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January 6

Talk Less, Listen More: The Story Behind the “Heroes Made Here”


New to higher ed marketing? Not a problem! See how the successful “Heroes Made Here” campaign was created by someone coming from healthcare to higher education.

Switching careers is never easy, but with what we’re seeing in today’s volatile job market, lots of people are doing it!

There are some advantages to being in the higher ed space for a long time.

However, there are also some great advantages for people who are crossing over to higher ed marketing from other fields.

If that’s you, I hope you’ll be encouraged by today’s post as we explore the story behind Loma Linda University’s successful “Heroes Made Here” campaign.

Anna-Maja Dahlgren, Director of University Marketing at Loma Linda University, began her career in healthcare before transitioning to higher ed.

My co-host, Troy Singer, and I were able to interview her about her incredible journey on The Higher Ed Marketer podcast, and I’d like to share it with you here.

Hungry to Learn

Like most people, Anna-Maja didn’t decide to switch careers because of the great opportunities in higher education.

Life happened.

If anyone is interested in making a shift from healthcare into higher ed or any other industry for that matter, I highly recommend it. I am a continuous learner. I love learning new things.

I got to a point where I really wanted to challenge myself and it happened also at that time that my mom ended up with a TIA, and for health reasons or for her health reasons, I decided I wanted to move closer to her. 

I ended up applying to Loma Linda University – for their open position for a director at the university. It’s been an incredible journey – I’ve learned so much.

What stood out to me here is Anna-Maja’s love of learning and challenge.

When her mother’s diagnosis meant she had to move, she didn’t stay in the same field.

She decided to roll with the punches and look for ways to expand her skills and experiences.

This characteristic is critical for higher ed marketing success.

Even if you’ve been in higher ed marketing for 20 years, you’ve got to keep that hunger for learning alive.

Embrace Change

Another characteristic that helped Anna-Maja find success in higher ed marketing was the ability to embrace change.

I know this is easier said than done, but it’s important for us to recognize when a process is fundamentally different from what we’ve been used to.

And that’s exactly what Anna-Maja did when she settled into her new role as a higher ed marketer.

The interesting thing about higher ed that is different from healthcare is that it’s harder. You have longer lead times on the conversion from the time somebody expresses interest. 

You’re actually doing a sales process, which is different from healthcare. The customer is going to give you a “down payment” on their education in that they’re giving you a tuition payment. So I drew on my sales background from years ago [and applied it to higher ed marketing]. 

I actually love how I’m able to really bring my whole marketing communications and sales experience full circle here.

Talk less. Listen more.

One of the many advantages of switching careers is that you don’t think of yourself as the expert.

You’re just getting into this space, and if you’re wise, you’ll do a lot of listening.

That’s what Anna-Maja did, and it produced the first campaign in Loma Linda University’s 115-year history, the “Heroes Made Here” campaign.

As I think back on all the things that I’ve ever done in my life, it has prepared me for this. And it may not necessarily be some marketing experience, or something related to my job. In fact, one of the skills that I draw upon here is [something I learned in a series of mindfulness trainings called] deep listening. 

I was very committed to listening to the executives while I was doing my initial discovery period to understand what the problems were so that I could come back and give some practical advice. 

The executives were telling me, “We need a branding campaign.” And my marketing mind is like, “No, we don’t need to make a branding campaign yet.” We need to fix the website, we need to fix the intake process, the RFI form and how we’re converting leads and all of that! 

But my listening led me to a compromise. And so that compromise turned out to be a campaign called “Heroes Made Here” that we took to market. 

When it comes to marketing leadership roles, it pays to speak less and listen more.

It was this commitment to listening that led to a compromise between Anna-Maja and her executive leadership.

That compromise resulted in the “Heroes Made Here” campaign.

All of us come into our jobs with great ideas.

Sometimes, we get so wrapped up with our own ideas that we don’t take the time to listen to our executive team, teammates, students, and other stakeholders. When you’re in that place of not listening, you can lose opportunities around you just waiting to be discovered.

Discover more when you listen to the podcast!

Like all of our blog post reviews of The Higher Ed Marketer podcasts, there’s so much more to learn in the podcasts themselves.

Listen to our interview with Anna-Maja Dahlgren to get even more insights into:

  • Creating a higher ed marketing team from scratch
  • How the “Heroes Made Here” campaign came about
  • Why it’s important to talk less and listen more


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Images via llu.edu

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