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Higher Ed Marketing Lab

Journey Mapping at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

Companies like Amazon, GoPro, Zappos, Uber, and Apple have demonstrated again and again that having a deep understanding of who one’s customers are and how they make decisions is one of the most powerful competitive advantages an organization can possess. Over the years, marketers have devised a number of tools like buyer personas, empathy maps, and journey maps to better understand the customer’s experience and decision-making process. Unlike personas and empathy maps that attempt to build a more or less static profile of buyers’ characteristics, journey maps convey how the customer’s decision-making process unfolds over time. Continue Reading

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Cover Art: Responding to COVID-19 at University of the Ozarks with President Richard Dunsworth

Responding to COVID-19 at University of the Ozarks with President Richard Dunsworth

In this special episode, we talk with President Richard Dunsworth of the University of the Ozarks about the impact of COVID-19 on his school. From leadership in times of crisis to wide-ranging operational changes to the long-term impact this global crisis could have on the institution, we explore how one school is coping with profound and rapid change.


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Podcasting at Penn State's McCourtney Institute for Democracy with Jenna Spinelle

Podcasting at Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy with Jenna Spinelle

Podcasting ranks right up there with influencer marketing and AI as one of the most hyped marketing trends over the last few years. But what’s really involved in launching a podcast, what’s the potential pay-off, and is it too late for your school to jump on the podcast train?

We tackle these questions and more in our latest Higher Ed Marketing Lab podcast. Joining us is Jenna Spinelle from Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Since 2018, Jenna’s produced and promoted the Institute’s Democracy Works podcast, and she’s got great advice for anyone considering starting one.

You’ll hear:

  • Why podcasting has become such a hot medium over the last few years
  • Whether or not it’s too late to start your own podcast
  • How to set realistic expectations for exposure and listenership
  • How to pick the right topic for your podcast
  • And smart ways to make the workload of podcasting more manageable.

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Episode 15 Cover Art - How to Sunset a Tired Social Media Account with Rebecca Stapley

How to Gracefully Sunset a Tired Social Media Account with Rebecca Stapley

Rebecca Stapley joins us to talk about social media, and specifically, what do when you suspect it’s time to sunset a social media account that’s outlived its usefulness.

During her time as Assistant Director of Social Media at Nazareth College, Rebecca gained first-hand experience with this potentially touchy topic as she engaged with colleagues in other departments who wanted to run–or maybe already were running–their own accounts on behalf of the school.

You’ll hear from Rebecca about:

  • The key questions internal teams should asking BEFORE they start a new social account
  • How to approach colleagues when you suspect their social media accounts could use some help and how to do so in a way that minimizes defensiveness
  • And the specific process she used to wind down a set of alumni social media accounts at Nazareth College and integrate them into the school’s main account.

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Episode cover art

Leading Web Accessibility Initiatives at Colorado State with David Carpenter and Jennifer Garvey

We talk web accessibility with David Carpenter and Jennifer Garvey of Colorado State University. David is the Director of Operations and Jennifer is Assistant Director of IT for Web and Business Systems at Colorado State’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

In this discussion, we shy away from the technical details surrounding accessibility, and instead focus on how to effectively align people and resources within an organization to get the work done. You’ll hear from David and Jennifer about some of the challenges they faced–and even mistakes they made–during their early web accessibility initiatives. And they share important lessons learned about how to more effectively engage both internal resources and external partners to get the work done. And perhaps most importantly, they detail practical examples of how they’ve integrated web accessibility into the fabric of their organization so that accessibility remains an on-going priority and not just a one-time project.

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Episode cover art: Humanizing the Digital Experience

Humanizing the Digital Experience and more from eduWeb 2019 with Jason Buzzell

Jason Buzzell is Director of Digital Communications at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. We met up with Jason at the 2019 eduWeb conference to reflect on some of the most interesting ideas and themes we encountered at this year’s conference, including:

  • How to humanize digital experiences (which was the topic of a talk Jason delivered).
  • We talked about why today’s students place such a high priority on authenticity and how schools are attempting to provide it.
  • Some of the more interesting findings from RNL’s 2019 E-Expectations report, which was presented at the conference.

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Episode 12 cover art: Optimizing the Campus Visit with Jeff Kallay

Optimizing the Campus Visit Experience with Jeff Kallay

The campus visit remains one of the most impactful moments in the college decision process, and there’s probably no one who knows more about the campus visit experience than Jeff Kallay, Principal of Render Experiences.

His work on campus visits has been featured in numerous publications including the Chronicle of Higher Education, University Business Magazine, and the New York Times, and we were lucky enough to have him join us on the Higher Ed Marketing Lab podcast to share some of his best insights.

We cover:

  • why our complex digital world makes the campus visit more important, not less
  • how Gen Z and their Gen X parents present new and interesting challenges to recruiters
  • why rock star students don’t always make rock star ambassadors, and
  • why your guides should never, ever walk backwards and talk.

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Episode Cover Art: Leading with Compassion and Character with Major General H.D. Jake Polumbo

Leading with Compassion and Character with Major General H.D. “Jake” Polumbo

In this episode, we diverge a bit from our usual discussion around higher ed marketing to talk about leadership, which is a topic relevant to anyone who has to work with and through others.

Joining us in that conversation is retired Air Force Major General, H. D. “Jake” Polumbo. Over his 34 year career in the Air Force, General Polumbo acquired a great deal of wisdom around how to lead and manage others, even under the most challenging circumstances.

Among many other things, we discuss why leaders need to demonstrate compassion for their team, the importance of leaders publicly owning up to mistakes, tips for making decisions with limited information, and why character and integrity are essential for any leader.

Get a signed copy of General Polumbo’s book, Leadership at 30,000 Feet in Two Easy Steps:

  1. Visit us on Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes) and leave a review (good, bad, or indifferent, it doesn’t matter).
  2. Email us at with your shipping details. Your book will arrive in a few days!

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Episode Cover Art: People, Process, and Technology with UCF's Dr. Jennifer Sumner

People, Process & Technology with UCF’s Dr. Jennifer Sumner

We’ll be talking with Dr. Jennifer Sumner about people, process, and technology, within the University of Central Florida‘s online program. In this wide ranging conversation, we hear about UCF Connect, the university’s success coaching program for online students. We hear how the university is leveraging SalesForce and other technologies to improve the student experience. We talk about ways they’ve helped build a sense of belonging for online students and how, despite the enormous size of the university, the UCF online team has fostered productive collaboration among dozens of stakeholders and departments.

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A Public Relations Primer with Barbara Pierce

If you’ve ever felt that public relations was a mysterious black box, then this episode is for you. We discuss public relations for higher ed with Barbara Pierce, president of Tipping Point Communications. Barbara has over 25 years experience leading global, national, and regional public relations initiatives, and she’s worked extensively in higher education.

We start by hearing Barbara’s favorite definition of public relations, and then we jump into the major shifts that have drastically changed how PR is practiced in recent years. Barbara shares her insights into how marketing and PR teams can become better aligned, and she gives actionable advice on how schools can increase the odds of getting their stories picked up by media outlets. Towards the end of our discussion, we talk about how schools can better prepare for crisis communication scenarios before they happen.

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