7: Concordia University, Irvine Brings the 4 P’s Back to Higher Ed Strategy w/ Rick Hardy

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Rick Hardy, AVP of Marketing at Concordia University, Irvine, discusses how his team takes a product marketing approach to academic program development and promotion.

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Attracting today's new post,traditional learners, means adopting new enrolmant strategies. helicseducations data driven enterprise, wide approach to enrolment growth isuniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation, landscape and Helex has just published the second edition of theirenrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions cansolve today's most pressing enromant growth challengesdownload it today for free at helicks, Educationcom, playbook, you're, listening to enrollment growth,university from heliks education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh enroment growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to enroman growth,university, Imari, Golson, AVP of marketing at Heuletts education andwe're here today with Rick Hardy, lead marketing officer at ConcordiaUniversity, Irvine Rick. How you doing today come well. Thank you. Eric goodto be here. Excellent great to have you rig, is not only a fantastic marketer,but a great guy. I'm happy to call a friend and Concordia University. Irvinehas an incredibly interesting approach to product development that I'm reallyexcited to get into today, but before we do rick, can you give the listenersa little bit better understanding of both Concordia University Rirbine andyour role there? Yes, Concordi Universer Rian is a rovely younginstitution refounded in found. I One thousand nine hundred and seventy twofirst class started in oe thousand nine hundred and seventy six, but we've the university I've been here sinceTweandy, ten, so I'll say we but university h's been on this track for awhile just a lot of growth around forty five hundred students, sixteen hundredtradition, one grats approximately, so we do have a good percentage ofgraduate students, a smaller percentage...

...of adult onergraduate students, it'sawere private university, Lutheran University in Southern California andIrvine in which is located in orange, county California, Housom Berki andtell us a little bit about your rolling your team there. My Roll has leadmarketing offere at the university is to manage a centralized marketing andcommunications team. So we within our team we have the web team,the CRM for admissions, publications, PR or graphic design. PRNT graphicdesign, of course, digital design, search engine marketing magazine. Wekind of do it all here, social media, more centralized, but you know ourconversationis going to Goinna show that we're also collaberaly involved with people acrosscampus doing marketing. Awesome. I'm really excited to get into that aspectof it. I'd like to start with with what you and I've been talking aboutrecently, which is really interesting to me, especially as an old schoolmarketer. Let's talk about your belief in the importance of bringing the fourps back to higher education strategy yeah. I think I'd like to start by totruth in marketing that I preach on Campu, as I advocate for the first. Isthe market rules that, if, if we don't, if there's not a marketfor your program and we're trying to recruitt students, for I we're justgoing to be in a tough situation, I tell you we can outspend about a badmarket. The other truth is our job as marketers is to essentially leveragemarket dynamics, and this means all for peace. I mean when you look atmarketing. It's not just promotion. It's another thing. I preach here:Marketing is more than just promotion, and so I know that it's, since you knowsocial media and new media S, it was called years ago came into being andstarted merging. We came up with some thoughtleaders who had, let's replacethe fourps with a for season. I'm...

...looking at one model here, it's theireterm differently. Consumer wants and needs caused to satisfy thoseconvenience to by communication, but I think in in higher education,particular marketing we know, has been kind of a dirty word over the decades.It's becoming more more adopted by college, especially privateuniversities, but the reality is I've been in a conferences where I've hadspeakers say they go to some campuses and they can't even say the sewordconsumer or testomer and furthermore, as marketing finds aplace, and it is recognized on campus. I think a number of faculty andexecutives O at universities tend to see whe, that's marketing or that'sadmissions. So we create a program. Therefore, now you guys need to go andrecruit for it and market in and find t have fund a position for it. I like thefour PS, because it puts the onus right back on the campus starte with productor pro program. If you have to name it that way at Your University here, we'llcall it a product we have to align that to the market price we have to alignthat to the market. That's generally the understood t universityes place.It's been a big conversation, the last ten years as the actually fifteentwenty years as online education is as he merged more. So you have to find theright deliverys option for your program and then of course, promotion. So Ithink the four pis is really a good model, at least for us, because itopens itself to asking questions across across those areas, whereas and allows me as a leadmarketing officer to talk about customer talk about market and ask tough questions, sometimesabout the program that we're reviealing. So that's that's why we utilize the farpiece here. I really love it and an...

...let's dig into that one product or orlike you said. If that gets you glares around your campus program. If hiywillget you in the door, that kind of product marketing approach you take toacademic program, development and promotion as well is really fascinating.Makmeg sure that your division, an your marking department, gets in earlier inthe conversations before Youre just broady finished program and said, makethis work for us. Can you share with that kind of collaborative approachwith academic development looks like yeah? Fortunately, I'm at a universitythat has a sense of market and marketing. So here it is even though we'recentralized here, it's not all of our responsibility in marketing to launchand programs. The academic house does that, but they do for every new program. They dosecondary research and sometimes some primary research to figure out. Ifthere's a market- and specifically you know within some new programs, there'semphasies or concentrations which of those we should be launching and I'masked to review, I have a hand in on that. My budget pays for half thebudget for the research and I have had a review. What that research is and then oncethere's a decision, I'd like tos sooner. Actually, I get about doing a marketingplan based on the four piece, so sometimes that has happened. I got here,as I said, in tweanty ten, and we started reviewing programs at thatpoint, but with new programs that are launched I'll, create a new marketingplant for those and we'll start having conversations, because even if we werejust talking athout ocean marketing has to understand really the intricacies ofthese programs and to try to find a position, try to find a brand for themreally interesting. Any specific, either success stories or kind of roadblocks that you can think about where you were brought in to determine themarket biability of a program prelaunch- and you learn something in that processor during the promotion process that...

...that really helps teer the program in adifferent direction. Yeah I coand actually give an example of a graduateprogram that we reviewed after I got here, so it was already an existence Tut, butkind of it had it's anroman and platauod and was experiencing somedecrease, not huge son. So we went about formed a small committee of faclyadministrators myself to go through a marketing plant reviewand we took the four PS and went throughthat and, as we looked at program just started asking some tough questionsbout. Actually I need to back up. We started that process and said: Do timeout. We really have to have data, so we, the program, went about surveyingalumni and students to find out what the authentic student experience was.Really what the brand was out there about the program and soon as we hadthat data, then we then we started to react to it and started to see he bollapoint after bulletpoint under product, where there were some issues with thestudent experience and the price wasn't an issue, but withpromotion we saw just a lot really big disconnect between how marketing hadbeen branding the program- and you know ultimately positioning it in the marketto what the actual experience was, and so we were looking as we looked at it.We developed rely a new brand campaign for that program and went about thatthiis a long process, especially in academics. At Higher Education, so ittook a few years time for us to figure out the brand, but also for theacademic house to make changes, and so we sit here now, a few years later,that's all turned around they've really made a lot of improvements. We don'thear the same issues with student experience and I just found out lastweek or actually a couple weeks ago...

...that we really need to shift thebranding of it. Againto reflect of a program directors goals with the typeof student they like to recruit. Some of the problems with promotion forthat program was a previous marketing. Planet identified really studentsstraight out of college to Millenias young millennials and developed the prothay kind of created the program for that Grep, but that group coming in wasbeing mixed with kind of season, career professionals and it was causing someissues in the classroom. So we shifted away from that, and so really thatprocess has changed both the promotion, but also the actually the programitself and it came as a result. Af sitting round a table multiple timestalking, has bein honest and for me that that's not so difficult I've deena faculty member before I've been buying the curtain at some institutions.That may not be possible, but here we're able to really talk frank witheach other and try to get things turn around Hese. Typically, you knowprograms, maybe Adein is holding a program director responsible formeeting a Romagoales and here she's, looking at marketing and admissions andsaying why I don't recruit and here by bringing it out together, we can say:okay, we're having some trouble with enrollment we're finding that it's not matched tothe market. Exactly what? What can we do? How can we work together to fixwhatever's broken? So that's one example, I think of a success story.The enrolments turned around it's. It has a healthy percentage of growth eachyear and we're finding a market for it. So that's a success story for us, but wego through that hole. Th. The marketing plan is the four ps we we take productand well. First of all, we go opportunities, threats, straintsweaknesses. We look at all those, and then we go product. What are thestraigts and weaknesses that Thi...

Program, so the weaknesses point toareas that need to be addressed, but the straigts kind of point topossibilities for finding frand position in the market. What are thestrengths, the strengths many times say well or the only institution in themarket that does this and we, you know, there's, maybe some a moments in thesemeetings where okay, okay, perhaps there's something we can do with apromotion of that, and we do that for price and place, whether it's online orface to face or how many units the program is so on and so forth, and youknow behind all this is tha dabt that we've accumulated internally, but alsodata that is out there about the highred market in this case forgraduate adult students. Well, we know how many units works best so and soforth, and so marketing and communications when the State MarkMarketing can really be at the table, helping and form on some of thosethings. I ended up here. Writing a wite paper just on the graduate DUB Mararcetbecause they saw across all these programs just e leaders, not understanding why wewere doing certain things in promotion, so I was able to do a wite paper.Distribute O have discussions with ACODEMIC leadershipabout this is why the product needs to be shifted or orwhatever the case is rick. I love how you body in a seat at the table at theacademic program development table both for you know, prelunch viability forlaunch promotions as well as this iterative reconsideration and and howdo we continue to tweak this to be most effective when you come to the tableand talk for peacs with your academic friends and faculty any resistancethere, it seems, like you, have a very firm belief that marketing is not onlyyour job and your team's job that it's everyone's job. How is that received?You know I'm tryied to think back when I first got here. I just...

...give my background factly I startddeveloping relationships with fatly from day one head coffee on her campuscoffis cop, sorry talking about what my ideas were and none of the ideas were like youneed to do this promotion wise in order to change things around. I just talked about what woodbrurn and is whatbranding is what marketing is and developed relationships and then justmove forward, but I oul. I was fortunate here, because this wasalready a market sensitive institution. The provos office was already doingresearch prelaunch, and so I think my approach blended well when I arrivedwith what was already happening here, but I just said just sit down and Ayasstuff questions, there's always personalities, no matter what thebusiness is, but especially in higher ad, so you just kind of just kind ofhave to figure out how to navigate those I've Iou facally be having beenone for many years. It's a great campuses are wow what a great place tobe each day. I can go, eat lunch or have coffee with an artist a designer historian,theologian here a business professional finance expert. So for this particularprogram, I had many of those discussions. Some of those came withindividual facto members who saw whas going on want to talk to me. So I think I just have those in tounderstand and other institutions. It may not be so easy, but I think youjust have to move forward boldly, but you know definitely that you walk andtry to navigate the situation and try to figure out each person you'e dealingwith and and not offend people, but ask try to find ways to ask questionsincredibly help El Tips, I think, for all those who who wish our departmentswere part of larger conversations on Campus D and I think, some greatpractical tips of how we earn our way to that table. Anything else you wantto share with our listeners today that we haven't covered or any tips forinstitutions who love this idea of this product marketing approach to programdevelopment, but don't exactly know how...

...to start yeah, universities and campuses are sodifferent. The cultureers ust vary, and it's so tightan with history of theinstitutions. My general belief is that you just have to start carving outprofessional relationships with, in this case academic leaders, evenuniversity leaders. I had writden trying to revive it again. I had a blog,I was very active with Han. I was able to just spin off some printoff or sendthem links at times of Lik. If this is what I think about certain things andimpact what you've been doing, I think we need to shift gears here. So I thinkrelationships are important and then just kind of the ground rules. I reallyhave defined what brand is and branding for us. It's. You know what peopleexperience, what students experience you to be or when people have heard youto be, and so I just have preached that it's different than identity, whichwere at a very identity, Tavenu University, idais, very fer, much whatwe say it is, and so bout marketing about the forpies and soon and so forth and just have those conversations. And but there has to bean openness at the highesst levels to do this, and if your university isreally decentralized or at schools, and you have to work on each schooldifferently and my my experience, my career has been at institutions wheremarketings been centralized, so that's different than some listeners might beexperiencing right, reck, depths of thought and advice. There reallyappreciate you joining us today. What's the best place for listeners to connectwith you or read that blog you mentioned if they have any followupquestions yeah. My ucglink is my twitter profile, like I said, ' tryingto revive it. It's been a while, since I've been there but there's good stuffthere, I think I'm areck a hardy Ricka Ha r dy on twitter riquet hardy. Hecoun find me there love to follow high red people who are Di tweet about allsorts of things, but try to try to...

...focus on marketing and commissions andand Roman areas, but that's probably the best place.Awesome Rick thanks so much fewr time and thanks for joining us today, ThaksEric apprecitate enjoyed it you've been listening to enromentgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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