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

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 meansadopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, andHelix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percentbrand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges.Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You're listening to enrollmentgrowth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaderslooking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for freshenrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the rightplace. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university.I'm Eric Oleson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here todaywith Rick Hardy, lead marketing officer at Concordia University Irvine. Rick, howyou doing today? I'm well. Thank you, Eric, good to behere. Excellent. Great to have you. Rig is not only a fantastic marketer, but a great guy I'm happy to call a friend, and ConcordiaUniversity Irvine has an incredibly interesting approach to product development that I'm really excited toget into today. But before we do, Rick, can you give the listenersa little bit better understanding of both Concordia University your vine and your rolethere? Yes, Concordia University run is a roverly young institution founded in foundedin one thousand nineteen and seventy two. First Class started in one thousand nineteenseventy six, but we've add the university. I've been here since two thousand andten, so I'll say we, but universe. He has been onthis track for a while. Just a lot of growth around forty five hundredstudents, one thousand six hundred traditional undergrads approximately. So we do have agood percentage of graduate students, smaller percentage...

...of adult undergraduate students. It's awere private university, Lutheran University in Southern California and Irvine and which is locatedin Orange County California. Austin Burkett and tell us a little bit about yourrole in your team there. My role as lead marketing officer at the universityis to manage a centralized marketing and communications team. So we within our teamwe have the web team, the CRM for admissions, publications, PR graphicdesign, print graphic design of course, digital design, search engine, marketingmagazine. We kind of do it all here. Social media more centralized,but you know, our conversation is going to going to show that that we'realso collaborately involved with people cross campus doing marketing. Awesome. I'm really excitedto get into that aspect of it. I'd like to start with with whatyou and I've been talking about recently, which is really interesting to me,especially as an old school marketer. Let's talk about your belief in the importanceof bringing the four peas back to higher education strategy. Yeah, I thinkI'd like to start by to truths in marketing that I preach on campus.I advocate for. The first is the market rules that if if we don'tif there's an not a market for your program and we're trying to recruit studentsfor it, we're just going to be in a tough situation. I tellpeople we can't outspend a bad a bad market. The other truth is ourjob as marketers is to essentially leverage market dynamics and this means all four peas. I mean, when you look at marketing, it's not just promotion.It's another thing I preach are marketing is more than just promotion, and soI know that it's since, you know, social media and new media as itwas called years ago, came into being and start emerging, we cameup with some thought leaders who had let's...

...replace the four peas with a fourseason. I'm looking at one model here. It's their term. differently. Consumerwants and needs cost to satisfy those convenience to buy communication. But Ithink in in higher education in particular, marketing, we know, has hasbeen kind of a dirty word over the decades. It's becoming more more adoptedby college, especially private universities. But the reality is I've been in aconferences where I've had speakers say they go to some campuses and they can't evensee the sea word consumer or customer. And furthermore, as marketing finds aplace and it is recognized on campus, I think a number of faculty andexecutives on at universities tendency well, that's marketing where that's admissions. So wecreate a program. Therefore, now you guys need to go and recruit forit and market in and find out to find a position for it. Ilike the four peas because it puts the onus right back on the campus.Start with product or program, program, if you have to name it thatway. At Your University, yere, we'll call it a product. Wehave to align that to the market price. We have to align that to themarket. That's generally understood at universities place. It's been a big conversationthe last ten years, as the actually fifteen twenty years, as online educationis as emerged more so you have to find the right deliveries option for yourprogram and then, of course, promotion. So I think the four peas isreally a good model, at least for us, because it lends itselfto asking questions across the cross those areas, whereas in and allows me, asa lead marketing officer, to talk about customer talk about market and asktough questions, sometimes about the program that were reviewing. So that's that's whywe utilize the for piece here. I really love it and let's dig intothat one product or, like you said,...

...if that gets you glares around yourcampus program if that will get you in the door. That kind ofproduct marketing approach you take to academic program development and promotion as well is reallyfascinating. Making sure that your division in your marketing department gets in earlier inthe conversations before you're just broughty finished program and said make this work for us. Can you share what that kind of collaborative approach with academic development looks like? Yeah, fortunately I'm at a university that has a sense of market andmarketing, so here it is. Even though we're centralized here. It's notall of our responsibility in marketing to launch new programs. The academic houst doesthat, but they do for every new program they do secondary research and sometimessome primary research to figure out if there's a market and specifically, you know, within some new programs there's emphasies or concentrations which of those we should belaunching, and I'm asked to review. I have a hand in on that. My budget pays for half the budget for the research and I have hada review what that research says and then once there's a decision. I'd likethis sooner. Actually, I get about doing a marketing plan based on thefour piece. So sometimes that has happened. I got here and, as Isaid in two thousand and ten and week, started reviewing programs at thatpoint. But with new programs that are launched I'll create a new marketing planfor those. I will start having conversations because, even if we were justtalking about ocean, marketing has to understand really the intricacies of these programs andto try to find a position trying to fund a brand for them really interesting. Any specific either success stories or kind of roadblocks that you can think aboutwhere you were brought in to determine the market by ability of a program prelaunch and you learn something in that process or during the promotion process that thatreally helps steer the program in a different...

...direction. Yeah, I could actuallygive an example of a graduate program that we reviewed after I got here.So it was already in existence but the kind of it had, its enrollmenthad plateaued and was experiencing some decrease, not huge but some. So wewent about formed a small committee of facty administrators, myself, to go througha marketing plan review and we took the four peas and went through that andas we looked at program just started asking some tough questions about it. Actually, I need to back up. We started that process and said to 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 whatthe brand was out there about the program. As soon as we had that data, then we then we started to react to it and started to seebullet point after bullet point under product where there were some issues with the studentexperience and the price wasn't an issue. And but with promotion we saw justa lot of really big disconnect between how marketing had been branding the program and, you know, ultimately positioning it in the market to what the actual experiencewas. And so we were looking as we looked at it, we developedreally a new brand campaign for that program and went about that. This isa long process, especially in academics and higher education. So it took afew years time for us to figure out the brand, but also for theacademic house to make changes. And so I we sit here now, fewyears later. That's all turned around. They've really made a lot of improvements. We don't hear the same issues with student experience and I just found outlast week, or actually a couple weeks...

...ago, that we really need toshift the branding of it again to reflect of a program directors goals with thetype of student they like to recruit. Some of the problems with promotion forthat program was of a previous marketing planet identified really student straight out of college, to millennials, young millennials, and develop the pro they kind of createdthe program for that group, but that group coming in was being mixed withkind of season career professionals and it was causing some issues in the classroom.So we shifted away from that and so really that process has changed both thepromotion but also the actually the program itself. And it came as a result ofsitting around a table multiple times talking hash, being honest, and forme that that's not so difficult. I've been a faculty member before, I'vebeen behind the curtain. At some institutions that may not be possible, buthere we're able to really talk frank with each other and try to get thingsturn around. He's typically, you know programs. Maybe a dean is holdinga program Director responsible for meeting a Roma goals and he or she's looking atmarketing and admissions and saying why I don't recruit. And here, by bringingit all together, we can say, okay, we're having some trouble withenrollment, when we're finding that it's not mad to the market exactly what whatcan we do? How can we work together to fix whatever's broken? Sothat's one example I think of a success story. The enrollments turned around.It's has a healthy percentage of growth each year and we're finding a market forit. So that's a success story for us. But we go through thathole. The marketing plan is the four peas. We we take product andwell, first of all we go opportunities, threads, strengths, weaknesses. Welook at all those and then we go product. What are the strengthsand weaknesses of this program? So the...

...weaknesses point two areas that need tobe addressed, but the strengths kind of point to possibilities for finding brand positionand the market. What are the strengths? The strengths many times say, well, we're the only institution in the market that does this and we youknow, there's maybe some Aha moments in these meetings were okay, okay,perhaps there's something we can do with a promotion of that, and we dothat for price and place, whether it's online or facetoface, or how manyunits the program is, so on and so forth. And you know,behind all this is the data we've accumulated internally, but also data that isout there about the higher ed market, in this case for graduate adult students. What we know? How many units works best, so and so forth, and so marketing and communications in the tape mark marketing can really be atthe table helping inform on some of those things. I ended up here writinga white paper just on the graduate delt market because I saw across all theseprograms just leaders not understanding why we were doing certain things in promotion. SoI was able to do a white paper, distribute and have discussions with academic leadershipabout this is why the product needs to be shifted or or whatever thecase is. Rick, I love how you've bought in a seat of thetable at the academic program development table, both for you know, pre launchedby ability, for launch promotions, as well as this iterative reconsideration and howdo we continue to tweak this to be most effective when you come to thetable and talk for peace with your academic friends and faculty. Any resistance there? 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 thatreceived? You know, I've tried to think back when I first got here. I just give my background. factuty...

I started developing relationships with faculty fromday one. Had Coffee on our campus coffee shop. Started talking about oneof my ideas were and none of the ideas were like you need to dothis promotion wise in order to change things around. I just talked about whatwhat burn and is, what branding is, what marketing is, and developed relationshipsand then just move forward. But I was fortunate here because this wasalready a market sensitive institution. The provost office was already doing research pre launch, and so I think my approach blended well when I arrived with what wasalready happening here. But I just said just sit down and ask stuff questions. There's always personalities, no matter what the businesses, but especially in higherad so you just kind of just kind of have to figure out how tonavigate those. I view faculty be having been one for many years. It'sa great campuses are well, what a great place to be. Each dayI 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 with individual factormembers who saw us going on and want to talk to me. SoI think I just have those. I understand at other institutions it may notbe so easy, but I think you just have to move forward boldly,but you know deftly, that you walk and try to navigate the situation andtry to figure out each person you dealing with and and not offend people butask, try to find ways to ask questions. Incredibly helple tips, Ithink, for all those who who wish our departments were part of larger conversationson campus and think some great practical tips of how we earn our way tothat table. Anything else you want to share with our listeners today that wehaven't covered, or any tips for institutions who love this idea of this productmarketing approach to program development but don't exactly...

...know how to start? Yeah,universities and campses are so different, the cultures vary and it's so tight inwith history of the institutions. My general belief is that you just have tostart carving out professional relationships with, in this case, academic leaders, evenuniversity leaders. I had written I'm trying to revive it again. I hada blog. I was very active with that. I was able to justspin off some print off or send them links at times of look at thisis what I think about certain things and impact what you've been doing and Ithink we need to shift gears here. So I think relationships are important.And then just kind of the ground rules. I really have defined what brand is, and branding for us it's, you know, what people experience with, students experience you to be or what people have heard you to be,and so I just have preached that. It's different than identity, which we'reat a very identity twere of and Union University identity is very, very muchwhat we say it is. And so about marketing, about the four peasand so on and so forth, and just have those conversations and but therehas to be an openness at the highest levels to do this. And ifyour university is really decentralized or at schools, and you have to work on eachschool differently. And my my experience my career has been at institutions wheremarketings been centralized. So that's different. Since some listeners might be experiencing rightrick, depths of thought and advice, they're really appreciate you joining us today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you? Will read thatblog you mentioned if they have any follow up questions. Yeah, my Uglink is on my twitter profile. I like I said, I'm trying torevive it's been a while since I've been there, but there's good stuff there. I think I'm a rick a hardy, R I s Ka Ah Rdy ontwitter, rick a hardy, you can find me there. Love tofollow hire a people who are died tweet about all sorts of things, buttry to try to focus on marketing and...

...admissions and enrollment areas, but that'sprobably the best place. Awesome, Rick, thanks so much for your time andthanks for joining us today. Thanks, Eric Appreschi. Enjoyed it. You'vebeen listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that younever miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcastplayer. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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