sly : marketing

Open the Door and Invite Your Enemies Inside

I was tired, and I thought I heard the cat purr. But I didn’t. Looking in the mirror, seeing my messed up face, I started to think about a quote. “Know your enemy and know yourself and you will always be victorious” from The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I added toothpaste, and started brushing my teeth, and then another quote entered the bathroom. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, I believe I heard it while watching The Godfather part II. Now Michael Corleone was looking at my messed up face in the mirror. He was smiling, and finally, I was smiling.

What a brilliant idea!

I don’t have any enemies, but thinking of this quote, I got this brilliant idea for the college where I’m working.

Kids exploring colleges and universities

In Norway, kids in High Schools are always exploring colleges and universites at education expos. This is important, and it might be even crucial in order to get kids interested in higher education. And, it’s very important that as many colleges and universities have representatives attending the expos, because we really want kids to be more educated. We’re competing, but it’s not really a competition. We all want kids to get their education. It’s important for the county, it’s important for Norway. It’s important for the world and our species.

We’re attending several of the education expos, and we’re there along with all the other people from the other colleges and universities. And, we’re doing exactly what the other people are doing. We’re smiling, talking about why the kids should attend a college or a universtiy, and we’re whispering, pick us, pick us, and we’re giving them the best available information.

So far so good. This is how it’s been for a long time.

Open Sesame

Thinking about “keeping my enemies closer”, I thought that it was time to stand out from the crowd, doing it inbound marketing style.

We’ve been at the different education expos, and we’re still going to be at the expos in various parts of the country. But, after brushing my teeth, I contacted the company behind the expos and told them that we want “our own” expo. We want people to visit our college, even our “enemies”.

A long story turned into a a few sentences. We’ve started cooperating with the company behind the expos, and in January next year, we’ll have our own expo (for the whole county). The universities and colleges (our “enemies”) are going to be at campus, and all the kids from the High Schools in our county are going to be at our campus as well.

We’re going to show them why we’re remarkable

The thing is, we’re selling education. And, in Norway, I believe that most colleges and universities are close to identical. It really doesn’t matter which one you chose. They’re almost all public, and the quality of the education is close to identical. Standing out from the crowd is difficult. Hence, we need to grab every oportunity available to us.

Being inside our home is going to be awesome. You probably know this already, but we’re always more comfortable at home, and we’re a lot stronger inside our castle, and we’re more creative, and seeing us at home is very different than seeing us in a completely different place. At home, we got that extra glow.

We’re going to show the people who are representing the other colleges and universities that we’re remarkable, but more important, thousands of kids are going to visit our college and they’ll see that we’ve invited every university and college to help them make the best choice for their education.

I’m excited. In fact, I’m very excited.

39 responses to “Open the Door and Invite Your Enemies Inside”

  1. Adrienne says:

    Congratulations Jens on that fabulous idea!

    I think it sounds wonderful to me. I mean if most of the colleges are pretty much the same anyway then it’s the people that are going to make the difference and perhaps some of the other colleges can actually learn something from you all.

    I know with the videos and the blog you are putting together for your school that other kids are going to be able to relate and get a better sense of how the people are who are attending. I have a feeling it’s all going to go over very well.

    You have every reason to be excited. I can’t wait to hear how it all goes for you guys. January will be here before you know it.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      Thanks a lot.

      To me, the real difference when it comes to the colleges are where they are located. And, I’m not saying that there are no differences, but they are minimal. It’s not like Harvard vs a community college.

      So, people is very important, and being able to present (by using video) who we are and what we do. I’m looking forward to see what’s going to happen when we launch the blog and especially in January.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Wow, Jens, this is really interesting. If you think that your college is really the same as the others, how do you differentiate yourself? I like your idea of an Expo on your campus. Are the other universities in your county going to participate? It sure would be handy for local students.

    I imagine that you will definitely have an advantage over other universities by hosting the Expo. Brilliant! Will the Expo rotate between the different universities every year?

    Thanks for sharing your stroke of genius with us! 🙂

    • Jens says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      I’m hoping that all the major universities and colleges will attend the Expo on campus (everything is not ready yet). This will not rotate, it will be at our campus every single year. There are several Expos, but none at other campuses, they’re always in the large cities and not on the campuses. That’s why I’m especially excited about this 🙂

  3. Nitin Agrawal says:

    Hey Jens,, I think it’s wonderful idea. Having own Expo will definitely make difference in the system of education. Yes, this is very important to know How your college is different from others…
    Thanks for sharing such a knowledgeable information.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Nitin,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words. I’m very excited about this expo, and I believe it’s a fantastic oportunity to show all the high school students in our county what our college is all about 🙂

      Have a great weekend.

  4. Julie Hayes says:

    Hi Jens, I know a lot of kids are quite pressured when talking about higher education. Your expo will definitely boost their confidence in taking a step forward into an important phase of their life. The kids must feel that they belong to the university and feel that they are home.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Julie,

      I hope you’re right, and that our expo will boost their confidence. That’s our goal, and we really want to provide them with lots of valuable information in order for them to make the best decision possible for their future.

      Thanks a lot for your comment!

  5. john Falchetto says:

    I love the way you look at education as a product and as you say rightly ‘you sell education’. Inbound marketing is a powerful way to get the demand from the youth.
    As your awesome video showed us previously, you know how to do this, using end-users like students to speak about their experience.
    I am sure your Expo will be a success. Can’t wait to read the after action report 🙂

    • Jens says:

      Hey John,

      First, thanks a lot for sharing this post on G+. It’s awesome that you did.

      The students that are creating the videos are fantastic. They’re doing a great job. I can’t even begin to describe how lucky we are to have found the students.

      They’ll be creating a movie about the expo as well.

      I’ll keep you updated 🙂

  6. Bill Dorman says:

    And how excited are you?………….:)

    Get ’em on your own turf and half the battle is won; what a brilliant idea and way to pull it off. Since the universities are public I’m guessing the number of students impacts funding and of course funding impacts faculty.

    When you made the call did you also tell them you are a pretty big deal in the social media world? Did you tell them you knew me; feel free to do so if you think it will help……….doh………..

    Great story and way to be proactive to make it happen.

    • Jens says:

      Of course, I tell everybody that I know you, and you should see their faces when I do 😉

      Thanks a lot Bill. Getting them on our turf was very important. All the other universities and colleges are going to be there, and the students from high school are going to have an awesome time. January is going to be great!

      Have a fantastic weekend Bill.

  7. Jens says:

    Hi Jewel,

    Thanks a lot for your kind words. I hope you’re right 🙂


  8. Shawon says:

    Thanks a lot for share this concept. I agree with you,Every educated people have enforced of power. so as a marketing policy we run with students.

  9. Pam Sheraton says:

    Wouldn’t that be like having these open days at a particular university and college? Here in South Africa we have these open days where potential students go to the campus, mingle with the students learn more about student life and get used to the facilities on campus. But yeah, I never thought of it as inviting other universities on our own campus. What was the response rate from your ‘enemies’ regarding this?

    • Jens says:

      Hi Pam,

      Absolutely. It’s very similar to open days, other than that we are inviting all the other universities and colleges as well (It’s not us, but the company behind the expo). So far, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. It’s a win-win situation. Our “enemies” will get the chance to show off to future students that they wouldn’t talk to if they didn’t come to our campus. And, we get the chance to provide the best possible information to the students. And that’s what’s important to us.

      Have a great weekend Pam. And thanks a lot for you question.


  10. donna young says:

    This is like an old idea but given new life. This has been going on with companies like factories,industries, etc. Competitors visit each other’s territory and tries to learn from each other how to innovate their processes. That is a great way indeed to convince students why they should enroll in your school. It would even be better if the other schools would agree that you visit them so that you can gain ideas for innovation and get the edge.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Donna,

      You are absolutely right. This is an old idea. And, what you describe is probably the best solution for everybody. We shouldn’t just have these expos on neutral ground. They should be on campus. This way, the students will get more “information” about how life at a college or a university will be like. And that’s what we really want to communicate.

      Hopefully other colleges will follow in our footsteps 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your awesome comment.


  11. Eddie Gear says:

    I think that you have a USP and that is going to make it a success. Its all that matters,actually, you also need to sell for people to buy your idea.

  12. vhien says:

    In simpler thought, your article means…” befriend your enemies and get them in your sight as near as possible”. This is the easiest way to spy them and be able to compete with them equally. Very insightful thoughts about business competition.

  13. Nicole Scott says:

    I think that it is a great idea of having own Expo will definitely make difference in the system of education . And also this is very important to know that what is the difference between your college and the others.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Nicole,

      I can’t wait for the Expo, it’s going to be a wonderful experience. It will be a lot of work, but I think it will be worth it.



  14. Very interesting … I believe if you have enemies it’s because you stood up for something. But yes, keep them close and be one step ahead! Sounds very exciting!!

    • Jens says:

      It’s very exciting. I’m looking forward to the Expo, learning from our “enemies”, but most of all meeting all the high school students. That’s going to be awesome 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment Ameena.

  15. Jens, although I’ve been “lurking” and have seen your comments on other posts, this is the first time I’m commenting here. So I’m a first-timer at your place:)

    Education is near and dear to my heart. I’ve spent lots of time with young people making decisions about college and university, specifically those pursuing or seeking athletic scholarships. I know that the key defining moment often comes from the on-site visit. That’s when the student really makes up their mind as to which institution they will choose. There’s nothing like experiencing the campus, the faculty and all it has to offer first-hand.

    So bravo to you Jens! And I too will look forward to hearing how it all goes. (And BTW…we’re sort-of “neighbours” from way back. My background is Finnish ~ spoke Finn before English ~ and although I know the culture and language between Norway and Finland is different, I feel a geographic kinship) Cheers! Kaarina

    • Jens says:

      Hi Kaarina,

      I’ve seen you everywhere, especially at Bill’s place 🙂

      It’s awesome that you’re here. I can’t thank you enough, and you’re Finnish. Wow. I have never been to Finland, but I’m in Sweden many times each month (I live very close to the border). I don’t understand a word Finnish though, but I feel a geographic kinship as well.
      I remember visiting the campus of the university where I finally ended up. Visiting campus was very important, and I believe that this Expo will be very important for us. But, we need to do our best 🙂

      Happy Friday Kaarina.

  16. AstroGremlin says:

    Embracing your “enemies” aka competitors opens doors to the benefits of word of mouth and complimentary comments. They may not even realize they are doing it, but if your school has a strong program or facility, and your “enemies” know about it, their comments could steer students in your direction. Your plan sounds like a “trade show” where competitors line up side-by-side, and we know that works. Scenario: A student asks representative of a rival school about athletic facilities on your campus. “Um, not sure. But you should go and ask Jens. He’s right over there. I hear they have a great program.” It’s the same with my Do Follow blog. I don’t know everything so I point my links at people who do and encourage the truly wise to drop by and add information in a comment.

    • Jens says:

      Yes, we can compare the expo to blogs. Everytime I get a question about technology or iPhone, iPads, I send people to Carolyn’s blog Wonder of Tech. I don’t see her as a competitor at all. I learn a lot from her, and it’s a win-win situation. I actually don’t believe that we should look at our competitors as competitors, more like co-workers.

  17. olatoun-graceny says:

    Didn’t know you. Were into education too that is so cool. How did it go?.

  18. olatoun-graceny says:

    Oh okay all the best!…keep up the good works.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe: rss | email | twitter | +