Why I left my wonderful job.

Five years ago today, I graduated from Laurentian University in the Sports Administration program. It was in the teeth of a recession and new grads were hard pressed to find employment. I was fortunate, I began my career at Laurentian during a period of rapid growth and opportunity for the institution. This period was lead by change agents I’ve now been proud to call my mentors.

It was an amazing experience and regularly challenged me to do more. I was able to re-invent the website that had plagued me as a student, create social media properties to help students and contributed to major increases in enrolment. All of that, plus an excellent pension plan, an MBA and tremendous colleagues, it was a great awesome, place to spend 50+ hours/week.

I’ve since accepted a new challenge as the Strategy Director, Education at Soshal. I’ll continue to work with purpose; helping educational institutions better serve students. I’ll also be able to follow my passion of working in marketing and communications, with a digital spin (websites, social media, applications, anything tech!). I’ll be able to do what I love.

Why did I leave? Surprisingly, it wasn’t about money, location or others – it was about a new experience. In today’s world, where young grads will have many careers, I think it’s important to view multiple perspectives of your life’s work. We’re awash with opportunities, something generations before likely would have envied. I’m not sure who said this, but this seems fitting now -  ”We climb mountains not so the world can see us, but for us to see the world.”

The opportunity to work on complex problems with a variety organizations was simply too good to pass up. An energetic company with its sights set on the stars – that’s something I want to be a part of!

I’ll miss my colleagues at Laurentian and the wonderful community of Sudbury, one day I hope to be able to give back as much as I have received.

5 Reasons Why Your Website is a Garden

I’m often in a meeting trying to explain the crux of a website, and after likely 100+ of my poor car analogies. I’ve finally landed on one I can trust – your website is a garden. Let’s have some fun with it.

  1. Websites should never die – they evolve. Much like a garden, with time and resources a website can take many different functions and designs over the course of time.
  2. Websites a much deeper than what you can see. Like the roots of a garden, a website should be tied to many elements of your business – CRM, analytics, business intelligence and databases.
  3. Websites require maintenance. Like pulling weeds, old content and broken links must be removed over time. There are exceptions to this, for example, the Space Jam website and nooooooooooooooo.com.
  4. There are many tools involved. Until I Googled it for the purpose of this analogy, I had no idea there were so many tools you could use in a garden (most are sold by Canadian Tire). On a website, there are a number tools including: link checkers, readability tools and accessibility checkers at your disposal.
  5. When done right, they are beautiful! Like the amazing VanDusen Botanical VanDusen Gardens RoseGardens in Vancouver, websites can be awe-inspiring. It takes strategy, design and execution to make it all work, and when it comes together, the results can change lives.

Feel free to spread the analogy and use it wherever you can!

The Future of Marketing in Education

On Marketing and the impacts to Education

The future of digital marketing is a space where personalized experiences exist within a multi-device landscape in real time. <- That is a lot of buzz words. Let me break this down.

Personalized experiences shouldn’t just be about predicting where we want people to click. We want to shift their desired experience from being driven by web strategists to an experience where their last click influences their next one.

While it is vital to use data to inform digital strategy, what has become increasingly important is allowing this process to happen in real time. Many Ecommerce enterprises are using these strategies already, allowing for algorithms to predict related purchases and increase cart values.

Education can use these tactics to offer relevant value points in a personalized digital experience. For example, offering a prospective students relevant to their IP address, their previous sections visited or connecting them to a live agent who can immediately help with their particular questions.

These personalized experiences can also be used internally to track trends, common questions and seasonally important items. Allowing business processes to be influenced by this business intelligence data can not only reduce call and email volume but also increase the responsiveness of institutions and better position their brand as student focused.

With increased competition, institutions must respond to students immediately. Social media has allowed for them to respond quickly on surface questions, this has increased the expectations of consumers on all levels of inquiry. This means allowing for that very specific admission question to be answered immediately (yes, immediately). This doesn’t necessarily state that a live agent must be able to answer questions at all hours, however, we can answer immediate questions via technology based on keywords and sentences.

The implementation of Salesforce-like business tools to rank prospects is something many administrators feel they need to implement, however have very little concept of what it could mean. Ranking prospects based on their tracked interactions with the institution can not only focus your efforts in responsiveness, but also help in understanding (and reacting to) the needs of highly ranked prospects. For example, if most of your 5-star prospects are asking the same questions, you can pre-emptively supply them with this information before they need it. This information will also help institutions find those 5-star prospects through social advertising and niche content marketing.

This personalized, real-time experience must also be device agnostic. The future of marketing will include many more devices over time and we shouldn’t dictate or leverage a certain platform. Learning management systems (LMS) are becoming device agnostic and the overall student experience should be reflective of this as well.

The trends in marketing as a sector are moving towards customized experiences that motivate consumers to share them in a social setting. Education needs to be a part of this.