Posts by Anthony Juliano

VP, Account Service & Business Development

Our resident marketing and social media strategist, Anthony has a streamlined approach to work: find the right strategy, the right message and the right channel to reach a specific audience. Anthony has completed two master’s degrees. He’s taught college classes. Run five marathons. And he’s just getting started.

Put student stories at the center of your recruitment strategy

Put student stories at the center of your recruitment strategy

By Anthony Juliano

Years ago, when I was just starting my career in higher education marketing, I was preparing to lead a series of focus groups for a public college. The goal was simple: we would share some creative examples with high school students to understand what might resonate with them–and what wouldn’t.

As the date of the first focus group approached, the college’s staff and I evaluated the creative and made predictions about what would score highest with the students with whom we were to meet. I confidently selected a piece that had a clean, modern design, just the right amount of copy, and stellar photography. Also, because it featured a faculty member, I thought it would set the institution apart in terms of quality, personal attention, and career relevance.

Guess which piece finished dead last with the focus groups?

When I considered why I got it wrong, I chalked some of it up to the age difference between me and the focus group participants. In my late thirties at the time, I assumed that the design qualities that attracted me might be very different from what teenagers might appreciate. But as I listened to the comments in the focus groups, I learned a lesson that has stayed with me–and been validated over and over again ever since.

When students are considering their choices, the determining factor is what they hear from those already enrolled at the institution. If they can see themselves fitting in among the student population, hear authentic stories about what the experience is like, and hear the brand attributes reflected in their peers’ voices, that choice will rise to the top. If not, the institution has little chance of recruiting them–despite any accolades it receives, any campus amenities it touts, or credentials its faculty can claim.

This experience continues to inform Asher’s work with its higher ed clients. We’re proud of all the creative we develop for colleges and universities, but we continue to encourage them to put student stories at the center of their recruitment efforts and develop new ways to connect students to prospects. A few examples of this work include:

  • Indiana Tech, “You Are Welcome Here.” During a time when the U.S. as a whole was seen as inhospitable to immigrants, Indiana Tech sought to share messages that welcomed and encouraged international students–long a key part of the university’s campus community. Asher and Indiana Tech partnered on a video series that featured students from Argentina, Brazil, England, India, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, and Vietnam–among others–discussing their experiences. The students spoke candidly of their first impressions of the campus and the U.S. as a whole before sharing why they felt at home at Indiana Tech. While this series was produced pre-pandemic, it took on new meaning as international students understandably became more hesitant to study in the U.S. in the wake of Covid-19.

 

  • Ivy Tech Community College, “I Am Ivy Tech.” Community colleges are often stigmatized as less rigorous as four-year institutions, leading prospects to believe they need to enroll elsewhere to achieve their career goals. Given Asher’s long standing relationship with Ivy Tech Community College, we knew the truth was very different–and that there were dozens of students who could prove otherwise. Asher worked with Ivy Tech to profile students and recent graduates who were thriving in career fields not always associated with community colleges or who had taken a different path than their peers. Their remarkable stories–including a high school valedictorian who has chosen Ivy Tech and a nurse who moonlighted as an Indianapolis Colts cheerleader–gave prospects the opportunity to see community colleges very differently, while giving the college the chance to compete for more students.

 

  • Saint Mary’s College, “Moms and Daughters.” Just as it’s true that prospects need to be able to see themselves at a given institution, they also crave the approval of their influencers when it comes to their choice of a college. That’s why Asher encouraged Saint Mary’s College to develop a “Moms and Daughters” series to reflect the importance of family in the decision-making process. A Catholic women’s college with a large legacy student population, Saint Mary’s is an outlier in terms of parental involvement in decision making. Still, it is critical that Saint Mary’s prospects understand what the college has to offer from the student perspective. By documenting conversations between students and their mothers, Asher and Saint Mary’s captured both perspectives in a way that uniquely reflects the conversations prospects would have on the way toward enrollment.

 

None of this is to say that faculty profiles, academic accolades, completion rates, and job placement statistics are valueless. However, nothing is as compelling as the power of student stories. As Jonah Berger says in Contagious: Why Things Catch On, “People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story 
itself, information comes along for the ride.” And when college and universities focus on student stories, prospects themselves often “come along for the ride” all the way to enrollment–and beyond.

Three Critical Higher Ed Data Points—And How They May Affect Your Institution

Three Critical Higher Ed Data Points—And How They May Affect Your Institution

By David Goode and Anthony Juliano

One us is the parent of a high school student, and the other is a college-student parent and adjunct faculty member. As a result, we’re experiencing firsthand the impact of the coronavirus on students and their schools—and the need for adaptation. Suffice it to say, both of us have had to be a little more lenient about how late our kids sleep in and how “early” they go to bed, and we’ve had to be more active in helping them progress with their studies than we were before COVID-19 was in our vocabulary.

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Data As a Difference-Maker in Higher Education Marketing

Data As a Difference-Maker in Higher Education Marketing

It’s an understatement to say that these are challenging times for American higher education institutions. Overall, enrollment has declined for eight years running−and even darker days are coming. Recent graduates and major media outlets are questioning the value of a college degree. And, perhaps most alarming of all, institutions across the nation are closing their doors at an unprecedented rate.

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New studies reveal never-before-seen trends in social media

New studies reveal never-before-seen trends in social media

Research into changing trends in social media is nearly as old as social media itself. Two new studies, however, reveal never-before-seen shifts in user habits that hint at changing realities for social media marketers.

 

Last month saw the release of the 2018 Pew Research Center’s study of social media use, the latest in an annual series, and The Infinite Dial, a well-established study of consumer behavior in the digital space published each year by Edison Research and Triton Digital. Perhaps the most interesting finding was that collective use of three major platforms—Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter–is down overall among individuals age 12 and older–from 80 percent in 2017 to 77 percent today. The primary cause is a downturn in Facebook use. At a time when the platform is making headlines for all the wrong reasons, 62 percent of individuals 12 and older say they use Facebook, a drop of five percentage points from 2017. Among younger consumers, the news gets even worse for Facebook, with usage dropping 12 points, from 79 percent to 67 percent. While Facebook is still the only conventional social media platform to reach a majority of Americans 12 and older, it is showing signs of decreasing influence–likely resulting in part from declining trust in Facebook and other social media sites. According to the Pew Center, more than half (51%) of us do not trust social media companies when it comes to protecting our data.

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Assisting Indiana Tech with content marketing: what we’ve learned along the way

Assisting Indiana Tech with content marketing: what we’ve learned along the way

I recently wrote about the increasing importance of content marketing and the opportunities inherent in treating your brand as a media outlet unto itself. In this post, I’m sharing an example of how Asher has helped one of its clients—Indiana Tech—with content marketing. Here’s what we’ve been working on—and what we’ve learned along the way.

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