All posts by Ann Oleson

Taking YouTube from Reach to Attention at the Google Partner Summit

Last week, Jay Kelly and I had the privilege of attending the Google Partner Summit at Pier 36 in NYC. We joined over 1,200 people from across the world who have earned the Google Premier Partner status. The event was filled with a top lineup of leaders talking about what is new and next with Google, and how Google Partners can add value to their client relationships.

 

 

One of my favorite sessions from the Summit focused on YouTube.

Amy Yury, Director of Global Video Product & Sales, kicked off the afternoon with a session on why video matters and how to connect with audiences based on richer, deeper storytelling through sight, sound and motion. Amy shared a case study from Purple Mattress. The little-known company went up against industry giants and, through the use of humor and storytelling on YouTube, made magic happen with their product.

In July 2017, Purple (a Utah-based company) became the first publicly traded mattress with a one-billion dollar merger. Their deep understanding of the customer and ability to effectively tell a story on channels where their customers spend time is impressiveto say the least. Below are some of the fantastic examples that they shared.

 

 

Surprisingly, 20 percent of US adults no longer pay for television. However, there are 1.5 billion monthly logged-in viewers on YouTube who spend at least one hour a day watching on mobile alone. What does that mean? We can we reach core affinity and in-market audiences when building and investigating custom affinity fans. Purple did it. So, how might that apply to higher education? What if you were to build a core affinity audience for a specific sport based on the recruitment of student athletes to your university? What about a specific program, major or performing arts club. By creating your own custom affinity audience fans in YouTube, you can more effectively reach the right audiences.

Another key strategy Amy covered was the Life Events categorization. Life Events (based heavily on really good machine learning) popped up quite a few times throughout the presentation. Through simple artificial intelligence, Google can figure out “if-then” scenarios that allow us to understand what life events users are experiencing at various points in time. So, what if based on specific searches, we know that a prospective student is graduating from high school and looking for a specific college program? Better yet, what if we know when someone is looking for a job change, rewriting their resume and searching for ways to get a promotion? These insights would tune us into people who are looking to bridge the skills gap and take the next step in their career. A graduate degree may be exactly what they need.

 

YouTube Pro Tips for Colleges and Universities

The energy in the room during Amy’s session was palpable. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about the ways that artificial intelligence and machine learning are advancing platforms like YouTube and, in turn, empowering marketers to work faster, smarter and more efficiently. YouTube affinity audiences, life events and search query audiences (in alpha Testing) pose great opportunities for our industry. Are you using any of the tactics to reach prospective candidates on YouTube? Message me your ideas. I’d love to hear how these strategies are working for you.

 

 

Digital Skills Training for Higher Education

Entrepreneur Magazine reports that the digital skills gap is estimated to cost organizations over one trillion dollars in productivity annually. Burning Glass Technologies has shared research on the digital skills gap in the workforce. We know the gap exists, but what exactly does it mean for our industry?

It means opportunityto bridge the gap for your staff with digital trainings, to develop curriculum that prepares students for the next generation of careers, to make an impact and stay ahead of the curve by being open to learning and evolving.

I recently wrote an article on why higher education needs to stop avoiding disruption. After numerous conversations with our campus partners, we have determined that in order to meet the significant needs of their teams, we had to identify a partner that focuses specifically on these types of trainings.

General Assembly is a pioneer in education and career transformation specializing in today’s most in-demand skills. Their methodology is solid, providing a digital assessment that was created through intensive discovery and interactions with employees at companies like Conde Nast, Microsoft, Google and Visa.

 

20 campuses worldwide

40,000 full-time and part-time

10,000 partners

 

We love the flexibility of their trainings (online and in person), the offerings focused specifically on what is new and next in digital and their constant development of innovative programs.  

Colleges and universities across the country are looking to build their digital teams. From increases in job postings for data analytics and SEO specialists to the growth in digital opportunity for education is obvious. People are being paid more for these jobs and sought after for the skills they bring to the table. I encourage you to explore opportunities for digital trainings and workshops to strengthen your digital dexterity.

Have ideas for digital trainings for higher ed? Shoot me a note and let’s discuss.

 

 

 

Daily Reads for Trendsetting Digital Marketers

Google provides me with daily alerts and content catered to my interests. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are cluttered with a preconceived notion of what posts I should read and when. Everything is curated for us these days. And though I enjoy the recommendations, I am also proud to remain selective when it comes to what news and informations gets (and keeps) my attention.

Daily, I scan the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed’s newsletters, Refinery 29, the Corridor Business Journal and HuffPo. But I find the most value in newsletters that might not be on every marketer’s radar.

These five daily pieces are my must-reads for trendsetting marketers. They have expanded my view and encourage me to think about and shape what’s new and next for our industry everyday.

 

1. The Hustle

The Hustle came into my life through a promoted post in my Facebook feed with a quote from Mark Cuban suggesting that it is the one daily newsletter he swears by. It updates me on all major tech happenings that will impact our clients and keeps our team ahead of the curve.

Value Proposition: Your smart, good looking friend that sends you an email each morning with all of the tech and business insights you need for the day.

 

2. Academica Group

Our friends at Brescia University College in Canada referred me to Academica Group. This is a must-read for higher education marketers. Canada leads the way in thinking about ROI-based degrees, the idea of co-ops for students and partnerships with business and commerce.

Value Proposition: Research and consulting for higher education. Don’t follow trends, define them. Two decades. Over 100 client institutions. Our work enables growth, change and leadership.

 

3. Glossy

I first became aware of Glossy when an employee left and I started receiving her daily emails. It is actually quite a gift as it looks at the disruption happening in the fashion world today and shares insights on how the leaders and losers are making decisions. The content focuses on how digital is impacting everything and how we can thrive in a world that is uncertain at best.

Value Proposition: Glossy is a daily online publication and media company exploring the intersection of fashion and luxury through the lens of digital and tech.

 

4. Digiday Daily

I heard about Digiday from a friend who led the NY Times Digital Advertising Sales. It keeps me updated on the uber-tech things on the horizon. They also have a bang-up amazing podcast.

Value Proposition: A daily must-read among influencers obsessed with the bleeding edge of media and marketing.

 

4. 730DC

Our director of content strategy referred me to 730DC. It gives me perspective on the type of content that is most relevant to local audiences and reminds me how important segmentation and authenticity are for readers.

Value Proposition: We connect Washingtonians to their city, its communities and to one another.

So, if what I tell my kids is trueyou are what you read. I guess that leaves me a bit unclear on what I really am, except for curious! To share ideas and contribute your favorite newsletters and content publications shoot me a note.

Stop Thinking Disruption Isn’t Going to Impact Education

Channeling Disruption in Education Marketing

 

Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, recently sent an email to customers focused on Actions Speaking Louder than Words. Here were two key sentences from his communication:

“It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values. Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.”

“Fixing that problem starts now with changing how we fly, serve and respect our customers. This is a turning point for all of us here at United—and as CEO, it’s my responsibility to make sure that we learn from this experience and redouble our efforts to put our customers at the center of everything we do.”

Why does it take a major disruption to make the customers the center of everything a major corporation does, when the customers are the reason they are in business?

 

Take this recent New York Times article on ESPN, for example. “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” ESPN laid off scores of journalists and on-air talent. ESPN is by far the biggest and most powerful entity in the sports media industry, and it has felt the sting as viewers turn away from traditional ways of consuming live sports.

The network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years. At the same time, the cost of broadcasting major sports has continued to rise.

“They’ve decided one way to do this is to change their approach to content and rely more heavily on digital; this has enabled them to let go of a big chunk of their talent base.”

Why does it take a disruption of millions of subscribers leaving and massive layoffs for a leader in sports to decide that content and digital are driving modern business?

 

The first week of April, Ralph Lauren announced it would be closing its Fifth Avenue Store in New York saving $140 million a year. The company announced restructuring plans last year, laying off 8% of its staff and closing 50 stores to save $180 million to $220 million a year. There is a retail bubble and it’s bursting.

Why is retail being so crazily disrupted when Amazon’s unbroken 20-year streak of double-digit revenue growth shows no sign of slowing this year, helped by an influx of online shoppers who are abandoning stores?

 

Stop thinking disruption isn’t going to impact education. 

The mentality of “if we just wait long enough, people will realize the value of what we do,” won’t cut it in today’s competitive digital landscape. We’re heading into summer and a new fiscal year—it’s time to reboot and rethink strategy. If you had two priorities for consideration, here’s what I’d recommend:

 

Priority 1: Your leadership should drive policy by listening to the consumer.

Your CMO should be leading the design-thinking about your product. For those who won’t acknowledge that degrees are a product, let’s address that. Whatever we call what we promote or sell, your CMO should be involved in and leading these discussions. Your CMO should have dashboards, reporting and a team of data nerds with numbers doing predictive analytics on what the consumers are going to demand.

Bring in a team of people who can lead your brand, product and ideas into the next paradigm. If you don’t have a CMO, hire one or a great consultant. If you don’t think you have money to do this, think about the scenarios above. If you have the right team in place, give them some lofty goals, authority and autonomy to drive strategy for your institution and expect them to contribute.

Reality Check: It’s Already Happening

Through leadership of the Provost and Vice-Provost for Digital Learning, Columbia College Chicago is creating a retail course model to be offered to current students, prospective students and topic enthusiasts. UnManned Safety Institute wrote the first 400-page textbook on Unmanned Vehicle Safety (much of which addresses Drones) and is currently working with high schools and colleges across the US on promotion of this certificate to prepare future generations for the reality and changes of the use of unmanned vehicles.

 

Priority 2: Cultivate a Digital-FIRST Paradigm.

If your institution is stuck in a pro-textbook, traditional delivery paradigm—be that marketing, recruitment or degree program—look to companies like Pearson to see where that led. How would their current state look if they had anticipated disruption?

Your product is only as good as the way the consumer wants to purchase it. Everything that you do from product, price and promotion should be driven by a digital-first paradigm. That is relevant to content, price, channel and delivery mechanism.

Reality Check: It’s Already Happening

Northwestern University’s Masters in Sound Arts programs are creating podcasts to connect with prospective students with content that is relevant and interesting to them. They’re promoting their brand with a digital-first mindset and engaging prospective students with an inbound approach to marketing.

 

Channel the disruption before it’s too late.

This will be the key to future success in a complex world that is largely unknown. Having the people in place who can anticipate these challenges and strategies to address the reality will be key to the long-term success of your programs, degrees and institutions. If you wish to further engage in a discussion on disruption in EDU, contact me to keep the conversation going.

 

#RejectionProof: TED Speaker Jia Jiang’s Advice to Education Marketers

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As higher education recruitment and marketing leaders, we constantly hear “no.” We don’t have the budget, the time, the resources or the buy in. Nine times out of ten, we don’t even get the question out before we hear objections on why our ideas won’t work.

TED Speaker Jia Jiang presented the opening keynote on day two of the Converge 2017 conference. He was chosen to present based on his out-of-the-ordinary topic: Facing Rejection and Embracing it.

Jia gave a fantastic presentation. The audience was rolling as he recapped his 100 days of rejection therapy – Jia requested to play soccer in a random stranger’s yard, asked a Krispy Kreme worker to create the Olympic rings out of donuts and from his hilarious experiences, provided meaningful and impactful advice to anyone who’s ever been rejected.

Following the conference, he also hosted a follow-up workshop on rejection. Here are my top three takeaways from the workshop.

Define Rejection

At the end of the day, rejection isn’t as scary, hairy and frightening as we might think. The more you ask what rejection is and what it means, the less difficult it is to hear the dreadful two-letter word.

what's rejection

Prepare Your Pre-Rejection Tools

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According to Jia, we have three pre-rejection tools at our disposal. Let’s explore a rejection scenario using these tools.

State Your Why

Imagine you need to start a digital media campaign and establish a budget for your digital strategy to meet your goals for Fall 2017. You approach your marketing director or dean with the request. The challenge is that the new program you’re promoting is a masters of skydiving.

Acknowledge Doubt

You aren’t surprised when you receive a horrified look from the person sitting across from you. Calmly, you acknowledge their uncertainty: “I know you hesitate because this is an unproven model with a specific audience, and that makes us all nervous. But I know a digital strategy will help us meet our enrollment goals.”

Invite Help

You realize that no amount of convincing on your part will sway the decision in your favor. However, you also know from previous experience that your marketing director or dean makes decisions based on evidence and results.

Using the last tool in your pre-rejection toolbox, you ask, “Do you have time to attend a presentation in which an expert covers a model that explains ROI and what results we can expect based on other successful programs in the industry and answers our questions?”

Finally you get a head nod!

Don’t Forget Your Post-Rejection Tools

post-rejection tools

Even after an informative presentation, your request is denied. Is this the end? Not quite. Like your pre-rejection approach, you also have an arsenal of post-rejection tools.

Ask Why

You sit down with your marketing director or dean again to discuss his or her decision. Post-rejection, you’re feeling a little less nervous. Turning to the decision maker in front of you, you say, “Let’s talk about your objections to the digital advertising project for the new masters of skydiving program. Why do you feel that the digital advertising strategy won’t work?”

Ask How and Make Concession

Your marketing director or dean provides several valid reasons to support their objections. After listening carefully, you reply with a question and an idea: “If the digital advertising strategy isn’t solid, what might be a better way to reach our audience and enroll students? Is it possible to pilot the digital advertising program with 50 percent of the budget and test the strategy you suggested with the other 50 percent?”

Switch Up and Repeat

Your request is once again denied. Though you’re disappointed, you have one more trick up your sleeve before you walk out of the office defeated. With a smile, you say, “Thank you kindly for your time. I know that based on your enthusiasm, the strength of the program and ongoing testing, we will find a marketing strategy that works. Let’s continue to discuss the best options to market this program and enroll students.”

Final Note

Notice how the conversation didn’t stop at rejection? We continued to ask questions and dig deeper into the reasoning behind it. Finally, we conceded rejection (for now) and left the door open for future conversations. That wasn’t so scary, was it?

Watch Jia’s video and learn more about his tools for rejection and how we can apply his lessons to our everyday lives.

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Insights from Harvard University: Design Thinking Applied to Content Strategy

Converge 2017 Recap | Mike Petroff

Mike Petroff, senior associate director of content strategy at Harvard, presented a Converge 2017 session on the application of design thinking to content strategy. The conversation started with a discussion of owned versus rented media.

Owned media is everything that you have control over in terms of user experience—your website, blog and email communications, for example. With rented media—like native content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram—the platform determines who sees it, when they see it and how often it is accessed.

Rented vs. Owned

Take Facebook as an example. At one point in time, Facebook’s Mobile Only Active Users (MOAU) increased 23 percent again from already incredible numbers leading to 2,000 people watching now and the potential of up to 100,000 later.

Mike also recognized Harry Beckwith and his contribution to Design Thinking by sharing the design thinking process which included:

Empathize – Design – Ideate – Prototype – Test

Empathize – Design – Ideate – Prototype – Test

The conversation started with what appear to be two simple ideas:

  • First, define the problem.
  • Then, find the solution by putting the user at the forefront and map the needs of the user.

Sounds simple. But, how many of our strategies are based on filling up a content calendar with tweets and posts without really giving solid thought to what our audience cares about most? How can we design a content strategy that addresses, entertains and engages our students?

Through great stories and visuals, Mike brought each of the elements of design thinking to life focusing on the ability to:

  • Synthesize the information from the empathy stage
  • Develop a design concept to test
  • Ideate on how to take that strategy to life
  • Prototype the way in which it might work and test

Here’s a glimpse into some of the most compelling examples he shared from Harvard’s content strategy:

 

A huge hats off to Mike and the team at Harvard for leading with user experience and building a sound strategy that engages their target audiences. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. Whether you’re working with a well-resourced team or manning a one-stop shop, consider these ideas the next time you’re planning your content calendar.

Want to learn more about the guy who runs the show at Harvard? Follow Mike on Twitter (@mikepetroff) for daily tips and insights.

Want to learn more about content strategy? Contact us to get the conversation started.

How Confidence Impacts Student Enrollment

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We are three weeks into a new year. Are you fulfilling your resolutions? As you dive into a new semester, I urge you to spend a few minutes thinking about a core concept that changes everything—confidence.

My holiday shopping adventure got me thinking about the concept. It’s two days before Christmas. I haven’t purchased gifts for my children—honestly, I usually procrastinate until everything else is done and the task is firmly planted in Steven Covey’s “Urgent and Important Bucket.”

My first stop? Google. I type in “snowboards” and two popular sporting good stores pop up. They seem to have equivalent products and prices. After a good half hour of comparisons, I realize that I know nothing about snowboards and decide to get a lesson in snowboards from the stores.

Lessons in Confidence and Customer Service

Store 1: I head to the first store to see what I can find. After searching for someone in the store for 15 minutes, one employee radios another employee to find out if they have snowboards and where they might be. Here’s a quick recap of the experience:

Store Employee: “Um, yeah, I’m not sure, but I think we only have one left. If we have them, they’re over in Aisle 7.”

After going to aisle 7, I ask, “Is there anywhere that might have a snowboard left that you know of?”

Store Employee: “Nope, not really sure. Sorry.”

Thinking to myself— in a disappointed state of mind—”Well, we might have to get gift cards this year. What’s Plan B?”

Store 2: I Google the second store and before driving an hour and dealing with mall traffic, I call the store. Brayden answers:

“So, I hear you’re purchasing snowboards for your children for Christmas. That’s awesome! I’ve been snowboarding for five years and can’t wait to learn more about your kids. Let’s start with the basics: tell me how old they are and their approximate weight and height. I’ll go and check options, and we’ll get you set up.”

Thirty minutes after my call with Brayden, I had two new snowboards and boots waxed at the service desk, paid for over the phone and ready to go.

“We open early at 8:00 a.m., so if you want to beat the traffic, that’s my recommendation,” Brayden kindly advised before we ended our call.

Not only was the experience amazing, I also felt good walking through a purchase decision with someone confident. Brayden hooked me up with a Christmas surprise my children love.

Applying this Lesson to Higher Ed

The student enrollment journey includes every touch point from the first Google search for your program to post-grad alumni outreach. The goal? Establishing confidence that your institution, certificate, class or program is a good fit that will provide value to the student.

We created this self-evaluation to help you think more strategically about the prospective student experience. Spend a few hours with your team—organize a brown bag lunch, buy a few pizzas or host a happy hour. Print out and complete the activity below to evaluate your success at each touch point.

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET

Who Does it Well?

A big shout out to the folks at E-Cornell. From Google search for marketing certificate programs through conversations and the recruitment funnel, they do a fantastic job of establishing confidence every step of the way.

Best wishes for a fabulous 2017! Interested in sharing an idea? Drop me a line at ann@convergeconsulting.org.

Digital Advertising: For More Than Just Recruitment

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Five years ago, digital advertising might not have been the right fit for a highly respected business school, a law school or a large university to consider. They didn’t need to advertise, right? Everyone that knew what they wanted could surely find the university online through a Google search. And certainly, we wouldn’t have considered digital advertising for promotion of an annual fund campaign, a foundation’s billion-dollar capital campaign or to promote a scholarship dinner.

What’s Changed in the Past Five Years?

Time Online

Per Google, the average person looks at their phone 150 times a day. We live in a constant state of connection whether it is our mobile device, a laptop or tablet. A good deal of our lives is spent online.

Key Takeaway: Let’s meet our audience where they are, and take our message to them online.

Targeting

The more we know about our audience, the more effective we can be at finding them. Facebook now allows us the opportunity to put in our demographic data and identify look alike audiences. LinkedIn allows us the opportunity to target specifically by job titles, skills, interests and company’s that people work for. Geo-fencing allows us the opportunity to target down to a specific city block in a major metro.

Key Takeaway: We can find our audience and even find those that look like our audience online.

Measurement

We can effectively measure everything from what ad contributed to a conversion, to how many people converted through retargeting. We have the ability real time—given the right technology—to optimize, report on and view what is happening and how campaigns are performing. Through sophisticated reporting tools, use of new solutions like IBM Watson’s analytics and Google Premium, the opportunity to synthesize data has never been more precise and interesting.

Key Takeaway: We can measure anything online given the right set up for reporting.

New & Next Ideas for Digital Advertising

We are constantly looking at new ways for our clients to engage. Here are three specific examples of new and next digital advertising not focused on recruitment:

Annual Fund Campaigns

Test out monthly digital advertising promotions that specifically highlight a gift for participation one month and a contest for participation the next month.

Scholarship Dinner

Implement a digital advertising campaign to promote an annual scholarship dinner to create awareness for the event and purchase of tables to raise funds for the University.

Capital Campaign Advertising

Share news through digital advertising of major gift donor recognition, showcase percent-to-campaign goal, create awareness and drive participation for campaign related events like volunteering.

Think creatively about reaching and connecting with your audiences online.

Digital advertising is a great platform and way to connect with stakeholders who are invested in your brand. You can measure the success of any campaign! Please feel free to contact me directly with any other great examples of digital advertising that are making an impact on your world.

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Inbound Marketing for Your MBA Programs: How To Do it Smarter, Better and Faster

Ann Oleson presents Inbound Marketing for Your MBA Programs: How To Do it Smarter, Better and Faster along with Sylvia Haas, Executive Director of Executive MBA Admissions at UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Oleson and Haas share best practices and tips, utilizing their experiences with various MBA programs across the country, including University of Missouri, Tulane and UT Dallas. You’ll leave their session with a list of 10 new ideas to help you more effectively attract, convert and delight your prospective MBA students.

Inbound Marketing for Your MBA Programs: How To Do it Smarter, Better and Faster
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Employee Engagement 101: Fostering a Highly Engaged Workplace

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Over a lifetime, the average person will spend approximately 90,000 hours at work. That time can be fun and rewarding, challenging, boring or just plain miserable. A few years back, one of my colleagues introduced me to this infographic, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Applied to Employee Engagement. What was riveting to me was that less than 15% of employees in organizations are at the highest level of engagement.

maslow

In kicking off our all company meeting last week and sharing what I was thankful for, I stated: “Every employee that works in our organization is at the highly engaged or engaged level of the pyramid.”

How do we create cultures that foster highly engaged employees?

How do we balance fun and enjoyment at work with productivity? What are things that we can do to foster employee engagement within our own organizations or daily lives? Here are four tools that have helped us succeed:

  1. Slack
    Earlier this year, our COO recommended Slack as a communication tool. As our offices grow and we add people, it is even more important to feel close in contact to coworkers. By implementing this new communication channel, we have greatly improved misunderstandings and unclogged everyone’s email. We have also improved sharing of compliments, exchanging documents/examples/articles/motivation and discussion groups for specific client-related work.
  2. Shared Responsibility
    Every aspect of leadership in our organization is shared. By having individuals participate in leadership roles, they feel an ownership and more meaningful contribution to the organization. Converge employees volunteer to lead our weekly All Company Meeting and brainstorms on product innovation. They coordinate our United Way Fundraiser and regular volunteer hours. Every member of our organization provides ideas on how we can improve every service and customer touch point.
  3. StrengthsFinder
    Prior to being hired, each employee at Converge takes the StrengthsFinder. Not only is this tool beneficial to co-workers in better understanding that employee but it is a hug tool to coach, motivate and learn about that person. It helps with understanding of where that team member might be able to contribute more and need more coaching.
  4. Customer Service Training
    Converge employees engage in customer service training. Not only does this training help with client engagement, but it also is an incredibly important part of our internal communication. The principles of exceptional customer service go beyond solving problems with clients and into better communication and responsiveness—both internally and externally.

As we move into the holiday season, I couldn’t be more thankful for a team of highly engaged associates who work with our clients. Have a great idea to share? Shoot me a note at ann@convergeconsulting.org

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3 Ideas from Method’s Inc. 5000 Conference Session to Apply on Your Campus

Last week, Jay and I attended the Inc. 5000 Conference in San Antonio. Converge was honored to be named #378 on the list of the 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America.

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We listened to keynotes from founders of tech startups to the one-and-only Tony Robbins. The kickoff keynote featured Eric Ryan, one of the co-founders of Method. If you don’t know their story, it is pretty amazing. Check out How Two Friends Built a $100 Million Dollar Company.

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In white coveralls and glasses, Eric addressed an audience of more than 2000 people—notably the entrepreneurs that started the 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America. His presentation was one of the best presentations I have heard in years. This conference is the epitome of what is new and next for entrepreneurs.

The Method story is inspiring. The company took on the likes of Proctor & Gamble and other industry giants to create the first line of “fun” cleaning products. A culture that fostered and was true to what they sell helped Method land on the list of Fastest-Growing Companies in America.

So how does this relate to higher education?

After copiously taking notes, I brought back a number of ideas from Eric’s session to the Converge team. I also want to share them with you.

Here are a few key lessons I learned from Method at the Inc. 5000 Conference:

slide

CULTURE

“Everything starts with culture. Our only long- term competitive advantage is culture. The only thing you can’t copy is our culture.”

In my 20 years of campus visits to hundreds of colleges across the country, I have never heard anyone say that their culture is their competitive advantage. In a sea of sameness where 4000 colleges offer virtually the same product, how do we not think about culture? How is this not one of the most important things we establish on our campus every day?

Guess what? Southern New Hampshire University did this. They thought about how to bring an innovation unit to their campus. They thought about offering a product/service to the marketplace based on data and marketplace demand. They also determined that marketing was important and the culture they built – from their program offerings to the stories they told – would be driven by the consumer.

What if we spent one day a month on our campuses thinking about our culture?

What it currently looks like, what it could be and what we want it to be. What if we decided to be the most innovative campus in the United States based on consumer and marketplace needs, driven by how we can help and serve others, not just our personal agendas. It might look a lot different, eh?

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MEETINGS

Every Monday, Method has an all-company meeting called the Huddle. Everyone shares—a name is drawn the week before and that person runs the meeting. The best way to get your employees and team engaged is to create an institution, company or place where everyone is accountable, responsible and capable of leading.

What if your team had a weekly huddle guided by a different individual who led the discussion on key topics?

Would it give everyone the opportunity to participate and engage? Would it give people a chance to celebrate success instead of complaining about lack of funding or communication?

Some ideas to get these conversations started on your campus:

  • Shout Outs – Who did something amazing that should be recognized?
  • Academic Moment – Share examples from the classroom (or beyond) when your mission was realized.
  • Presidential Moment – Something this week that the campus is working on, recognizing or appreciating based on the leadership team’s enthusiasm and vision.

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NEW AND NEXT

The U.S. is lucky to have the academic system we have. Our country is blessed with some of the brightest, most distinguished leaders, faculty and staff. If we stop and look at case studies from outside our organizations (and have the audacity to use all of the intellectual capital), we could get somewhere.

What if we took a few ideas from business or outside industries and made them our own?

What if we took a risk and it made us more successful? A vision for what our industry could be would give us a chance to do more, be better and fulfill our cause. I can’t wait to meet the person who takes me up on this idea. I know you will have success a millionfold. #NewAndNext #ModelingSuccess

Ideas, thoughts or opinions? Email me at ann@convergeconsulting.org.

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