Letters and emails.
Like it or not, those are usually the first bits of key communication that you will have with new recruits. They are usually the thing that kicks-off the recruiting process in most coaching offices when a new year starts, and its a big part of the equation we’ll be tackling in a few weeks in California as we present our popular "Building a Winning Recruiting Message" workshop for coaches who register to be a part of it.
The problem with most letters? They’re not getting read because they aren’t interesting to the reader – remember, your prospects are teenagers! That’s a tough market to crack when it comes to capturing their attention and getting them to pay attention to what you’re saying (as you probably already know). And if you’ve read our special report, "Inside the Mind of Your College Prospect", you know the drastic drop-off in your mail getting opened and read by those prospects, as well as why that happens most of the time.
The secret to getting your letter open, and read? It all comes down to what’s in the letter.
No, not the number of bullet-points or stats you’ve crammed in to that 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of letterhead stationary. I’m talking about how you talk to them in your letter, and how it’s structured.
I have seven tips I want to share with you that any coach can use to really enhance your recruiting letters and e-mails. They work great…athletic departments we work with have started to use them over the past few months, and are realizing better results. See if any of them sound good to use in your recruiting letters:
BE SOMEBODY! In other words, coach, put your face and voice into the letter. Make the words connect with your reader. Take it out of the passive, formal text that normally comprises recruiting letters. Instead, make the words jump off the page by making it your voice that speaks to the reader. That "somebody" I want you to be is YOU!
TALK TO YOUR READER. Avoid "we" and "I". Instead, make sure your recruiting letter is packed with "you". One message that I try to get across to any coach I work with is that they don’t care about you, your program, or what’s important to you. They only care about themselves, and what makes them happy. Focus solely on their dreams and goals in your letters.
BE PERSONAL. Pretend you’re talking to a friend or fellow coach. What would you say? What would they say? What would you say back? Avoid wording like, "Here at State University, we pride ourselves in…" in favor of something like, "You know what’s really great about playing softball here at State?" Notice the difference? Make your letters personal and conversational.
IDENTIFY WITH YOUR PROSPECT. Let your recruit know that you’ve been there…you understand…you know what they’re going through. Connect with them at their level, and you’ll stand a greater chance of signing them.
PUT A FACE ON YOUR COMPETITION. Whenever you can, in a professional way, point out the short-comings of your competition. Compare your personal touch with their impersonal touch. Your commitment to the prospect’s future, compared with your competition who only seems concerned with forcing them to commit early. Bring your competition to life in a way that draws your prospect back to you.
PROVE EVERY POINT USING PERSONAL EXAMPLES. Listing all the great stuff about your program is weak and pointless if you can’t relate it back directly to your prospect, and their future. If you really want to make your point, get a quote from one of your current players that backs up the point you’re making. Your prospects respect (and listen to) their peers more than they’ll listen to you.
DON’T AFRAID TO GO OVERBOARD ONCE IN A WHILE. What do I mean by "overboard"? I mean an outrageously cocky, confident, self-serving statement. Something like, "Let me just tell you, I think we’re the best program in the West" or "I believe, with all my heart, that our athletes get the best college baseball experience of any program in the state." Don’t use them too much, but every once in a while is good. Athletes want to see that you’re confident and passionate about your program.
Try to put these first seven tips into practice right away…you’ll notice a difference!
The SFC Total Recruiting Solution plan can give you customized letters and email messages for you and your staff as a part of a long term recruiting strategy. Want to hear more about it? Email Dan Tudor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get an overview of this unique recruiting tool.