The Direct Network

Communicate Honestly (and Loudly) [Series]

Posted by Abraham T. Dyer on Sep 18, 2015 5:00:00 AM
Topics: Higher Ed, mbs direct, K-12

The series continues with Marketing Coordinator Abraham Dyer pushed his major takeaway home: It's all about the people. See how you can make them feel like they're the center of your school's experience inside.

Communicate honestly and loudly for the win

I’m a bit of a marketing geek — well, communications geek, really — and lover of travel, so I was pretty stoked when I found out I was going to Boston for INBOUND15. The hype around the event was enormous: 14,000+ attendees; over 250 sessions; knockout personalities like Seth Godin, Sophia Amaruso and Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti; live stand-up by Amy Schumer (I’m a total fan-boy now); not to mention a battalion of food trucks offering free lunch to all attendees. HubSpot really went all out to make the event a hell of a lot more exciting than a marketing conference ought to be. (Did I mention Amy Schumer?!?)

They didn’t disappoint.

From the moment we walked in, it was all glitz and networking and buzz about the sessions to come, covering everything from Social Media to Lean Rapid Prototyping to Influencer Marketing.



It’s pretty exciting to me, but what good is it to your school?

When my co-worker suggested we compile these notes into something we could share with the schools, it seemed a great idea, but how do we make all of this marketing-ese something relatable to you?

It’s all about the people.

People, relationships and community were at the core of just about every presentation — that, and a bunch of rah-rah motivation about “daring greatly,” but more on that later. In our jobs here, we need to build compelling stories that are relevant and valuable to you — otherwise, why listen to us at all? Well, isn’t that what you do daily, offer something of value to your customers? Don’t you keep them as your No. 1 priority?

Here’s a marketer’s take on making sure you’re addressing your students in a way that they’ll appreciate, compiled from the various session at INBOUND15. Whenever you're writing an email or developing an opportunity to establish a relationship with your students, keep these things in mind:

  • Actively develop a sincere image of who you’re speaking to, and do it before you speak. Think about their motivations, their emotions, their desires and influences, and make sure your message gives them what they want. It’s really easy to get bogged down in demographics, but remember: these are real people who just want to have a good experience in your school and on your site and social media.
  • Once you’ve set that image, and you know who your people are, be genuine and transparent with them; and don’t require too much from them in return. In this way, you build relationships with your students, instead of just Online Bookstore transactions. They’ll thank you for it and keep coming back for more (and spread the word).
  • Finally, the customer is the one driving the experience these days. You can’t rely solely on traditional methods of communication and promotion anymore. You have to participate in Seth Godin’s “infinite game,” where you lay out messages they want to hear and share, and continue to engage with them one great moment at a time. Then, when they’re ready to buy that book or T-shirt or logo mug, they’re coming to you as a willing participant in the conversation, not just another shopper.

Seth Godin

Boldly go!

No one remembers who else was on Ed Sullivan’s stage the night The Beatles performed. They were the risk-takers, the ones at the bleeding edge of music for the day. Now, they’re an international, eternal brand. The same can be true for your school, scary as that may sound.

Session after session returned to that point: you can never just sit back and expect great things to happen; instead, you have to be willing to stick your neck out and try new tactics in order to succeed. Expect setbacks, expect failures — embrace them, even — knowing that you can use the last experience to craft the next. Take the calculated risk.

  • Begin any process with a clear goal in mind. Don’t just promote for promotion’s sake.
    • What do you want out of this?
    • How will you know that you’ve achieved it?
  • Be bold, shake things up! You’re not just competing with other schools or book sellers, you’re competing for the attention of the crowd. Be memorable. Be Nicki Minaj if you have to, just don’t be forgettable.
  • On the other hand, you are competing with other schools and websites, so you have to develop a strong, consistent, recognizable tone-of-voice which no one will ever mistake for your competitors’.

Brené Brown summed it all up pretty well in her keynote with this quote from Teddy Roosevelt, now one of my new favorites:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Teddy Roosevelt

2015-09-17 10.40.42

So, I wish you could have all been there

Travel budgets for store and school administrators are oftentimes tight. But seriously, if you can swing it, INBOUND is a blast, and so worth it when it comes to learning the best way to craft a message that’s going to make your schools come out on top in the fight for student attention.

And there’s Amy Schumer. (LOLs. Lots of them.)

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