Rock Enroll – VisionPoint’s Higher Ed Podcast Discusses Weighty Enrollment Issues

Posted: November 2, 2022

Kali Lopez Account Manager

This week, we interviewed Dana Cruikshank, our vice president of market strategy, about our Rock Enroll podcast – conversations between VisionPoint Marketing and other higher ed experts on strategic marketing and enrollment management in higher education. Our goal is to help listeners learn enrollment marketing and management tips from higher ed experts and marketing insiders in order to boost institutional enrollment.

Higher education, and enrollment marketing specifically, is in a time of profound change. The relationship between the country and higher education is in flux, especially among audiences with growing skepticism of the benefits of continuing education. Rock Enroll allows us to cover a wide variety of topics, including the cost crisis consuming higher ed, demographic challenges, the Great Resignation, the pressures of inflation, “the changing nature of digital media and how quickly that transforms,” and current events affecting our client partners’ enrollment marketing every single day. Even the Supreme Court is weighing in on some decisions this term that will impact higher ed, Dana states, including decisions about “affirmative action and the more traditional methods institutions have been using to ensure they have a representative student body. What could happen [to higher ed] if that all goes away?”

One of Dana’s favorite Rock Enroll episodes is a conversation with Rock Hall, a higher ed expert with more than 20 years’ success and strategic management at institutions such as the University of Utah and the University of Southern California – Los Angeles, who speaks on the importance of actually working toward diversity and inclusion. Dana sums the conversation up as, “It’s one thing to say we need to recruit diverse prospective student audiences, but what does that actually mean? What does that actually look like? It’s that classic line from The Princess Bride – ‘I don’t think that word means what you think it means.’ What does diversity and inclusion even mean? Think about what it actually means to allow folks from underrepresented groups to say, ‘You have a place here, you belong here.’”

Host of the Rock Enroll podcast, Dana Cruikshank

The Rock Enroll podcast allows a deeper understanding than one might get through a blog post. Dana loves that our episodes “bring back the intimacy of radio, which is to say it brings back the intimacy of conversation. Radio was such a transformative force in our society and we kind of forget that…there’s something about the human voice and to be able to hear conversations, even when they’re recorded, it’s like you’re participating in them and you get a familiarity with people…in a way that video, blog, and text can’t. It’s coming back to that human connection that we get from hearing each other’s voices, hearing conversations happening, and really being able to connect in that way.”

And Dana has big plans for the future of Rock Enroll. He wants the podcast to “think about things like listing buying from testing services. It’s been a tried and true foundation of many an enrollment marketing plan. Not only are fewer students taking those exams but there’s very persuasive research out there that shows because of the way you have to do those list buys it actually reinforces bias in recruitment toward certain individuals and away from others. So what’s next? If list buying isn’t the thing that it used to be, what’s going to replace it?” Another future episode topic will be about “demographic futures and the demographic cliff that has already happened [with our client partners] in Maine and Pennsylvania. Forget Silicon Valley. The future of higher ed is actually happening in Maine and western Pennsylvania. We’ve been helping both those folks succeed at a time of real challenge.”

Within all of these topics, VisionPoint’s Rock Enroll podcast focuses on higher ed enrollment strategies with a goal of helping our client partners overcome these obstacles. And, we like to think we know what we’re talking about because strategy is a main component of what we do here as VisionPoint. Dana describes strategy with a hockey analogy: “You have to anticipate where the puck is going to be, and skate to that point, not where the puck currently is.” What we’re trying to do for our clients at VisionPoint is look at “not only what’s been working a year ago or two years ago, but where is the puck going to be when we look at these bigger trends across demand for higher ed, across the nature of perception of higher ed, across digital marketing – so where do we skate to?” Rock Enroll is a conversation about what VisionPoint does to predict the enrollment forecast and what we do to get ahead of that curve.

Dana’s two favorite episodes of the podcast included guests Rock Hall and Shane Adams.

One example of how VisionPoint addresses these challenges deals with the changing nature of digital media. It’s a moving target that needs to be monitored as we optimize marketing campaigns for our client partners to meet their enrollment goals. “Audience expectations after the pandemic have changed drastically,” and while that may seem daunting to some, those monumental shifts have allowed our Media and Optimization Team to become more flexible than ever before, changing ads in real time to allow for more visibility and a better ROI.

So how did the weighty work of Rock Enroll come about, and why the unique name? When our former Vice President of Integrated Marketing, Josh Dodson, dreamt up a podcast to update our community on the news of higher ed marketing, the title seemed obvious. Because, not only is Josh a marketing genius, he’s also a musician. Since its creation in early 2022, Rock Enroll (a play on Rock ‘N’ Roll) has blossomed into a useful tool for our clients and the broader higher ed community. Wondering where you can listen to VisionPoint’s Rock Enroll podcast? Find it on all podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, or Anchor! Want to know which episodes to start with? Check out Dana’s favorite episodes, featuring conversations with higher education experts Rock Hall and Shane Adams.