I’m helping a college coach develop his recruiting and marketing plan for the next year. It’s always interesting for me to sit down and work on a project like this with an experienced, successful coach. It’s interesting because this particular coach, and her staff, have been doing the same thing the same way for a long, long time. And lately, they’ve noticed that their recruiting letters aren’t as effective as they used to be.
How important is effective copywriting for college coaches? Extremely important. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about letters, brochures or e-mails. Great copywriting can be an essential part of a successful recruiting campaign.
Here are some of the recommendations I shared with the coach I’m working with. Can any of these tips help you be a more effective recruiter?
Send mail in different looking envelopes. I don’t usually open "junk mail" but the other day I received a letter and small brochure booklet in a clear, see-through envelope. It looked cool, I got a glimpse of what was inside, and I opened it. Getting mail opened is getting tougher and tougher, even if you’re a coach talking to an athlete about a possible scholarship. Another tip that a college I recently worked with is using: A personalized message on the outside of each envelope. They look great, and they’re getting opened. Be different, coach!
Ask a question at the beginning. Make it compelling. Make them think. And, most importantly, tie it in to a motivation that your prospect has on their mind. Getting their attention at the start of the letter or e-mail is crucial.
Use active verbs. At the risk of sounding like your high school English teacher, let me recommend that you use active verbs throughout any communication you have with athletes. How? Be eliminating the verbs "is", "are", "was", "were" and "am". For instance, if you’re talking about your program’s great graduation rates, don’t say "Our graduation rate for 2005 was 95%". "Was" is a no-no, remember. Instead, say "Our graduation rates soared to 95% in 2005." A minor detail? Yes. But, an important one. Using the right verbs keep your reader engaged. Using the wrong verbs will drive them away.
Use an active "voice". Kind of the same theory, except this applies to your overall message. Never write in the past tense. Write in the present, active tense. For example, "Our athletes had the chance to attend the bowl game last year" isn’t that exciting. Instead, how about "Our athletes attened the bowl game last year." See the difference? It’s subtle, but like using active verbs, it keeps your readers engaged
Writing effective recruiting letters isn’t easy, but it’s vital to your recruiting success.
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