Dan Tudor

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The 1-Second Super Bowl Beer CommercialMonday, February 23rd, 2009

I preach it regularly.

Get to the point with simplicity and brevity.  In your letters, in your emails, and even in your phone conversations with recruits, I’m begging you to be brief, Coach.

When we produce Total Recruiting Solution plans for coaches that include creative communications for their prospects, we try to keep it as brief and as to-the-point as possible.  And it works…our clients get amazing responses. 

The secret is to keep it brief.

Miller High Life 1-Second AdWant proof?

Take a look at the now infamous Miller High Life 1-second beer commercial that aired during the Super Bowl.  Click here (and don’t blink…you’ll miss it!).

While their competitors spent more than $3-million dollars for their 30-second Super Bowl spots, Miller High Life took the opposite approach.  "Paying $3 million for a 30-second commercial makes as much sense as putting sauerkraut on a donut," said a spokesman from the brewer.

So, did short and simple work?  Oh, you bet it did!

This week, the Miller High Life beer announced that they have seen sales jump 8.6% since the the ad appeared.

Stop and soak in that stat, Coach.  They went to an extreme, aired an economical 1-second commercial, and are relishing the results…big time!  Millions and millions of dollars of great results.  

Why?  That’s where it gets interesting, and where the lessons in the success of the 1-second beer ad lies for college recruiters.

  • This society, and this new generation, shorter is better.  They take in messages best when those messages are in "bite sized chuncks". 
  • It’s a different type of delivery.  Different is better, and a 1-second ad is certainly different.
  • "Different" gets attention.  In our study we conducted with several hundred high school prospects, the majority agreed that they would react to a different looking and different sounding message.  Are your letters and emails "different" than everyone else’s messages?
  • They want you to "get to the point".  This generation of athlete wants you to stop beating around the bush and get to the point.  Make it simple. 

I can’t say it any other way.

Keep it short, keep it simple.

Want more help in developing your message and simplifying your program’s story to recruits?  Visit www.SellingForCoaches.com and see if our Total Recruiting Solution program, or an On-Campus Workshop, might be the jump-start you need to get more out of your recruiting this upcoming year.  Or, call SFC and talk to Dan at 866.944.6732 (866.94.GO.SFC). 

The Secret Art of Communicating Team RolesMonday, February 23rd, 2009

Mandy Green, Selling for CoachesI have been receiving a lot of feedback from our Premium Member coaches lately who get the feeling they are not firing on all cylinders.  Many have told me that their recruits are not turning out how they thought they would and are transferring out after a year or two because the experience was not what they thought it was going to be. 

My question to each of these coaches has been, “How up-front and clear are you with what you see the recruit’s role being on your team, what you expect from them, and what they should expect from you while playing for your program? 

As a coach, you should want to be able to convey to your recruit early and often what it is going to mean to be a part of your program, the purpose for them to be there, and what it will require in terms of their commitment.  

Surprisingly, not every college coach is clear about what a recruit’s role will be once they are a part of the program.  Not surprisingly, these are the coaches who are not getting what they thought they would from the recruits they signed.  

When I see a team is performing at its best in my role as a Team Development Specialist at Selling for Coaches, I usually find that each team member has clear responsibilities that have been communicated to them. Just as importantly, you’ll usually see that every role needed to achieve the team’s goal is being performed fully and well.  Your team’s success is highly dependant on each and every player accepting their roles, and executing them. 

If a recruit has been made aware of what their potential role will be, and then accepts it and embraces the possibilities, it will almost always result in these recruits being successful with the opportunity that you can provide for them. 
Team rolesReasons for Role Descriptions

Role descriptions are an essential part of managing the work of any program. Use them to do the following:

• Provide meaning for players, staff, and recruits so that they know why their job exists, and understand the value the work they do while being apart of the program.

• Providing roles gives a set of clear expectations, so that you can manage performance in line with these expectations.

• Give a clear sense of priorities, so that they know what to concentrate on and what not to waste time on.

• It can help in recruiting future players for your program.

Where to Start

To begin writing a role description for your recruits or for your team, you’ll need to gather data. The following are common sources of information:

• The Vision statement for your program

• Interviews with athletes currently in the positions you are recruiting for.

• Performance criteria and goals for the position.

• Purpose of the position.

• Key results and success factors for the position. 

The role description is a meaningful framework for managing performance expectations, evaluating people, and giving feedback.  It’s important to write role descriptions that are relevant and that include the major functions and purpose of each position. If done well, the role description will answer these questions: "Why is this role important?"; "What are my key responsibilities and priorities?” and "What are my critical success factors?"

A strong, effective role description is not just a list of specific duties and tasks. It is a description of what you expect from the recruit both on and off the playing field, it identifies key areas of foreseeable responsibility, and the associated critical success factors of the position you are recruiting this person for.  Describing to the recruit the role you see them filling within your program will give them purpose, will give them a sense of ownership.  And, most importantly, it will build a connection between the recruit and your program. 

By creating thoughtful role descriptions, you’ll have a document that can be used for planning, recruiting, for evaluating individual performance, and for improving your programs organizational efficiency. This will definitely be worthwhile for all involved.

Mandy Brown is the Team Development Specialist at Selling for Coaches, using her years as a successful college soccer coach and sports psychology expert to help today’s college coach with maximizing their team’s performance on and off the field.  To ask Mandy questions, email her at mandy@sellingforcoaches.com and visit www.sellingforcoaches.com to get information on bringing Mandy and the SFC recruiting experts to work with your program on your campus.

Big Ten Coaching Staff Graduates from Excel Tracking Sheets to a Big-Time Software SolutionMonday, February 23rd, 2009

Annie Zinkavich, Penn State University“When I first started working at Penn State three years ago, we were using Excel spreadsheets to keep track of who emailed who, did they respond, what did they respond, where did we see them…and it was a disaster”, says Annie Zinkavich, Field Hockey assistant coach at PSU.  “I was looking for an easy to use software that would help us get organized and help us stay on top of our communications.”

That’s when Zinkavich decided to find out what all the buzz was about and looked into Front Rush for managing their recruit database, recruiting emails, communicating with their team, contacting their player’s parents, staying in touch with alumni, and distributing booster club publications and information.
Besides helping her get organized, she also found other reasons to sign-on with Front Rush. 

  • The ease of use is important to her and the other staff at Penn State. 
  • The interface is simple and straight-forward with everything you need easily accessible. 
  • Also, the cost of Front Rush was a big selling point for them.  Front Rush is very reasonably priced as compared to other similar software, according to Zinkavich. 
  • The technical support is great.  They respond to emails and phone calls the same day if possible for any technical questions that they might have. 
  • Front Rush hosts online webinars about twice a month to go over the basics or new feature that they have added for their growing list of users. 

“Front Rush is also very open to suggestions", adds Zinkavich.  "If there is something that you want added or if you have ideas on how to improve Front Rush in any way, they always listen to what you have to say and try to incorporate it into their updates.”

All of these reasons have saved Penn State University time and money.  This helps them to focus on the more pressing aspects of their program, such as defending their 2008 Big Ten Championship title.
“We are really happy with our decision to use Front Rush,” says Zinkavich. “Their product has exceeded our expectations.”

Can Playing “Tag” Make You a Better Coach?Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Brett Reed, Lehigh Basketball“Dartfish has been VERY instrumental in our team’s success.”

Those were the first words Lehigh University’s men’s basketball head coach Brett Reed said when asked about Dartfish, the technology software that is sweeping across college campuses. Their program has used the video analysis software for several years to help with the critical and time consuming job of advanced scouting, as well as for their practices. This has allowed their basketball program to operate more effectively and far more efficiently, at a reasonable cost to their budget.

The “tagging” mode has been the most used by Coach Reed and his staff. They receive a number of games on their opponents and then review/analyze those films to find out more about their opponents’ offensive sets, player tendencies and defensive schemes. The Dartfish tagging feature allows them to watch the game and catalogue it in near real time without the repetitive, time consuming process of reviewing and note writing.

“I have also found that maintaining the flow of the game has actually improved my understanding of our opponents", says Reed. "I can watch in confidence, because I know that the detailed information will be there for review, when I finish that game or a series of games.”

The tagging mode has also been very helpful for review of his own team. During early season practices, they are more able to effectively record and catalogue their players in action. The coaching staff can pull key teaching points in a much easier manner. By selecting and tagging clips, they can then identify their relevance by individual player, position breakdown or for review by the entire team. In addition, post-game film review has also been streamlined: After watching one of their competitions, they are able to have teaching points readily available for players to review and hopefully improve future performances.

Lehigh basketballLastly, Lehigh coaches have found the analysis side of the software valuable as well. Although this was not their primary focus for men’s basketball, it has greatly enhanced individual performance. For example, if a player is struggling with a shot, Reed can utilize the software suite to help improve the shooting mechanics of that player. He can use a video camera to record the shot pre-modification then take those clips and put the preferred modified shot beside it allowing that player to see the shot difference. 

Dartfish has contributed to the overall success of our program. It has allowed our coaches to work more effectively and efficiently, while scouting our opponents. I believe that the information we compile is more accurate and thus increasingly helpful to our players and coaching staff,” says Reed.

Too Many Recruiting Emails Clogging-Up Your Inbox?Monday, February 16th, 2009

Heidi Freitager, Univ. of Virginia Softball CoachThat was one of the issues Coach Heidi Freitager, assistant softball coach at the University of Virginia, was having before signing on with Front Rush, a leading technology provider that helps college coaches organize and optimize their recruiting emails. 

“My first desire for getting this system was so that the questionnaires we were sending and receiving via e-mail could be eliminated,” says Freitager, “And through an online questionnaire Front Rush helped us create, all of the extra emails are gone.”

Front Rush has the ability to build an online questionnaire that matches the look and the feel of a college coach’s website.  Recruits can then contact a coach when they are interested by completing an online questionnaire which eliminates the extra emails, paperwork and data entry by the coaches. 

“We also use Front Rush for e-mailing recruits and tracking those e-mails,” says Freitager.  With Front Rush, you can see whether or not the recruit received your email, if and when they opened the email, and how many times they clicked the hyperlinks within the email. 

Coach Freitager adds, “I love being able to track our e-mails we send to recruits because it helps gauge their interest.  We can also identify incorrect email addresses that we sometimes receive from sources we are given.” 

Coaches who want to get a free demo of how the system works, and how it operates differently than some of the other products in the web-management contact market, visit www.frontrush.com.  They are a recommended partner of Selling for Coaches.

Four Overlooked Secrets for Persuasive RecruitingMonday, February 16th, 2009

Recruiting robot"Feeling kind of like a recruiting robot?", I asked the coach I was talking to the other day.  "Hey, you’re not alone," I told him.

What did I mean by "recruiting robot"?  It’s actually a term I stole from another coach…it was his term for saying the same thing over and over to every recruit.  There was no originality, just a worn-out recruiting script that seemed to be less and less effective.  Talking to this coach reminded me of the term the other coach had come up with to describe what his recruiting strategy had become in recent months.

"So how do I approach this whole thing differently?", he asked. 

For me, that was a telling question…here was this coach with a 20+ year track record of marginal to good recruiting success, and he was frustrated about how much things have changed when it comes to recruiting kids to his D1 program.  Part of that frustration was from reading our in-depth study on how today’s teenage prospects make their final decision in choosing a school.  Some of the findings just didn’t make sense to him.

"It’s all about being original," I recall telling him.  "The bottom line is this: You need to talk differently to today’s prospect, and make sure you use an approach that is different than your competitor’s.

With that in mind, I pulled-up four easy-to-use strategies that I originally developed for a struggling D1 college football program almost three years ago.  These tips, coupled with our On-Campus Workshop for their coaches, helped to turn their recruiting around (this year, they just missed out going to a bowl game).

I think ANY coach, at any level, can use these to become more persuasive, more genuine recruiters:

  • Tell stories about failure.  Most home recruiting visits consist of boasting, bragging, and tearing down a competitor.  Coaches we start to work with see to want to cram as many success stories down the throat of their prospects as possible in the hour or two they have in the home or over the phone. 

So, the first recommendation that I’ll make is to tell stories of athletes that have failed at your school – IF that failure was the result of a poor choice they made or advice that wasn’t followed during their time under you as their coach.  Telling a story about failure can enhance your credibility, and let the athlete know that you’re being honest with them in what mistakes not to make once they commit to your program. 

One more word of advice: Make sure not to use the real names of athletes that are the subject of your failure stories…your prospect will want to know that you’ll keep their mistakes and failures confidential if they occur.

  • "Understate" rather than "Overstate".  Instead of making promises of stardom and glory and happily-ever-after, present a range of possibilities that might happen in the athlete’s career at your school. 

Don’t promise them the starting job; instead, let them know what kind of competition they’ll face along with the promise of an equal shot at the job.  In general, make promises on the minimums you can deliver to your prospect.  You know what will happen?  Something really interesting…your prospect will "add to" your minimum promise in their mind, instead of "discount" your pie-in-the-sky promises that are too good to be true – that’s human nature, coach.

  • Never feel bad about taking the "underdog" role.  Why?  People (even your prospects and their parents) have a tendancy to root for the underdog IF a compelling story is presented that builds the case for them joining your quest to build a champion.  Too many coaches I talk to are ready to jump off of the gym roof if they finish last in their conference or take over a struggling program. 

Instead of shying away from being the underdog, embrace it!  But do so with the right approach and the right motivation for your prospect to "join the revolution" and becoming a champion.  Need help with developing your story?  Click here…we’d love to help you. 

  • Plant questions you’d like your competitors to address.  Attacking your competitors directly comes off as petty and unprofessional (like I said before, it loses more prospects than you probably realize).  But during your conversation with your prospect, you can bring up issues, questions or topics that would raise doubts about your competitors.  This is a good, subtle way of planting questions in the mind of your prospect that they’ll want to raise if and when they talk to a competitive school that would recruit them.  Done correctly, this is a great technique for raising your stock in the mind of your prospect.  We go into a lot of detail on how to do this in our two recruiting workbooks for college recruiters.

Persuasive recruiting happens when you have a plan in place, and you execute that plan.  These are just a few of the many techniques you can use to break out of the recruiting doldrums, and do it in a way that propels your recruiting results to levels that would really surprise you.

Look, we all know recruiting at the college level is stressful, competitive and confusing.  Being more persuasive is the great equalizer…it doesn’t cost more, it doesn’t reward longevity, it doesn’t discriminate based on division level.  Learning to be persuasive is the greatest tool you can develop as a college recruiter.

Start with these four principles, and grow from there.

Need help developing more strategies for creative recruiting at the college level?  We can help.  Come to one of our recruiting conferences around the country…you’ll learn the latest techniques and strategies for becoming a dominant recruiter.

Can’t get to a conference?  Bring the information to you by reading our exclusive recruiting workbooks and becoming a SFC Premium Member.  It’s easy an inexpensive, and it will give you the tools you need to win more recruits immediately.

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Do you have kids?

I do.  Three, in fact. 

The oldest is my 13-year old daughter, and if you happen to be reading this as the parent of a teen, you’ll understand me when I tell you that this is the age when communicating with them gets just a little bit challenging.

The eye rolls, the heavy sighs, and folded arms…I can usually tell when my message isn’t sinking in.  Teenagers are great at giving you clues

Why You Need to Take a Closer Look at Your RecruitsMonday, February 9th, 2009

by Mandy Green, SFC Team Development SpecialistMandy Green 

Getting the right person for the position you are recruiting is the goal of all coaches. But it’s not easy.

Asking for a commitment from a recruit who seems to have all the "right" answers may not be best, especially if you don’t ask the right questions in the first place.  Choosing the recruit with the best reference isn’t a guarantee either – what if the person giving the reference will say anything just to be nice? And recruiting someone because you "feel good" about the person is probably as reliable as buying a used car after kicking the tires.

To recruit effectively, it’s best to take the "guesswork" out of the process. The more reliable information you can gather about a prospect, the better. You want as complete a picture as possible of the recruits skills, experience, competencies, personality, and aptitudes.

Many coaches I know prepare elaborate position specific requirements as the first step to a recruiting search.  It can be fun to profile precisely the height, weight, athleticism, technical ability, experience, and prowess of the recruit you hope to find.  It is possible, sometimes even easy, to find what you need based on reading a recruits profile. 

Where a lot of coaches fall short in building their program through recruiting is that they fail to dig a little deeper once they have seen a recruit with superb technical abilities.  The success or failure of any recruit is highly unlikely just based on their technical qualifications.  In determining how good a recruit really is, after you find out if they are a fit technically for your program, the next step is to focus on the emotional qualities of the recruit. 

How do you decide if this recruit is going to be the right fit for you and your program? 

Countless coaches pride themselves on their ability to assess recruits within a few moments of meeting them.  In fact, this is impossible.  What tends to be true is that intuitions telling you not to recruit a player can be very useful and should be explored. 

The converse, however, intuition telling you to go ahead and recruit someone, can be highly unreliable.  There are two major reasons for this:

1. The gift of the badly adjusted person is to charm you and make you want to recruit them.

2. People with skeletons to hide become skilled in diverting attention from closets they don’t want you rummaging around in. 

Always ask yourself these 5 questions when evaluating your recruits:College soccer player

1. Do they have goals that will fit with your program’s goals?  Take a break from talking about how great your program is, and ask them what their goals are.  Do they want what you can provide?  If not, they may not be a good fit for your program.  You won’t know until you ask.

2. Do they have effective work habits?  Are they driven to work hard and have high achievement needs?  Recruits who have a lot of energy are capable of working harder and longer than recruits who don’t have much. 

3. Do they have common sense?  To spot common sense look for; early exposure to real-world experiences; absence of “dumb” decisions; and hardheadedness in situations that call for it. 

4. Do they have good people skills?  Consider the recruits past ability-or inability- to get along with others.  Look for the a capacity to inspire confidence and trust.  Do others turn to this person for help and guidance?  

5. Are they mature and emotionally adjusted?   To detect immaturity and emotional problems look for the manipulative spoiled-child syndrome, as evidenced by selfishness, irresponsibility, and a disregard for consequences.  Look for over conformism, as seen by an upbringing in which a person is raised merely to follow orders. 

When looking for an outstanding recruit, knowing which physical or technical qualities is not enough. 

Make a list of the emotional qualities you want in a recruit.  You have got to ask them questions – or get insights from reliable testing - that will help you to see what you can expect from them while you are their coach.  Ask, then listen to what they have to say, and finally consider their answers.  If what they say doesn’t match up with your goals and vision for your program, they may not be the recruit that you are looking for.  

Premier Football Prospect Combines Going High TechMonday, February 9th, 2009

by Carrie Bigbie, Selling for Coaches 

Football’s signing day has come and gone, but college football coaches are already looking for their next big finds for the next recruiting class.

Chances are good that they will find them at one of the nation’s premier testing and combine facilities.  Two such companies, Athletic Republic and Football University, have partnered with Dartfish this season to bring the latest technology to their combine testing. 

Dartfish’s complete solution was fully integrated into the curriculum at FBU — from conducting all dynamic warm-ups, to providing solid tips on improving test scores and football movement skills, to administering vertical jump, standing long jump, short-shuttle, and 40-meter sprint tests.  They used their new SmartSpeed electronic timing system with RFID technology to record the 40 and short-shuttle tests, capturing every video clip with Dartfish software. 

“By integrating Dartfish with combine testing, you get the scores all linked to a video clip.  It really brings home the score rather than just being something on a piece of paper,” says Jen Davidson at Athletic Republic.

The beauty of the system is that Dartfish software is a core piece of the solution.  Not only are videos captured live during each FBU event, but data (timing, height, and more) are automatically displayed on the screen.  This combination is ideal because athletes and coaches alike grasp both the qualitative and the quantitative when watching the videos.

Football combine“Dartfish provides us with video software solutions that allow us to use the power of video to enhance learning and document performance improvement and, thus, provide a better training experience,” says Davidson.  When an athlete can see the effects of a particular adjustment in running form, for example, they are better able to commit that adjustment to muscle memory.

By the end of summer, Athletic Republic and FBU are estimating testing of about 6,000 athletes.  Coaches can then be invited to see the tests and results to determine if they would like that athlete to play for their team or not. 

Davidson adds, “The new technology has peaked everyone’s interest.  College recruiters are already calling asking for access to videos because it is indisputable evidence about an athlete’s performance.” 

To see video proof of how Athletic Republic and Football University are utilizing the new Dartfish technology, click here

Want to see how easy it is to use Dartfish to make your athletes better?  Click here.

One Word That Gets Your Prospect to ActMonday, February 9th, 2009

Words are powerful.

When you create great recruiting messages, the right words – at the right time – can make the difference between a great response and a lackluster response from your prospect list.

This much we know:  A truly persuasive coach can be a recruiting force that’s tough to beat.

So, what’s one copywriting secret that can help make any coach more persuasive?  Actually, its not a “secret”.  It’s a word.  A little psychological trick that can make all the difference when you are trying to get someone to do what you want: Just say “because.”

Here’s a quick story behind the theory…one that I usually explain when we conduct one of our On-Campus Workshops for an athletic department or coaching staff: Robert Cialdini, in his book “The Art of Influence”, describes an experiment he conducted where a student with a stack of papers approaches a line of other students all waiting to use the copy machine at a large university and asks them if they would not mind letting him cut in line.

In one variation of the experiment, the student approaches the people waiting in line and says, “Excuse me, I’ve got five pages. May I jump in and use the machine?”

In another variation, the student does the same exact thing, except this time he says, “May I jump in and use the machine, because I’m in a rush…”

Seems like such a subtle difference, doesn’t it? However, the differences between results were anything but subtle.

* Only 30% of the students waiting in line agreed to let the student cut in front of them in the first variation of the experiment.

* However, a whopping 96% of the students, however, let the student cut ahead of them in the second variation when they were given a short “because” reason.

What Cialdini’s experiment sought to prove, coach, is something psychologists call a “trigger effect.” Certain actions, certain gestures, certain words – for whatever reason – have a profound persuasive effect on us. Often, we do not even know we are responding to the trigger. As soon as it registers, we react. Cialdini calls this a “click & whirr” response, and compares it to the way some animals react instinctively to the markings of predators in the wild.

In this particular experiment, though, the trigger being tested was the word “because.” Think about it: “Because” is a word we use all the time to justify our actions or reasons to other people. What the Cialdini experiment succeeded in revealing, however, is that the reasons we give are really not as important as the word itself.

Cialdini repeated the second variation of the experiment with the student using different reasons for cutting in line. Some of them were simply ridiculous, such as “Because I need to make copies.” In all cases, the people waiting in line responded with the same degree of compliance.

Why? Because of “because.”

So, coach, how does this apply to your recruiting efforts?  Simple.  There comes a time with every athlete that you want more information, or want them to see things your way.  The next time that situation arises, make sure you add a “because” to your request.

It works, and could give you exactly the information that you need to win over the recruit.