#EMPSummit: Recapping Spectrum’s first annual EMP Summit

On July 17th and 18th, admissions professionals from 16 states joined the Spectrum team to discuss enrollment insights and higher education strategies at the 2014 Spectrum EMP Summit in Poughkeepsie, New York.

A truly valuable event for everyone in attendance, the Summit provided the Spectrum  team the opportunity for a face-to-face forum to explore new features and advanced user practices for our clients using the higher ed admissions CRM—EMP. The forums offered a fertile ground for dialog and perspective from our clients to share their insights on how they apply our enrollment tools in unique and effective ways.

In case you missed it, or you just wanted to revisit some key conference moments, we’ve compiled a list of some key takeaways. In keeping with the collaborative nature of the Summit, we invite clients and attendees to share their own experiences and highlights in the comment section of this post. And now, on to the Summit:


Power User Session with Suzanne Sharp

Changing the way you do things isn’t ever easy, but it’s always worth it.

Suzanne Sharp, former Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management at Stephens College (and now Senior VP for Higher Education Solutions with Spectrum) shared her thoughts on what it means to be an EMP “Power User” at the Summit. Her main message was that the more you use a system, the more you get out of it. The aggressive pace at which Stephens adopted and incorporated the complete EMP system helped her team transform admissions processes  that can often stymy productivity and reduce team coordination. Their approach led to a tremendously successful enrollment cycle, both in terms of yield and budget.

She elaborated that adapting workflows and processes within Spectrum’s higher ed CRM helps develop true “Power Users” within the team. Once a team can fully commit and make the “leap of faith” to integrating the system as a keystone in admissions outreach, it makes everything else easier, from team coordination to year-over-year goal-setting.

Suzanne recognized that the field of higher education can be hamstrung by slow adoption of new technology, but stressed that users should welcome the change, take it as a challenge, and focus on succeeding through exploring and experimenting with how a new software system can enhance a school’s entire recruitment strategy.

Incentivizing Student Content Creation with Montana Tech

Bite into video

The importance of video was touched upon multiple times over the two days; first from the Welcome presentation by Spectrum CEO Scott Mallen and Suzanne Sharp, and then from our partners at Montana Tech.

Content is king in marketing, and especially in higher education, where finding rich content can frequently require a good amount drilling on the part of the student-to-be. The competition is tougher than ever, so it’s vital that each school offers high quality content that is relevant and stands above the rest to attract students. To keep on top of current trends, Scott suggested schools produce attractive and memorable videos that are targeted to niche markets. He suggested that each club, major, and sport create videos that are shown to prospective students as a way to enhance the specific relevance to interested students.

Last year Montana Tech offered a YouTube video contest to generate admission videos and saw great success. By incentivizing students with $20,000 in creative scholarship money, they were able to collect well-produced videos presenting an authentic student voice that highlighted activities including athletics, clubs, outdoor rec, and academic departments. The videos are now used in their admissions office as relevant content to show prospective students. Here are a few examples from Montana Tech’s video experiment:

Examples of Montana Tech’s student produced marketing videos:

Aligning Marketing and Admissions Departments in Higher Ed with Erskine College

It’s worth your time to invest in collaboration

Marketing Communications Manager Lori Ramey and Director of Institutional Admissions Tobe Frierson at Erskine College delivered a wonderful presentation on how collaboration between marketing and admissions staff is essential to every successful college recruitment process. Following a desire to create “one front door” for incoming students by aligning messages being sent from both marketing and admissions, Erskine was able enhance messaging cohesion and effectiveness for the 2014 enrollment year. Here are some key takeaways from the presentation:

  1. You can’t afford not to collaborate. Build a bridge if it does not yet exist and it will make a difference.
  2. Make time for collaboration in developing a shared marketing strategy.
  3. Your core business is what should command the attention of the departments.
  4. Constant feedback is the only way to make things work in Admissions offices.

Branding Strategies for Colleges with esteemed designer Jason Davis

Define yourself or risk being defined

Seasoned branding veteran Jason Davis covered the evolving role of branding in higher education and inspired all conference members to take a step back and consider the importance of branding to each institution. Davis states that “… a brand is more than a viewbook that gets mailed out—it’s what your prospects see, what they hear, it’s what happens behind the scenes, and it’s the way your customers are interacting with the organization.”

A quality brand provides a quality experience for your current student body as well as helps maintain the relationship with the students after graduation, and is vital to the success of any institution. Davis closes with the statement “take chances, have fun, encourage communication, keep active and just go with it.”


For those who were attendance – what were your favorite moments from the EMP Summit? It was a pleasure meeting and spending time with all of our guests and we hope to see you all soon! For those of you who were unable to join us we’d be more than happy to chat with you or answer any questions you may have.