Siloed Sponsor Information
As the nation’s premier, historically Black university, Howard University attracts many corporate sponsors. And perhaps no school attracts more sponsor interest than the Howard School of Business.
Pre-HubSpot, the School did not have a CRM or any form of centralized database. Instead, they were using individual spreadsheets and databases to manage corporate partners.
Dr. Yuvay Ferguson, Assistant Dean of Impact and Engagement for Howard University School of Business, explains:
“Companies were excited to engage with the School of Business, but they weren’t finding it easy. Without one formal process, there was a lack of consistency in how companies could engage with the school.”
No clear point of engagement
One issue was lack of a clear path to engage with the school, whether the prospective sponsor wanted to sponsor an event, set up a scholarship, make a donation, or recruit Howard University students.
Often, prospective sponsors would ask faculty members about opportunities to get involved, but faculty members didn’t have the answer—so inquiries were passed around.
“Those inquiries were like hot potatoes sometimes,” says Dr. Ferguson. “They would just get tossed to the next person.”
Inevitably, without a clear process, some of these inquiries fell through the cracks.
Disconnect among departments
Even when sponsors were actively engaging with one area of the School, their involvement wasn’t always evident to other parts of the School, which left the sponsor feeling disconnected.
“A company might sponsor something in the finance department while also talking to our executive education department about professional development opportunities,” explains Dr. Ferguson. “Each department would be blind to the other conversation.”
Managing with spreadsheets
At the heart of these issues was the School of Business' manual, decentralized process for managing its corporate sponsors.
Every department chair and center director—and even some individual faculty members—had their own system for keeping track of sponsors, usually using Excel spreadsheets.
As a result, communication with sponsors was also inconsistent, with no overarching strategy.
Consolidating on the HubSpot CRM Platform
By chance, the SVP of Business Development at HubSpot was a Howard University alum, and he introduced Dr. Ferguson and her team to the HubSpot CRM Platform.
“HubSpot is powerful enough to make a real impact, but not so burdensome that you’re going to get frustrated and kick it to the curb,” says Dr. Ferguson. “It occupies the middle ground, which is really important in a space like academia.”
Support with implementation
Dr. Ferguson was thrilled with the support she received from her HubSpot reps.
“Our sales rep, Michael, was amazing,” says Dr. Ferguson. “And Lena, our onboarding rep, answered our questions—and if she didn’t know the answer immediately, she went and figured it out.”
With the help of these HubSpot reps, the School of Business took all the databases and spreadsheets from relevant stakeholders across the School and consolidated them onto the HubSpot CRM Platform.
One point of entry
Today, when prospective sponsors express an interest in engaging with the School of Business, the process is clear. The School created a form in HubSpot for its website where prospective sponsors can register to attend a regularly scheduled information session about opportunities to engage with the School.
“Companies know exactly how to engage with us now. Having that central point of intake has been amazing for us,” says Dr. Ferguson.
The School also used the HubSpot CRM Platform to create a form on its website where potential corporate sponsors could indicate their interest in cultivating relationships with students for future career opportunities. The School used the data collected from the forms to create contact groups and nurture this expression of interest through email campaigns.
The career partner program was a huge success.
“The program was at capacity within two weeks. We raised over $100,000 for the Center for Career Excellence through our career partnerships [between 2021-2022],” says LaToya.
Central contact record
With the HubSpot CRM Platform, the School now has a central contact record that includes all communications with prospective sponsors, regardless of which stakeholder is having the conversation.
“Today, we have accurate, complete information that’s centralized and available to anyone with authorization,” says Dr. Ferguson. “If we ever wonder, ‘Who was talking to company XYZ?’ we can simply search HubSpot and find out.”
With all contacts centrally managed on one platform, the School is much more consistent in its engagement outreach, which is helping re-engage dormant contacts.
For example, one company partnered with the School on professional development in the past but struggled to navigate the School’s processes. Consequently, they disengaged. Once they started receiving regular communications from the School, they were motivated to engage again.
“They were so impressed with the amount of contact they were receiving from us, they asked for a meeting,” says Dr. Ferguson. “Now, they’re reengaged and happy to be onboard as a corporate partner of Howard University’s School of Business with our new communication strategy in place.”
Time-savings with templates and workflows
Marketing Hub’s workflows and templates make it easy for the School to send out communications to sponsors on a consistent basis.
“Workflows and templates save us so much time,” says LaToya Turner, Program Coordinator at the Howard University School of Business Center for Career Excellence. “It’s also easy to clone existing emails, change a few things, and then set up new workflows, as opposed to starting from scratch each time.”
As an example, LaToya used email communications to invite 120 current School of Business sponsors to register for a career fair. Unlike previous years, all of the sponsors registered by the deadline, thereby avoiding last minute chaos.
Dr. Ferguson and LaToya are also big fans of HubSpot’s Outlook integration. With this integration, they can easily add or update contact information in the HubSpot CRM contact record—all from their email.
They can also log emails sent from Outlook in the HubSpot CRM Platform with just one click as well as track opens and clicks in real time.
“We receive a large number of emails daily from companies that want to engage with our school,” says LaToya. “It’s a huge time saver to be able to add them as a contact in HubSpot with the Outlook extension.”
HubSpot in the classroom
As further testament to the faith the School of Business has in the HubSpot CRM Platform, many faculty members use it as a teaching tool in the classroom.
“Several marketing classes provide our students with HubSpot certification,” says Dr. Ferguson. “And the HubSpot Academy is also used as a resource in multiple classes.
In fact, HubSpot is itself a close partner of the Howard University School of Business.
“HubSpot is an active participant in our ‘marketing for startups’ class among other things,” says LaToya. “It’s a 360-degree relationship that’s been a real success for everyone.”
Strong Corporate Engagement
With the HubSpot CRM Platform in place, the Howard University School of Business is engaging with corporate sponsors like never before and building even stronger relationships as a result.
In fact, the partnership with HubSpot has been such a success, Dr. Ferguson predicts that other Howard University schools will follow.
“The School of Business tends to lead our other schools when it comes to corporate engagement, so I’m hopeful we’ll become the go-to model. And, in fact, we’re already seeing interest in learning about the system from other schools and departments on our campus.”