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Tessellati Blog

Spontaneous Learning: The Debate Over In-Office or Remote Work

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Jan 18, 2024 5:30:00 AM

I need this couch moved to our second floor sitting area. Clearly this is going to take both of us working in tandem. 

“You want to go up first?” You ask. 

“Sure,” I say. 

I reach for the bottom and the side. You find your handholds as well. We lift in unison. 

I need to adjust my grip as I navigate the first stair. You feel the couch shift and adjust accordingly. We make eye contact over the bulky thing and nod to each other. We are innovating as we climb and adapt to the shift in weight and the angle of the couch with each step. 

Innovating together in real time. Communicating with words and body language. Collaborating on our way to achieving our goal. 

I have to give credit to my friend and colleague Dr. Michael Mascolo, Professor of Psychology at Merrimack College for this metaphor I’m employing. During a recent conversation with Mike, I was making observations about the debate over remote vs. in-office collaboration. We’ve all seen it: the loss of innovation and spontaneous learning when the whole team is working remotely. 

As much as we want to leave the commute behind, put a quick load of laundry in after the 9:30am Zoom call is done, even bake a banana bread mid-day, because, why not? Look, I’ve been running virtual teams since 1993 (mmm hmmm, that’s when I started consulting, dinosaur that I am). The power and efficiency of remote work is undeniable. 

And yet, and yet…also undeniable is the loss of opportunity for us to learn from each other (even at my dinosauric age, I am learning from the team here). What we all need is much, much more face-to-face interaction – from the fresh graduates entering the workforce to those with decades of experience. We grow and learn together in different ways. We innovate in real time. 

Over the past few years, we’ve been growing significantly here at Tessellati. More universities, healthcare providers, rising edtechs, nonprofits, and more have been tapping our expertise. So, we’ve been hiring more talent. The talent market has shifted and there are a lot of folks looking for greener pastures right now. 

Read on for a bit of perspective that I am surprised far too few current job applicants seem to grasp... 

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Topics: Intrapreneurship

What’s Your Recruiting Superpower?

Posted by Ben Waxman and Reina Sekiguchi Posted on Jan 18, 2024 5:30:00 AM

A serious question for you: what should your recruitment team and The Avengers have in common? 

We hope your answer isn’t fashion sense, although if you’ve been wearing capes to any student fairs recently, that’s certainly one way to attract attention! 

The Avengers know the secret to a powerful team: skill diversity. As you build your own roster of recruitment superheroes, it is important to consider the specific “superpowers” needed to be effective at each stage  of the recruitment funnel. And yes, each stage is different. Ensuring that you have the right staff member in the right place at the right time will be paramount to achieving your enrollment goals. 

So, what are these superpowers, you ask? 

We’ve created a helpful infographic to guide you through team roles and needed skills at each stage of the funnel. Use it to assess your own team structure and identify areas for professional development. Keep this funnel in mind as you draft job descriptions and make hiring decisions and remember to consider both the hard and soft skills new team members may bring to the table. 

Avengers assemble! And read on… 

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Topics: Higher Education, Incremental Innovation

How to Say ‘No’ to Ideas That Aren’t Good Enough

Posted by Ben Waxman and Reina Sekiguchi Posted on Jan 17, 2024 3:33:00 PM

When you need to focus on initiatives that will produce results and  justify that budget, these are the 5 questions you must ask. Because not every idea is great.  

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Topics: Intrapreneurship

Do You Understand You?

Posted by Ben Waxman and Reina Sekiguchi Posted on Jan 5, 2024 3:42:00 PM

How well can you talk about you? 

Quick! Give us your institution’s elevator pitch! Easy, right? 

What if the other person in the elevator is a 28-year-old from Milwaukee? Now a 17-year-old from Miami. Now you’re in an elevator in Shanghai. How about Mumbai? Ho Chi Minh City? Bogotá? 

If you’re a rep covering one of these places, chances are you’re well-practiced at spinning up your strongest differentiators for your given audience. But for marketing staff and administrators looking at the big picture, understanding each of your target markets gets a little harder. We know, that whole “only-24-hours-in-a-day” thing makes it difficult to keep up with the entire global student population. 

Your institution’s journey to effective messaging begins and ends with an understanding of who you are. 

Now before you spiral into an existential crisis, remember: as marketers, we’ve been leading these journeys of self-discovery for a long time. Read on for (some) of our secrets to understanding and communicating your value, no Eat Pray Love  required. 

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Topics: Intrapreneurship

So That’s Your Strategy

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Dec 27, 2023 5:30:00 AM

People look smart when they reference strategy. It elevates any discussion to greater importance as soon as the word strategy enters. Often, it gets others in the room thinking, “Right, maybe I’m not thinking about this strategically.” Followed by the thought, “What exactly would a strategic version of this discussion look like?” 

The idea of strategy is often misunderstood. I fully admit, it really can be difficult. I can’t tell you how many discussions I’ve been in where people describe their tactical execution plan as the strategy.  

A simple example of why folks get confused, and I’ll use what we know best, the world of marketing: Your marketing strategy requires great marketing content. Content is a tactic you will employ to achieve your strategic goal. Yet, you will need a content strategy to be successful. So, content is not a tactic. It is a strategy, right? No, it is a tactic in this scenario. A tactic that needs its own strategy. 

Oy vey. 

Our team, of course, lives in the world of marketing strategy, planning, and execution. Here we share some insights into how to simplify the discussion and confirm when you are employing a strategy vs. discussing the tactical execution of any given initiative. 

Read on and maybe we can shed some light on how to actually besmart in the discussion, not just look smart. 

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Topics: Intrapreneurship

Release Your Global Entrepreneur Spirit

Posted by Ben Waxman & Carrie Bishop Posted on Dec 20, 2023 5:32:00 AM

Those of us with an entrepreneurial spirit and a global network typically see things others don’t. In our view, the entrepreneur mindset is an asset, and yet…and yet, if only those in control of the purse understood what we understand about global markets and audience motivations.  

The opportunities are there for many of our clients. The need is growing increasingly intense as revenue sources, particularly in education and healthcare sectors, are threatened or declining. The Tessellati team shares your entrepreneurial enthusiasm and we are here to offer the insights that help you succeed. It’s one reason we connect so well with our colleagues like you.    

Now, if only there were an easy way to satisfy your global entrepreneurial instinct while demonstrating recruitment success in such a way as to unequivocally justify your funding requests and get the programs you envision started and growing.   

The simple truth: the root of successful international marketing lies in understanding your target markets, connecting with them, and effectively managing them over time. It has to do with simply doing the work as opposed to finding some magical online tool that suddenly produces all the enrollments you ever wanted. (Note the word magical in that last sentence). 

To DO the work, you’ll need to take a deep dive into the macro- and micro-economics of what drives customer interest. Sounds more complicated than it is.   

If you’ve been working with us, then you know we’ve been helping institutions like yours find global marketing success for a very long time. Our multi-cultural marketing team, our bandwidth, and the tech systems in place bring focus and produce macro and micro level insights. Oh, and meaningful results.  

Our work takes a load off our in-house counterparts who, like you, are being asked to over deliver while being chronically underfunded (and understaffed). We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, including three common mistakes that will derail any international marketing program. Avoid these at all costs. Read on… 

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Topics: Intrapreneurship

Would You Like Some Feedback?

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Dec 13, 2023 5:30:00 AM

Sometimes feedback is well received. Other times, not. Leaders see feedback as invaluable. 

Leaders come in all forms. Some of us lead organizations, others departments, others a single project. Being a leader has to do with taking ownership of the vision or reason for the work, the people, the process, and the results. 

And being a leader has everything to do with the learning. The analysis before, during, and after. And that has a lot to do with feedback. Receptivity to feedback, even when unsolicited is truly important. These are the learning moments with value for those willing to step into a leadership role; a role that requires humility and listening along with confidence and daring. 

Read on for a few quick and helpful insights that just may help you take a fresh view of the feedback you are likely getting all the time. There are more gems coming your way than you may realize. Plus, our closing link will bring a smile to your day. 

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Topics: Behavior Change

7 Steps to Shift Your Marketing Culture & Achieve Your Strategy

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Dec 6, 2023 5:30:00 AM

We’ve all heard about how company culture eats company strategy for lunch, yeah? People are everything. How we achieve our strategic differentiation and meet our institutional goals really comes down to the team we have to do the work (the team that creates and delivers the product). 

An interesting observation here: within any industry, organizations really are all the same, right?  

Sure, there are categorical differences: think 2-year vs 4-year in higher ed, community vs specialty hospital in healthcare – but these categorizations, when you get down to it, are not that significant, right? They are all ultimately producing the same thing in the same ways in the end. 

Raising an eyebrow? You should be. Yet, you know there are marketers out there – perhaps even among your circles – who see marketing as rinse and repeat, cookie cutter stuff that simply requires you to replace one logo with another and voila, new campaign.  

These cynical marketers will tell you the standard storyline is this: 

  • We really care about you and your family. 
  • We have fabulous faculty/staff/nurses/surgeons/tech. 
  • You will get the results you want. 

Those ideas can be delivered with a whole bunch of hype and glitz. Fancy videos presented with digital ad campaigns. You know the drill. 

And if this is all you have, your institution truly is just like all the others and your marketing plan truly is the type of thing that allows a marketing agency to take one institution’s marketing plan, swap out the logo, and Boom! There’s a fresh marketing plan. Ugh. 

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Topics: Incremental Innovation

Rinse and Repeat is Not the Answer

Posted by Ben Waxman & Carrie Bishop Posted on Nov 29, 2023 5:30:00 AM

Every CFO’s dilemma: how much discounting do we have to do to fill our classes?

But before you get there, it is the Enrollment Management team’s job to answer a few other questions:

  1. To whom do we market? (this takes us from suspect to application)
  2. Whom do we accept? (this takes us from applicant to accepted pool)
  3. And now we turn to the CFO and financial aid team to answer, “How much do we award them?” (this takes us from accepted to tuition-paying)
The Tessellati team is hyper-focused on question number 1 in ways that others in the student marketing world seem to miss or oversimplify. Zip code and IPEDS analyses will tell you that there are roughly 250K families in the US able to afford tuition bills of $30K or more. And that pool is shrinking as theChronicle of Higher Edand industry analysts consistently remind us. The fear of 2025 is growing! 

Private institutions have faced, and will continue to face, a world of trouble in the years ahead. If you are not clear about what makes your institution highly valuable to your target audience (and no, the answer is not, “we provide a personalized level of attention to our students”), then your classrooms and dorms are going to look sparser. Those doubles you converted to triples will be double again. 

And for other institutions, those with lower price points, there are significant headwinds in terms of how students and parents are evaluating your value as well. Competition will continue to grow. 

With this post we share our concern, and it should be yours as well, that the marketing agencies offering enrollment/recruitment services for so many institutions are taking their marketing plans from their most recent client and applying them to the next one that comes in the door. 

Literally, some of them are simply slapping your logo on the marketing plan they delivered to the client that came before you and selling it to you as something unique and fresh. They are that  cynical about their own work and what you are doing on your campus. 🙄 

Read on for tips on how to frame the pertinent questions and approach the answers for your institution. While the framework has common elements for all, the resulting marketing plan must be different based on your specific institution type, location, ranking and academic strengths, tuition, culture, etc. 

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Topics: Higher Education, Incremental Innovation

Tactical Vs. Strategic Thinking

Posted by Ben Waxman Posted on Jul 16, 2019 3:00:00 PM

In our prior blog, we hit the road towards our strategic destination fueled by the proper tactics to keep us on the right track. While strategy and tactics are required to make the trip, they are also very different tools.

Tactical thinking vs. strategic thinking is similar to “which comes first, the chicken or the egg”. One cannot exist without

the other. A strategy needs to be in place before you can determine the ideal tactics to achieve your goal. By the same token, your goal may not be achieved unless you employ the proper tactics. They are different and essential tools to employ in every short and long term business plan.

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Topics: Incremental Innovation

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This is where business analytics shape artful marketing. In marketing, it's about insight, industry expertise and team dynamic. We take the time to ask the right questions and listen (really listen) to the answers. 

This blog consistently offers insights based on our research and work in the marketing field. We share our local and global marketing initiatives, from strategy to execution, run by an exceedingly thoughtful and talented team. Engaging creative design is built in.

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