Meet Josh Dodson
Posted: April 16, 2018
What do you do at VisionPoint?
As the Vice President of Marketing & Innovation, I oversee both the integrated marketing and web teams at VisionPoint. I am focused on ensuring that our current integrated marketing offerings are executed extremely well and also building new offerings that will help solve our clients’ challenges in better ways.
Why are you in higher ed marketing?
I kind of fell into higher ed through a work study program in college. When it turned into a full time job and I got to see the impact I could have, I knew higher ed was my future.
I am drawn to mission-based work and want to make the biggest difference in society possible. In addition to transcending classes and socioeconomic status, higher education builds empathy and understanding and sets the framework for a better culture for us all. That’s why I am so passionate about what I do.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities that colleges and universities are missing out on?
What a lot of schools aren’t taking advantage of is the gold mine of data they are sitting on. Using that data to understand in detail what is happening along the entire enrollment journey will allow for them to make wiser marketing investments.
We find the most value for clients when all of their systems are connected because the data shows the full picture. It also provides the advantage of automation. Since we recognize that a large percentage of schools are using disparate systems, we have developed the ability at VisionPoint to use alternative methods to get significant insight using statistical techniques to uncover underlying trends. This allows us to analyze the impact of brand awareness and use statistical modeling to make better decisions on important things like choosing the best media mix for achieving a goal.
What brought you to VisionPoint?
I’ve been involved in a lot of things in the higher ed space: I led marketing at Southern New Hampshire University and Bentley University; I consulted for Stamats and was a founding partner of Converge; I created a curriculum on analytics for higher ed marketers. In fact, it was after my predictive analytics presentation at eduWeb when I first met Diane Kuehn, VisionPoint’s founder.
After getting to know her and hearing her plans for VisionPoint, it was evident that not only was this a company I felt a strong cultural compatibility with, I would be instrumental in building the marketing capabilities I know higher ed clients need. VisionPoint is an agency where doing the right thing is part of the DNA, and that’s why we’re putting such a strong focus on using data in a much bigger capacity than any other agency, because it will ultimately help our clients.
Looking back on your career, what have been your proudest accomplishments thus far?
The growth of VisionPoint is most definitely something I’m proud of. We’ve grown 33% since I’ve been at the agency, largely due to the integrated marketing offering that I lead. And we’re just getting started!
Outside of the agency, I’m honored by the impact I’ve had in educating over 500 higher ed professionals on how to make better decisions with data. I wrote the curriculum and taught month-long courses for Higher Ed Experts on web analytics, advanced analytics, predictive analytics and SEO — all specific to higher ed. It’s a passion of mine and why I still continue to do workshops at conferences every year.
I’m also proud of the impressive results I got for Southern New Hampshire University. I architected an SEO initiative that created a 67% lift in non-branded organic search traffic which led to a 900% return on investment. It’s something I’ve been able to replicate with our VisionPoint clients and continues to prove effective.
What advice do you have for today’s higher ed marketers?
Higher ed marketing is a zero sum game. A student is going to either come to your school or not. When you have a decreasing population of applicants in your market, and increasing competition by schools that are more well known and have more money to spend on marketing, your only option is to fight smarter. Most in-house higher ed marketing departments are not fully equipped to be able to fight with the big boys. Those are the ones who need to partner with smart marketers who will be a good complement to their team and get them the very best results at the very best ROI and be able to prove that they’re getting the best.
How do you spend your time away from work?
As a husband and father of three young, wonderful children, I like to spend as much time as possible with my family. A typical weekend would likely involve any combination of hiking a new trail, hanging out at a new park for the kids, trying one of the area’s many incredible restaurants, going to the movies or playing my guitar.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a bit of a whittler. Some may call it wood carving, but my grandfather was a Southern gentleman and he called it “whittling.” He gave me a real pocket knife when I was five years old and taught me the craft. My favorite is a collection of gnomes that have a character that makes me smile every time I look at them.