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How to Structure an Open House With Limited Resources
[00:00:00] Jaime Gleason: Have you ever wondered if there is a different, maybe even a better way to tackle an enrollment or marketing issue? Are there processes or practices in your institution that you wonder why does this exist and why has no one bothered to disrupt it?
[00:00:18] Tony Fraga: Or what about a hot new enrollment marketing trend that you've been asked to jump on?
[00:00:25] But you're not really sure how to do it the right way, or even if it's worth doing at all,
[00:00:30] Jaime Gleason: believe me, we get it. I'm Jamie Gleason, a 20 year veteran of higher ed, who has worked both inside and outside the institution and on the vendor side of enrollment
[00:00:42] Shane Kehl: marketing.
[00:00:43] Tony Fraga: And I'm Tony Fraga, an 18 year recovering higher ed market.
[00:00:46] Who has seen just about every enrollment marketing model in the industry, and we've teamed up to launch the Pivot podcast to take an issue, a hurdle, or an outdated process, and suggest ways to [00:01:00] pivot into a new direction or launch into a better process as much as possible. We'll use actual example. But we'll try to keep all the takeaways as fresh as possible.
[00:01:12] Jaime Gleason: You'll laugh, heck you might even cry. But we promised this is a podcast that you won't want to miss. The Pivot is proud to be a part of the Enroll five Podcast Network, and you can subscribe to this firstname.lastname@example.org or wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:01:35] Shane Kehl: Hello and welcome to the first ever episode of the Pivot. I'm Shane Keel, your host. I'm with Tony Fraga and Jamie Gleason from DD Agency. We're trying to address real-time challenges, um, that enrollment marketers are facing, emissions teams are facing. And basically we're gonna start off with, where's the team at now?
[00:01:53] It's February, um, going into March. And a lot of people are thinking about their all [00:02:00] programs open houses or their, you know, their bigger event and. So I think starting there and thinking about what happens if you're running an event and before the show we were actually just connecting about this very same topic.
[00:02:12] You're, you know, structuring this event and then all the admissions people essentially say, we're too busy, we can't make it. Here's the faculty make due. Where do you even start with something like that, given faculty are not known for necessarily running events, . Um, and so it puts you in a little bit of a tough spot.
[00:02:30] Um, but you are where you. , how do you solve it?
[00:02:34] Jaime Gleason: Well, okay, I'm just gonna point out the elephant in the room and say, why are the admissions folks too busy? , let's just go there first. Um, we aren't gonna solve that one. That's obviously not the pivot, but I think for an institution, that's the first question that you have to answer and the first thing you have to solve for.
[00:02:49] Yeah, that's a big, big problem, but you
[00:02:52] Tony Fraga: still gotta do it. The original thing, just to be fair, the original pivot was you're doing this big open house event and only three outta like [00:03:00] six faculty members can be. But you gotta talk about multiple programs and, and, and all about the, the school, you know, what do you do?
[00:03:08] And then I threw out like, you know, I literally just this week had a client who was like, no one from admissions can do this event. So faculty are rolling up their sleeves saying, mm-hmm. . We see that enrollment so bad, we don't want our programs to die. We will show up. Yeah. And that's great. Thanks. That's huge.
[00:03:24] Yeah. But uh, marketing is kind of like, uh, I'm not sure they know how to talk about admissions. Yeah. Enrollment related things. Yeah. They're not used to talking to prospect of students. They've never done one of these. Sure. Love the eagerness. What the heck do you do? Yeah. I think, I think both such scenarios need different responses, different pivots.
[00:03:46] Yeah. I think there's a lot of folks in enrollment marketing who are facing this. Yeah,
[00:03:50] Jaime Gleason: I mean, when I was a director of admissions, I never wanted faculty just to straight up like, be, um, exclusive with students for too [00:04:00] long of a time, and especially why, why not? Well, if we think, uh, let, let's hold on a second.
[00:04:04] I'll get to that in a moment. But like when we get, think about the. One of the things that you're dealing with most of the time for most institutions on the undergraduate levels, you have a lot of juniors who are attending open house for the first time. So the last thing that you want them to do is to have an extended exposure with a faculty member who only wants to talk about their program and how awesome it is, because it's like going on a date with someone and before you know it, you're talking about the size of the family that you're gonna have together.
[00:04:34] And it's like, Wait a minute, like, that's way too fast and I'm not ready for that yet, because most students aren't ready for that. Now, there might be the exception to that rule, but I think the key is like, you have to figure out a, what faculty members are the ones that you want to connect with the students.
[00:04:50] So do you have access to every faculty member potentially, and like, how can you get the rockstar faculty members in there, but not have them [00:05:00] necessarily be the, the, uh, spokespeople for admissions? What I'd rather do is, What's something you're great at? Like is it a lesson plan? Is it talking about like this, you know, internship?
[00:05:12] Is it this outcome? Like get that person to a spot where they're speaking about their expertise rather than speaking into an area where they don't have a lot to offer a k a. The admission sales
[00:05:23] Tony Fraga: pitch. I think that's fair and I think you have to break out, I think where it's safe and fine for the faculty to really go all out about how much they love their program, which I think when you get a faculty member really being passionate about what they teach, that's the very thing that can attract a lot of students.
[00:05:39] But the challenge on an on an open house, generally, those are. You have a variety of students and how do you get them there? Yeah, the best ones I've seen and what I would do in that situation, even if I had no admissions folks, I already know what I'd do for that . I would go get the best student, like the best couple students.
[00:05:57] Sure. To be the general ambassador to [00:06:00] do you need someone, and this probably has to be a faculty member, but you have to have that faculty member do the intro. Yeah. That speaks about the school, about the institution, and just like bleeds, you know, why we're different and all the core values and stuff like.
[00:06:12] But once you pick someone to be almost like mc, you can let those individual program factory faculty do their thing, but you pair them up with a student and I would almost intentionally, you could pair 'em up with a student in their program or not. on purpose. Yeah. So that they don't have to be, that you don't let them totally go into it, or then you have breakout sessions so that they do that.
[00:06:35] If you can do breakouts in your open house, then you let prospects self-select going to the the sub school or the program area study. That they're more interested in. This works more on a grad level necessarily than undergrad, but it could still work in undergrad if there's a, you're a large institution with a lot of schools.
[00:06:50] Sure. But again, the problem is they can get really academic and they're not often answering the questions that a prospective student is thinking about. And that's what I [00:07:00] think the student. ambassador. I don't care what I would need to pay them. Yeah. I don't care what incentive I would have to do. Yep. But I would pick my best students and say, Hey, we will pay you.
[00:07:11] We will give you an incentive to do this. But we had this open a house and we don't have, we're short staffed. Mm-hmm. . And we need you to be like a promoter for our school. And think about what it was like when you were picking a school and just talk about why you picked this institution. And so you get this, you train the students how you want, they become your admissions.
[00:07:29] and you pair them up with each faculty person and that, that's what
[00:07:33] Shane Kehl: I would do. Yeah. I think, I think what you're talking about too, real quick is, you know, the, the breakout sessions and kind of like the rotating, almost speed dating style Yeah. Of an event eliminates the, yeah, I'm gonna hold onto this student for two hours and just tell them everything about my program.
[00:07:49] Because you have to rotate and ideally you're talking to multiple students at a time where it's a little. A student has an out, if they wanna leave the conversation rather than feeling like they're, you know, attached to [00:08:00] this faculty member at the hip now, cuz they feel too uncomfortable to walk away or be like, you know what?
[00:08:03] I am not interested in your program and never was. So if you're thinking about, you know, the, the non admission side, you know, not showing up. What about with limited faculty admissions is there but limited faculty members where now you get. None of, and it's very select, it's three. Yeah. So it might not even be the three programs that you think like, oh, these are the sexy ones that we can Sure.
[00:08:23] It might be your three worst programs. It could be your, I can say this maybe cuz I'm a communications graduate, but it's a communications, you know, faculty member that's like, what are you gonna tell me? That's gonna sound all that interesting. Yeah. Um, and different from other schools. And so how do you kind of work with three faculty members for three programs that you know, might not be the best and now you need to some.
[00:08:45] Make your institution sound more interesting while also providing that level of granularity to show difference That's different from just the, that kind of an initial intro kickoff in Mc that you were talking about before, Tony. Yeah.
[00:08:56] Jaime Gleason: Yeah. So one way that I've actually seen this actually in real time work [00:09:00] out is to, okay, let's just, we'll make believe we have three faculty members.
[00:09:05] And I think sometimes we fall into this trap of thinking. We know all the questions that the people are gonna ask, so we try to answer them in advance of them, which is not altogether a bad idea, but sometimes we actually might be putting questions out there that they actually aren't gonna ask anyway.
[00:09:20] So, Um, what I have actually seen done before is to build a panel using those three faculty members, but throwing in someone from athletics, throwing in someone from student life and like make it so that there's an option, a plethora of like. Uh, situations that are represented and then open it up, have the, have, uh, the, the students, the, uh, parents who are with them, like, ask the questions.
[00:09:46] I, my head also goes into like the pre-building, right? How do we build the schedule? So that way any of the, any of the gaps that we're afraid of are kind of filled up using video using like really dynamic student speakers and [00:10:00] announcers and maybe bring in an alum who can like, speak to their Yep. Like recent experience and like peppering the event with like all these, um, all these different kind of media multimedia types so that.
[00:10:11] You're reducing the need to have, you know, these, putting a huge burden on these three faculty members to basically own the whole thing. But you know, you're given the opportunity to help them shine where they can shine and answer questions that are real questions that people ask. I, I love the panel. I feel like it's always engaging and interactive.
[00:10:28] People love almost having this unscripted experience where someone's shooting back at them and is like saying, oh yeah, this is, this is how I've dealt with that in the past, in real time. Yeah, I, I think it works well every time.
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[00:12:24] All right, folks, back to the show.
[00:12:27] Tony Fraga: Yeah. Question in this scenario. I, I just thinking through it, is this like multiple schools at an institution, it's a really broad open house, or is this more, um, smaller? Yeah,
[00:12:41] Shane Kehl: I think, I think an open house at a smaller school that maybe has, you know, four or five schools within Yep.
[00:12:47] Uh, a graduate school or something. Um, and you're getting, you know, one of their business school faculty members, one of. Nursing school faculty members and Yeah. Of their maybe communications professor, film and media. Yeah. Or [00:13:00] communications professor that can Yeah. Um, yeah. Well, you're really spread out and you don't even know.
[00:13:05] Right. There are a bunch of faculty within that, that school mm-hmm. alone. But you're kind of get, you're getting like three really hodgepodge. They might not even know each other at all and might not have chemistry. Mm-hmm. , um, smaller pivot within. Right. You have a. and they're kind of asking general questions, who, well, who's tackling some of those more general questions when you have three specialized faculty members?
[00:13:24] Yeah. Um, and kind of handling, handling some of those things.
[00:13:27] Jaime Gleason: Yeah, that's a hard one. I mean, that's a, that's a, it's so institution specific, but I feel like you have to have, there's gotta be someone who can be your generalist on the panel generalist. There's gotta be, be a promoter, a general promoter or someone who's just maybe, maybe a PolySci faculty member who's really good at just pivoting and not answering the question in general.
[00:13:45] maybe that could be, maybe that can
[00:13:46] Tony Fraga: work in circles. , I think, I think this gets to a huge thing I hear all the time. and, and I think this is hard and I want to diminish, like, yeah, it's easy. Just do this or get this. Yeah. Every idea I've ever had about, well, can you get, often [00:14:00] the answer I get from schools, from clients we worked with is like, the concern is the logistics.
[00:14:05] It's just so much planning and sometimes you're just lucky to get those three even though you wanted more. And that's a problem with an open house. again, as you said, we're, we don't always know what to expect, and so I think you have to cut off something and the thing you have to cut off in this pivot, I, if I had an open house that was originally planned where I got one representative from each college or each school and it was all perfect and then I ended up, it got cut and, and I couldn't get as many, I would change the agenda.
[00:14:35] Yeah. Hundred. I think you, you either have an agenda. That is, goes from general and allows people to break in or you let go of that mm-hmm. and you take those three and you do the panel or whatever, uh, but you condense it so that it's not this smorgasboard of, um, we have an all, we are an open buffet. All you can eat.
[00:14:55] It's not. , you have to control the narrative more, and you [00:15:00] turn those three into, they're just representative of mm-hmm. , they're representative of the kind of faculty you're gonna get. So you have to change the expectations that, that, that, that open house. Is not necessarily going to answer all of your questions.
[00:15:15] I think you have to let go of that. Mm-hmm. in favor of what? A stronger program. Yeah. And so you're headlining a stronger program. You lost your cover band, but okay, what are you gonna do? Um, yeah, you're gonna make it as best you can, and so, , but there is one role you must have. I don't even care. It's either one of those faculty or it's not.
[00:15:34] Somebody has to be that generalist. Yeah. Someone has to be the all things kind of what I, that's what I call the mc Sure. Is they can handle those kind of questions that those faculty could enter or something like that. Mm-hmm. or do a really good job of kind of dodging it. Yeah. Um, with a nice little answer, but you have to have someone
[00:15:50] Shane Kehl: MCing you.
[00:15:51] You brought up a point earlier about trying. Faculty there and kind of thinking they won't do it or they don't want to, or they'll, they'll reluctantly come, but they kind of won't really be helpful or [00:16:00] they'll have a negative attitude about it, and that will then show up to prospective students and then they'll feel negative about it.
[00:16:05] Mm-hmm. , how would you go about, let's say you're on an admissions team, you're trying to incentivize in the same way that you mentioned a stipend for students to come. How would you get or incentivize faculty to come? Maybe that's something that. either can offer them directly or who do you need to go to?
[00:16:21] And maybe, and this is probably an age old question, , how do you then go to somebody above them and say, Hey, your enrollment sucks. Yeah. Like, you need to, that's gotta come, have a, have a hand in this and, and what are they saying to the faculty that really put a little bit of the onus on them for enrollment.
[00:16:37] And I think I. of the mindset of I'll just show up and teach and I'm doing my job and I have a great program. It's now on Yeah. Marketing and admissions to fill it. There's nothing more I
[00:16:46] Jaime Gleason: can do. Every institution, and this has always been my experience as a former director of admissions, there are always institutions where there are people who are amazing at open houses, faculty members who are [00:17:00] absolute rock stars.
[00:17:01] Mm-hmm. . And most of the time they're the ones who are willing. So let in this scenario, my imagination. These people that are able to come are actually the rock stars, which makes this scenario a much easier pivot because you know that they're reliable. Uh, you know, they can speak well on, like off the cuff.
[00:17:22] They are able to kind of answer some of the questions that people will most likely have. But incentivizing them is really hard. And again, my experience is that it's, it's mostly an intrinsic motivation that gets people to say, oh, you know what? Like this is me getting in on the ground. Um, and being, almost being able to manipulate what people are interested in majoring in.
[00:17:42] So you'll have a lot of times, you know, for undergraduate open. students, especially here in the spring, they're gonna be interested in coming, but they're not necessarily a hundred percent wedded to a program already. So you And they
[00:17:55] Tony Fraga: understand you might not have every faculty member there. Yeah. That is not that expectation.
[00:17:59] Jaime Gleason: [00:18:00] Yeah, that's totally in us. Yeah. We're like, it's internal. That's an inside baseball speaking right there. I feel for
[00:18:05] Tony Fraga: undergrad, you're spot on. J B I I feel for undergrad. Honestly though, guys, it's a little. because undergrad open houses tend not to have this problem cuz it's such an important thing. No one messes with that second if so and so can't come.
[00:18:18] There's, there's undergrad, it's gen. The open houses are more representative of Yeah. And they're broader. Mm-hmm. . And the expectation is that faculty are there to represent faculty. But a good program has a little bit of faculty. A little bit existing student. Yeah. A little bit of, um, administrative leader.
[00:18:35] Financial aid there, admissions there, and even alum, like you get a little bit of everything. So every kind of prospect has, they're not expecting more than that. I think this is much harder in the adult market and the grad market and, and where I've seen this is particularly for small couple years ago, a small-ish, medium size private institution had this situation where the admissions, this is why I brought this up before the [00:19:00] show, the admissions team was just like, we are underst.
[00:19:05] we cannot do events. And I came in as I, you know, analyzing what they were doing in their whole enrollment marketing strategy. And I'm like, oh, obvious big gap. You guys aren't really doing enough recruitment events. You guys should be doing these program specific events. And they're like, we can't do it.
[00:19:20] And I, it was odd because often it's the admissions teams that are able to do it. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. , I'm speaking to the Jamie who's the director of Admissions, and I'm now trying to talk to you about who you can get. I've never spoke to the Jamie, director of admissions who's like, yeah, we can't do that. But I knew they needed to do it.
[00:19:35] And so that had to come. Shane from the leadership, the provost had to say, enrollment is so down. Hey, this guy's saying we need to do events. We haven't done events in two years. Yeah, who can't do it. And the faculty were being held, they, they were told from the. , you have to help with enrollment in some way.
[00:19:56] Mm-hmm. , because otherwise we won't be able to fill your program. Yeah. Right. So [00:20:00] faculty had a coal put under their butt and they said, we'll show up, we'll do it. Mm-hmm. . And then we were now having faculty doing, um, these kinds of, Event. So this was grad in, in kind of adult degree completion. Mm-hmm. . So it was a little different and it was not a large public institution.
[00:20:15] So I think the larger you are, honestly, the harder it is for someone in enrollment or even markcom to tell faculty Yeah. That they have to do anything. Yeah. Cuz they, they don't, and so it, yeah, that's where I think these pivots do hit a wall. Um, it's easier for the smaller. medium sized schools where the leadership is like, we have to all be all in on this faculty.
[00:20:37] We need your help. And they're like, sure. Show me what I need to do. Mm-hmm. , I'll show up.
[00:20:41] Shane Kehl: Yeah. Yeah. And I, I think, I mean, you can correct me if I'm, or you don't think this is fair, but I think undergrad is a little bit more of a feel good generalist experience anyway at the open house. Like again, you're undecided on your major, you know, most likely.
[00:20:54] And you're kind of just there to get a general sense for the school selling culture graduate. , [00:21:00] it's, there's, there's maybe way less pressure. Mm-hmm. to go to graduate school. You need a better sense of ROI of going, you have, you know, direct competitors that you're competing with. You know, some pretty high profile alum potentially, or grade faculty members, whatever.
[00:21:14] There's a lot more, you're dealing with a mature audience mm-hmm. That's asking better questions. So like, the panel at the undergrad level is probably pretty easy compared to the panel at the graduate level. Um, and so thinking through, you know, those two things, how do you kind of customize. , your, let's, let's stick with a panel idea panel to be a little bit more, um, I dunno, speaking to the actual audience you're dealing with.
[00:21:37] So I think it's, it's easy to say, make a panel and have people answer questions and have a generalist mm-hmm. . Um, but how do you almost prep the people on the panel to make sure you don't get put in an awkward situation? Sure. Where they're asking a question that, you know, you don't have the PolySci guy up there to, uh, , you know, do loops and circles and back flips to, to avoid a.
[00:21:58] Um, and maybe this is again, [00:22:00] leaning a little bit more on the grad side of things, but I think that's the one area where, you know, you could get some people asking some really good questions that you'd rather answer one-on-one and be able to think about over email Sure. Than, than answer live in front of a group of 50 people.
[00:22:12] Jaime Gleason: No, that's a good, I mean, that's a f that's a fair point. I think one of the advantages though, I'm, I'm gonna push back a little bit on the idea that it's. Super easy in the undergrad market. . Okay. Because I think a lot of times graduate has a decentralized enrollment model where faculty members do play a little bit more of a hands-on role in the admissions process and they can guide students a little bit more clearly.
[00:22:33] Um, but that being all things being equal, I think you have to like almost give like a, a bullet point list of people on your panel and say, Hey, these are the areas like almost like your UVP of like, these are the things that we wanna. Help land help, help talk about. Really solid outcomes, you know, really low, like, you know, cost comparison numbers, things like that.
[00:22:56] But maybe you don't want to go into the details. The real big weeds of them is like [00:23:00] helping, helping faculty member to speak clearly. Having a, having timers, you know, that's another way to kind of save yourself if you're like, we got like a certain amount of time that we can handle on, you know, on these certain questions.
[00:23:11] And like if you have more questions about it, like catch me afterward and we'll, we'll go into more detail. I feel like that could be an easier way. Make sure that you're not like going down a rabbit hole, because we all know faculty members, um, that can go down a rabbit hole and hog the mic and you know, that kind of thing.
[00:23:28] So you wanna avoid that for sure. That's bad form.
[00:23:32] Shane Kehl: So thinking about the user experience and, and tying that into the agenda of the event, I'm curious your guys' thoughts on how to structure an event so that there aren't maybe lulls and gaps from a prospect's point of view. Couple random ones that come to mind of you have these different breakout sessions.
[00:23:49] None of them particularly appeal to me, so what's built in kind of for me when I don't care about these three, four other things or we're hosting this panel. Great. Sometimes depending on the [00:24:00] group that's there, nobody wants to ask the first question, and so you get a little bit of that awkward silence.
[00:24:04] What's what gets built in to kind of make sure that things flow smoothly. Yeah. , you have something for everybody without, again, having 50 people on staff to be able to tend to every little need. What do you kind of bake into the agenda or bake into each session to make sure that you're kind of covering the needs and wants of, of any particular prospect?
[00:24:22] Tony Fraga: Again, I think it just keeps coming back to the program and the agenda you've put together. You, it's, it's impossible to always build these events so that you know you're gonna handle everything. And I think the antidote to that is to make sure that what you have put together is enough and is exciting enough.
[00:24:40] And you don't let people kind of like diviv, like go their own way too much. And, and honestly, literally food is actually a really good filler here because where you put the food in the schedule and feeding people is a great way to kind of be that filler. So yeah, you could have the three people up on the panel or you could have this breakout part, but there's [00:25:00] always gonna be the students who are like, that's not me, or What do I do?
[00:25:02] So yeah, I mean, you, you need to have a catchall for that, but at the end of the day, , what you've put together is what you have. You almost do kind of need to force people into it. Well, this would be the best thing you should go to. I just want to go away from there. There's already an, it's already a lot of work to plan this.
[00:25:19] There's already a lot of, I'm already dealing in this situation and it, it's in less than ideal. And if we tell ourselves whether you're more on the marketing side, Or enrollment management hosting this, whatever it is. I think we need to take the pressure off and say, you don't have to design the perfect event.
[00:25:34] Yeah, it's enough just to do an an event, and you are doing the best you can with what you've got and whatever holes you do have. Inevitably you're gonna have some prospects that don't fit all the categories. The goal isn't actually to make a bucket for every single kind of person who could come or even answer every question.
[00:25:50] It's the goal is just engagement with your. and to get a really good interpersonal communication experience out of that. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. So even if you don't [00:26:00] have the perfect thing or person for. What you want out of that engagement is just to understand what they need and then to be like, Hey, this might not be the place for that, but I can connect you with who that would be.
[00:26:11] That's Dr. So-and-so. They couldn't be here today, but I can put you in touch with them. And that ultimately, at the end of the day, if I go to the open house as a prospect, and I don't get every one of my questions answered, but I got some questions answered and pointed in the right direction, I think you're, I'm leaving happy.
[00:26:27] Yeah, and that's the. Of the event. Yeah. Yeah. And so I love your question, but I don't want to really go into more detail on it because I, I don't wanna scare everyone into like, you have to have this all perfectly laid out to do these events. , no. Mm-hmm. , I've learned over the years, it's better that you have a less than ideal event than don't do the event at all.
[00:26:45] Yeah. The school's doing events are getting better engagement than the schools that are wissing out because they don't have the perfect. For their event. Yeah. The show must go on. That's the pivot. Yeah. The pivot is make do with what you got. Who cares that you can't [00:27:00] fill every idea or question or kind of prospect who's gonna be there
[00:27:03] Shane Kehl: to summarize what you're saying.
[00:27:04] So you would put way more stock in an organized event with key players rather than a strict schedule agenda of every 15 minutes are blocked off for particular things. Here's exactly where everyone's gonna be at this exact time. More in favor of. , Hey, let's just get the best players in the room. Let's have a rough, loose structure, and then let's kind of mm-hmm.
[00:27:25] fire by the, you know, by the hip. Because you have people that are great at one-on-one communication. You have people that are great, that are, you know, showing student experiences, um, in a small setting. And you don't need 75 sessions in one single day to show off everything that your school has to offer.
[00:27:40] Yeah, totally.
[00:27:41] Tony Fraga: Three really good sessions is better than 17. where, but you're stretched and you've, you, you don't really have the people
[00:27:49] Jaime Gleason: for it. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. You don't want them to leave stressed out and thinking, oh, I missed a whole bunch, or, that was just too rushed. I, I do love the option of having like, some kind of enduring events [00:28:00] throughout.
[00:28:00] So if you have three plan sessions, maybe you've got a student tour guide that every 20 minutes or so they leave on a tour that's gonna be applicable to the, to the type of student that you have, like showing off the library showing. You know, the, the student commuter lounge or something like that. And like really kind of building in that like experience element of like, hey, this is what it's gonna look like.
[00:28:21] And the other thing that I always love, um, and obviously this maybe depends a little bit on the, the, where students are in the pipeline, but having a, an opportunity for them to fill out the application while they're there. So if they don't identify with a particular session that they can sit down at a.
[00:28:38] Bang out the application. It gets you an application. Maybe you have an incentive with them filling it out when they're on. And helping them to see like, oh yeah, this, this process is fast, it's easy. I can get it all done today. I can leave with a cool sweatshirt because they gave me a 50% off coupon or something like that.
[00:28:54] I really like, like that as an incentive. Uh, as for someone who maybe, maybe doesn't [00:29:00] identify. The one thing I would say is don't make the alternative or the enduring events more attractive than the actual open house thing, , because then, then they'll be like, oh, well I'll screw that. I'm gonna go out and like look at, look at the campus or something, because I don't feel like listening to that dude.
[00:29:16] Shane Kehl: Yeah. That's a good, good segue into like putting, putting a bow on the event. Yeah. Right. You have your closing session, you have, you know, That call to action at the end of what you want people to do, give them the necessary information so they can make an informed decision. But they have everything at their fingertips.
[00:29:31] So they don't need to scramble later and be like, what? What did they say about financial aid or starting an application or what was the benefit? How long did I have to do for that? Sure. So what do you feel like is a, again, kind of either closing session, you know, handout stuff at the end, swag, whatever it might be.
[00:29:44] Like, how do you kind of wrap up, you, you went through all the work of this event. Sure. But if you kind of flop the last impress. , they're left with a bad taste in your mouth. How do you make sure that goes really well? And and what does that really look like when again, you have to be so general to all programs and, and
[00:29:58] Jaime Gleason: all things?
[00:29:58] Yeah. I mean, I think that [00:30:00] is a huge area where the school, the flavor of the school has to fit like the bow. Yeah. Right. Like if, if you're talking about a big, you know, state school and we have a, you know, several hundred people who are gonna be at this, all programs open house like that, that's gonna be somewhat different.
[00:30:15] But here's, I think the things that we have to make sure that we're living in. There's gotta be a good after like, post-event communication flow that feels like it's just for me, right? It's, it can't be just like, thanks for coming, here's your survey. Hope you had a good time. We'll be in touch. You know, it's gotta, if someone comes, takes the time to visit your campus, there's no way that they should be leaving without some sort of swag.
[00:30:42] Like, yeah. Uh, that is like, like a complete no-no for them to leave and not become a potential marketer for your program. By wearing a t-shirt. Mm-hmm. , by having a tote bag, whatever you give away, it's like they should leave it with that. And they should also, I think, a, a very clear and kind of [00:31:00] announced closing.
[00:31:01] Uh, one of the things that has always kind of made me very upset about some events is like, when they fizzle out, it's like, there's not really like a, like a grand, like a, a final congregating of the people and then it's like, okay, it's over. It's more like, oh, mm-hmm . After this event's over, you just kind of go back to your car and it.
[00:31:19] People are kind of like just walking all over aimlessly. I think there's gotta be like a, a closing ceremony, so to speak. If you can get a heavy hitter, you know, a dean or a pro, something inspirational, something to speak, speak them out, I think is way, way better to do than to let it fizzle. Remember
[00:31:35] Tony Fraga: when we worked on that, uh, that Newman, that n u promotional?
[00:31:39] Yeah. Video. Yeah. That was the inspirational piece. And there was two components. One was this B roll that played in the background all the time. That just looked really cool. But there was this actual closing five minute video that was incredibly inspirational. And I think either a video that's really inspiring or a speaker who's really inspiring.
[00:31:56] But again, in this pivot, in this situation, we're having less [00:32:00] than ideal speakers. So let, let's say you don't have that. I would still settle for something that closes. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . And then I think the other thing I'd add on, . I think the goal, like I, I'm thinking here, like how do we know if this was successful?
[00:32:11] Mm-hmm. , are we measuring the success of this open house by how many RSPs and then how many showed? Often we look at events and we're talking with clients all the time. It's like how many people showed up? What was the show rate? Oh, we had over 50%. Yay. Right. That's actually not the goal though, believe it or not.
[00:32:25] The bigger metric, the other KPIs would be, I, I, I would say whatever, if they haven't started an app, getting them to start an app and if they've started an app, getting them to complete an app. Yeah. Mm-hmm. , those are the two big wins. Mm-hmm. , an open house should generate a bunch more. App starts for most schools.
[00:32:44] This is gonna only apply, this is most schools, I think, but where you have an app account and you set up the account. . Yeah. Don't expect them to do the whole thing. I think that's way too much friction. Way too overwhelming. Totally. Except for some smaller schools where the app process really simple. But other than that, if they haven't started an app, they're an inquiry or just [00:33:00] a prospect, this is their first event.
[00:33:01] and they haven't started their application account. Just getting Tony to have started his account with his basic contact info. Mm-hmm. , you can let your post app start marketing do the rest. Yeah. I trust that. And so, mm-hmm. , I got Johnny Prospect who didn't start an app to start an app. That's a win. And if he had already started an app, then it's, Hey, for those of you who started, you haven't finished, we've got people from the admissions team ideally, uh, present here to answer your questions, getting them to complete.
[00:33:30] Yeah. So whatever stage they're at, getting them to do that. Next, next thing, action. Yeah. Stage. . That to me is really the purpose of the open house. Yeah. And it should be measured by how many folks came and did that action. That's closing it out like mm-hmm. , make sure you don't leave. If you haven't started, make sure you at least start your account.
[00:33:48] Don't have to do the whole application today, but just start it. Mm-hmm. . And likewise, if you start it, but haven't completed, don't leave without getting your question answered. There's somebody here who wants to answer your question because they're shy. Yeah. And they don't, you know, you have to [00:34:00] encourage that.
[00:34:01] Shane Kehl: And I think that that goes into the all, you know, looping back to the beginning of structuring your event, you wanna structure it in a way that meets the goals that you have set out. If the goal is to get, you know, this number of prospects to start versus this many to finish and structuring sessions to help enable that structuring, as you were saying, Jamie, kind of a, the lasting session that's kind of always there, there's always somebody at the table to help you finish your application or get it started and, and having those available to people and thinking.
[00:34:25] That prior to and not after the fact of the event being like, well, how many people did this thing? And it's like, well, we didn't really ask anyone to do that thing. So that's not even a fair thing to measure against. Um, and making sure that that's really woven into your strategy is obviously super important.
[00:34:38] Yeah. Um, any closing thoughts on structuring an event? What would be most helpful? Anything we didn't discuss that you think is a, is a need to know for. .
[00:34:49] Jaime Gleason: You know, one of the things I would say, um, and I think that this, this probably goes in these little waves, but if you think about the open house in general, obviously a lot of schools put this as a huge, [00:35:00] like a huge determinant of future action.
[00:35:03] Like if you can get someone to show up on campus, That's a big frigging deal. Yeah. What I would encourage, and I think that the industry is probably ripe for this, is like thinking about alternative mechanisms to get, like, to get people on campus and I, and obviously like, you know, being on campus is a very important thing, but like, what does it look like to have open house events that are not on your campus, that are actually with your people and, and really like, this is a bigger grander pivot, but like, how do we.
[00:35:31] set up some metrics that move these events to, so that they're more user friendly because maybe the investment of time is, is too significant. Maybe part of their coursework is gonna be hybrid. So coming to campus all the time isn't as big of a sell. Um, or maybe it's online. Mm-hmm. . So like, how do we like, think about events differently?
[00:35:48] And I think that's one of those areas where I think higher ed probably should be thinking more and more. And I, I do see like smatterings of this, like in different places where they're doing like these kind of region. You know, [00:36:00] let's meet up at a Starbucks or let's use a hotel lobby and do something where we're bringing the show to them.
[00:36:05] Um, I just think there's some, there's some powerful opportunity there. And we'd certainly live in a market where, uh, the consumers who we're calling future students are almost demanding us being a little bit more flexible as a person who's not change averse. I love the idea of thinking and trying out different.
[00:36:23] Um, it doesn't make the logistics any easier in most cases, but it does change the expectation of like what this has to look like. And I think that that's where higher ed maybe needs to start thinking of like, Hey, maybe it doesn't have to be a three hour event. Maybe it can be a 45 minute event where we have like one faculty member and one admissions person, and instead of 200 people, we get 25 quality people.
[00:36:46] And the conversations are, That's called an information session. Well, maybe , .
[00:36:53] Shane Kehl: That's plenty on events and structuring your event. Next episode we will go into marketing and event [00:37:00] twist is to come. Can't give you any spoilers. Otherwise you can prep. So we hope to see you all in two weeks. Thank you very much for listening.
[00:37:07] This was episode one of the. And we'll see you again in two weeks.
[00:37:22] Zach Busekrus: Hey all, Zach here from Enrollify. 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. That are all designed to empower you to become a better higher ed professional.
[00:37:41] Our shows feature a selection of the industry's best as your host. Learn from Mickey Baines, Jeremy Tiers, Jaime Hunt, Coryn Myers, Jamie Gleason, and many, many more. You can 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.
[00:37:59] Find [00:38:00] yours at podcasts.enrollify.org
About the Episode
The what's what...
Structuring your institution's open house can be a real challenge and often gets complicated even more by the resources – or lack thereof – allocated to pulling it off.
In this episode, we’ll dive into how you can structure events to maximize the prospective student experience even if faculty or admissions team members can’t make it. Spoiler alert, it’s still possible to have a kickass event AND see a direct impact on your bottom line.
This episode is brought to you by our friends at DD Agency:
DD Agency is a higher ed-specific marketing technology agency that has conducted countless SEO Audits for colleges and universities across the country.
In these audits, they detail where you currently rank, what you could be ranking for, exactly how copy should be tweaked on website pages, and much more.
If this sounds like something you could benefit from, give those folks a ping and be sure to mention that Enrollify sent you to claim a 10% discount on any of their SEO offerings.
Head on over to enrollify.org/ddaseo, or simply follow the link in the show notes below…that will guarantee you get a 10% discount off of your audit.
About the Enrollify Podcast Network
The Pivot 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 Jeremy Tiers, Zach Busekrus, Jaime Hunt, Corynn Myers, Jamie 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
Tony is the CEO and a marketing strategist at DD — an enrollment marketing technology agency that specializes in implementing inbound, content-based methodologies. He leads a team of fast-paced marketing innovators, who handle everything from content creation to marketing automation, and thrives at the intersection of strategy and technology. Tony speaks regularly at higher education and non-profit marketing conferences on the topics of content marketing, SEO, and the latest trends in digital media.
Shane is the Chief Edutainment Officer for Enrollify. He takes any opportunity to make marketing fun and enjoyable while maintaining a healthy level of helpfulness and data-backed information. When he’s not being sarcastic or irritating Zach, he’s enjoying a sports game or nice brunch – mimosa, hold the OJ. His goal is to make higher ed even more fun and lively by injecting new ideas wherever he can.
Jamie Gleason is the Vice President Of Enrollment Strategy at Direct Development. He brings over 15 years of higher education experience to the team; almost a decade of which was spent on campus(es) and nearly six years was in edtech. A self-proclaimed "farmer + fixer," Enrollment has always provided the perfect challenge for him! He's happiest when mining through spreadsheets, results, and (generally) any type of data!
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DD Agency is a digital marketing agency for higher education with a propensity for marketing technology. They're the only HubSpot Platinum Partner Agency that exclusively serves the enrollment marketing space. Living out their mission statement "We help Davids beat Goliaths" means DD helps clients develop inbound marketing strategies that use content and marketing automation to achieve their enrollment goals. Whether you're looking for a full-fledged, 12-month strategic marketing plan, or just a fresh approach to a blitz campaign, they're the marketing partner you want in your corner! The DD team is guided by 6 core values: treat clients like family, be ridiculously helpful, challenge conventional thinking, treasure transparency, adapt and improve, and "make it fridge-worthy."learn more
The Pivot is a bi-weekly podcast that addresses real-time enrollment marketing challenges and meets them head-on with strategic insights and tactics. Join Tony Fraga, Jamie Gleason, and Shane Kehl to get inspired, build a game plan, and find your next great pivot.
This show is hosted and brought to you by the giant slayers at DD Agency —an enrollment marketing technology agency that helps colleges and universities recruit right-fit students through SEO, content marketing, and marketing automation. Learn more about DD Agency here.
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