I gave a talk at a Marketing Conference recently. I began by asking a question of the participants that went something like this:
Imagine you are running a marketing department (most in the room were) and you’re allowed only one excellent skill set (the rest being meh) to help you as you try and meet your objectives. Which of these would it be?
- Tremendous design skills
- Tremendous copywriting or persuasive communication skills
- The ability to split test
- Building brand through excellent social media campaigns
- The ability to find pools of interest, media buying
After allowing the audience to debate amongst themselves for a few minutes, I asked for ‘pitches.’ Some said Design was crucial to get people to notice ads at all; others said Copywriting was crucial to present an argument for someone to take action. I heard a compelling argument about how filling a trout pond with more trout gives you a better shot at catching fish, i.e., Media Buying. And there was some gibberish about Social Media.
The lone voice of Andrew Dixon advocated for split run testing. He said it was far and away the most important skill to hone and own. His logic was simple: mediocre skill sets in design, writing, content distribution and media buying can be made world-class over time through active testing; trial and error. Andrew landed on the core derivative for success within Marketing and Sales.
By the way… in my opinion, for this reason alone Andrew will never, ever get fired.
How To Strip Out Risk And Create Job Security
If you are reading this, you are probably running marketing campaigns and/or admissions teams. While owning a senior position within your school has benefits, you still have loads of stress and danger. Those above are crapping on you (remember… crap rolls downhill), pushing for performance. Some around you – your so-called peers – are either jealous of your success or trying to deflect blame on you for their shortcomings. Those on the ground at campus or program level are begging for help. And of course, there are any number of vendors using all kinds of manipulative tactics to bug you into buying their stuff. The pressure is intense, coming at you from 360 degrees and making for some exhausting times. Sometimes the pressure is overwhelming, your excellent job feels not so excellent, and you’re just one mistake away from getting canned.
Avoid The Wild Eyed Idea Trap
If any vendor says they have the amazing solution for you, if your boss has some wild-eyed idea he read about in Fast Company, if some Change Agent Guru strolls in one day with his or her ‘change to be great’ process, just run away. If you take flyers on the half-baked big ideas of others, you are now playing at the Casino craps table using your job security as the dice… if you get cornered like this, face it, you’re in tough.
Create Job Security Through Insisting On A Culture Of Testing
Let’s be clear: unless you are an actual owner of a Proprietary School, having a secure career path is important. You need to create results for higher-ups, get toxic people off your back, feed your team with good marketing and lead conversion execution. You need to line up vendors so they serve you. Here’s how to do it: split test everything – and I mean everything. By adopting a culture of testing you will gain clarity, water down issues presently at your feet, significantly lift your chances of revenue increase and hold your budgets in place.
Here’s your plan:
If someone has a crazy idea, test it. Create a small pilot project. There’s a chance it will succeed and you can take credit for being the magnanimous leader you are. If it fails, you gain Einstein clarity and mitigate loss while being progressive.
Let’s be clear: victims are waiting to blame others everywhere. If you have someone whining and blaming you for their mess, invite them to bring you an alternative project plan you can test. If they don’t have any ideas on how to make things better, then boot them out. Whiners rarely have good ideas of their own or are willing to be seen as wrong if a test doesn’t fly in their favor.
Empower those pushing hard on the front lines to run small split tests that sit within their respective job descriptions. Here is an example: If your reps split test phone messages left on outbound calling, said rep would most likely get a 5-10% lift in the number of folks who return calls. That lift usually translates into 4-6 additional students ‘a month.’ Not a bad test. There are many tests those on the front lines can do. As a bonus, it’s great for employee morale because staff have some more personal control within their job description… how cool is that!
Go to all your vendors and insist they propose pilot projects complete with risk reversals. Most will bolt. Good riddance I say. Those left behind will make for great supplier relationships.
Increase Revenue While Holding Down Costs… Are You Mad?
At Enrollment Resources, we see this all the time: revenue lifts of 20-30% often while also lowering costs along the way. At ER, we are running no less than a dozen tests at any given time for our clients. We often grab ideas we find within different industries, rework them for EDU and then test. We persistently try to beat present best practices, or as they say in our industry: ‘kill the control.’ You can do this too. Become the manager of Split Testing and invite your stakeholders into your Culture of Testing.
Let’s Play Together!
To our knowledge, we are the first and only EDU Marketing/Admissions Company that has Split Testing as the most important function on our org chart. We test every flippin’ thing and, as a byproduct, have a vault full of best practice tactics we only share with our clients. Perhaps that might be you as well one day. We can work together, help you develop your very own culture of testing and help you lift revenues while holding down costs. You can meet your marketing and admissions objectives while lowering the risks for your school. By extension, you then become an indispensable EDU Rock Star.
No one gets fired when split testing with Enrollment Resources. So let’s play together, risk-free. Our mutual goal: a 20% lift in revenue while holding costs.
Our next baby step is to contact Paul or Suzanne at 250-391-9494 to tee up some phone time or email me at Gregg@EnrollmentResources.com so we can swap a couple of emails and you can learn about this seemingly crazy claim. I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, happy testing…
Co-founder and CEO at Enrollment Resources