Recently, my wife and I were traveling overseas, and we visited an Italian restaurant in a Spanish-speaking country. I wasn’t sure what our waiter’s native tongue was, as I often attempt to speak some sort of Latin-inspired language whenever I get in these situations. I speak something that works in both Italy and Spain, until merciful people across the globe just start speaking to me in English.
But, I am always eager to try.
On this particular evening, neither of us was super hungry, but we knew we had to eat something because we had to wake up at 4 a.m. to catch a flight back to Miami. I was trying to decide to make a meal work with a linguine frutti di mare, combined with a small pizza. I must admit that when I’m helping my wife decide what to get, I often encourage her to order what I’ll enjoy finishing off. She eats like a bird, and that is one thing that my waistline really appreciates about her.
On that evening, the waiter looked down at me like I was crazy, and he kindly shared in gestures and some broken language that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Was he trying to suggest that I needed to apply the principles of microSEARCH™ to my eating habits?
He kindly suggested that the appropriate dish for us was to simply split the pasta dish. And while I wasn’t completely sure of his idea, he comforted me with an out by suggesting that I could always order more if I was still hungry.
This experience is very similar to how I try to explain the benefits of a microSEARCH™, an idea that was born unknowingly many years ago when Duke University allowed me to create a mini Student Search solution for them in a former company that I led. We set out to create a very targeted campaign that was only going to be sent to students who had an affinity for engineering. We were going to do exactly what they needed—help recruit more engineering students to their campus.
It was a dish created exactly for the occasion.
A microSEARCH™ campaign is exactly the right dish for the right occasion. It also has many other benefits as it allows you to test a dish you’re suspicious of…(I’ve always disliked octopus, but found that when it was smothered in red sauce and pasta, that I really like the blended textures quite well.)
So, on the night I mention above, the waiter’s consultative selling finally steered us away from that pizza, and we experienced mussels, calamari, clams, shrimp, octopus, and more. And, because I knew he had protected my dining budget, I knew I could afford to reward myself with a nice glass of merlot to complement the meal.
In the end, we even had room for some dessert because we didn’t leave the ristorante with that bloated, heavy, “I’m embarrassed-that-I-eat-like-an-American” feeling that I sometimes have. After reviewing the dessert menu, and carefully considering the tiramisu, I decided to tip heavily for his wisdom of knowing that I would not need more food.
So, we left knowing that I was ahead, and I essentially had some money to spend on something enticing on the way home. I spent half the amount that I would had I added more food. I also made sure we had a new friend—the wonderful waiter who suggested that I didn’t need a big meal. The waiter provided me with options, and I selected just the right mix. Isn’t this what every vice president of enrollment wants to do, too? Have a skilled person who knows the options, create the right mix, help you save money, enjoy something sweet, and still have money left over for something more enticing later in the recruitment cycle?
We see a lot of gluttony and waste in how Student Search campaigning is done. A lot of it is based on the fear that I sometimes get when I’m traveling and I eat only because I’m not sure when I’ll be able to eat again. On these days, I only end up with a bloated stomach and never enjoying any of what I’m eating.
This reminds me of traditional search methods where some enrollment leaders aren’t sure of how much to eat. So, they over order, overpay, end up bloated, don’t savor their purchase, and have no room left for the dessert options at the end of the meal.
Many of the enrollment leaders I encounter spend insane amounts of money, but are ironically not doing many of the things that work in 2017. I’ve yet to see a big box Student Search vendor who really appreciates geodemographic research, or predictive modeling, for the sake of the institution—because if they did, you would buy fewer names and save money. And, I don’t see many overspending enrollment leaders who are getting a sound digital media plan with IP Targeting and Re-Targeting, or even push notifications or pixel tracking methods. Spending less can often get you more. But, there is something more important than spending less. It’s having your table cleared away of all the remnants of your main meal so that when your dessert is delivered, you can see it for all it really is. You can savor its beauty, texture, and color. In the enrollment world, it is having a cleaner inquiry pipeline. This uncluttered pipeline promotes recognizing the genuine interest of a prospect; it allows your counseling team to build rapport with the right families who are really interested in your school.
In an outdated enrollment model, meaningless activity is typically designed to simply confuse you into thinking you are being effective. I say be aware if too many names are ordered, a soft inquiry pool is allowed, soft applicants are pursued, and reduced deposits are wooed.
Many don’t understand how many names to order. So they order too many. The thought is overly simplistic and many think volume will still solve their problem. It doesn’t. Enrollment professionals would be much happier to solve their problem with something similar to our great experience at that wonderful Italian ristorante.
Speaking of that ristorante, back to my story of that evening. You will be happy to know that my well-regulated blood sugar level allowed me the creativity to eventually be purposeful by walking the city with my wife and finding a quaint and romantic gelato stand overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This experience might be the equivalent to adding a new employee to your team who handles your data more effectively. It may be the equivalent to creating that junior view book you’ve been dreaming about, or that parent campaign that you feel you really need.
Two rules that I’ve had to learn over and over again in the world of communications and fine dining are: 1) there is majesty in simplicity; and, 2) less is more. microSEARCH™ allows you to do so much more by doing just a little less. It creates options. And, your wisdom and planning might even allow you the opportunity for gelato and espresso—making it a night your date is likely to not soon forget.
Mike Wesner is the Chief Imagination Officer of enrollmentFUEL. If he could do it all over again, he thinks he’d like being a chef, but what he realizes is that he simply enjoys serving people and making them happy. And, that’s what enrollmentFUEL. strives to do every day. Mike can be reached at Mike.Wesner@enrollmentfuel.com.