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  • signaltonoise 2:54 pm on July 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apps, ,   

    Does it ever seem like your life’s cluttered? Laundry piling up? Dishes in the sink? Papers scattered across your desk?

    While I try to keep a tidy house (can’t say the same about my desk), the main source of my clutter lately has been digital. Whether it’s a new app for my phone, a new web site to bookmark or a new service to sign up for…I just can’t seem to keep pace.

    I came to this realization recently when browsing through my phone. I had all of these cool apps that seemed like must haves when I got them, but now I realize I rarely use any of them. Many apps had different functions. Some apps offered duplicate functionality to others but perhaps took a different approach. However, the more apps I loaded onto my phone the harder it became to use my phone. Should I use UrbanSpoon or Google Places? LivingSocial or Groupon? TweetDeck or Twitter?

    Sure, each of these apps are great in their own way, but my usage of all of them was sub-optimized. I wasn’t really getting the most out of any of them because I could never decide which ones to use or when to use them.

    It was sort of a paradox of choice. So, I decided to de-clutter. I had to make some hard decisions between apps I really needed and those that were nice to have or redundant. Many of the apps I had got me from point A to point B. Rather than try (and fail) to use all of them, I picked the apps that were the best at getting me from point A to point B.

    The end result? I now have far fewer apps in my life. It’s easy to get at the apps I need to use, and I don’t really miss the apps I deleted. Am I tempted to try out new apps now and then? Sure. However, whenever I make a decision now I ask myself one question, “Am I really going to use that?”

    In talking to institutions about their CRM usage I often find similar issues. Many were inticed by wiz-bang features that wound up collecting dust on a virtual shelf. Unfortunately, unlike the apps on my phone (which were mostly free), these decisions resulted in thousands of dollars spent by institutions and sub-optimized usage of their CRM. The end result for them? Clutter. Underutilization. Frustration.

    At times, we must all make hard decisions when it comes to features and ultimately you need to ask yourself, “Am I really going to use that?”

     
  • signaltonoise 6:53 pm on April 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    I’d rather be generally right than precisely wrong.

    me
     
  • signaltonoise 6:52 pm on April 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    What is Typical? 

    I'm a big fan of demographics, pyschographics and sociographics.  So much so that I made them a key part of some of the presentations we've given at various industry conferences. They provide a useful way of creating personas that help your organization connect with prospects and students in a much more meaningful way than if you were to just fly blind.

    However, despite how helpful it is to develop an archetype of your ideal student, it's always important to keep in mind that each person has their own individual likes/dislikes and motivations for seeking higher education.  

    So while it's important to get an understanding of what your typical student looks like so that you can attract more "best fit" students just like them, know that there are always exceptions to the rules.  After all, as this National Geographic video reminds, that "typical" is relative.  

     
  • signaltonoise 7:03 pm on March 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: +1, , social   

    Google is not building a single social networking destination. Their aim is to make the entire Internet a social network.

    http://searchengineland.com/meet-1-googles-answer-to-the-facebook-like-button-70569

     
  • signaltonoise 5:43 pm on March 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fred wilson, , product   

    Lots of talk about Fred Wilson’s views on Marketing. I’m not sure I  agree entirely that marketing is for companies with sucky products. I don’t think that’s the case for all marketing, but I will say that Wilson’s on to something…marketing is often used as a crutch for sucky products or an excuse for when decent products fail to see traction. At the early stage though, and perhaps especially for B2C, you want to focus on building a product that will create evangelists and thus require less promotion (which is different than marketing).

    Ideally, you’d want your product to be your best marketer and your early adopters to be your best sales people.

     
  • signaltonoise 2:05 pm on March 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , rcn, tivo   

    The true measure of a customer centric organization is not how well they treat you while you’re a customer, but how they treat you when you no longer wish to be a customer. Making it difficult to cancel will not win you points with already disgruntled customers. (I’m looking at you RCN and TiVo!)

     
  • signaltonoise 2:24 am on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Sacrifice Should be Worth the Sacrifice

    Simon Sinek
     
  • signaltonoise 2:22 am on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    I’m still on the fence about enterprise social networks like Yammer or Chatter, but I bet if Google wanted to enter the space they could probably own the space by simply incorporating Buzz into Google Apps accounts. It’d make it easy to share information across the organization (I often come across things in Google Reader that I email to people at work…would be easier if I could just click Like button and have it broadcast) and it’d be easy to consume since it’s right there in your email. Just a thought…

     
  • signaltonoise 5:53 pm on February 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    The world is still obsessed with Facebook 

    It’s safe to say that this social networking stuff is here to stay.  And its impact on higher education has never been greater.  This story about Jackson Community College is representative of the larger trend in higher education towards engaging students and prospects via social media.  In just a couple of years, they’ve gone from having virtually no presence in social media to now having well over 1,600 people that “like” the institution on Facebook.  Not bad, and certainly in line with what other institutions are seeing. 

    A recent survey conducted by Kaplan found that 82 percent of admissions officers reported that their school is using Facebook to recruit students.  And, according to a study contducted last May by UMASS Darmouth’s Center for Media Research found that:

    Familiarity with social networking has jumped from 55% reporting they were very familiar with it in 2007, to 63% in 2008 and now to 83%. Admissions officers have clearly embraced Facebook and other social networking sites as viable forms of communication with their constituency. Familiarity with social networking has jumped from 55% reporting they were very familiar with it in 2007, to 63% in 2008 and now to 83%. Admissions officers have clearly embraced Facebook and other social networking sites as viable forms of communication with their constituency.

     

    So why the continued interest in social networking and Facebook in particular? This clip by Alex Trimpe sums things up pretty well. The world is (still) obsessed with Facebook.  

    The World Is Obsessed With Facebook from Alex Trimpe on Vimeo.

     

     
  • signaltonoise 5:50 pm on February 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , sales   

    Always Be Selling 

    As a vendor selling into higher education, I’ve learned just how skeptical…no, scared…people are of the word “sales” in this industry.  Wait, am I even allowed to call it an ‘industry’? Anyway, like it or not, you’re always selling something.  However, this isn’t a post about the ongoing debate about whether or not students are “customers” and whether or not higher education should be sold as a product.   There have been many books and blog posts written on this topic over the years.  In fact, The New York Times covered both sides of this debate last year as part of their “Room for Debate” series.

    While you may not view yourself as a sales person, you are in fact always selling.  I’m not talking about turning yourself into the guy in this picture necessarily, but he may have some tricks up his sleeve to help you sell your products.

    The products you’re selling are your ideas.

    In navigating the world of multi-departmental decision making and committees and top-down hierarchy that many higher education administrators deal with, there’s always an opportunity to sell your ideas. In fact, it’s because of this complex decision making structure that selling should be an integral part of your day-to-day job.

    To paraphrase Ben Affleck from the movie Boiler Room, “A sale is made on every call you make.  Either you sell them [your idea] or they sell you on a reason [you] can’t.  Either way a sale is made.  The only question is, ‘Who’s going to close?'”

    For more on the Affleck school of sales, visit this article (WARNING: includes some NSFW dialogue in the videos).

    Here are my PG-rated thoughts on the matter.

    You may have a great idea, but that won’t help you sell it.  The key to selling your idea is building a solid business case.

    In the corporate world, many organization use “Solution Selling” methodology to help overcome common objections to ideas.  The key to building your business case is to focus less on the idea and more on the problems you’re looking to solve with that idea.

    Rather than just promoting a specific product or tactic (eg. “We need to get on Facebook.”), focus on the organization’s pain(s) and addressing the issue with possible resolutions to those pains that include sound, strategic planning…not just products or tactics (eg. “We’re having difficulty retaining current students.  This has impacted our overall budget.  Other organizations have seen success in engaging students by integrating their communications efforts with social media.  What if we were to…)

    It seems fairly obvious, but all too often we get hung up on the tools and not the problems that we’re looking to solve.  It’s another spin on the strategy vs. tactics conversation.  Additionally, we often get hung up on our individual pains.  “This would make MY life a lot easier.” But another key to selling your ideas is how they will impact both the organization as a whole and other individuals within your organization.

    Solutions Selling Methodology helps you:

    • Diagnose your organization’s pain points
    • Identify key players affected by your institution’s pains
    • Create shared goals and objectives
    • Discover possible solutions to address your pains
    • Establish a value proposition for possible solutions
    • Creates a win-win resolution across every member of your organization

    Now, let’s assume you’ve got a solid idea and and a general idea of its benefit to your organization.  It’s now time to organize those thoughts into a comprehensive business case that brings all of your key decision makers and influencers on board.  Here is where solution selling can help.  They offer a framework to help you organize your business case by helping you identify:

    • Key players in your organization
    • How each player’s pain is linked to the other’s
    • The causes and effects of living with that pain
    • The benefits of overcoming that pain
    • Examples of what others have done

    It’s impossible to learn everything there is to learn about solutions selling in one blog post, but hopefully this gives you a preview.  For those interested in learning more, there are several books on the topic, but the New Solution Selling by Keith Eades is considered gospel by many sales professionals.  But we’ve always wondered what solutions selling would look like through the lens of those working in enrollment marketing and admissions at higher education institutions.

    Inspired by solutions selling methodology, we’ve seen how many educational institutions have struggled to build consensus within their organizations to launch new technology initiatives.  As a result, this week we’re holding a Workshop at the UPCEA Marketing Seminar that’s intended to help institutions build their business case.  In this case, we’ll be looking at building a business case for CRM since that’s an area where we feel we know a thing or two, but we hope the lessons learned can be applied to building a business case for any broad initiative you may have on campus.

    Below are some examples of the excercises we’ll be going through with attendees to help them identify the right solutions to addressing those pains.  Here are some examples of each “solutions selling” artifact followed by a “worksheet.”  For those of you that are unable to attend the session in person, use these worksheets to jot down your own thoughts about the pains YOUR ideas can help solve within your organization.

     
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