Lead Generation: Creating Demand for Your Academic Programs

Randy Burge

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Find out how demand generation can take your institution’s lead generation program several steps further with a more holistic approach that improves yield. Stamats’ vice president Randy Burge speaks with Mariah Obiedzinski, director of content services, about this important process.

Rather read the transcript instead? You’ll also find additional demand generation resources at the end.

Mariah Obiedzinski: I’m Mariah Obiedzinski with Stamats. Joining me today is Randy Burge, Vice President at Stamats. Randy, marketing teams in higher education hear a lot about lead generation. But your demand generation program takes lead generation several steps further.

Tell us, why do you call it demand generation instead of lead generation?

Randy Burge: I think lead generation is really just a piece of what we’re looking at. Demand generation, I believe, is a more holistic approach that takes somebody from very early awareness through interests, engagement, preference, and selection. Really, lead generation is just filling the top of the funnel and that’s not where people in higher ed are having the issues.

It’s really getting down to how to improve yield, and we’re seeing yield rates these days as low as 12 percent and 14 percent. It really means to me that something isn’t working. To me, it says people who are focusing on just lead generation are really missing the keys to a successful enrollment marketing program.

Mariah: You are literally generating demand for the program instead of just getting lists of names.

Randy: That’s correct. It really is about creating brand preference that leads to selection rather than just compiling a bunch of names that may or may not go any place.

Mariah: When an organization hears about this demand generation program of Stamats, clearly, it’s very attractive. Is there a hefty cost associated with implementing a demand gen program? For example, do you have to invest in a lot of software or manpower to kick off a program like that?

Randy: I think it’s a question that’s really relative because if institutions look at what they’re spending for programs that aren’t working, they can easily justify the cost of a demand generation program. Now, that being said, we don’t have to start with a big demand gen program for a whole institution. Many of my clients have started with small pilot programs that focused on one particular major or degree area, proved the case, and then moved forward with other programs or with the whole institution.

Mariah: If you’re going to be successful as an organization with demand generation, what does that organization need to have in place before they can get started?

Is your institution ready? Take this demand generation readiness survey to find out.

Randy: I think the primary thing is a willingness to bring your marketing team together with your enrollment team to define the KPIs that define success. A lot of people look at having a CRM or marketing automation system up front. That’s really nice to have, and, ultimately, we look for that. But that’s not where you need to start.

You need to start at your people working together with a focused attention on creating a demand generation program that will provide marketing success.

Mariah: If an organization really wants to do demand generation and they don’t have a CRM in place, is that a show stopper for their demand generation program?

Randy: Yeah, that honestly makes it more difficult. And it takes away one of the primary benefits which is reducing the amount of human resources needed to produce an enrollment marketing program. But we can get started without a CRM. It just means somebody has to make sure they are sending the emails and delivering the emails when people act in a certain way that would require a response.

Mariah: That’s good news for organizations that are really strapped for those resources and can’t necessarily get the buy in to get a CRM this year, but looking forward, something that they can definitely get those workflows in place.

Randy: Right. Most organizations, most institutions have some kind of CRM. They have some kind of student information system and almost all of them have some kind of at least a minimal CRM bundled into them. So, sometimes it just takes a little digging to figure out where it is and how to use it.

Mariah: When an organization decides, “We have the assets in place to get started with demand generation,” when is a good time in the year for a higher education organization to implement that type of program?

Randy: There really is no time that is better than any other time because as we’re building the demand generation program, we say, “Continue to do what you’re doing, you can’t just stop.” So, we really kind of phase into the demand generation program.

These days, students are looking for schools, and they start really early. It’s a 24/7 times 365 days a year. So, it really doesn’t matter. I think with demand generation, we move away from this kind of campaign mentality that everybody has been into for years and really think about an ongoing program that looks at people searching for solutions for colleges and universities very early on and year-round.

Mariah: Very much holistic. In the spirit of that, maybe let’s zoom out to 30,000 feet here. When we’re talking about demand generation, is this a top of the funnel strategy or a bottom of the funnel strategy in traditional marketing terms?

Randy: I would say yes and yes because it takes somebody from very early awareness to identifying themselves as having interest and then moving them through the funnel. So, it really is, as you said earlier, a more holistic approach that looks at every phase of the enrollment journey and determines what kind of information and what kind of content people need to keep them engaged and active through what can be a very long process.

Mariah: If our listeners are interested in visiting with you about the potential for a demand generation program—“Are we ready? What do we need for our organization? How do we get started?”—what would be the next steps to reach you, Randy?

Randy: There are really two good places to start. Stamats has a 20-point survey they can take. It’s our demand generation readiness survey, and it will give them an idea of where they are at in the process and what they need to do to really step up and mount a demand generation program. Another good place to start is to do a communications sequence map of your current communication process.

For most of our clients, it’s an eye-opening experience because they see where they have big holes in the process, how they communicate with prospective students; they see how their communications are really just transactional and not engaging, and they see where they have amazing redundancies. Some of those redundancies can really help in many ways fund a program in the end.

Mariah: Right, exactly. And in working with you and your team, of course, will help iron out all those rough patches and really kick off a good program.

Randy, thank you so much for joining us today on the Higher Voices podcast.

Randy: It’s been my pleasure, Mariah.

[End transcript.]

Are you ready to launch a demand gen program? Take our demand generation readiness survey.

Randy Burge can help with your next steps or answer any questions you have.

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