Coffee Talk


Seth Godin’s new book, “This is Marketing” is full of as much gold as his previous work. (If you are not already subscribing to his daily blog, do so now!)

Within the first 30 pages, Seth tells readers that demographics are not the full picture. We need to be paying attention to psychographics. He is singing my song! Seth writes, “Begin by choosing people based on what they dream of, believe, and want, not based on what they look like. In other words, use psychographics instead of demographics.” He goes on, “Everyone has a problem, a desire, and a narrative. Who will you seek to serve?”

As I learn more about psychographics, and learn more from Seth Godin, I am evermore convinced that compassion and empathy are the keys to strong storytelling, marketing, and selling (yes, these are different things). And, as much as we may resist, enrollment management work encompasses these things. Perhaps it is slightly more comfortable to consider that we are meeting needs and addressing problems. This is true!

Schools are sometimes afraid to ask customers questions and rely on “gut” and anecdote to create strategy. Some of my favorite memories while working in schools are when I had coffee down the street with current parents. Sometimes we talked about school news, or their kids. Other times I heard their ideas for how to reach families in their neighborhood, or we discussed what they were doing over the upcoming school break. Every time, I learned something valuable about my customer, allowing me to tailor communication to them as well as predict values and needs of potential customers. By knowing what mattered to them, I could communicate about those topics more effectively, meeting their needs and solving their problems. The “wins” included better internal marketing, more specific outreach, higher engagement, plus it was fun and engaging for me personally.

As you think about research-informed strategy, do not be intimidated by complicated data. Think small. Who can you take to coffee this week?