8: Building a Modern Higher Ed Marketing Team at University at Albany (SUNY) w/ Dr. Joseph Brennan

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Joseph Brennan, VP of Communications & Marketing and Clinical Professor of Business at The University at Albany, discusses how to hire, organize and structure your higher ed marketing department to fulfill current and future institutional enrollment goals.

Attracting today's new post,traditional learners, means adopting new enrolmant strategies. Keelikseducations data driven enterprise, wide approach to enrollment growth isuniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation, landscape and Helox has just published the second edition of theirenrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions can solve today's most pressing enromant growth challenges.Download ID today for free at Helocks, Educationcom, playbook, you're, listening to enrolment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and romant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show. Welcome back to Enroman GrowthUniversity, I Meri Golson AVP of marketing at heelins education andwe're here today with dtor Joseph Brendan Vice President forCommunications and marketing and clinical professor of business at theuniversity at Albany, Joe thanks. So much for joining us today, you'rewelcome Eric Joe and I met in person at Ama higred. Last year I was wearing myBright Oran, lic shoes and Joe Stopp by to give me a compliment so lesston forall you out. There peacocking works on Joe Brennan, we're going to have agreat conversation today about how to best restructure your marking,department and the strategy behind that before we get into that joke, can yougete the listeners a little bit better understanding of both university atAlbany and your role? There thanks Er. The university at Albany is one of thefour big research universities in the State University of New York system. Wehave a little more than seventeen thousand students in our graduateundergraduate programs, and my role is really to serve as the chief marketingofficer devising strategy nurturing the...

...brand and leading a team of Aabouttwenty five people who deliver markhing services, digital communications andearned media. I also engaged in sort of issues, managementand crisis response, so it's a pretty broad, ranging portfolio and when I'mnot in my day, job I'm researching and teaching classes in our schoolofbusiness. Awesome Awesome Joe Wee talked about this before marketing andmarketing departments are, are just fundamentally changing and ContinuingTho Change. About five years ago I saw many colleges, an universities,creating smaller digital marketing teams within their departments and now,five years later boy who don't you put on the digital marketing world, nearlyall of markings functions can be considered, digital or at least overlapthere. So where should one start in making sure their team is properlyorganized for the current day, reality of a modern highred marketingdepartment? You Know Eric, I think, you're. So right- and this is thequestion I'm hearing- it asked with increasing urgency by my peers that allkinds of institutions, large and small, public and private the field is, is nodoubt rapidly. Changing digital is underlying everything we do d and moreimportant. The demand on marketing are bigger than ever. Marketing has tobecome strategic and proactive and move out of the role that we used to be castin, which was largely tactical and reactive. People showed up on ourdoorstep and said I need a brow shore and then they said I need a website.Yeah today they say I need some social media, but that tactical and reactive modeldoesn't fully empower us to do what we need to do as strategic marketers. Sowhere do you begin? You actually begin with an institutional, strategicmarketing plan and the plan doesn't have to be forty pages in a binder. Infact, what it really needs to do is...

...clearly articulate your institutionstop business goals, so enrollment growth, how big? What kind wherefromcould be those questions? What mixture of programs? What are your distinctivedifferentiators? That will help position you in the marketplace? Youneed to clearly articulate institutional business goals. They mayalso include a WAMNIG engagement and philanthropy and if you're a public,you probably have some goals that are related to engaging your legislatorsand other celected officials. Then, in your plan outline the marketingactivities that will drive those institutional outcomes and then, ofcourse, you know outline the tactics and the schedule and so on and so forth.But the plan is is the beginning, because your structure follows yourstrategy. It has to be informed by thes strategy. So what's the next step?Second, step in building the structure is to look at the positions that youwill need in order to deliver the marketing activities that you promisingyour plan. I always advise people start with ablank piece of paper and identify the positions in the skill sets necessaryto deliver your strategic plan. First. Do that first and then organizethese in some logical way and then look at what you've got towork with in terms of the people that are already there and see if you canmatch individual people into your ideal structure and then it's a process of of,if you can't you're going to have to lobby for the ability to create new positions, you maybe may need to ask some peopleto leave or to accept radically different roles that they're going tohave to get prepared to do thirs a little adjustment in this in this lastphase, as you switch from ideal to...

...reality, but that is essentially theprocess on me. RECAP DO the institutional strategy plan first then,create the ideal structure and set of positions to deliver that plan and thenmatch the reality of what you've got to workwith into that chart and make some adjustments along the way, Joe. It'ssuch good stuff- and I think you had on something really important that I dealtwith when I was at a university. A in today still deal with our universitypartners is a lot of folks on campus view marketing as just a serviceoperations that they come to them with a problem and marketing just deliversthem explicitly what they asked. The problem that you mention is that theycome with the wrong problem. They say I need a poster, or I need a website towhere I neen social media and that's not what they need they need to fill.You know the button seats ot their events. They need to fill the butsonseats in their classrooms and so helping thedepartment think of themselves more sragegically and then and then helpingto communicate that with the rest of the university is so important, so lovethose TEPs. You have one thing. I really want to dig into now becausetalk to me about how to decide whether to organize around the Unicorns youcurrently have on your team versus organizing around the functional needsof the departments moving forward. If there those Unicorns were to leave well. This is difficult because decisions like this have a real impacton people's lives right and Eric. I think, in my experience, most new chief marketing officers who arestruggling with this issue of the structuring have inherited somethingand often what they've inherited is, was either a structure and a set ofskills that were built for the reality of twenty years ago or a reallyunplanned department that just sort of grew because I don't know times weregood and somebody gave the marketing...

...people another position right. So I think the best advice I can give is you have to be disciplined to say theinstitutional goals come first then the marketing functions that will drivethose goals. Then the skill sets and the structure the best supports that.And then you look at matching people to the work, and I recommend a couple ofways to go about that. Matching one is to really explore with your staff what theirstrengths are. We've used, strength, finder, strength, fineer, two point: Oh,it Withi've used that twice on different campuses that I've been on asa way to give people insights into their unique strength and talents, andI also recommend using o a career conversation which is a structuredinterview that you can do with your employee to help them articulate theirunique strength, talents and values and help them help you understand of wherethey get the best satisfactions. It's often the case that you've got theright person, but they're in the wrong chair. In that case, that's just a sortof a realignment and that's okay, but sometimes you will have a moredifficult problem that you got the right person, but the chair doesn'texist right. You just don't need that function anymore. I hope I hope toColli get I at a small private college last year go through this exercisea and she found that she had a couple ofpeople that were really doing things that tha the college, the new strategicplan she created. Just honestly, they just didn't make sense. These functions were inherited and theymight have made sonse years back, but they were no longer necessary, and soshe eliminated those positions and reelocated those dollars to create somenew and much needed capacity that...

...didn't exist before to I love that helpme understand what that looks like when you're backfiling positions to so aperson leaves they were your email marketer when you ere looking to arefill that let's say that function still needs to exist that yourinstitution, you still deeply believe in email marketing. How do you hire forthat position where that person can become broader than that? where thatemail marketer can progress into an engagement market? They can progressinto into running marketing automation for your team. How do you staff for thecurrent they needs, while making sure that they have broader talents thanthat, and then they can grow with the industry and with your department? YouKnow Eric, and I know you know this from your time on campus, we tend tohire people who will come and stay. HIGHEROD is a relatively low turnoverenvironment right. So we have to think with an eye to ten or even twenty yearsout where somebody might go. Moreover, our field is changing so thateverything is integrating right. So I can't afford any more to have someonewho's an expert in just one channel. I want them to be able to be comfortablethinking, multi channel right photography, for example. I don't thinkwe're ever going to hire again someone who is only a still photographer yeahand he you can do photo video motion, graphics. You know I need that that whole package,I think the good news is- is that there are folks, especially the newgeneration coming out of college today, that are much more oriented tomultichannel. You know, but you look for the capacity to learn, look forpeople who have shown over their career the ability toadapt and grow and then invest in their growth. The first thing I did when Igot to you Albany was asked my president for a budget to supportprofessional development, and he gave that to me with no hesitationand and our staff here tell me all the...

...time how much that means to them,because the field changes so rapidly. So in a word, look for the capacity tolearn and grow and look for actual experience in with people that require new skill setsand evolved their roles, awesome advicee. You mentioned the fieldgrowing so rapidly. Are there any specific positions or specificfunctional responsibilities? You think highrid marking departments arecurrently underestimating or understaffing for. Oh absolutely. Thefirst thing that comes to mind is research and data analysis. If we aregoing to really be firstrate marketers, we have to be data informed and datatoday is prolific right. We leave in the era of big data, so we need peoplethat know how to systematically gather up this data and, more importantly, getthe story. Get the strategy get the insights out of it. 'm, looking atnumbers on a page is one thing, but really understanding the implicationsfor action is quite another, so you know if, if I had one new positiontoday, I would put it into research and data analysis awesome. It's awesome,great advice, all right, Joess, let's say that we've identified the businessgoals of the department, we've identified the marking strategies andnecessary to complete those goals, and then we've identified those positionsnecessary to complete these strategies. How do you best go about communicatingthese new functional changes and, in some cases, responsibility changes withyour current staff? Well, this can be difficult because these are realchanges that affect people's lives. So I think, as a good leader, you always want to betransparent and you don't want things to be a surprise. Big major changes tobe a surprise for people, so I recommend involving your entire stafffrom the beginning in the development...

...of the institutional strategic plan.Now that doesn't mean putting everybody around a table and saying you know,help me do the marketing plan. I think it means talking to them about what aplan is. It's importance, your role in fashioning the plans soliciting theirinput along the way and letting them know early on that. The plan is goingto inform our priorities, including how we'reorganized and what skill sets we need to deliver the plant. So it's nosurprise, then, with the once, the plan has been developed and you've built the support of thepresident provost. Another team senior officials then bring it back to yourstaff and share it with them and reveal the structure and the positions thatare necessary t deliver the plan. I think this is the only way that youthat you can do this and not make it seem like it's arbitrary or that you'rejust favoring some and picking on others. I think, and if you have to deliver bad news O to people, do it privatelyand do it compassionately but be firm. You know I reds a funny place becauseour faculty culture has tenure. So you know facully never leave right and I think that creeps over a littlebit, sometimes onto the staff side, that people kind of assume that youknow things will always be the way. They are obviously not the case in theprivate sector, but in higher ed its a little difference. You got to besensitive to that culture and you know stay firm, but but remain compassionatefor many of your staff. It's actually a great opportunity, you know and ifyou've had those career conversations and done the stringts, finder and sayhey. I from what I know about you, you're good at this or your interestedin this, and this is why I'm asking you to step into this chair in herorchestra. You know it can be a very...

...positive thing, because all of us humans have aninner need to learn and grow throughout our entire lifetime, and you knowyou're you're, actually creating an opportunity for people to to try some new things, develpe somenew skills and gain some new satisfactions joe it such such goodstuff. Any final suggestions for hired leaders who are looking to reorganizetheir marking department at Their College University. Well, Eric I'lltell you. This can be really hard work and it's a lonely job, sometimes to be thechief marketing officer. You don't really have any other peers who who you can have frank conversationswith, because they don't really know your world right. You know you may bereally friendly with the Broostor, the VP of Student Affairs. They don't knowexactly ins and outs, so I would recommend find somebody on the outside.It could be a trusted peer that you found through Ama like we connected itcould be an agency partner or an independent consultant, buthave,someone who only talks to you and you only talk to them and you can explaythis out and let them guide you through thisprocess and give you the the moral support,sometimes at it, takes to make hard change in your organization such greatstuff Joe. Thank you so much for joining us today. Well, what's the bestplace for listeners to connect with you if they have any followof questions?Eri. Thank you for having me on, and I would invite all of your listeners toconnect with me inm linked and just just search, my name Joseph Frennan andAlbany New York and and then let me know in your invitationthat you were a listener so that I can recognize you and I willhappily connect awesome, jo thanks, agains, so much for joining us today.Thanks for this was great and good luck. Everybody out there and making thosepositive changes. You've been listening to enromantgrowth 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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