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Join 3,000+ enrollment marketers in wrestling with ideas that are reshaping higher ed
What Higher Ed Needs from the Next Generation of Marketers
[00:00:00] Zach: All right, Jaime, we are live. How are you doing today? I'm well. How are you? I am doing excellent. Now that I'm talking to you, um, it's been, it's funny, we were, we were just chatting about this before we hit record, but I've been able to talk to you and get to know you a little bit over the last year and a half or so.
[00:00:35] And you host one of the most popular shows on our network now, but we actually haven't brought you onto this podcast before. So it's a real treat to have you here.
[00:00:46] Jaime: I'm so happy to be here. I'm really excited about our conversation.
[00:00:49] Zach: Yes. Yes. As am I. There's so much we could talk about. And as I was thinking a little bit about what is it that I really want to like pick Jaime's brain on, there were so many topics that came to [00:01:00] mind, but you recently became CMO at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
[00:01:05] Before that you were at Miami University in Ohio. I thought it would be interesting to at least start this conversation. By hearing a little bit about how you think from your perspective, from your friends perspectives, how you think higher ed as, as a body is, is doing at equipping CMOs like yourself for success, like what's going well and what needs to change.
[00:01:31] Jaime: Oh, that is a fantastic question. And one I've been pondering a little bit, I think that higher ed in general is not equipping CMO as well for these roles. And when I talked to my counterparts across the country, I realize how lucky I am here to be working for a president that has put. Our brand and our marketing efforts in our strategic plan as the number two goal and is resourcing it appropriately and understands that things take time and [00:02:00] hasn't been rushing me.
[00:02:01] But across the country, when I talk to people, CMOs are really burned out. They're being asked to do everything. So they're doing not just marketing, but crisis communications and issues management and event planning and all of these things, typically with super under resourced staff, often having to pay salaries to those staff that mean you're getting an entry level person for a position that shouldn't be entry level.
[00:02:26] Yeah. And not with sufficient budgets and with kind of crazy demands. Like we want to rebrand and we need the new brand in six months. Like that's not a reasonable request at all. So I just think Higher Ed has a lot it needs to learn. It's a much better, I've been in Higher Ed for 19 years. It's much better than it was when I started in 2004, but there's still a long way to go, a
[00:02:49] Zach: long way to go.
[00:02:51] Do you think with, with everything happening right now with. It's obviously not news that the industry as a whole is under [00:03:00] more scrutiny, maybe now than it ever has been, or at least has been for a long time. You're seeing students just make even students from positions of privilege decide to not enroll at a college or university, right?
[00:03:13] Take a different alternative path, or at least take a nontraditional path. You're also just seeing. Many, many, many individuals just questioning the ROI of a degree, right? All that to say, schools are closing, right? Schools are emerging. We're probably going to see a lot more of that, especially from like the smaller liberal arts institutions.
[00:03:33] But from your perspective, like, do you think, given the pressure that the industry is under, that folks are going to finally turn to marketing as sort of like this savior? Or like, how do you think the industry is responding? What do you think they think the... The solution is if it's not to better resource the marketing department.
[00:03:54] Jaime: Well, I see a lot of campuses doing things like we're going to solve this problem by launching new [00:04:00] programs or moving into the online space for the first time as an institution or fill in the blank with whatever flashy thing. But then I'm also seeing. But we're not allocating any marketing dollars to promote these new programs and initiatives fill in the blank.
[00:04:16] And so I think that there's going to be a real wake up call post pandemic. A lot of schools got. The money from the government that kind of kept them afloat to the pandemic and they could kind of play around with doing things now that money's gone. And I think there's a real awakening that needs to happen where you see now we spun up these online programs that weren't we haven't marketed the moment's not meeting expectations.
[00:04:41] What do we do? And hopefully CMOs say. This isn't if you build it, they will come. You have to have some marketing spend allocated. Yeah.
[00:04:52] Zach: Do you think that when it comes to that, that, that allocation of spend or resources, do you think presidents [00:05:00] know what to do? Like, do you really think there's more of this, like this paralysis because There, there's quite frankly, just a significant disconnect in what marketing means today versus what it meant when they were starting out in, in their respective careers.
[00:05:15] Like, do you think that there's just like a big knowledge gap there?
[00:05:18] Jaime: Absolutely. I mean, most college presidents have come up through academia, so they were professors and then they were chairs and deans, provost, whatever, none of those. Positions ever really intersects with marketing. So by the time they get to that presidency, they're just not, they haven't worked with marketing really much.
[00:05:39] They don't see its value in a lot of cases. Faculty are super dismissive of marketing and branding as waste of money. All money should just go to the academic side of things. And they don't understand that to enroll a class, to get the revenue that they need to get paid, we have to market and brand our institutions.
[00:05:59] So I [00:06:00] think I wish that every president, every first time president in particular got like a, this is what you need to know. I think Terry Flannery's how to market a university is a really good. First step for president. Yeah, but every single one needs like a crash course If I'm gonna like bust out and have a career after this, maybe it'll be telling college presidents This is what you need to know.
[00:06:23] This is how you need to be doing things. Yeah, cuz it's If there's just a lack of understanding, I think, I want to say across the board, but you know, talking to my friends, it seems like one out of 10 of my friends actually has a president who understands it. Again, very lucky to be where I
[00:06:40] Zach: am. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:06:41] Yeah. Yeah. That's an incredibly small percentage. And there are a lot of, yeah, a lot of institutions that need, that need a lot of help. Otherwise, they really are just going to slowly shudder, right? Or merge, which I think. When you have to merge because it's like the last thing that you, you know, you can do, it's really sort of a lose [00:07:00] lose for everybody.
[00:07:00] It's a lose for your students, it's a lose for alum, it's a lose for your faculty and staff. It's always positioned as kind of like a win, right? Like we're coming together and we're, you know, we're gonna be better together. But in reality, it ends up being this, I feel like, overnight, all of a sudden, you hear this news, and everyone seems shocked, right?
[00:07:19] And yet, these things shouldn't be shocking. There should be years and years and years of signal that there's a problem. It doesn't actually just happen
[00:07:28] Jaime: overnight. No, it's not like a president wakes up and it's like, Hey, I want to go through all the work that it takes to merge two institutions because I feel like it, I think it'll be fun.
[00:07:39] It is so much, I'm at a school where we're merging with somebody and it's a massive multi year undertaking to bring this college into our fold. And it is traumatic for the people on, on that campus. You know, there's concerns about losing their identity and Yeah. Going from being a private employee to a public [00:08:00] employee.
[00:08:00] Yeah. Yeah. Fill in the blank. Yeah.
[00:08:03] Zach: Yeah. It's, it's, it's, it's, it's certainly scary and yet, like, I also think that there's, there's remarkable opportunity, right? Um, and I think you're, you're doing a, a really good job of. I think helping people who might feel alone in, in their own context, kind of see an example of somebody who is taking risks, right?
[00:08:21] Who, who's trying to be bold, who's out there calling things, you know, provocative things at times, right? To, to get leadership's attention about the importance of equipping your CMO with the resources that he or she needs to be successful and their teams as well. I did want to pick your brain a little bit because of the context that you do find yourself in.
[00:08:41] When, when working with the president and the rest of the leadership team. Well, in the context of the strategic plan, what are like your core objectives? Like what are they holding you and your team accountable to?
[00:08:57] Jaime: Yeah. So we are tasked with [00:09:00] building and enhancing the university's brand. That's like our number one priority.
[00:09:04] Priority supporting recruitment of students, supporting revenue generation to licensing and fundraising. And then we actually have something that I think isn't part of most higher ed marketing offices priorities. And that's. retention. So we do a lot of work and intend to continue to do more work on supporting our efforts to improve retention rates and graduation rates.
[00:09:31] And a lot of times that's something that's seen as the job of student affairs or. academic success or whatever, but we see us as having a role in that. Part of it is communicating to students what resources they have available to them to help them avoid having to drop out, have, avoid failing a class, that kind of thing.
[00:09:50] So for us, those are our biggest priorities in the department. We call them the four R's. It's recruitment, retention, revenue generation, and reputation. [00:10:00] Those are
[00:10:01] Zach: our efforts. I love, I love the attention on retention because from a purely business perspective, it's a lot easier to retain a customer that you already have than attracting and acquire a new one.
[00:10:14] And I know that is something that not, not enough schools are able to pay, pay enough attention to. You just, you assume that people, you got them once, right? The admissions team did their job. And, and then they'll graduate four years later, and you'll have four years that they're paying tuition, and then they'll graduate, and then they'll eventually start giving back to, to, to your respective institution, and yet, time and time again, we understand that, like, especially these days, That's, that's, there's no guarantee that when they walk through and sit through orientation on that first day, that they're also going to be walking on the stage at graduation.
[00:10:51] Jaime: I mean, if you have a retention rate of 70%, that means looking at a group of 10 incoming freshmen, three are not going to make [00:11:00] it to sophomore year. And if you have a, you know, a 50 percent graduation rate, fully half of the students. that start are not finishing. And that's bad on so many levels. But to your point, on the business level, you're losing a ton of revenue when you only have someone matriculate for one year, two years, three years, not finished the whole process.
[00:11:23] So there's a business case for it, but there's a moral and ethical case for it too. Bringing in students who are acquiring debt and then not leaving with a degree. We need to do better as a, as an industry.
[00:11:36] Zach: Well, it happened again. Prospect Paul is excited about attending your institution, but is getting consistently confused by all of the information and tasks he needs to complete to enroll, creating friction and, even worse, possible melt.
[00:11:51] You knew this would happen again, which is why you've been flagging the need for a Come to Jesus meeting with leadership from Marketing, Admissions, and IT to audit the digital experience [00:12:00] for prospective students. Here's the problem. You're not going to convince Mark from Marketing to let go of his marketing automation software.
[00:12:06] Adriana from Admissions just got set up with her new CRM, and Isabel from IT is still working through ticket requests from last Christmas. But what if you could come to the table with a solution that didn't require anyone to let go of their software, while at the same time ensuring a frictionless experience for prospects and current students alike?
[00:12:27] Well, my friend, guess what? Today is your lucky day. Meet Pathify, an innovative higher ed engagement hub that puts students at the center of their college journey. Pathify sits at the center of your school's digital ecosystem, becoming the single user experience interface tying together all systems, content, and communications.
[00:12:48] Their engagement hub elevates the information that matters most, and pushes systems like your SIS behind the scenes where they belong. Which makes it simpler for students to discover and engage with the opportunities your [00:13:00] institution provides at every step of their higher ed journey, from prospect all the way through to alumni.
[00:13:06] What's even better is that Pathify has a mobile experience that provides 100 percent parity with the responsive web app, so your campus app is always in sync. Pathify is a platform that every stakeholder on campus, from marketing to admissions to student affairs to IT, etc., can get equally excited about.
[00:13:24] You can learn more about how Pathify is uniting strategic units across campus and bettering the entire student experience by visiting pathify. com. And be sure to tell them that Zach from the Enrollify podcast sent you their way. Again, that's pathify. com. And be sure to mention that you heard about them on the Enrollify podcast.
[00:13:44] All right, folks, back to the show.
[00:13:55] What are some things that you think you all need to start doing more of or you plan to start [00:14:00] doing more of that that you historically haven't done or haven't been able to do? Yeah.
[00:14:06] Jaime: So. Here, we are trying to make our prospective student journeys more robust and more personalized. And so what we're going to be working toward, we're taking over top of the funnel, not with this class, but with the next class.
[00:14:21] And we want to build out over the next year, the student journeys where we're collecting as much information as we can about a student and their interests to give them super personalized. Communications. And I think with generative AI tools like ChatGPT and others, we're going to be better positioned to be able to create you, Zach, get an email and you are the only person that's getting that specific message.
[00:14:49] It is what it is tailored to you, Zach. And. So I see more of that happening. I also see, honestly, this is going to sound a little weird, [00:15:00] but I think we're going to be spending a little bit more in the traditional marketing sphere. I think digital marketing, the ROI is a little bit hard to tie back, but I don't think anybody's like, Oh, look, I'm on the ESPN site.
[00:15:12] Oh, an ad for a school. I'm going to go apply right now. Yeah. You know what I mean? I think sending stuff to the home. We did an analysis and we actually think that our out of home had a big impact when we started doing some out of home things, we got a lot more traffic and of course it's a little hard to do a one to one there, but we're going to be doing more out of home as well.
[00:15:33] Yeah. Making it so that like the whole Hampton Roads region sees. Old Dominion University as their university, uh, stuff like that. And I also think we have to be thinking about like text messaging, chat bots, stuff that really enhances that two way communication with
[00:15:53] Zach: prospective students. HubSpot is a huge, you know, marketing automation platform in the space.
[00:15:59] They're really kind of now [00:16:00] positioning themselves as a true CRM. They've been doing that for a few years and they're really trying to take on Salesforce at the end of the day. But they had their annual marketing conference, it's actually going on like this week as we're, as we're recording it and I didn't get to go this year, which is sad because it's, oh, it's such a fantastic event, but one, I, I caught a little bit of the keynote that the CEO was giving and one of the things that she said, which really stood out to me, she was like, you know, today customers, they don't come to your website.
[00:16:27] To just find information, they come to your website to have a conversation. The reality is like today, even though all the information is there and we expect it to be there. And if somebody really wants to take the time to navigate through your website, to go through all your dropdowns and, and kind of self service.
[00:16:42] Great. That's awesome. You have to make sure that they're able to do that if they want to. But the reality is. Most folks, even though the information's there we're lazy, like consumers are lazy, like we, we know that you probably have this in your FAQ somewhere, but I don't care. I, I, I want to know, I [00:17:00] want, I wanna ask the question in the way that I know how to ask the question, and I want Jaime from O D U to give me the answer.
[00:17:07] In, in, in the vehicle and through the channel that, that, that I'm operating and I don't want to have to go to a different channel or a different portal to ask that question. And that is, that, you know, the major brands in the space, major, major corporations, like the Force 500, they've invested in the technology and the staff where we now have that expectation of brands.
[00:17:30] So why wouldn't, right, a 17 year old have the same expectation when they're on ODU's website? A hundred
[00:17:37] Jaime: percent. I mean, when I go to buy something, if I have a question, I am not digging in the FAQs. I'm going to their live chat. Yeah. A hundred percent of the time. And we're acting like somehow higher ed is different.
[00:17:50] Yeah. Totally. You're totally right. This is the most important decision of their lives. Yeah. Aside from who they choose to spend the rest of their life with, you [00:18:00] know, a partner or whether they want to have kids. Other than that, your college choices. A massively important decision and people don't want to dig around.
[00:18:10] And then we have to be thinking about voice search too. Yeah. That, you know, a lot of people aren't using Google to do their search. They're using voice to do search. It's a changing world and I worry that we're not keeping
[00:18:22] Zach: up. Yeah. No. And, and, you know, I think a, a tweet that you. Put out the other day really caught my eye, which, and I'd love for you to just maybe unpack it a little bit more if you'd like, but you said something along the lines of, you know, we live in a knowledge economy that no longer values higher education.
[00:18:38] And I read that and I was like, Oh my gosh, you're so right. Like, how funny is that? Right? I just wanted to give you the opportunity if you'd like to expand a little bit on what you meant by that.
[00:18:49] Jaime: Yeah, I was sitting there thinking about what kind of economy we have, like I was working on writing something and I, I needed like the adjective to describe our global economy or [00:19:00] whatever.
[00:19:00] That wasn't the phrase global economy. And I was thinking about like, we're really. Uh, knowledge and service economy, right? We're not a production economy anymore. So those two areas are the areas where most of our careers in this country are in. And we're in a situation where people are undervaluing even K 12 education, but very undervaluing higher education.
[00:19:22] In a knowledge economy, and I don't know if they're thinking about I'm feisty today. I don't know if they're thinking about like the long term effects of that being. Are we going back to a production economy? And that's fine. If that's what we're deciding as a society, we want to do. I just don't think we are.
[00:19:40] Yeah. I don't think that those are the jobs that people in large quantities. Want to have, not that they're bad jobs. I come from a blue collar family. I come from a family that was very specifically in the production space of things, but I like that I had options where I didn't have to do physical [00:20:00] work or, you know, that kind of thing.
[00:20:02] And I'm a little worried that we're going to get to a point where it's going to be like back in the twenties, thirties, forties, where the only people who can get, have the option of choosing careers. Based on their interests are those whose families prioritize education and everybody else is now in a service job.
[00:20:24] Yeah. There's nothing wrong with service jobs. But that's not what everybody wants and if you don't have an education, sometimes that's all you can get. Yeah,
[00:20:32] Zach: yeah, if you, I think what you're saying too is like if you're not enabling like the choice, that's the problem, right? Yeah, if you enable choice, great.
[00:20:41] Yeah, choose what you will, choose what you want. But the reality is if we go into, if we keep going in this direction, we're unintentionally removing choice from the equation. Yes.
[00:20:53] Jaime: I want to earn my income from my brain. I know that my body is fragile. I have a [00:21:00] disability. I, I want to get my income from my brain, but I have that choice because I have a degree and that is.
[00:21:09] That's exactly what I'm saying. And I think like, you know, maybe my nephew wants to follow in his dad's footsteps and be an electrician. That's fantastic. Yeah. But if he wants to be a veterinarian or an accountant or something, then he's going to have to choose. A path to have some higher education to do that.
[00:21:31] Zach: yeah. What's, what's interesting too about all this conversation, right, is there are so many boot camps that have popped up, right, that actually like by and large, I, I have friends who've gone through some of these accelerators and they have landed some pretty remarkable jobs and they're doing really well and the investment that they made.
[00:21:50] In these, you know, boot camps or these accelerators, it was a fraction of the investment that other friends who took a more traditional path and studied computer science, for instance, at a four year [00:22:00] institution yielded. And what's super interesting is that I think you miss out on a lot if you just opt for the accelerator.
[00:22:07] Great, you get the job, but you obviously miss out on the holistic experience that higher education offers. And I actually think that this is a huge opportunity for folks. Hey, the liberal arts, I think it could could have a moment again where it's like, wait a second, like we spent the last, I don't know, a couple decades, maybe really, really, really prioritizing stamina, especially people from more privileged backgrounds, right?
[00:22:29] Want their. Children to pursue STEM degrees. And, and, you know, that, that will continue. And that's incredibly important. I also think for a large group of people, it's really going to be about how do we really equip people to think, how do we encourage people to, to reason again? And that's like. That all comes from higher education, right?
[00:22:51] And I think that there's this huge marketing and like branding moment that the industry could have. And yet I don't feel like it's [00:23:00] the capitalization of that and the execution of that. It's not there. There's no one that comes to mind that's doing that in at a national scale. That's that's garnering attention.
[00:23:10] And I think that that needs to be done
[00:23:12] Jaime: 100 percent agree. And I'm kind of chuckling when you're talking because when I started working at UW Oshkosh in 2007, the chancellor there met with me and with how do we talk about liberal arts education? How do we talk about why this is important? And so that was my first introduction to the idea that liberal arts was something that we needed to create a frame around for people to appreciate.
[00:23:40] And that was now 15, 16 years ago. And if anything, we've. Yeah. There, there just hasn't been that messaging. And he used to say, this is Chancellor Richard Wells, he used to say, we don't teach you what to think. We teach you how to think. And in the world right now where we live in a [00:24:00] culture that has. Yeah. I think part of what you're learning in college is how to discern what is real and what isn't.
[00:24:09] How to make independent decisions for yourself based on the evidence, evidence presented. Yeah. I just think it's really important. And. I think honestly, work life is a hundred percent a group project. And you get a lot of those in college to kind of prepare you for, you know, when, you know, Bob and accounting, isn't pulling his weight on a project.
[00:24:30] You have experience with that because Bob was probably also not pulling his weight in your group project in college.
[00:24:36] Zach: Oh gosh. Yes. So well said. And you know, just one, one last comment on that too, is. I think there is a lot of, like, you know, distrust and mistrust of higher ed because depending on, you know, where you are at or the context that you were raised in, the background, the religious beliefs, whatever it might be, the things that you hold dear, I think, I think, and I don't necessarily believe that this is true, I think the way that [00:25:00] it's been marketed and positioned can actually, could be that, like, higher ed is an adversary to that, right?
[00:25:06] Like, people, the narrative that, you know, peers of mine heard kind of like growing up was like, you go to college and you lose, you lose your faith in everything, right? Because you get exposed to all this stuff and blah, blah, blah. And there's a lot I could say about that, but the reality of the situation is that I think that schools have this opportunity to to really lean into what your chancellor said, which is like, Hey, how do we really do the work of teaching our students how to think not what to think?
[00:25:35] Right? And that's really, really hard to do. I had professors. Who did an exceptional job at that. And then how the head, other professors that were very clear on what the right way to think was and what the right things to believe were. And, and again, it doesn't, especially today, like with, you know, Gen Z and Gen Alpha coming after they have like really great bullshit detectors, right?
[00:25:57] Meaning like if they smell or sense [00:26:00] any. agenda that you're throwing at them, they just kind of tune out, right? And I don't think we want a generation that tunes out to come into this, this workforce. I don't think we can afford it quite frankly.
[00:26:11] Jaime: Yeah, no, a hundred percent. When you were talking about like your, your friends and the beliefs and everything, I was thinking about my husband's grandpa who raised him, said like, it's one thing to have an open mind, but if you open it too much, your brains are going to fall out.
[00:26:24] And that's kind of like the mentality of. You know, open your mind makes you start to question your beliefs or whatever, but, you know, looking at it more as like an opportunity to strengthen your belief because they're, they're being held against something else. But yeah, I do think, you know, Gen Z and, and Gen Alpha are going to be really interesting.
[00:26:45] That bullshit detector is strong and their tolerance for. Bullshit, basically. It's really low. Yeah. It's really low. Like they are not here for it and they will tell you that. Yeah. Like they're, I don't [00:27:00] want to say confrontational because that's not exactly what I mean, but they will confront things. Yeah.
[00:27:06] I think much more than my generation. I'm Gen X. Like it was like, We're just lucky to have anybody pay attention to us, so we just roll
[00:27:16] Zach: with it. Yeah. No, it's, yeah. I, it's going to be an exciting time to see how all of this, uh, plays out. When I think about you, Jaime, and, and just the work that you've done over the last several years, I followed you long before I actually had the opportunity to get to know you a little bit, but you know, I've always seen you as this innovator in, in the space and you've just done a really You've been very vulnerable and like putting yourself out there and sharing your thoughts and sharing your ideas, and that's just not something that you see every day, especially in the context of higher education leadership role.
[00:27:47] And I think. You know, I'd love to see more of that and I would encourage our listeners here do more of that because, 'cause everyone needs it. We, we, you know, we all need it. I, what is it that like, drives you, like, how do you have the time to be [00:28:00] in 27 meetings, you know, in the first half of this week, and then also put something thought provoking out on Twitter and then host this podcast that you host.
[00:28:09] Like, what is it that drives you, what keeps you going? Where, where do you get your, like inspiration from?
[00:28:14] Jaime: That's, that's a fantastic question. People ask me all the time. When do I sleep? And I actually, my number one priority is to get eight hours of sleep every night. Like I deliberately, I have a ritual and I go to bed at the same time every night.
[00:28:29] So I sleep. I don't have kids. That's one. That gives me some time. But in terms of what drives me, I believe so much in the power of higher education. I live where I live. I have the life that I have solely because I went to college and I Was able to capitalize on what I learned to get the career that I've had, and I believe so strongly in it, but what I believe in secondarily to that is that marketing has the potential to save higher ed in this country [00:29:00] and that what drives me is helping my colleagues across the country, get the tools and the resources and whatever to be able to be effective at their institution, because frankly, Old Dominion University, it competes with, you know, a handful of schools.
[00:29:18] Yeah. I'm not going to give them my secrets necessarily because there are competitors, but with 4, 000 schools in the country, that's, you know, 3, 990 schools I'm not competing with that I actually think that helping to build up higher education in those institutions is good for all of us. It's that rising tide lifts all boats.
[00:29:38] So I've prioritized my sleep, my relationship with my husband, my job. And then right after that is giving back to this. The higher ed marketing community as much as I can, because I just think that there's bigger benefits to that than just the individual. Yeah.
[00:29:57] Zach: Do you think from your perspective? How, how [00:30:00] is the industry doing specifically higher ed marketers at, at like sharing information and networking and sort of like being together is.
[00:30:09] Do you feel like since you've been in higher ed for almost a couple decades now, how, how do you think that community has ebbed and flowed and formed, grown, if at all?
[00:30:23] Jaime: I've seen a lot of involvement in a lot of the different organizations that put out professional development. So you have like KACE and AMA and CUPRAP and all of those.
[00:30:34] PRSA. I've seen a growth in the offerings that are offered beyond just a conference. So I'm seeing more webinars, more virtual opportunities. I love to see the virtual opportunities that are at a lower price point, because a lot of our colleagues at smaller schools are just, they just don't have the budget, but they still need the skills.
[00:30:55] But I think this industry is so good at sharing ideas. [00:31:00] Yeah. I was talking with my friend, Jaime Seaman at Chapman University yesterday, and she was trying to reach out to one of our counterparts at another school. And we both reached out multiple times and we hadn't heard back. And we were both saying like, we're real, like, that's not cool.
[00:31:17] Right? Like if somebody reaches out for me to me from another school, I will respond within like a minimum number of, of business days. Because I won't want somebody to do that for me too. Yeah. We face the same challenges. We have the same issues. Like we've got to give to each other and support each other.
[00:31:36] I also get there's people who just like, they can't, they have so many things going on in their lives that they can't let people pick their brains every week. Yeah. But I have at least one person every single week that I meet with. Wow. Pick my brain. Yeah. And I certainly hope if I reach out to somebody, I will get the same.
[00:31:55] And I'll tell you, when I was dealing with a big issue at Miami University, I [00:32:00] reached out to somebody I'd never met before at a school I had no connection at. He was on vacation. He called me from his vacation to help me with something. And that's what this industry is all about, I think. I think we're givers, we're supporters, we're helpers.
[00:32:18] Zach: Yeah. Yeah. It's so well said. And I think that a lot of that, right, derives from. Really your willingness to be vulnerable and invulnerable in like a fairly like public way like when you when you are taking the time to kind of share your perspective or your thoughts or your wins or failures, whatever it is, publicly, it immediately, I think, gives people permission to to interact and and even for all those who like don't interact and don't reach out and don't, you know, request time to pick your brain You're, you're still sort of providing this sort of inspiration and hope and, you know, if, if nothing else, feeling like, oh, wow, it's, you know, my current, I'm not alone in, like, my current reality, I'm not alone in this feeling or this challenge, [00:33:00] somebody else has, has charted this path before me, or is walking alongside me through this particular moment that I, that I might be, uh, experiencing, and that's, I think, super, super important for community building in any context, but especially In higher ed during a time where there needs to be way more collaboration than ever before, if, if the industry is going to prosper again, and, you know, even grow and, and, and help tell the world that no, no, no, this narrative that has been painted about higher education.
[00:33:33] Is actually like not true. And let's, let's prove it to you. Let's do the work of proving it to you. I love
[00:33:40] Jaime: that. And when you mentioned the vulnerability, I had a fairly like polished presentation of who I was on social on Twitter in particular, LinkedIn. When I started my, my professional accounts about six years ago.
[00:33:54] And when I started sharing more personal stuff, more vulnerable stuff, more things that. Indicated that I don't [00:34:00] have all the answers, or I have a personality, or I have weird interests, or I'm a weirdo. I got several people saying, you made me see that I could be a CMO. I thought I was to fill in the blank to ever achieve a vice presidency.
[00:34:17] And so seeing somebody who's a fill in the blank makes me feel like I could do it too. And so then that, when I got that positive feedback, it was like, no, I'm going to be. I'm going to be the weird person that I am and be vulnerable a little bit on social media so people see that we don't have it all together.
[00:34:36] We're all human beings with weird issues and problems in our lives. So to me, that's also something where I feel like it's hopefully helping mentor the next generation by example. You don't have to be, you know, the most polished human being on earth to get one of these gigs. You just have to put in the work.
[00:34:55] Zach: word that might actually do. Which is, which I think would be hugely beneficial, right? [00:35:00] Is, Hierate is, you know, the classic, like, ivory tower analogy that everyone uses. This, this classic, like, incredibly polished, right? You put your best, you know, face forward all the time. You think about like a press conference and how everything is just every word is obsessed over and the president has to use these exact, you know, words for all these political reasons and and that those connotations kind of like.
[00:35:24] Carry out and and trickle down. I think through through the leadership at an institution. And so when you when you see something that that is different, I think what it also does is it potentially becomes a talent attractor where it's like, Oh, hey, like, I've always loved higher ed. I thought my ideas were a little too wacko or a little too crazy.
[00:35:44] Or, or that I would have to be somebody that I'm actually not in order to work in this context, but when, you know, you're putting out funny tweets about, you know, tortoises or something like that, maybe, maybe he gives me the permission to be like, you know what, I, I actually am a really good marketer and I love [00:36:00] this industry and, and maybe, maybe there is an opportunity for me to be a leader in it.
[00:36:04] Where, whereas, you know, his, historically, I might've thought that I would have to go lead somewhere else because higher ed was a little bit too polished for me.
[00:36:12] Jaime: I think that's so true. And I do think like sometimes there've been cases where I've been too weird for the place I've worked and I've had to like, put it back a little bit, particularly when I was working in my digital marketing office, reported up through IT and everybody was very buttoned up there.
[00:36:27] And I was like, Very weird. But I do think there's some real truth to that. And I also, when I hear from students that they felt like I was approachable because they followed me on Twitter and saw I was posting about Star Wars or my tortoise or whatever. That makes me feel good. I want students to want to come to me.
[00:36:45] And when I came out as queer on social media. Yeah. That was just like the student representative to the board of trustees was like, now I know there's representation on our cabinet. Now I know there's a voice in that conversation. [00:37:00] That is so great. And that, that's also really important to me for students to be like, okay, there's a woman with a disability who's queer on our cabinet.
[00:37:09] Those three things are being represented in leadership.
[00:37:14] That's important to me too.
[00:37:15] Zach: Yeah, no, that's, that's, that's like an amazing story. And I think hopefully just like. Encouraging an encouraging reminder for others to be really open about sharing who you are and realizing like at the end of the day, even, you know, even if it's as simple as like a tweet that somebody sees the potential perception change that that has on the institution and the brand of the institution as a whole.
[00:37:38] It could be life changing. It could be truly monumental. I do want to ask you about your podcast, because you host Confessions of a Higher Ed CMO, which is a podcast on the Enrollify podcast network, and you've, you know, recorded well over 30 episodes now, talking to industry leaders across the spectrum, and I remember when we first were brainstorming the [00:38:00] idea for this show.
[00:38:01] And, you know, what it might look like and we, you know, you and I were talking and I was convinced from that first conversation that it was going to be, you know, a great show. I think I've been surprised in like the best possible way by how many people have really latched onto it and really come to look forward to every episode that you publish every couple of weeks.
[00:38:22] How has that experience Ben, for you, like, what is it like hosting a podcast amidst all of your other duties? What have you learned from the experience so far? I'm
[00:38:33] Jaime: truly humbled that it's as popular as it, as it is. I didn't know what to expect at all. And so I'm very humbled that, that people seem to really like it.
[00:38:43] I get feedback almost every day from somebody. And I think one of the, my favorite things is when, you know, people are like, this helped me solve a problem or. I absolutely love it. For me, I see it as like also an opportunity for me to have professional development [00:39:00] in a way like I have, I'm curious about this.
[00:39:02] I'm going to talk to someone who knows more about this than I do or bringing in guests that are solving a problem. I'm currently having it happening to share it with you, um, with the listeners. I really. Also see it as a bit of a creative outlet for me in my job and all of our jobs kind of do what we have to do in the job and this is like I get to choose who I want to bring forward.
[00:39:26] I get to. Be deliberate about what I'm trying to do here. And I want to stress that I'm trying to bring voices that aren't on every other podcast. Yeah. Yeah. So I want, you know, fresh faces. I want people who haven't necessarily always had a seat at the table, bringing in a lot of diversity into the conversation.
[00:39:49] Showcasing different types of institutions. I do a lot of intentionality. I plan out my, my season. I usually have, you know, at least eight of the 12 episodes kind of [00:40:00] thought out. And then I'm just scheduling them. A lot of people are like, I can't schedule for you in December, Jaime. It's too early. So like, okay, well I'll be reaching out to you in the end of November to set a date or whatever and get, get people on the pipeline, but it's a very intentional process and I didn't know that I was going to.
[00:40:18] Be as successful with it as I have, but I love it and I love that it's helping people when people send me a note saying it helps them with something that's like, that's a day maker
[00:40:28] Zach: for me. Yeah, yeah, no. And I think that you have just, you've just got really good like rapport with the people that you bring on to.
[00:40:34] And I also love the fact that. You, you have some episodes that are like very tactical and then other episodes that are really more general. It's more story driven, like, Hey, what happens when your role is eliminated? Like, what do you do, right? And like having that really like broad conversation, but that could speak to anyone working in the industry versus speaking really specifically about, you know, how higher ed marketers can leverage generative [00:41:00] AI tools to streamline their processes to, you know, help their teams become more efficient.
[00:41:06] And, and I think it's, it's actually really hard as a podcast host myself to kind of go, you know, between like the high level stuff and then the deep tactical stuff. And sometimes you're like, is this way too specific? Do you, is this too niche of a problem for our listeners? And then it's like, then you get that email and you're like, Hey, thank you so much.
[00:41:23] This really helped. And then other times you think, wow, this was so broad, I don't know if this guest, like, did enough to, they just kind of told their story, I don't know if that was enough, and then you get another email where it's like, hey, I was so moved by so and so's story, thank you so much, so, it's really cool, it's hard to master that, but I think that you're doing a really good job of of Oscillating between both ends of the spectrum.
[00:41:44] Jaime: Well, thank you. It is definitely a challenge, but it's, I'd get positive feedback on both types of episodes, so I think it's serving a niche. One of the things that really, I had to laugh at is Patrick actually published one episode a day early. And he [00:42:00] said. It was like maybe it pushed out at 4am and at like 9 I was like, Oh, it's already out there.
[00:42:06] And he's like, well, I would take it down, but it's already had 95 downloads. And I'm like, that's awesome. Like, I love that there's people who are like, Ooh, another episode.
[00:42:15] Zach: That makes me happy. Yeah, that's hilarious. And for context, Patrick's one of the producers here at Enrollify. That's hilarious. I'll have to tell him that.
[00:42:23] Well, my last question for you, Jaime, is, is around folks who are tuning into this conversation who might be at that director level, might be an assistant director, and they aspire to be a CMO one day, and I think people like you, if they're not already following you, they should be, but what are some thoughts that you have on what these individuals should be doing right now to kind of prepare for what the From your perspective, the role of the CMO needs to be in the near future.
[00:42:50] Jaime: Yeah, if you are an aspiring CMO, I think you need to be really paying attention to what the emerging trends are because as you start interviewing for jobs [00:43:00] of CMO, as you're interviewing for CMO jobs, you're going to get into situations where people are asking you about the innovations that you've brought to your organization.
[00:43:10] And if Your innovation was we started a Facebook account in 2008. You're not going to get the job and you left. But that was how a question was answered, um, in an interview I had last month. Ah, geez. So, be more on the forefront of stuff. Hustle. Yeah. Like, if you're looking for a promotion at your university, be on committees, be, volunteer for things.
[00:43:32] Bring forward. Ideas, bring your boss solutions and not problems. Um, be really forward thinking, stay on top of what's happening in the industry. Know what your peers are doing. Go to professional development. It's not going to just miraculously happen. Promotions don't usually happen just because you've been somewhere for a certain amount of time.
[00:43:53] Yeah. You have to really showcase that you are the right person to lead this. And that means doing [00:44:00] those
[00:44:00] Zach: things. Yeah. Yeah, I also I if I could just add like one thing to from my perspective, not that I should even have a perspective on this because I have never been a CMO and or have never hired for a CMO.
[00:44:11] But what I would Imagine too is I know a fair number of folks who are, uh, you know, recruiters and help colleges and universities find their, their CMS. And they spent a lot of time looking through LinkedIn, right. And looking through social. And if you, if you can figure out like. Hey, what is it that I really care about?
[00:44:31] What are the things that I really believe? And how do I create even just a little bit of content every week about that thing? Right? Yeah. And being, becoming a creator yourself, even though at the end of the day, hey, you're not gonna be like posting TikToks necessarily, right? And that's okay. But like, what is it that you believe?
[00:44:47] And putting that out there. It's the best networking tool. Like it's such a great networking tool. And from a recruiter standpoint with her going and searching, if they just see your name over and over with these like [00:45:00] cool ideas, you, you best believe they're going to slide into your DMS. And
[00:45:05] Jaime: a hundred percent what I tell people, I got this job because of a tweet.
[00:45:12] So I tweeted about positive, empathetic leadership. And then I was asked to write an article about triaging our talent during the pandemic. I wrote that article. Organization in Canada read that article and said, will you come speak at our conference? I went and spoke at a conference in the Toronto area and did that.
[00:45:34] Then when the university was looking for somebody, they were looking for people who'd spoken at conferences. And this was an international conference. And my name came up. Multiple people referred me to the president. And it's all because, you know, I started using Twitter with deliberation in 2017 to build a community and build a name and get my name out there and all of that.
[00:45:58] You're exactly right. I would [00:46:00] not have this job without all of that. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:46:03] Zach: And again, like you, you obviously need the other things too. It's not enough to just, to just post on Twitter every day, but like, but the reality is like that. When folks are searching for somebody, right, and they want a better perspective, a more holistic perspective on how they think and who they are and whatnot, you can get a lot, right, from references and a resume and an interview.
[00:46:25] But you get so much more and I think it just amplifies who you are when there's also sort of this like digital history of Jaime's thought, right? And I can go and I can look at that and I can understand, Oh, wow, this is what she thinks about this kind of a thing. That stuff isn't going to come up in an interview necessarily, right?
[00:46:43] And like the nuances and the, Oh, hey, when it comes to, you know, creator marketing, this is what Jaime's take is on it. Like those sorts of things are just harder. They don't necessarily naturally come up in conversation. But they're really, it's, it's really, really helpful even from a recruiter [00:47:00] standpoint when they're trying to recommend top candidates to, to, uh, an institution to be able to pull from that and say, well, look at this person.
[00:47:06] They've got a podcast, like they go speak at an event. They do this thing. They are living and breathing marketing on their own. You know? Yes. We want them to lead our, our strategic unit.
[00:47:18] Jaime: That's exactly it. Like this person lives and breathes marketing. Yeah. That's the kind of person we want. And you're totally right by being visible on X or whatever or LinkedIn is you're showcasing that you're so passionate about this that you're likely using your free time to do that.
[00:47:37] I certainly don't have time during my work day to do any of the posts that I have. Thank God for scheduling. Yeah. But you know, I spend pretty much. every night on some doing some element of elevating my personal brand, elevating my thoughts, elevating the podcast, getting somebody lined up for the podcast.
[00:47:56] And that that's a passion for me. And I think that shows. [00:48:00] Yeah.
[00:48:00] Zach: Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more. Well, Jaime, this has been a super fun conversation. I'm so thankful for you and your time and all the work that you're doing. In this space, for those tuning in, if you're not already following Jaime, we'll have links to her social handles in the show notes below.
[00:48:13] We'll also have links to her podcast, Confessions of a Higher Ed CMO. If you haven't listened to An episode yet. I highly recommend you, you check it out. There are a number of great episodes. They're all great, but a number of great recent ones too, that I highly recommend you, you stream and go ahead and give her a follow and a subscribe on, on that show as well.
[00:48:31] Jaime, any last words or anywhere else you'd like folks to kind of, you know, you'd visit if they, if they want to connect with you or learn a little bit more from you.
[00:48:38] Jaime: Yeah. I mean, feel free to reach out. Like Zach said, my, my contacts will be in the show notes. I'm very happy to let people pick my brain.
[00:48:46] I'm trying to kind of like scale it back to like one a week instead of there was a while where I was doing a lot. So it might be a couple of weeks before I can get you on my calendar, but super happy to talk to anybody, happy to talk to people who are interested in exploring [00:49:00] career opportunities. I will probably always be hiring someone just because that's.
[00:49:04] When you have a big enough apartment, you have, you know, vacant positions. Just feel free to reach out. I'm happy to
[00:49:09] Zach: connect. Well, Jaime, thank you so much for your time.
[00:49:12] Jaime: Thank you, Zach.
[00:49:21] Zach: Hey y'all, Zach here from Enrollify. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Enrollify podcast. If you liked this episode, do us a huge favor and hit that follow and subscribe button below. Furthermore, if you've got just two minutes to spare, we would greatly appreciate you leaving a rating and a review of this show on Apple Podcasts.
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About the Episode
The what's what...
In this dynamic conversation, Zach sits down with Jaime Hunt, the Chief Marketing Officer at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia and the host of Enrollify’s Confessions of a Higher Ed CMO podcast.
Zach and Jaime explore how higher education as an industry is doing at preparing marketers to become CMOs, what marketing as a strategic unit on campus should and should not be held accountable to, and lessons Jaime has learned after interviewing dozens of the industry’s most innovative marketing leaders on her podcast.
This Episode is Sponsored by Pathify
Meet Pathify — an innovative higher ed engagement hub that puts students at the center of their college journey. Pathify sits at the center of your school’s digital ecosystem, becoming the single, user experience interface tying together all systems, content, and communications. Their engagement hub elevates the information that matters most and pushes systems like the SIS behind the scenes where they belong, making it simpler for students to discover and engage with the opportunities your institution provides at every step of their higher ed journey, from prospect to alumni. What’s even better, Pathify has a mobile experience that provides 100% parity with the responsive web app, so your campus app is always in sync. Pathify is a platform that EVERY stakeholder on campus — from marketing, to admissions, to student affairs, to IT, etc., — can get equally excited about. Learn more about how Pathify is uniting strategic units across campus and bettering the entire student experience by visiting Pathify.com
About the Enrollify Podcast Network
The Enrollify Podcast is a part of the Enrollify Podcast Network. If you like this podcast, chances are you’ll like other Enrollify shows too!
Our podcast network is growing by the month and we’ve got a plethora of marketing, admissions, and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks all designed to empower you to be a better higher ed professional.
Our shows feature a selection of the industry’s best as your hosts. Learn from Jaime Hunt, Allison Turcio, Corynn Myers, Dustin Ramsdell, Terry Flannery, Jaime Gleason and many more.
Learn more about The Enrollify Podcast Network at podcasts.enrollify.org. Our shows help higher ed marketers and admissions professionals find their next big idea — come and find yours!
About the Podcast
Zach is the Founder of Enrollify. He thoroughly enjoys building new brands, developing and executing content marketing strategies, and hosting podcasts. When he's not working on Enrollify, he enjoys discussing life's quandaries over coffee (or a good bourbon) with friends, building Sponstayneous (his travel brand side hustle), trying out new HIIT workouts, and adventuring across the globe with his wife!
Transformation has been a hallmark of Jaime Hunt’s career. In her more than 18 years working in higher education, Jaime has proven herself to be a strategic, entrepreneurial, and innovative leader. Advancing higher education communications and marketing and – as she says – “busting silos” to achieve business objectives are her passions. Jaime is currently the vice president for university communications and chief marketing officer for Old Dominion University – her third vice presidency. Prior to joining the ODU family in 2022, she served as vice president and chief communications and marketing officer at Miami University (Ohio) and vice chancellor for strategic communications and chief marketing officer for Winston-Salem State University. She has also served in public relations, marketing, digital strategy and media relations leadership roles at three other institutions. Jaime holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University.
We partner with the best, to provide the best information.
Meet Pathify — an innovative higher ed engagement hub that puts students at the center of their college journey. Pathify sits at the center of your school’s digital ecosystem, becoming the single, user experience interface tying together all systems, content, and communications. Their engagement hub elevates the information that matters most and pushes systems like the SIS behind the scenes where they belong, making it simpler for students to discover and engage with the opportunities your institution provides at every step of their higher ed journey, from prospect to alumni. What’s even better, Pathify has a mobile experience that provides 100% parity with the responsive web app, so your campus app is always in sync. Pathify is a platform that EVERY stakeholder on campus — from marketing, to admissions, to student affairs, to IT, etc., — can get equally excited about. Learn more about how Pathify is uniting strategic units across campus and bettering the entire student experience by visiting Pathify.comlearn more
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