This is the full transcript of Podcast #46 “How 1% Improvements Can Translate Into Millions Of Dollars” hosted by Gregg Meiklejohn, Shane Sparks, Tom King and special guest Brian Willett.
Gregg: It’s Gregg here, everybody, from Enrollment Resources, and welcome to our little conference call. We’re going to teach you about a way to grow your business, your school with very little effort and without having to spend additional money. It’s a real oddball little approach, but it works exceptionally well. Take notes and ask questions. This is going to be a teaching session, and would love to just help you out today. I’m going to make some introductions. Tom, Tom King, is one of Shane’s and my colleagues. He’s a C-Level person at Enrollment Resources, and he oversees that all our clients who are using our software are happy and functioning and adopting our software, amongst other things. Tom speaks at conferences at well. Tom, welcome. I’d like you to introduce my business partner Shane Sparks.
Tom: Welcome everybody. This is Tom, and joining us here is Shane Sparks, co-founder here at Enrollment Resources, Chief Operating Officer, and oversees our fulfillment department to make sure that all of our clients are getting phenomenal services and the products that can help them drive their conversion rates.
Shane: Thank you, Tom.
Gregg: Hey Shane, welcome to our talk today.
Gregg: Hey. So I’d like to introduce Brian Willett. Brian is a very interesting guy. He helps people improve their conversions in the area of admissions. Brian has a lot of interesting things to say. We like Brian because he’s insightful and he actually thinks. He’s an engaging guy, and we’re blessed to have Brian here on our call today. Welcome, Brian.
Brian: Hey Gregg, glad to be here. Excited to see what we’re gonna talk about today. I always say I like to show up and see what I have to say, you know what I mean?
Gregg: There you go. That’s how we all work here, to a degree. Let’s get rolling. I remember, in a previous life, I had this realtor as a coaching client, and this realtor made on average four times the amount of income that the other realtors did on average in the market that he was in. It was consistent, year in and year out. This guy was kind of dull. He didn’t have a flamboyant personality, he wasn’t terribly persuasive, yet he consistently just made hundreds of thousands of dollars every year where the other realtors did not. Finally I sat him down and I said, “Okay, do you have a system, do you have a secret?” And he said, “Yeah, I do. I have a system and a secret.” What his system was, is that all the tasks and tactics that he did as a realtor, just like all the realtors, he made a point of doing them 2 to 3% better than all the other realtors. He didn’t try to do any wild crazy things. He just a little bit better on every single item that he had to deal with as a realtor. Shane, that’s an interesting little insight for our realtor friend.
Shane: Yes, yes. And Gregg, you often talk about the first loser. Given that the customer’s only going with one school, it’s not like they’re gonna buy a little bit of school A, and a little bit of school B, and a little bit of school C. So that 1%, if that’s the difference maker, the 1%, then the winner gets everything, and the second place, even if gosh, they’re so close, so so close, first loser, nothing for you.
Gregg: Yeah, no soup for you. If you’re first loser too often, then you’re eating out of a dumpster, metaphorically speaking. Tom and Brian, who came in second place to Usain Bolt in the last Olympics? I don’t know. Shane doesn’t know. But he was 10/100ths of a second behind Usain Bolt. Like a flick of an eyelash.
Shane: He’s really fast. Really fast. Almost the fastest.
Gregg: But do we know who that guy is?
Shane: No. No. No one cares. Nobody cares. It’s sad, and it may be not nice, and it may be not fair, but that’s life, right?
Gregg: It is. It’s hard. Life is hard. The Buffalo Bills back in the 90s whereabouts, they had an amazing team. Did they win the Super Bowl? No. First losers. Brian, are you a Bills fan?
Brian: No, I’m not a Bills fan, but yeah, you’re absolutely right. Being from Kentucky, you’d always say, “Who was the runner up in the derby last year? Who was the runner up when American Pharaoh became the first triple crown winner in my life time?” Nobody remembers those things. Your realtor friend there had it figured out.
Shane: How do we help these folks be the American Pharaoh in their market?
Gregg: Well, that’s a great analogy. So what we’re gonna do today is, in this we’re gonna teach you folks on the school side listening today, just leave you with half a dozen things that you can take away immediately and put to work, and what you’ll do is, you’ll see a rise in your revenue. Some incremental rise in your revenue for a little bit of effort after this talk today. We’re going to basically get you kick-started in thinking about how to take all those 20 or 30 engagement points, branding points, and strategic alliance points that are available to you in your school and make them just one, two, three percent better. So, let’s get started.
Gregg: Back in the day, there was this famous advertising guy named David Ogilvy, and his agency is in Manhattan, and they’ve done some amazing campaigns over the years. Famous guy. And he had stated that the success of these campaigns were all steeped in little half percent, 1%, 2% wins. One example that he gave was that when you have a headline on the landing page or on the program pages of your website, that if you have a period at the end of that headline, 11% fewer people will move on and read the rest of body copy, and then those 11% in not reading the body copy will reduce the lead ratio, that not as many people will. So it’ll lead for them. Shane, to me that seems insane. A 1%… Not even. It’s just dropping a period off of a headline is gonna increase readership 11, 12%. You want to expand on that?
Shane: Yeah. I love David Ogilvy. This is pre-internet, remember, when all this testing happened. His company, Ogilvy & Mather, started doing serious testing in probably the 60s and throughout the rest of his life, and it was based on difficult testing methodologies that we’ve now solved with the internet. The psychological belief, the reason that’s true, that period at the end of the sentence, is that it gives a psychological end. You’ve completed the thought, it’s done, and you can move on. It doesn’t create tension. The famous copywriter named Joseph Sugarman, and his formula is one we use and like: his belief was the purpose of the headline is to get the prospect to read the subhead. The purpose of the subhead is to get them to read the first line in the body copy. The first line in the body copy purpose is to get them to read the second line, and so on and so forth.
Shane: When you can strike sales copy, advertising copy, which could be a website or a landing page, you’re trying to just keep them rolling. The longer you keep them rolling, the more likely they are to make an inquiry at the end of that journey. Periods, subheads, engaging conversational tone in copy, all those things influence whether somebody reads it or not, and we know from extensive studies over the last 15 years we’ve been doing this now, that people do read, and that the principles that David Ogilvy uncovered in the 50s and beyond hold true in 2019. It’s fascinating.
Gregg: What’s interesting then is that Sugarman and Ogilvy and Claude Hopkins and all these guys from 100 years ago, 50 years ago, they would agonize over the headline, because 80% of the people will read the headline and drift away. We don’t want that figure to be 80%. We want it to be 50%.
Shane: Can I jump in?
Gregg: There’s one more thing I’d like to say first, and then jump in. So within that construct of that headline, when there’s a period at the end of that headline, which is good grammar, and the English graduates roll their eyes and wanna gag, but it’s a signal to complete a thought. So they’re making a judgment on completing a thought, and then they jump off and they read something else, because what was said in the headline is not enough to go and compel them to read on. If you take the period out of the end of the headline, the mind’s eye will be such that it just keeps reading three, four, five words into the subhead. So now we’ve gone from reading the headline, then the subhead, and it evolves in 11% more people reading the entire ad. Sorry Shane. So jump in.
Shane: Yes, those are all true things. Those are all true, and they’re as true today as they were 50 years ago. People, culturally, we’ve changed a bit, but our minds and the psychology, the wiring that drives human behavior, it hasn’t changed. What has changed though is that back in the day, when they did these tests, it was expensive and difficult to get a message out there. So you’re running an ad on the Wall Street journal or even the local paper. That was print. It was expensive. Great craft and effort went into every single word in the advertising because they’re spending so much money and there’s so much effort to do it. With the internet, with websites, it’s easy to put stuff up, change it, and I think there is a tendency to be a bit more cavalier about protecting the integrity of that real estate. Does that make sense?
Gregg: Online real estate.
Shane: Yeah. Just because it’s easy, doesn’t make it not important. Periods aside, that’s the really important takeaway. The power of that headline and the power of the subhead and the power of the good copy writing, gosh, that’s 80% of the persuasion. The graphics and the colors and the logo and the photos, all that stuff, that’s maybe 20%. But the majority of the persuasion is in the words you use.
Brian: Yeah. I was gonna jump in here, Gregg.
Gregg: Yeah, please. Go ahead Brian.
Brian: I was going to say, I’ve seen or even purchased a lot of products that were the best marketed, had the best campaigns. Meaning they were the best marketed, and they weren’t very good products, whereas there’s a lot of products that are very very good that just don’t have the right marketing around it. It doesn’t matter. It’s not about the best product. It really comes down to what’s the best marketed. I have a guy that’s an author, and he says one of his first books, someone pointed out, and it’s a bestselling book, Wall Street journal, et cetera, someone sent him an email and said, There’s 100 different grammatical errors in this book. And he said he responded to him and said, “Look, it’s not about the best written book. It’s about the best sold book.” That goes back to making sure that headline obviously is just critical, because that’s the first thing people see. If it doesn’t capture people, then you’re already down by a certain percentage.
Gregg: You’re down a pint. The thing is that in terms of marketing, in terms of admissions, in terms of interpersonal communication, in terms of what people read and what they watch and see, marketing, as Shane likes to say, has the lifespan of a fruit fly. You’ve got a little headline to grab and start a relationship. Video, radio, TV ads, you’ve got I think it’s five seconds. If you notice, if you’re watching television, that the networks that are driven by ad revenue, when there’s an ad on by, say, McDonalds or what have you, every time the visual image changes, just snap your fingers, and you’ll find that in a 30 second ad, you might have 8 or 10 times you snapped your fingers. That’s because these guys that make these ads, they change the visual picture to physiologically force you back to looking at the screen. What they’ve learned is if you can’t grab someone in three to five seconds, you’re gonna be drifting, looking elsewhere, not paying attention to the ad. So this is a nasty little tactic they use to bring you back.
Gregg: The point being here is that whether it’s a period… By the way, everybody who’s listening, go back to your websites, eliminate all the periods from your headlines. So that’s a little bit of homework that we want you to do. That’s your first little takeaway. The point being is that we’re dealing in seconds and words. We gotta focus on that stuff. Here’s another example. We know that regarding, as an example, face-to-face meetings, the first eight seconds, a prospective student will judge an admissions rep. If they judge them favorably, that will give that rep 30 seconds to anchor the relationship. If successful, that gives the rep two minutes to connect and mutually qualify at a high level. If the rep can get through those three layers, really, it’s a real hot mess to push through that, then and only then do they have a chance to help the student gain clarity on this big lifelong career path that they’re undertaking. Like the headline – subhead approach here, Brian, it really is the same with interpersonal relationships as it regards to admissions reps. Thoughts on that?
Brian: Sure, yeah, absolutely. As you said, same exact concept. I like the way you broke it down there. Yeah, that first eight seconds, the prospective student, or anybody in general in any kind of buying or information session is saying, “First of all, do I like this person?” That’s the first question they’re asking, “Do I like this person?” Let’s just be honest about it. We try to size people up. It’s happening immediately whether we’re thinking about it or not, but it’s going on – do I like this person. The second question that the prospective student’s asking is, “Can this person help me?” Whether it’s face to face, over the phone, and I know we’ll hit on that later, but that’s what’s going on in their head. What can you say to A) get credibility, to come across I like to say somewhat relational, building rapports we like to call it, and then secondly moving into that phase that we can show them that we can add value, that we can provide some type of value to them.
Gregg: If you don’t lock down that eight seconds and that 30 seconds, the admissions rep won’t earn the right. The person might spend an hour with them, but in their mind, they’re thinking about what they’re having for dinner. So Tom, along with Brian’s saying, in addition to what Brian is speaking to, there are the people that the admissions rep are talking to that have different value sets, moral standards, filters on how they view the world, their social styles. There’s four or five social styles. What the heck? How do you deal with that? You have eight seconds, 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and then 20 minutes, then you’re dealing with these people who have this matrix of views and filters and ways they want to be communicated to. It’s like three dimensional chess.
Tom: Absolutely. Just to jump on what Brian said, you’ve got that first eight seconds of, “Do I even like this person? Do I even want to talk to them?” And then hopefully, the rep presents that great wow first impression. This can also be on the phone as well as face-to-face. The emotional connection’s important. People buy from people they trust, and people trust people they like. They also will attach to people who believe the same things they do. Having a really great explanation of services, I don’t like the word elevator pitch necessarily, but in a really good explanation of what it is that you do and why you do it, what do you believe, why do you believe that, and how are you different. Something that really can connect with that prospect to see that that prospect is believing and connecting with the person, and then having some additional insight through some type of a pre-qualification tool, like our Virtual Adviser or something along that line, where we can gain a little bit of insight on what their social styles are so that you can best adapt to that person’s style.
Tom: I’m not big into the whole mirroring and all of that other stuff, but I do believe that if you know that somebody’s a driver style person, or somebody’s just an expressive type person, if you can communicate in a style that they like and agree with and that they can make an emotional connection with, you’re giving yourself that leg up. We know in admissions, and I think Brian can probably confirm this as well, that it’s all about strategy and probability. What strategies can you employ that increase the probability of your success? That’s knowing how to adapt to that prospect, knowing how to greet, how to create that emotional connection, will make you a lot more successful and improve your…
Gregg: So Shane, along the lines of what the gentlemen are saying, one strategy to go and get through that first eight seconds is to not stink. Right? It’s a stupid comment, I grant you that, but I am accurate. The point being is that inside that bucket of eight seconds, there are several things that a person can do to right size their odds of getting to the 30 seconds and so on and so on.
Shane: Smile warmly. Smile warmly. Smile. Maybe not come off like you’re focused attention… I was reading an article on active listening. It seems simple.
Gregg: I know what you say by active listening, Shane. Tell me more.
Shane: Yeah, well there you go. Active listening. Gosh, most of us do not feel heard in our lives. It’s a silly thing, but if you’re breaking it down into eight seconds, eight, 30, two minutes, 20 minutes, which I think is a great way to think about it, how do I make a good impression in eight seconds? Say hello in a friendly way, smile, be well dressed but not too well dressed, warm but confident and not overeager, not overfamiliar.
Gregg: Start with hello, make eye contact but not in a creepy way.
Shane: “I’m really glad you came in today. I’m looking forward to learning more about what you want.” That would be a nice thing.
Gregg: So really, I think the assignment for the people who are listening in our talk today is to take those eight seconds, 30 seconds, two minutes, 20 seconds, grab Tom or Brian or whatever as a facilitator maybe and just brainstorm what are all the favorable things to put in those little buckets? Just going through that exercise alone will stack the odds in the favor of a rep. Maybe their conversion rate goes up, I don’t know, 10% overall.
Shane: I have a story. May I? There was a book written, I don’t know, some time ago by Malcolm Gladwell called Blank, and in this book, he describes the ability of human begins to make snap decisions with incredible accuracy. In many cases, the more time we give to a decision, the less accurate our decision is. We’re able to just, with not very much information, to make determinations that are surprisingly accurate. That’s really what you’re talking about. That gut check. How do I feel? This is what’s happening, does this feel good or not. That gut check, those moments are what I think we’re talking about here. As a leader in an organization, your gut check on your people is the first blink or the first slice of this. If you think there’s a problem, there probably is.
Shane: I think maybe an action that can be taken for the people on the call is if you buy into this and think about it in these increasingly less, granular time frames, have some kind of discussion or try and brainstorm with the staff. If you can get the admissions people to understand it and buy into that idea, it helps them…
Gregg: It increases their batting average, and it allows them to better create an empathetic environment with a prospective student, so that you can help that student go in and break the cycle of poverty or improve their a vocation or statistically common job. It’s about creating tactical little buckets of assets, arrows in the quiver, that can be used to get a prospective student to a point where he can do some good quality work with them to help them improve their career path. I guess the thing is that if you do improve the conversion rate by 10%, call it two students a month, that’s like a half a million dollars a year per rep, which is corporately very good. I want to switch back here now, back into the lead gen side.
Gregg: Okay Shane, listen. We did this test, this crazy test. Katie-Ellen in our office did a test. She had a gut and she said, “What if in our headlines we put the word ‘get’ into the headline?” Like “Get a career in law.” It’s an innocuous thing, like the period coming off a sentence. It’s adding the word in get. Tell a story, it’s like a 30% increase in leads low. Crazy.
Shane: It was. “Get the skills to be” whatever is our go to headline now. It’s called a control in testing. The control just means the one that is the current winner. We test things on an ongoing basis, and the headlines, of course they’re so important, so we’ve tested many many headlines over the years. We get the skills, I think it was 24% or 28%, it’s one of those two – I can’t remember, improvement when we had run it, and then we’ve retested against that headline I don’t know how many times over the years. It is, it’s super fascinating. So why is ‘get’ or ‘get the skills’ so powerful? I think it’s an action word. It implies a benefit. Who doesn’t want to get something?
Gregg: But if I can jump in, I think if you and I are having a beer and looking at each other about this test, we’re talking about it, we don’t 100% know, do we?
Shane: No. That’s why testing’s so interesting. To me, that’s the most interesting part of the work we do, and the biggest benefit to digital marketing is the ability to test these kinds of things with accuracy in a relatively easy way. In fact, with the Ogilvy example, in the old days if you’re testing headlines, you’re literally physically counting coupon returns, or documenting phone calls which is a huge margin of error.
Gregg: Or testing radio copy, you have to plow through $20,000 in radio buy to get that nailed down.
Brian: Now you can do it a lot quicker, yeah. Now you can do it a lot quicker. You can see pretty quickly your results, and I think that there’s benefits and challenges to that today, obviously. Sometimes we don’t test it enough. We think we got a small sample size and we just run with it. That’s the downside to the quick response, but obviously more upside than downside.
Gregg: Oh, exactly Brian. Tom, we have a thing where we tell people this, some enrollment management guru or whatever says they have a huge fail-safe idea. You run as fast as you can to get away from that person because they’re lying. Nobody, nobody, Tom, has the big home run idea, or rarely do. It’s really about incremental testing of these tiny little things, which, through an iterative process, will get people the best practice into maximum revenues. You’ve done a lot of this kind of work. Pile in here.
Tom: That’s exactly right. There’s not gigantic breakthroughs that are just earth-shattering anywhere. In fact, many things are rehashed from old ideas with tweaks to them. Really, it’s how well can you improve the individual processes? Can you make a slight change or a test here? Does it improve you a percent or two or three or four as you go through? I think fear of failure prevents people from really trying a lot of these things. They’re afraid that, “If I mess up my website, I could kill my traffic. I won’t have any leads, I won’t be able to make my start,” and what have you. Or, “I can’t train my people on a different greeting or entry because I can’t take them away from being on the phone.” I think it’s just fear of failing, and again, failure’s where all of the great ideas come from. You’ve got to fail numerous times to find some of these little things that work, and that’s where the great breakthroughs come from.
Gregg: An interesting analogy there is that Google, Facebook, Amazon, all these guys, FANG I believe the group are called, all came out of the 2000 dot com collapse. Failure everywhere. This is a message to those listening who are in the not-for-profit sector. In making little 1% tests, you can put safety nets underneath, but you need to have somebody above you say it’s okay to embrace failure. In a bureaucratic business model, where job security is pre-eminent, you need to create a culture to fail. It’s a gutsy thing to do, but that’s the best way to go and navigate your way out of these problems. The thing about it is, though, there’s opportunities to import from other industries. I’m shifting direction here a tiny bit. For instance, here’s something for everybody.
Gregg: Go back to your website, go to your photographs, and then take best practice from magazines and write a caption underneath the photographs. What you’ll find is, more people will fill out lead forms. Shane and I, where we have some guesses as to why, but it doesn’t really matter. Test it, and you’ll find maybe your lead flow might go up by 5, 7%. Easy thing to do. So there’s some homework for you guys. Here’s another one. I’m gonna flip this to Brian in a sec. Admissions reps make outbound calls. Maybe 30, 40 calls, 50 calls a day. Some of these corporate guys: 100 calls a day. We’ll call it 40. They are leaving phone messages for people. Let’s just stop and create a notion that the phone messages are radio ad that has an audience of one person instead of 10,000.
Gregg: If that’s true, if that notion is true, then you can take the best practices from direct response marketing, the ads for ab busters and corn removal medicine and all that, bring that split testing of direct response towards that phone message and have the admissions reps split test different ways to leave a message, and have the discipline to do it. After six, seven renditions of testing, you should be able to create a 5 to 10% lift to the number of people returning your calls. So Brian, people might say 5%, big deal, that’s nothing, but Brian, we run the math, and the numbers are pretty big, aren’t they?
Brian: Yeah, it’s staggering, honestly. If you want, everyone can go online and Google search the very title of this webinar, which is, “If You Just Do 1% a Day More Than Everyone Else, You Will Do 38% Better Than Everyone Else.” At the end of the year, you will be 37 to 38 times better than everyone else, because it’s the law of compounding interest. You can just look at it. There’s a great book, and I encourage everyone to read it. I study habits, because habits are what drive us every single day. They say anywhere to 50 to 70% of what we do every single day is habitual, meaning we don’t have to think about it. When you fall into that habit, it’s hard to get out of it. You take the same path to work everyday. You go to the same coffee shop. You take the same path into the office. Whatever it is. If you think about the habits that are created when you’re just making phone calls, what if you could get a 1% lift by testing? By just testing a few processes, as you said Gregg.
Brian: I worked with a guy a long time ago. We had a high school program at the university. He tested how many inquiry cards he would get based on the color of his tie. You just gotta take a step back and say, let’s be more methodical about our approach to admissions, recruitment, and success for that matter. There’s some things you can do, but you have to force yourself to do those things. It just doesn’t happen by accident, because that’s what habits are.
Gregg: That’s it. Split testing is a contrived, methodical process. It doesn’t cost money. It doesn’t take extra time, but it does require a little bit of discipline. In this phone message example, if somebody leaves, I’m gonna say, 20 phone messages a day, that’s 440 a month, 5% more people reach back to them, we’ll say conservatively. It usually is 10. That’s 22 additional meaningful conversations. The typical conversion rate, Tom, when somebody gets somebody on the phone having a meaningful phone conversation, what’s that, 10, 20% range? Along those lines?
Tom: To set an appointment with them or just to have a conversation?
Gregg: If you get someone on the phone and you’re having a chit chat with them, that’s what typically at 10 to 20% turning to a student? Something like that?
Tom: Turning into a student, yeah. Absolutely. I think about 20% of the people that you’ll have a phone call with will eventually turn into a student.
Gregg: In this silly example, four students a month, that’s 50 students a year. That’s a million dollars in additional revenue per annum. Why go buy a bunch of disgustingly crappy third party leads Shane, when you can just do some internal testing like that? Shane, you want to talk to that?
Shane: Oh yeah. Gosh.
Gregg: Let me reframe it for you, Shane. We improve websites for our clients by improving the conversion rates by dropping periods, adding in the word ‘get’. We have a toolkit of 30 odd things that we can apply to a website to improve the conversion rate. Let’s just say we improve the conversion rate by 1% even. Let’s say a school is 3% to start with. It’s like a 25% improvement in lead flow.
Shane: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yes. If we’re talking about website conversion, let’s define it so everyone’s clear on the call. We talk about website conversion, we’re saying of the traffic you already get, if you get 10 thousand people to come to your website, or a thousand, or 500, whatever it is, what percentage of those convert to a lead? If it’s a thousand and it’s 3%, 2 to 3%, which is typical, that means you’re getting 20, 30 leads per thousand visitors. That 1% improvement, which could be removing the period on the headline or better copy or split testing, or as Brian said, being conscious of habits. I think that unconscious behavior, the habitual behavior, if it’s not challenged, if you’re not saying, “Is this the best sales proposition, or is this the best thing we can be saying about our school, is this the best description?” If we don’t challenge those things, nothing changes and performance stays the same. That 1% improvement on that thousand visitors, that’s an extra 10 leads, that’s an enrollment. That’s more students. That’s whatever that is, 150 grand.
Gregg: You don’t have to spend money or hire people. Just look inward and have some self-discipline. I think we’re getting close to being out of time, and there might be some questions. The three of you get a shot at leaving one last little pearl here for those listening. So Brian, let’s start with you. Is there any one, along this topic, little pearl of wisdom that you want to leave with the folks here that are listening?
Brian: Yeah. I guess the biggest thing is going back to habits and time, when you’re working within an institution, time gets away. You know where your time is being spent sometimes, and it’s hard to make the time to do some of these things. Whether you do it yourself or you partner with somebody, the key is just making the time to do it. If you can’t make the time, you can either make the time for yourself, or go buy the time. I always say you can buy time, meaning you can go pay someone else to do it. Sometimes, the better way to do it is to go pay someone to do it. I’m not doing that for any kind of self-promotion here, but that’s just the reality of life. If you’re busy, you gotta buy some of your time back. The best way to do that is to go and partner with people.
Gregg: There you go. That’s a good pearl to leave. So Tom, Brian’s thoughts are interesting. What do you have to leave with folks here on the call today?
Tom: To me, the largest takeaway and the things I’ve really garnered the most from what you guys do is, split testing and trying new things is absolutely critical. Just a comment a few minutes back, if you’re gonna split test a voicemail message or a script for appointment setting, or a new different way to handle the career planning assessment or the interview, if you don’t role play and practice those things and enforce the habits being done, it’s not gonna pay off, but you’ve got to at least try to experiment, try some new things, and really focus on split testing. Split testing’s not just your website and your marketing tools. It’s really all of your processes. Your admissions process, there are so many things that you can tweak in there that can make a 1% improvement 20 different ways. A 20% improvement is not out of the question, but you’ve gotta try it. You’ve gotta be willing to fail. You’ve got to also make sure that your people absolutely have a script or something that they’re working from and they’re not just winging it. Otherwise, it does you no good to test.
Gregg: Got it. Shane, how about you? These guys have left a couple little nice little ribbons on this. What are your thoughts about it?
Shane: As this talk was going on, I’m really glad that Brian had brought up that habits thing, because I think if there’s an overarching lesson, like path to improvement, it’s willingness to challenge status quo, which is just a different way of saying what Tom and Brian have said. I have an operational role. My job here is to make sure things are delivered smoothly, that we innovate new stuff, that we find better ways tomorrow than today. That’s our job here. Personally, I find a lot of those ideas come out saying, “Why do we do it that way? Was that deliberate? How did that happen? Can we do better?” Always re-challenging existing ideas, breaking that habitual behavior, or at least being aware of it, or the unconscious behavior. That’s the foundation for innovation, and then the split testing and the 1% improvements, that’s an expression of innovation. The foundation for it is challenging status quo, and if you can’t do that, there will never be innovation, and someone else is gonna out hustle you, and you’re gonna end up the second place guy to the Usain Bolt in your market.
Gregg: So innovation and breaking out of ruts and what have you is really… Folks on the call, you don’t need to have any superb special skills. You just have to have a willingness take a little thing, be open to testing and breaking the status quo, and then trying to beat the control through testing. Take tiny little things and methodically do that. What the talk today has brought back for me is that in enrollment management, what we’re doing is we’re trading in seconds and groups of little words, and that’s really where the juice gets squeezed and the value is created for helping our schools get more kids on a great path to a new career. It’s seconds and it’s words. Folks on the call, start thinking around that, that kind of context. Makes marketing and admissions easier if you’re playing at a granular level.
Gregg: Before we peel off on the call here, if anybody wants to ask a question of Tom or Brian or Shane or I, we’re here to help you. If you want to be on a podcast, just press star six and ask a question. We’ll just wait a few seconds, and if nobody clicks, then we’ll say goodbye.
Christie: Can you hear me?
Gregg: There’s a brave person. Who’s this?
Christie: Hey, this is Christie. I’m not that brave.
Gregg: Oh, hi Christie. Okay.
Christie: I have a question from Bridget, I believe for Brian. Can you tell me, what, if you know the name of the book regarding habits that you had recently read?
Brian: Yes. I had studied habits, because obviously it goes into training and development, breaking habits, status quo. Last year, a book, the author’s name is James Clear. The book is called ‘Atomic Habits’. It went into my top probably 10 books I’ve ever read just in that area on willpower, habits, and just people. That’s the name of the book. [crosstalk 00:48:26]
Gregg: There’s another book, you guys, that speaks to the anatomy of a habit. I forget the exact name of it, but Shane, it’s by Charles Duhigg. It’s a yellow book.
Shane: The Power of Habit.
Gregg: The Power of Habit as well. Excellent book.
Brian: Yeah, both of them are really good.
Gregg: Any other questions? I know we have about 150 on the call here today. Sometimes, we have shy people listening and sometimes very boisterous. Anyone want to weigh in or ask a question? Press star six. No? Okay. I think what we’ll do is we’re gonna wind up. We’ve had a long, vociferous conversation. Folks, if you have any questions about this topic and you want to go deeper, you can contact Brian. Just look up Brian Willett on LinkedIn, or you can talk to any of us at Enrollment Resources, and we’re happy to personalize this conversation for you. But otherwise, go take those little bits of homework we’ve given you and go put it to work, and then watch yourself go up a bit. It’ll be exciting. Take care everybody, and knock ’em dead.
Brian: Alright, thanks.
Shane: Thanks, bye bye.
Tom: Thanks everybody.