Q&A with Emory’s Goizueta Business School CMO, Angela Lee Bostick

December 1, 2016

Angela Lee Bostick

Angela Lee Bostick, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, recently participated in LinkedIn’s Education Connection 2016 in New York and discussed some of the keys to effective marketing in higher education.

Goizueta is known for its community-oriented environment along with the academic prestige of Emory as a major research institution. The school’s MBA programs are nationally and internationally ranked and uniquely positioned with a small, intimate learning experience. This presents a challenge for their marketing team. How do you communicate this distinctive experience on a shoestring budget?

That’s where social and content marketing comes in. 

We sat down with Angela to discuss the evolving landscape for higher education marketing and how the Goizueta School is addressing these changes to reach high-quality prospects.

1. How is marketing in higher education changing?

The mediums we use to achieve our goals are changing almost daily, with non-traditional tools and platforms amplifying the importance of strategic marketing efforts.

More notable, though, is the fact the desired benefits have changed as well. There has been a decline in the sole focus on financial gain. Now students are demanding a more well-rounded set of outcomes. This requires more than "story tweaking" for universities; it means a mindful, deliberate attempt to understand the motivations of this audience and deliver clear evidence of ways our programs can deliver.

In many ways, this is more exhilarating than intimidating. It opens up the breadth of options students might consider and expands the dialogue so that new players can contribute to the mix.

2. How has social media changed the way universities market and deliver their programs?

It means we are always on. This would seem easy for an industry whose students invest so much of their time, money, and attention with us, but higher education was not ready for this 24-hour news cycle. In my former life, I conducted marketing for an NFL team and the idea of continual content was always there. This idea is new to higher education, and yet has the potential to show the fullness of what we offer so long as we accept the other thing social media means: a diffused ownership of messaging.

3. What role does content marketing play within your marketing mix?

Content marketing is critical and truly distinguishes our program at Goizueta. As the smallest of the top-20 MBA programs, we don’t have volume on our side. And we don't want to.

Our model is built small for maximum engagement and impact, which are two things we are known for doing exceedingly well.

Content marketing lets us tell our story in deeper, more meaningful ways and through the voices and successes of our alumni, students, faculty, and staff.

It opens the aperture on our school in a new way that is favorable to such an intimate place as ours.

4. How do you balance the short-term tactical needs for lead acquisition with the longer term brand development?

There’s a shift in students wanting an authentic understanding of the school. They care about what other students think and what faculty are researching, and so to harness that you have to create a way for everyone to have an authentic narrative. And some people’s authentic narrative may not be in the order you might want it to be told or highlight what you want. You want to drive the car for them. But that’s easily transparent to a prospective student, and does more damage than good.

And so, yes, your alumni may not tell their experience exactly the way you envision or desire, but they will communicate it authentically. And that is where you stop being a marketer and start being a director, bringing together a really compelling story that builds brand and also, tactically, gets students in the seats.

5. How do you appeal to millennials?

First, millennials have received a bad rap. They are truly a fantastic population of students that, when addressed in the right manner, can find themselves very drawn to business because it has flaws that they feel needs changing – and that they can change it.

We are a school built on a legacy of Roberto Goizueta. He personified meaningful change on many levels. He spoke to the generations that would be coming, asserting that business should be taught how it “will be”, not how it is. He also ensured business was done “well and good”, meaning that there was integrity in the work. Living out these values, combined with our focus on small class size and relationship-building, make us an attractive destination for the millennial generation.

So instead of trying to change millennials to fit to an extremely antiquated higher education model, we are changing to fit this much more nimble, much more dynamic audience. It will be tough but it’s important, because they are the future and they are here NOW.

6. What is the biggest opportunity for universities to leverage LinkedIn in their marketing?

At a fundamental level, LinkedIn offers marketers access to extensive data about the multifaceted audience they desire to reach.

I suspect that the future of LinkedIn and universities will be better relationship building throughout the student experience - from prospect to alumni and beyond.

By keeping us connected to our best advocates and supporters, and going further by helping us offer them continued value from their degree, we can use LinkedIn to identify, attract, connect, and stay engaged with our next generation of advocates.

Thank you, Angela. For more insightful discussion on the rapidly changing world of higher education marketing, view the videos and presentations on our Education Connect 2016 highlights site.