Episode 20: How To Set Goals Beyond the Mission Statement

Episode 20: How To Set Goals Beyond the Mission Statement
Season 1

 
 
00:00 / 43:50
 
1X

Special guest, Amanda Goetz, Vice President of Marketing for The Knot Worldwide, joins Jon-Stephen Stansel and Joel Goodman to discuss how important values-based goal setting is to any organization’s health. How does the wedding industry apply to higher ed? Listen to find out.

Episode 20: How To Set Goals Beyond the Mission Statement
Season 1

 
 
00:00 / 43:50
 
1X

Special guest, Amanda Goetz, Vice President of Marketing for The Knot Worldwide, joins Jon-Stephen Stansel and Joel Goodman to discuss how important values-based goal setting is to any organization’s health. How does the wedding industry apply to higher ed? Listen to find out.

How to Set Goals Beyond the Mission Statement Episode Transcript

Amanda Goetz: That’s why the 9-5 doesn’t work. Because if you want the best work for me, you want me from 7-10 and my 7-10 is the equivalent of somebody else’s 9-5. So which do you want?

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Welcome to the Thought Feeder podcast. I’m Jon-Stephen Stansel and with me as always is Joel Goodman. And today I am super excited because we have, Amanda Goetz, the VP of Marketing for The Knot and WeddingWire with us today. And we have just a ton of things to talk to her about. We love to have guests from outside the world of higher ed to kind of get an outsider perspective on some of the issues that we face.

And I think it’s incredibly useful to have, and Amanda has just a ton of, of knowledge and, uh, so much to share with us. So, welcome Amanda. Thank you so much for being with

Amanda Goetz: Yeah, thank you for having me. I’m super excited to talk to you guys.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: So one thing I want to start out with, and, you know, I first became aware of your work by following you on Twitter and kind of following your story. And I’ve gotten so much value from your account and learned so much. but one thing I, you know, you’ve, you’ve told this story before of how you were told that you didn’t have enough social influence to speak at a conference.

You were told this by the conference committee, which is incredibly shortsighted, on the conference committee part. I I’ve served on conference committees before, and it’s, one, something I would never tell somebody and would even we could consider. But it also, you know, you said that it kind of inspired you to start sharing your thoughts more on Twitter and kind of building a community there.

So could you tell us a little bit more about that experience and what you’ve learned from, from growing a community on Twitter?

Amanda Goetz: Yeah, it was an interesting wake up call because I am a brand marketer. So I understand the role influencers play in the industry, and how we use influencers. But when it came to that specific conference around female empowerment and the specific topic was around, you know, building brands, et cetera. And, you know, as, a working mom and I have 15 years of experience and I like put a very thoughtful pitch together and it came down to, I didn’t have enough followers on social media and. it really made me start to really think about the role of influencers and then quality versus quantity.

You know, anyone can buy followers, you could have tons of followers on social media, but what does that actually mean? And so that was the first part. It was just like, okay, this is not right. Let’s call attention to it. Let’s talk about this. But then the introspective thing that happened to me was, I’m not doing my part and sharing what I know, what I think with the world.

And I speak a lot now about the access gap for founders, for founders of underrepresented groups. For me, I speak a lot about female founders and there’s this gap of access. Like I don’t have the same access to, male VCs, just because I don’t run in those circles where a lot of people who do run in those circles can just call anyone and be like, what do you think of this idea? Do you know someone? Connect me. Right?

So this idea of access gap. And social media is like the one place it’s a level playing field. If you actually produce great content over and over. And I saw this like, I just joined Twitter a year ago and it’s been a focus of mine. I’ve stayed consistent. But the platform has rewarded my threads and you see that my, my follower count grows as the more content I put out there. So I believe that there is truly a correlation with the more you put yourself out there, the more access you will eventually have.

Like you just said, we met through Twitter. I have gotten to speak on more podcasts, more speaking engagements that I wouldn’t have access to because people didn’t understand what I thought about, what I was passionate about.

So on one side it really fired me up. But on the other side, it actually proved to me what I needed to do. And, and I still don’t believe that someone should judge someone by their follower count, because until you’ve seen what they stand for and what their hot takes are or whatever it is, what’s behind the count, then let’s talk about it.

And so when I go to follow someone on Twitter, I don’t even look at their follower count. I go straight to their feed and say, is this someone that’s like making me think, do I agree with them? Do I not agree with them? Like, is it stimulating me? And that’s when I choose to follow them, not based off their follower counts, so lots of thoughts there, but I just, it was a really interesting moment in my life. But it forced me to do some things that I probably wouldn’t have done.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I think that that’s something, especially that consistency of doing it over and over again and, I totally agree about the follower count. Especially, you know, for those of us kind of in very niche markets of like, you know, I tweet about higher ed at some point, there’s a plateau of like, okay, well not any more people are going to follow me to be interested. There’s only a finite number of higher ed social media managers.

Amanda Goetz: You’re so right. I get that question a lot. They’re like Like people ask me, what’s my content strategy? Like, how do you figure out what you’re going to talk about? And they’re like, I don’t know a ton about marketing hot takes or whatever. And I’m like, listen, find your people, talk about what you’re actually passionate about because if you need to tweet four times a day to grow your audience, it better be something that you actually know and care about and can speak at length.

And so if that’s like fly fishing, start talking about fly fishing. Eventually, you’re going to find the people that love fly fishing, and you’re going to start engaging with them. And to me, engagement is way cooler than follower count. Like I love when I tweet something out and all of a sudden I have like all these female founders and moms that engage with it and it’s, it’s a smaller number, but it meant something, it struck a chord with them.

So I totally agree with you. It should definitely be about like the thing you actually care about.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: And then it validates a thing you care about too. Sometimes I tweet just cause I’m having a problem and to see other people go I’m right in the same boat with you, it’s just, okay. I’m not isolated. I’m not alone. So

Amanda Goetz: That’s the best thing about COVID. Like Twitter has been my, like, true community throughout COVID. When you feel really alone, and you’re like, Oh my gosh, this work from home thing with kids is really stressful. And then all of a sudden you feel like all these people are in the same boat as you you’re like, okay, we’re all going to get through this, like, one by one.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, definitely. So kind of moving on a little bit looking at some of the marketing for The Knot and the WeddingWire, it really struck me how much in common the wedding industry has with higher ed. And how they’re kind of both very aspirational and they’re, we’re kind of selling what is a major transitional moment or time in the life of both of you.

So what do you think higher ed can learn from the wedding industry?

Amanda Goetz: That’s a really interesting question. So my response would be so college isn’t just about academics, right? And relationships aren’t just about marriage. And I think the takeaway there is, talking more about what it stands for. Like for the wedding industry, we talk more about self-love and empowerment and, and, empowering people to marry who they want when they want, how they want, and really, if they want, we speak to people before they enter relationships to talk about like, Hey, here’s some things that you should really be thinking about, understanding. Your triggers in a relationship or what gaps you have because of your childhood. Like so many things that you can talk about prior to someone hitting this, like moment where it becomes transactional, right?

We still show beautiful pictures about weddings, et cetera. But, when you think about what you’re selling, it’s way more than just flowers and lighting and a photographer. Those are important things and that’s like, obviously how, you know, our a marketplace works. But when you think about brand strategy and how you’re going to be a brand that’s relevant for people outside of even your addressable audience, like even higher ed, right?

Yes. You have a finite, addressable audience. Only a certain number of people will be making a decision that year. And same with weddings, right? We have a finite addressable audience. It’s only 1.4 million people will have a wedding this year and I need a brand that can speak beyond that.

That it’s not just those people I’m speaking to. I’m speaking to the people that will be getting married over the next five years. So that way we can be top of mind. And I think that that’s really important for higher ed. Like you are not just selling, “we have the best professors,” “we have this.” You’re, you’re selling what that stands for.

And I think the similarity is a wedding is a manifestation of who you are. It is truly like your brand personified in a moment to tell your family, your friends, like what you care about. Is it sustainability? Is it, you know, making sure that all your vendors are female-owned, whatever it is you’re, you’re telling your family and friends what you care about.

And I think that, probably, is similar and tangential a little bit to higher ed, right? Like where you go to college does represent a little bit of who you are. And how do institutions maybe figure out and tap into that psychographic information a little bit more? That’s I guess my initial thoughts there.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I think that makes a ton of sense. I, you know, even kind of in my history at different universities, I’ve worked for, you know, there’s a very specific type of student that goes to it. You know, a Texas State University versus UT Austin, you know, like Maybe we don’t want to admit it as universities sometimes, but we’re speaking to a particular type of student and it does say something about them that they’re going there for this, or they’re going to this, this, into this particular program.

So yeah, I think you’re definitely, definitely on point on that.

Amanda Goetz: And colleges need to understand what those stigmas, for better for worse, are. And if that is not what they want to stand for, then they have to go through a repositioning campaign, like a repositioning strategy. Like what do you actually want to stand for? And how do you demonstrate that? How do you actually acquire people?

I think it’s really interesting. A lot of brands because of Black Lives Matter had this kind of wake up call. This is something that, it wasn’t as hard for The Knot because inclusivity and making sure that there’s like representation of all people, of all races, of all genders, et cetera, on our feed. But I think a lot of people had this wake-up call where diversity isn’t just like a Black person in a white person and an, an, you know, a red head and then it’s, you know, an Asian person. You can’t just do that because that’s not true representation.

And we learned that many years ago, talking to our Black affinity groups at The Knot of just like, what does having Black representation look like in our feed and a big call-out was making sure that you see two Black people getting married instead of, you know, having a Black person and white person gay, married. Cause that’s not true diversity. That’s not true representation. And, and I think a lot of brands are scared to, to do that at first. And because if you weren’t speaking authentically to the Black community, you probably didn’t have high engagement rates on those posts. And all of a sudden, then we had to have this real discussion as a marketing industry to say, we don’t care about engagement. We care about what you stand for.

We had the same thing around same sex weddings, right? Every time we would post a gay couple, our engagement count would go down and I would just be very firm with my team and say, I don’t care about that. The more and more of that make your brand a place where someone feels inclusive, eventually, that will restabilize. But I don’t care if we lose followers because we’re posting what we believe in. And I think Black Lives Matter was finally a moment for brands to realize that. That, you have to stand for something.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I’m very impressed with the amount of inclusivity and just the representation in the marketing that y’all have. And. And, you know, it’s just right off the bat when you see it. And, it’s, it’s incredibly impressive. And I know, when my wife and I were using The Knot, when we got married, you know, my wife is from China and it was just, it was so refreshing to see couples that look like us, you know, and represented in a way that didn’t feel like, it was just kind of playing to us. It was just a really, it made an impact.

Joel and I have talked about this, about representation in higher ed in previous episodes where I think a lot of higher ed leaders are afraid to do that a little bit. Especially when it comes, you know, we’re both here in the South, so, with, LGBTQ-plus representation in marketing materials. So, so what would you say to a leader, whether in higher ed or not, who might be apprehensive about that or are a little bit nervous? What would you say to kind of encourage them to move forward there?

Amanda Goetz: I mean, I would just say it’s 2020 and you’re going, you’re going to lose relevance very quickly because this is table stakes. But, I guess the more practical answer would be, this has to be ingrained in everything you do.

And one thing that we did talk about, you know, because of Black Lives Matter is just the fact that you have to obviously keep it top of mind, you have to set goals, like, you have to have goals around diversity and inclusivity. But, we realized you can’t solve problems for a group of employees when you don’t have that representation in the people making those decisions. Right? So I say this all the time, there are so many people trying to create EdTech, startups, you know, for parents who don’t have kids, and they’re not realizing the challenges I’m facing as a working mom because they’re… they don’t understand. Because they aren’t experiencing what it’s like to have toddlers running around while you’re on Zoom call and then having to have Google Hangouts for a first-grader. Like all the things.

And the same goes for representation. If you do not make a point to have leaders in your, in whatever institution or, or company that you have that represent different types of people, you’re not fully ever going to be aware of what those people are facing. What challenges they’re experiencing, how you need to set up different access points. Whether it’s a pipeline problem, is it, you know, an inclusivity problem? Is it a harassment problem? Like what are the different problems that they’re facing? You have to create a line of communication and a leader to champion that.

And so I think that those are kind of the tactical things, but again, to go back to your point about like, how is this, how is this top of mind for The Knot all the time, like it was started, The Knot was founded by a multicultural couple. And so, they couldn’t find resources for a half-American/half-Asian wedding and what customs, what traditions. So, it’s literally what the nod was founded upon is cultural traditions and inclusivity and making sure that you feel seen and represented.

And so it’s in the DNA of the company and I think a lot of companies need to rethink how their, their DNA is structured. And if your DNA is off right now, you need to figure out how to kind of get a DNA transplant.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, I think for a lot of universities, I think they’re dealing with that DNA transplant where we’re seeing, you know, just, even on our campus, we removed the name of, of, of a kind of shady figure from one of the buildings on campus and, you know, kind of.

Joel Goodman: I just hope it’s not superficial though, J.S. I mean, the industry itself is so slow to change and so slow to realize its mistakes or at least so slow to act on the deficiencies that it’s had for decades and decades and decades, that, to some extent, I mean, I just, I worry that. I worry that it’s window dressing. Right?

It’s well, Black Lives Matter happened, so we got to do something, otherwise, we’re going to have another PR thing and. But it’s not actually affecting the DNA, you know, I don’t think in this case fake it. So yeah, it really works right? You

Amanda Goetz: No, you’re so right.

Joel Goodman: My mom used to say, if you act enthusiastic, then you’ll be enthusiastic. Like, I don’t think that works in this case. You can’t act like you’re not racist, but not change anything on the inside. Or, you know, act like your welcoming and inclusive of all sorts of people, but then not actually practice that internally.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: To play off of Amanda’s analogy, it’s almost like, you know, they’re dying their hair rather than getting a DNA change. Right?

Amanda Goetz: Right. Yeah. I think the performance, like any kind of performance, marketing, and I don’t mean that as like growth, but like being performant around Black Lives Matter is a thing that we saw a lot of brands, a lot of influencers, get canceled on it’s like, Oh, you posted a black box. And then you went back to your like travel pics the next day.

And then we also saw a lot of companies who posted the black box, said they did a donation, and then that was all we ever heard from them again. We, it was really important for us that we took a moment. And we cared less about what we were going to say externally, and first, we wanted to make sure like our house was in order.

Like how can you at all look around and speak publicly if you don’t know if your house is in order? And so we actually, our executive team went on listening tours for weeks just to make sure they were listening to everyone. And figuring out what are all the possibilities of things we could do? Because again, to my point, if you, if you don’t have like Black leadership, if you don’t have other races as leaders, you can’t speak on behalf of those groups.

And so going on these listening tours opened up a lot of eyes to say, wow, there’s so much more we could do, how do we actually formulate this into our OKR and our company mission and our company plan? And so then it was time to then say, okay, let’s structure this into three North stars and, tactics aside, what are we goaling ourselves on? And then putting goals associated with it.

And so that’s where I think a lot of companies and we didn’t, we never need needed to share that publicly. Cause it was more about like our house and making sure that we are cleaning up our house first. And I think a lot of companies just did the donation thing and called it a day versus saying we can do more, we always, I mean, everyone growth is an ongoing thing. There’s no, self-actualization, we’re constantly growing. Like, let’s, let’s actually take a moment to figure out, like, how are we going to goal ourselves and hold ourselves accountable for these things? And that’s what I would just say to, to institutions as well.

Well, like if your goal is to, you know, call it, you want to have 20% more Black applicants to your college next year like now you can formulate a tactic, and a lot of tactics, to figure out how to hit that goal. You’re not assigning just tactics, you’re saying this is our goal. Now let us go develop a plan to meet that goal.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Definitely. Yeah. Hands in the air. Yes.

Joel Goodman: I want to give a plug for our previous episode with Eddie Francis. Cause there are a lot of really practical ways that especially predominantly white institutions, can show that they care about their Black communities and that that’s one of those things that will very quickly help you, you know, be… it’s, it’s an authenticity thing. Like it’ll help you reach out to those people and help you achieve those goals for growing, growing at least that part of the diversity of your campuses.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: In addition to the topic of diversity, just putting goals first in everything that we do. I think this is an issue that we kind of face in higher ed, where we kind of put the cart before the horse and are not really sure what our goals are. And I’ve heard, you mentioned many times in several interviews that at The Knot you value outcomes over output. And every time I’ve heard you said that I just, I perk up. I’m like I have to write that down. That’s you know, so, so vital. So it strikes me as a philosophy that higher ed could learn so much from because I think we do the opposite a lot of times. So can you explain that philosophy a little bit more and how it works in action?

Amanda Goetz: Yeah. I mean, I started my career in professional services, so I was at the, you know, accounting firm where the person who was still there at 9:00 PM got like the bonus. And they were just seen as the best, hardest, most dedicated person. Cause they were still there and they weren’t living their life. And I honestly just think that that’s just bullshit.

Like honestly, I pride myself in efficiency. Like that is why I’m able to you know, have three kids have a full-time job, start a company on the side. Like I pride myself on being able to focus, finish, do a lot of work in a short amount of time. And the fact that any company is still thinking that output is the same as an outcome is so off.

And so what does this look like in practice? When you think about outcomes, you have to have measurable goals. And this is where OKRs become so important and OKR means Objective and Key Results. Nowhere in that says tactic. So I think to your point, a lot of people jump to, “let’s do—”, I’ll speak in marketing speak, but they’ll say, “let’s do this campaign. Let’s give everybody 500,” you know, “kits and we’ll see how many people tweet about this or post about it. It’ll be awesome.” And then you do the campaign and we say, was it successful? And someone’s like, yeah, I think it was pretty successful. And all of a sudden you’re like, But how?

And so in the very beginning, before you start any conversation around tactics, you need to say what’s the objective? Is our objective to grow our social following by 20%? Okay, so we want to, so to actually make this into an OKR session, your objective would actually be: increased brand awareness by increasing our social following. Your key result is a 20% increase in followers. So now you’ve said what the objective is high level North star objective. Okay. I want to increase brand awareness because I’m going to increase my followers. As measured by a 20% increase in followers.

Great. You give that to the person responsible for that, and you assign them responsible for that OKR. Now they are in charge of figuring out the strategy. What, how am I going to do that? What is the right way? And this is where a lot of companies mess up.

They tell their channel owners what to do instead of letting experts actually do the thing that you hired them to do.

Joel Goodman: Sounds familiar. (everyone laughs)

Amanda Goetz: And so I will say to my, you know, head of social media, here’s your OKR for the quarter and you, and you do OKRs together. Like you want buy-in obviously. And then we align on strategy.

Okay. What are the levers you think that we should pull to hit this? And then, then you let somebody go. Like you do check-ins to make sure that they have the resources they need, that if they need support, are there roadblocks? But otherwise, they know where they’re going. You gave them the destination. And it’s up to them to get there by the time you told them to. And now I can let them breathe and work. They can schedule their day, how they want. We will have our check-ins, there will be team meetings, et cetera, et cetera, but I don’t need to micromanage because there’s no confusion about where we’re going. You, we’ll meet you there.

And so I think a lot of people still get caught up in being a part of the tactic conversation without clear destinations. And that causes way more output than is necessary.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, I think that problem is just it’s just rampant in higher ed. I think you’d get a lot of not, not just leaders in, in, you know, C-suite, but, you know, from directors of admissions to alumni services, they see a campaign that the university down the street’s doing, and they just want that rather than thinking about the goal behind that, or the reason reasoning there and kind of getting everybody on board with, being goal centric first. it is always a struggle. And, and again, not just that, you know, any university that I may work at, but all throughout higher ed, it’s just, it’s just a part of the profession.

Joel Goodman: This happens in working with vendors too. I mean, like you’ll hire an agency, a university will hire an agency and pay them. You know, a hundred thousand, couple of hundred thousand dollars to work on some big marketing piece, whether it’s their website, or a campaign or whatever. And then, you know, the people that know what to do, like people like you’re paying a ton of money for their expertise, come to you with the best possible strategy to get to where you want. And it gets messed up cause someone internally has some feeling about it. And you know, I can’t, can’t begin to imagine how money universities just throw away because they aren’t trusting the experts, whether internally or externally to accomplish the goals that, have been set out.

Amanda Goetz: I think that that’s a really interesting point and one that if you don’t know who you are and you haven’t done the work to truly understand what you stand for, and it goes back to this like idea of what do you stand for? What do you care about? What do you want to be known for? If you haven’t done that identity work then you’re a plastic bag, you know, floating in the wind, that you will go whatever direction. Oh, this other competitor, this other college did this. That looks cool. That seems to be working for them. Let’s do that.

Yeah, you are not that same. Like no two company is the same. Even if you are the exact same product and try to hit the same demo. You have different founder stories. You have different cultures like you, and different voices, you innately have a different. you know, identity than the next person. And I think that’s, to me, when I hear that that’s an identity problem, they haven’t done the work to truly know who they are and what they stand for.

And then they can be swayed by one person being like, “I feel like maybe we should do this other thing.” And everybody’s like, sure, that sounds good. I don’t know. I don’t care.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I’ve been in that meeting a few times.

(everyone laughs)

Amanda Goetz: We’ve all been at that meeting in our careers.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: One of the major reasons, you know, other than just the fact that I think everything that you tweet and what you do is awesome.

Amanda Goetz: thank you.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: One of the reasons I wanted you on the podcast is recently you tweeted, “College isn’t all about the curriculum. It’s a training wheels for life. Learn to live on your own, navigate social circles, get jobs, self-motivate self care, et cetera. I would never pay full tuition when these soft skills aren’t a part of the online college experience.”

Tweet from @AmandaMGoetz

And with so many of us going online or partly online in the fall. I think you’re, you’re right. And this is sentiment. I hear from a lot of parents as I do my social listening and saying, Hey, why am I paying full tuition if they’re not getting this, or, you know, if this class is online? So what do you think universities who are going online this fall can do to give their students some of these skills or, is that even possible?

Amanda Goetz: Wow. Yeah, I didn’t, I wasn’t actually thinking about from the college perspective, I was just like, I. So I’m a first generation college grad, so neither of my parents went to college and I had to pay for college. And so I just was like, thinking about, could I actually have justified spending my own money or going into that much debt? And, it just got me thinking about what college meant to me.

Like it was where I had to, I was forced to learn to network. I had to get jobs to, you know, have spending money. You were forced to have a regimen that was dictated by yourself versus by, you know, an 8 am – 3 pm class schedule. And also just like learning self-care. No, one’s feeding you anymore. You have to feed yourself.

And so some of these things just come, honestly, maybe I can, split track them and say they actually probably come more from living on your own, versus college. Like college was the meaning to that end, right? Because you go to college, that’s not right next to your parents, you are forced to live alone. And so, one way colleges could think about this is, you know, are they subsidizing their housing? Like, are they thinking about ways to bring people in? Like obviously social distancing. Can we trust college kids to actually do this? That’s a separate issue. I don’t want to touch that with a 10-foot pole, but, but like

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Neither do a lot of colleges right now.

Joel Goodman: I’ve been talking about it a lot on Twitter.

Amanda Goetz: Yeah. I mean, listen, is it, is it the right thing from a global pandemic perspective?

But just to answer your, your question, I do think that a lot of these things come with living on your own and not having your parents feed you, tell you what insurance to get. You know, help you coach you through life things. Like even relationships, navigating relationships and breakups and, and like learning about yourself.

So I think under sanding how to bring those to the forefront if somebody is still living at home, whether that’s enhancing curriculum to be more about financial planning. Are they adding new courses around relationship health and wellness? Like does therapy or, you know, other things that are not just core academics come into play?

Because you know, I’ve learned more from going to therapy for four years than I probably have in all of education because self-work helps me to understand more about my triggers, how to be better in relationships, et cetera. So that’d be one area that, again, I’m like Monday morning quarterbacking, but as I think about any advice I’d give is thinking about areas outside of just general curriculum, that you can support a full rounded human that may not be getting those same day to day tactical lessons, you know? Like I don’t have to force myself to eat a healthy breakfast cause mom just made me eggs. But what does health mean?

And it goes back to setting OKRs. We want to make sure, maybe an OKR is like, we want to make sure our students grow in, you know, emotional intelligence or health and wellness, and as measured by 60% of our, our students enroll in this new, thing around financial planning or, you know, healthy eating or meditation, or, you know. I think that there could be ways that you could measure against how am I, I’m looking at each student as a full person, not just a academic need, if that makes sense.

Joel Goodman: Hypothetical. So, let’s say a university decides not to open on campus. They’re going all online at least for the next year. And there is a big uproar about, “why I shouldn’t have to pay full price. Like I’m not, I’m not getting all of the, all the added benefits, extracurriculars, the ‘college experience,’ so to speak, if I’m really just learning at home.” I think it’s a totally valid standpoint for anyone to have. And it’s, I mean, a college education is kind of a product, but it’s a product of a lot of different facets.

Joel Goodman: It’s not just the degree that you’re getting. And so the price should match what’s there. So I think maybe where the gap is, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this, Amanda, I think maybe the gap is that universities higher ed doesn’t tend to talk about their product in terms of value. Right? They tend to sell it as well, yes, you’re paying tuition and tuition is covering well, you actually don’t know what tuition is covering you think tuition is covering the degree.

Amanda Goetz: Well that’s one issue. They could create more pricing transparency.

Joel Goodman: And then you’ve got room and board, but then the other problem is that most don’t talk about the actual value, which is what comes from having that degree in terms of professional prospects and career prospects going forward.

And I don’t know. I think, I think it’s a messaging problem. I think it’s definitely a marketing problem, as well as just, just a, a lack of transparency and, and maybe, maybe just a lack of sensitivity around how people actually react to pricing and brand messaging and value-based messaging.

I think that’s one of those weird gaps that higher ed has on its, on its marketing front.

Amanda Goetz: It could be a feature gap as well. So if, if they’ve only been focused on the four years that they have the person and not what happens after they leave the college campus, meaning alumni relations, you know, career coaching and like maintaining that relationship. To your point. Like, what does it actually, what is the value? And if somebody is having trouble with that value, and actually creating messaging around the value, because you can say, you know, going to our school, will lend you the best opportunities. I’m going to ask, how? Like, how, how are you different than your competitor and what are you set up? And I think that that’s probably where there’s feature gaps, right?

Like they’re, they, we don’t have enough of a program or like a concrete, relational track to say that. And I can like, I mean, I have not tapped my alumni group from my college, ever for my career. Like, it’s more just like, Oh, you’re from the Midwest. Big Ten. Yay. Cool. But, it, I don’t hear from my college ever.

And how do you prove that you will? And I don’t see like, as many colleges active on social media and what are they standing for? Like, I don’t even follow my own college on social media, which now is like, now I’m thinking about that. I’m like, that’s crazy. But to me that that’s a gap, that’s a feature gap.

And so they’re probably struggling with value-based messaging because they don’t have the features to support those values.

Joel Goodman: Yeah, and I think you’re right. I think it also comes down to, very closely aligned with that, just it’s there’s a lack of awareness of life cycle management in terms of who your customer is, who, you know, who your students are. Because you’re starting, you were saying earlier with, with the work that you have to do in the wedding industry to start cultivating those people five years before they’re actually ready to get married or, you know, or participate.

That’s like institutions are kind of doing that. Like, they’ll start talking to freshmen in high school, sort of a thing and maybe a little bit early, but, but that can help. So like they start to do that. And then they get them up to the point of where they deposit and then honestly you come on campus and I don’t know, I’ve talked to more, I’ve talked to more people that have gone to college and had a really, you know, pretty terrible experience on campus compared to the other sorts of experiences that they have.

And, and so like, you have, cool, great experience, wined and dined until you get your deposit in until you get on campus. And it’s like,

Amanda Goetz: Bait-and-switched?

Joel Goodman: Yeah. You feel bait-and-switched, and then, and then you get to the alumni point. Do you, do you want to give back, do you want to donate to your Alma mater?

Amanda Goetz: Right.

Joel Goodman: And are you even asked in the right way? It’s like, no, you don’t really, no.

Amanda Goetz: Well, and in exchange for what? Because at that point you’re, it feels like a transaction of like you owe us now, we gave you this education, like, Oh, give back. And I think that that is a repositioning thing. Is it an investment toward maintaining relationships? Like I’m a part of Chief Executive Network and like, to me, that is my new sorority. That is where I am going to find people that I should connect with. I can ask questions too, that I can get coaching from. Like I get executives checking all these things. Like what, what are the features that you’re getting and why am I continuing to pay? What, what value am I getting now?

Every time I’m hit up for a donation, it feels like, “because you came here. And you probably have money, right? Like you have a job. So give us some of that.” And I’m like, why? And I truly think now more than ever the donation piece, they should really think about educating people on how they’re using those donations now to build out those feature sets that prove the value of why you should do the online education.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: While we’re on that topic too. You, you’ve talked a little bit about, about this too, and how the Greek system could better help alumni with networking and even pivot and replace the Greek system, which.

Amanda Goetz: I did say that. Hot take.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: There’s a lot of talk that. Hey, I’m all for this hot take. I think it’s a conversation that that needs to be had because there are many good things about the Greek system. And there are many negatives that go along with it that, that, you know, universities have to weigh, but be replaced by something better that would focus on empowerment and fostering startups and entrepreneurship, which I know so many universities are really kind of jumping on this, jumping on the startup bandwagon. And creating spaces for startups, but are they doing it well, yet?

Joel Goodman: Higher ed incubators.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: But the time has really come. So could you elaborate a little bit more on how, what, what you might envision on that and what universities could do you’d have to, to, to, to, to help and support them foster that, that, that spirit of entrepreneurship in students.

Amanda Goetz: Yeah. So my tweet was a hot take on where I thought The Wing missed out on an opportunity because The Wing tried to be everything to everyone. And, and, the fact that it had like, is speaking to just out of school, coworking, you know, freelance type people to like, oh, we also have a daycare. You can’t authentically speak to that many cohorts at once, especially out of the gates.

And so I think that if I could turn back the time and I had control over The Wing, I would have created a new sorority alternative. Cause sororities stand for, look, I was in a sorority and I had to deactivate because I got engaged in college, which is a whole nother podcast.

But I had to deactivate because there. They’re built on very, very old rules. And that was from pre-war day rules. Right? So I believe that there is an opportunity for, whether it happens at the institutional level, or I honestly think that this is a massive business opportunity, where you create the sorority/fraternity alternative that allows for access to funding, you know, incubators, lots of mentorship. And when you get out of college, you now have these, whether they’re coworking spaces or they just are virtual or digital communities, you’re already bought into it and you’re ingrained in it. And you understand what it stands for.

There’s been so many, I mean, you see with like Girl Boss and The Wing and all these different communities pop up. They’re trying to acquire people later in the funnel. And I think that there’s an option to get somebody in the beginning. And, and grow with them. And so then initially as they start to have kids, you, you graduate into that next phase of whatever that looks like. But it needs to start at the college level, cause that’s when you just are exploring.

Like to me in a perfect world, if I was starting, this they’d have access to like, you know, if I was thinking specifically for women, and again, I know I’m talking to two men here, but like access to, you know, fertility education, like let’s talk about that you probably have a lot of questions around what the next 10 years of your life are gonna look like. Let’s talk about that.

Let’s talk about therapy. Let’s give you access to therapy. We all know that in college, you probably had your most tumultuous relationships where you had the most insane emotional swings cause you, like, the craziest shit happens in college. And so let’s give you access to therapists to like work through that stuff.

Let’s give you access to executive coaching to understand like, What kind of leader are you going to be? You don’t have to be a cookie-cutter leader. Like, let’s learn about you and formulate your leadership style. If you have an idea, let’s teach you what it means to take it from zero to one. How do we give you access? Do we bring speakers in?

But that can happen on a multi-campus level. And so that’s why I think like I would love for an institution to do it, but I just truly think it’s a massive business opportunity for someone.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: I’d go back to college for that.

(everyone laughs)

Amanda Goetz: If I wasn’t already starting a company, that’s what I would be doing.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: This has been absolutely amazing. Like I get, I go on for another hour, but I know you’ve got a million things to do, so, Amanda Goetz, thank you so much for being on the podcast. We really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today. And I know we got a lot out of it and I know our audience will. So do you have any, plugs, you know, where can people find you?

Amanda Goetz: I mean, yeah, if you are on Twitter, that is where I’m the most active, but you can follow me on Twitter, @AmandaMGoetz or Instagram, if you want to get more behind the scenes of my life as kind of a crazy mom right now, I’m with my three littles traveling around and going back to New York City, follow me on Instagram, which is just @GoetzAM, G-O-E-T-Z. And yeah, be on the lookout I’m starting a new company on the side and it’s around female empowerment. So be on the lookout.

Jon-Stephen Stansel: Can’t wait to hear about it.

Amanda Goetz: Awesome. Thanks guys.

Joel Goodman: Thank you so much for listening to the Thought Feeder podcast. We really appreciate your ears and your time. If you like listening to this podcast, please leave us a rating or review on Apple Podcasts, follow us on Spotify. Wherever you get your podcasts, we’re there. You can find us. I promise. If I break that promise, let me know, and I will try my best to fulfill it once again for you. We want to thank Amanda Goetz for being with us One more time. Thank you so much, Amanda. This was an excellent, amazing, and very helpful conversation.

Amanda Goetz: Thank you guys. That was awesome.


Thought Feeder is a production of University Insight.

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