,
[00:28:07] Jenny: I, you still have, you still have served those consumers, whether or not they ever actually become a customer of yours. Yeah, that's exactly it. So [00:28:15] I think, you know, I feel the same way about HubSpot. I'm not a current HubSpot customer, but I was one of their early adopters. I started using them in 2008 and I think what they have built is a model.
[00:28:25] Jenny: You know, back in the day we, we, we used to use social to amplify our content. It [00:28:30] wasn't the repository of our content. So, but I think, you know, social media is not going away, but the way that our audiences use it is changed. And so for instance, one thing I've seen is that we we've stood up, Zemi here on campus to connect with our [00:28:45] perspective students.
[00:28:46] Jenny: And, you know, if, if people aren't familiar with Zemi, I like to describe it as like, almost like a privatized social media network where students connect, you know, on a topic. So they are interested in the university of Montana. They had been admitted to the university of Montana. They're planning on [00:29:00] attending the university of Montana.
[00:29:01] Jenny: And so they connect in this very kind of targeted way. And I, and I think that appeases gen Z in a lot of ways, including their concerns about privacy. So Zini is kind of more of a closed community. [00:29:15] I mean, again, like we're thinking back in the day, like we used to have these communities, right. These chat rooms and things like that.
[00:29:21] Jenny: It's almost a re modernization of that. But we've had tremendous success with our Zini our Zemi communities and it's become [00:29:30] one of the key indicators about the incoming class, you know, what do they care about? What are they interested in? We can even tie the data very, very closely to our projections of our incoming classes.
[00:29:42] Jenny: And the interesting thing about DME is, you know, it was originally designed [00:29:45] as for just prospective students. And then what Zemi was seeing was that students would, you know, share their Snapchat. Whatever, and they would get, share their Instagram. They'd get off of it. But with COVID these cohorts continued [00:30:00] because it was a place of connection for them to grow this community, you know, of students where they weren't having those on-campus opportunities.
[00:30:07] Jenny: And so I think, you know, there might even be a potential thinking long-term for a lot of these universities and colleges, it's like, do we create [00:30:15] our own privatized social experience? I
[00:30:18] Corynn: think that's, I think that's really interesting. How do you build something on your, again, your own Deland? That's not reliant on social media, especially social giants, I guess, you know, these discord and [00:30:30] other communities that are a little more, again, they're private.
[00:30:32] Corynn: And you see the, you see agencies and marketers asking should brands be in discord, student groups. And I think the question is, I don't know, maybe we sh maybe we shouldn't, maybe we should empower students to advocate on our [00:30:45] behalf, but maybe like, leave that kind of stuff alone.
[00:30:49] Jenny: Well, and I think, you know, when we talk about the psychology of an owned space versus a space like discord, you know, it owned space, it's all out on the table.
[00:30:57] Jenny: Like you're coming to this own space because you're going to interact [00:31:00] with this. When we show up in places like discord or, you know, even on, you know, the way brands tried to do Snapchat for a long time, like, I think what happens is we just slowly drive these audiences to different [00:31:15] channels. Like we, like, we get there and they're like, Hmm, this is not great anymore.
[00:31:19] Jenny: And they leave and maybe we start, we stop that cycle by being just more upfront with like, if you want to connect with people like you, who are also interested in this thing, here's the space. [00:31:30] Right.
[00:31:30] Corynn: The niche communities, which is definitely a growing trend that we're seeing more and more. I mentioned, so I, I wrote content with this recently actually, and I mentioned how, like, I'm in like a minimalist mom, Facebook group, or I'm in [00:31:45] like, you know, these like very, like, I love fantasy romance novels with, you know, fairies and whatever the case may be.
[00:31:52] Corynn: It's like these super small communities. It's the only reason I use Facebook because I have these super small communities that I can add. And talk to them. Cause I don't want to like [00:32:00] generally talk to like, you know, I was like, there's large audiences, you know, its smallest viable audience kind of play here with communities and then content that can speak and be more broad.
[00:32:12] Corynn: I think that to drive people [00:32:15] to these communities where they can then become more niche and interactive and things like that, I think that's super interesting having, are you seeing, so Azimi obviously, and I I'm the member Azimi and I think it's. Rolling out in lots of institutions is [00:32:30] because of this kind of shift in paradigm of the need for privacy niche communities, again, that are digital.
[00:32:37] Corynn: Right. And so are you seeing other tech or trends where institutions are owning [00:32:45] communities in this way off of social
[00:32:47] Jenny: media?
[00:32:51] Jenny: Gosh, that's a great question. I mean off the top of my head. I know there's all the big players are trying to do this, right? Like Simi is independent, but [00:33:00] every big player out there is trying to stand up certain things like this. I mean, there's also things like campus ESP, which is targeted towards parents and communicating to parents.
[00:33:09] Jenny: I think off the top of my head, I couldn't give you a list, but I do think it's a trend. And I think it's an area [00:33:15] that everyone is trying to figure out right now. It's interesting.
[00:33:18] Corynn: I think we found a gap in the market. Yeah.
[00:33:21] Jenny: Yeah. So don't publish this. We're going to make millions,
[00:33:25] Corynn: oh. Community building capabilities, like a slack [00:33:30] and, or a discord, but like, you know, dot EDU, like a sub domain genius.
[00:33:36] Corynn: Right.
[00:33:37] Jenny: Like Facebook. Oh, wait, wait. Last a social network for [00:33:45] just.edu. Wait a second. See, it's all
[00:33:47] Corynn: cyclical. Dang it. It's all cyclical. Now we're Monday night quarterbacking. We won't make the mistakes. Facebook did. That's
[00:33:55] Jenny: right. That's true. Better. That's right. We're not, we're not Zuck. Right. You know, I do think though it is interesting when [00:34:00] we think about the cyclical nature of things.
[00:34:02] Jenny: I think this is a time for marketers to lean back into. Those baseline foundational skills that we are all taught that, you know, might feel a little old school right now, but you know, things like copywriting, [00:34:15] right? Like there's no thing, more powerful than like a, a really strong brand voice because it makes you feel something or it makes you think differently about something.
[00:34:24] Jenny: So I think there's foundational skills, like, you know, copywriting or analysis or the [00:34:30] psychology of buying and consumer behavior. Like. There's all these things we should be leaning into and reminding ourselves that things are cyclical and that foundation allows us to build what's next, because that, that foundation doesn't go away.
[00:34:44] Jenny: [00:34:45] Like, you know, go read Ogilvy on advertising again, you know, probably most of us haven't read it since, since college, but like, you know, pick up those classics. And refresh your mind on the work that we do. No, that's
[00:34:57] Corynn: interesting. You know, we mentioned micro [00:35:00] experiences and soon experiences that kind of culminate and you and I have had like an active Twitter conversation about what was the university with the right, the copywriting and email.
[00:35:09] Jenny: Swarthmore hands down. I have been a fan of Swarthmore for a couple of years now. I, [00:35:15] I, and I feel bad for saying this, I'm sorry, Swarthmore, but I secret shop. So you can take my daughter out of your system, but I mean, they're just, it's, it's fun. It's quippy. It makes you think it's unexpected. And I think a lot of the time with [00:35:30] differentiation in higher ed is that we lack the courage to be truly different and to try things.
[00:35:35] Jenny: And we're so. You know, a little bit buttoned up sometimes. I think there's a lot of kind of Naval gazing in higher ed because the work that's [00:35:45] happening on these campuses is so important. And, but it's also, it's also niche, right? Like it is it can be hard to kind of take your head up and be like, wow, you know, a very small amount of consumers are interested in this time.
[00:35:59] Jenny: Like this little [00:36:00] bit of research that's happening on campus. That's super. And super important for the world, but like not necessarily a magnet for the masses and what I think Swarthmore does. It's so beautiful is that they respond to gen Z in this really [00:36:15] fun way. And it's an invitation to connect with them.
[00:36:19] Jenny: Like when you open their emails, you feel like they are talking to you and you feel like all your next steps are always really outlined. And they do it in this, this fun [00:36:30] way. That's got a little bit of like, Well attitude, but it works. And so I think, I think more universities would benefit from being a little bit more courageous when it comes to [00:36:45] differentiation.
[00:36:45] Jenny: You know,
[00:36:45] Corynn: it's interesting. The shift toward you know, we're used to like the button up suit and tie kind of feel from higher ed and even really in marketing, it feels like it's a little bit of suit and tie, but. But this, this [00:37:00] revolution of the 2000 tens influencer and the backlash against the filtered, overly curated kind of content that we're seeing that gen Z is like this.
[00:37:11] Corynn: We got to stop doing this. Even millennials are like, stop, stop doing this. We have [00:37:15] like real lives. Like please stop giving me, you know, house porn because my house will never look like that. Give me the real thing. I've got two kids, two dogs, a cat. Please for the love of God. And it feels like higher ed has a, [00:37:30] has an opportunity here to stop creating these extravagant brand videos that are super overly produced.
[00:37:37] Corynn: And they've got talking heads and like, we don't want to see that. We don't want to see the president talk about your [00:37:45] institution over and over, over again. I mean, obviously a couple of times. Sure. But like over and over again and marketing materials, whereas we're seeing you know, We're seeing Tik TOK take off for hire, right?
[00:37:55] Corynn: Especially we're seeing, you know, student created content you know, perform way better than regular [00:38:00] content and brand content. And we're seeing this across, not even just higher ed, just in general, UGC and influencer and creator, kind of a revolution almost. And I'm wondering if the student experiences and the emails we were just talking about.
[00:38:14] Corynn: If [00:38:15] it's, if it's a kind of a, like a word. Clutching brand in higher ed. If we kind of just let it go a little bit and give us permission to, again, write those emails. It's like, oh my God, this was so delightful. Like the [00:38:30] screaming into the void email that I had got from from the Institute we were just talking about.
[00:38:35] Corynn: It was amazing. I was like, oh my gosh, like who gave them permission to write this? Like, how do we get that permission across.
[00:38:43] Jenny: A hundred percent. And I [00:38:45] know, you know, when we think about branding, right? Like brands are a, I think a lot of time on campus, first of all, like even using the word brand is a pretty modern thing in higher ed.
[00:38:55] Jenny: And I still, I still, you know, my first couple of weeks on campus got pushed back about using the word brand [00:39:00] because someone said to me like, oh, that just feels gross. And it's like, okay, well, we gotta, we've got to evolve the way we think about brand on campus. But you know, I think a lot of the time we think about brand as like.
[00:39:11] Jenny: Theorial thing that's just kind of floating around, but the brand is like a living [00:39:15] organism that has to be maintained and taken care of. And we have to manage our brands the way we would manage an asset, same kind of model. And what it makes me think about is, you know, when we think about managing the brand as an [00:39:30] asset, the brand has to be allowed and has to have air to evolve and move and change over time.
[00:39:36] Jenny: And in higher ed, what I think is so fascinating is that. So internally, I think people's identities are so closely aligned [00:39:45] with brand that it makes it really hard to differentiate sometimes because people cling to what they've known because it's, it's in rooted in them as a piece of their identity.
[00:39:54] Jenny: Whereas, you know, when I was in the corporate world, you know, if we did a new brand video or we [00:40:00] had a new hashtag people at the company were like, oh yes, this is about, you know, promoting sales or it's about this or that. Right. And, you know, you're always going to have, when you're talking about branding, you're, you're not going to make everybody happy.
[00:40:12] Jenny: Like I, I ascribed to the Seth Godin [00:40:15] philosophy of, you know, your, what is it called? Like your minimal but minimal viable audience. Like, that's always going to be the case, but you've got to let the brand evolve and change over time. And you have to help the brand, [00:40:30] serve the institution in a way that feels like it's full of energy and has joy and connects with people in a way that is rooted in heritage, but also so focused on being aspirational at the same time.
[00:40:44] Corynn: I love [00:40:45] that you gotta let your I'll let your brand breathe and change and nurture because otherwise you're going to stifle it like any sort of living creature that you would think of. It doesn't it's got, yeah, it's got to adapt its evolution. Right? All of us, everything around us is [00:41:00] doing that. You have to let the brand change because everything around it is changing consumer behaviors, expectations, all these, the generation new generations coming in, especially in higher ed.
[00:41:10] Corynn: It's so exciting to have new generations almost [00:41:15] every year. And then it's not because it's hard. You have to adjust things and be like, all right, what's the latest. And, you know I think. Super important. Any final thoughts about student experience, the future of what you're doing or the position that [00:41:30] you're launching?
[00:41:30] Corynn: Any, any kind of final
[00:41:31] Jenny: thoughts? I think, you know, back to what we were talking about with letting a brand breathe, we also have to make room for our teams to evolve and we have to help people find the skills that they need to keep evolving with what is [00:41:45] demanded of us from consumers. And I think that means sometimes letting go of older tactics that.
[00:41:53] Jenny: You know, might not serve the institution as much. And I think we have to, as much as an, as is in our power [00:42:00] align the work of our departments with the strategic goals of, of our universities or colleges. And that means saying no, and it means boundaries and that can be really uncomfortable, but I think we have to get more comfortable with [00:42:15] drawing those boundaries so that we can focus our limited time resources and energy on the.
[00:42:22] Jenny: Marketing events that will be the most meaningful to our students, to our institutional strategy. And I think [00:42:30] student experience, like you've said is at the core for so long, it's been at the core of everything we do, but not so much on the marketing side. So we've got to make that shift of being, and I think COVID helped us see that we are the hub on many [00:42:45] campuses.
[00:42:46] Jenny: Let's become the hub of the student experience as well. Let's do that.[00:42:51] Corynn: That's a wrap for this episode, please rate and subscribe through your favorite podcast platform. And remember a better student experience is always the answer.[00:43:00] .
About the Episode
The what's what...
In this episode, University of Montana’s CMO, Jenny Petty, talks all about a her vision for a new brand experience position, personalization efforts in recruitment content, and looking at the future of student experiences.
About the Podcast
Corynn is the Director of Brand Strategy at Simpson Scarborough where she provides strategic oversight on the development of higher education brand platforms, messaging architecture, and content strategies. Previously, Corynn created multi-channel content strategies for national brands at Convince and Convert and oversaw digital strategy at the University of Michigan as the Associate Director of Marketing. When she’s not working, Corynn enjoys browsing Antique shops with her husband, coaching her daughter’s softball team, and building Magnatile masterpieces with her son.
There is a reason everyone in Higher Ed loves Jenny Petty. She is fabulously smart and unapologetically empathetic. Her depth of experience and expertise in marketing and higher education is obvious to anyone who has the opportunity to chat with her. Jenny’s need to serve her team, her peers, and students is refreshing and something we should all strive toward. Jenny officially has an open invitation to come talk Higher Ed marketing, communications and student experience any time on the Application.
We partner with the best, to provide the best information.
Rah Rah's Community Engagement system provides a simple solution to give your students the inclusive and supportive experience they need to thrive. They integrate your entire campus so students can enjoy a single, centralized, mobile experience that will help them create stronger connections between their work inside and outside of the classroom.learn more
The Application with Corynn Myers
I'm doing a podcast, but not like the typical fluffy marketing podcast (I really don't like fluff). This podcast has a 3-part recipe. Ingredient #1: The Doers. These are the social directors, marketing managers, and communications specialist on the ground doing the work, and I'm going to convince them to tell me all of their secrets. Ingredient #2: Consumer Data. We'll look at consumer behavior and marketing best practice outside of higher ed and apply them back to higher ed. Ingredient #3: Actionable Takeaways. We're going to mix together higher ed secrets, marketing best practices, and consumer data to create action items you can do and use today. This podcast is for doers in higher ed marketing communications and is a a part of The Enrollify Podcast Network.
LISTEN TO MORE
Subscribe to our podcasts
The Enrollify Podcast Network is your go-to hub for shows that will empower you to grow, optimize, adapt, and reach new heights as an enrollment marketer.