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Brain Waves Newsletter

November 2019 │ Issue 25

In This Issue

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Liz's Letter

Liz Gross

This month I’m writing about evangelism, because Twitter told me to. It’s been on my mind since AMA’s higher ed conference last week, when Guy Kawasaki gave the keynote, "How to Evangelize a College."

The definition of evangelism, according to Guy Kawasaki, is “getting people to believe as much as you do in a product, a brand, or a concept ... it’s about selling your dream.” But it’s not a euphemism for sales. Guy went on to say, “the goal of sales is to make a personal sales goal or quota, while evangelism has the other person’s best interest at heart.”

I believe most higher ed admissions and marketing pros have their students’ best interests at heart. But someone who is paid to market a campus can only do so much to influence a student’s decision process. We know that students—and frankly all consumers—want to hear from someone like themselves before they make a purchase decision. Sixty-three percent of people trust what influencers say about brands, rather than what the brand says about itself. 

Computer screen with a megaphone amplifying the online contentThat means your true evangelists are your current students and alumni. Yes, you can drum up interest with some well-targeted digital advertising, strategic search marketing, or innovative partnerships. But when it comes down to whether or not someone enrolls, the vibe they get from the students already there plays a significant role. They pick up the vibe on your campus tour, your flagship social media accounts ... and from evangelists’ contributions on Reddit, YouTube, Instagram, and other corners of the internet.

This reveals two key points for higher ed marketers who want to evangelize, rather than sell.

  • Invest in your student experience. Mr. Kawasaki said, “It’s very hard to evangelize crap.” You may need to make your institution better before you make your marketing better.
  • Find and support your evangelists. It behooves you to know what voices are influencing decisions of prospective students. Whether it’s to amplify them, provide them with additional access to your institution's offerings, or simply be aware of what they’re saying, do not ignore evangelists. Campus Sonar can help you find them, using social listening.

Evangelism is not a quick fix. First, you must develop a unique and valuable brand or product worth believing in. If you have your students' best interests at heart, you listen to them regularly to improve your offerings. Then, you cultivate and amplify fans who can effectively tell your story in a way that makes others yearn to learn more or share their experience.

It’s rare that we work with a campus that doesn’t have at least a handful of evangelists actively promoting the institution, unknown to marketing and admissions leadership. Are you listening to yours?

Liz Gross Signature

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Meet Rebecca

Rebecca StapleyRebecca Stapley is our newest Sonarian! A strategist on the Client Success team, Rebecca has more than nine years of experience in higher education enrollment and marketing. She has a passion for delivering results-driven strategy that aligns with institutional goals and values. Rebecca’s experience spans from piloting a student blog for prospective students and managing a team of student content creators to executing giving day and building an alumni and marketing partnership. Away from her office, Rebecca is a yoga teacher and health coach who loves spending time in nature with her husband and their dogs, Gus and Ella.

What intrigues you the most about social listening?

Rebecca's dog Ella in her home officeThe patterns and stories that emerge through data. How even things like the most productive work hours and shifts in mood and sentiment can be tracked throughout a day and analyzed through the power of social listening. I also love how social listening drives audience insight to foster more understanding, meaningful engagements, and empathy in the way we market. I like to approach things as a human first, marketer second. 

What is the most memorable vacation you’ve taken in the past?

Ireland. Every time I visit the country leaves me in awe. I love the wild and breathtaking landscape, the people, lore, and storytelling that is such a deep part of the culture. A few of my favorite Irish experiences have been biking around the Aran Island of Inishmore with my husband, stopping to make friends with sheep and horses along the way. And visiting Ballintoy Harbour in Northern Ireland, looking out at the coastline and Irish sea, pure magic! Honorable mention: local stories about Grace O’ Malley the pirate queen! 

What’s rocking your world this month?

Everything. New job, new (home) office, new co-workers. I’ve been intentional about embracing change this month. I am very methodical by nature and change doesn’t always come gracefully to me. This month I keep reminding myself to be gentle and welcome all the newness and awesome parts of change like growth, energy, and connection. I’ve been rocked by how welcoming, intelligent, and genuinely hilarious my new team is. 

What current part of your job is your favorite?

Computer monitor showing data analyticsBig picture thinking and strategy is my favorite. I love the process of solidifying clear, measurable goals and then using every possible resource available to move towards them and make it happen. The data and insight available through social listening and the work of our research team is mind blowing. I’m so excited to help weave the pieces together as I partner in an impactful way that aligns with the unique and specific goals of our clients. I’m already loving the collaboration between each and every member of the Campus Sonar team.

Who inspires you?

Judith Lasater, the master of restorative yoga teaching. She teaches about the importance of rest and being more intentional about how we care for ourselves to stay attuned with our values and what matters most. Everything she says is so good, so real and humble. I had the privilege of doing a restorative yoga teacher training with her last November and she totally reframed the way I approach my own rest, yoga practice, and creativity. My bosses, past and present (sappy, but true), friends, and honestly my yoga students inspire the hell out of me! Neko Case is one of my favorite singer/songwriters and listening to her always gives me an extra boost of courage and inspiration when I need it. 

What’s the last book you read?

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. As a long time minimalist, I loved that this book focused on minimalist principles within the context of our professional lives and how to adopt a “less, but better” mentality to help reach the highest levels of contribution and meaning at work. 

What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?

I am an expert campfire builder. I learned from the best, my father who took me on camping trips in the Adirondacks as a child. I continued to grow my fire building skills as a summer camp counselor and am the designated campfire builder on frequent camping trips and backyard hangs with friends. I take my campfire building quite seriously; it’s all about the oxygen baby! Some might call me a “secret pyro.”

What are you currently watching on Netflix?

“Living with Yourself” starring Paul Rudd. My husband and I are hooked on this series and I’ve been a Paul Rudd fan since “Clueless.” My other favorite shows are “Westworld,” “Killing Eve,” and just about every BBC period drama. I recently went to see the “Downton Abbey” movie and I most certainly whispered to my husband “this is my Star Wars” as we entered the theater. 

(gif) Downtown Abbey cast selfie

What social media platform do you use most often?

Instagram. I love it for visual inspiration and connecting with others in simple ways like sharing a relatable meme or responding to a story. As much as I enjoy Instagram, I’ve also been trying to engage with it in a more intentional and mindful way to cut down on mindless scrolling. When I open the app, I try to do so with a purpose, even if it's just to catch up on what my friends are doing, or get some interior design inspiration #ScandinavianInterior 😉. 

Content We're Consuming

Sonar bullet point 10 Essential Market Research Methods—Brandwatch argues that market research is essential to understanding your world (students and alumni in higher ed). Social listening is a real-time market research method that offers authentic insights.

Sonar bullet point Enhancing Students’ Higher Education Experience Using Social Listening—Sonarian Amanda Jeppson shares how successfully using social listening improves students’ higher education experience and alumni’s continued experience with their colleagues. 

Sonar bullet point How to Sell Higher Ed—Brandon Busteed’s keynote at the AMA Higher Education Marketing Symposium was eye-opening and insightful. Catch the beginning of the presentation and Liz’s live Twitter thread.

Sonar bullet point Will There Be Food?—Podcast offers a peek into your student audience by sharing strategies student affairs professionals use to improve students’ lives on campuses around the country. Hosted by Meg Sunga.

Oops! We were so excited to share the Josie and the Podcast episode with Terisa Riley in our October newsletter that we misspelled Dr. Riley's name. Our apologies, Terisa. If you haven't listened to the episode yet, it's a must!

Brain Waves Blog Posts

This month we wrote about Reddit (yes, it’s Steve again), starting a podcast, building an influencer program, can’t-miss higher ed resources, and showing donor appreciation. Find these posts and many more on our blog.

See Campus Sonar

In Chicago for CASE V? Stop and see us! We’d love to chat.

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