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6 Ways to Be More Interesting to Your RecruitsMonday, September 28th, 2009

Dan TUdorCollege coaches face an epidemic of sorts when it comes to blogging, writing and emailing.

Coming up with something interesting to say.  Furthermore, there’s the challenge of writing it a way that actually connects with this generation of teenage prospect.  Both are extremely challenging for today’s college recruiter, who is being asked to do more with less time and less money than ever before.

It all adds up to a big challenge for coaches.  And sometimes, being "interesting" is a big challenge, especially when you have to write interesting things to the recruits that will help shape your college coaching future.

So today, I’m going to pass along some ideas on how to be "interesting" to your prospects, specifically in what you write about in letters, your emails or a blog:

  • Don’t be afraid to be wrong (within reason, of course):  This is part of an overall strategy of being transparent, which is essential if you are going to write a blog.  Being wrong means you’re human, and that’s a quality that our research says today’s recruits are looking for in a coach.  Write about something that you did wrong, or that went wrong, in your program.  The honesty will be refreshing to your recruits.  By the way, you can go too far in being "wrong" (if you’ve seen the movie "Borat", you know what I mean).
  • Don’t be afraid to be right.  Build yourself as an expert, and give away your knowledge to your prospects.  We’re all drawn to people we believe can get us to where we want to be, and your prospects are no different.  Write about your expertise as a coach in your sport, and use it to build your credibility as a college coach and recruiter.
  • Surprise your prospects.  Chip and Dan Heath, authors of "Made to Stick", say that one of the best ways to set yourself apart is to break people’s “guessing machines.” Take a surprising position, making outlandish analogy, or otherwise do the opposite of what you normally do. As long as it’s unexpected, people – including your prospects – will stop and pay attention.
  • Make your prospects laugh.  Coaches get so busy trying to coach and teach that they forget to entertain. As a result, large portions of your prospects might fall asleep. And what’s the best way to wake your prospects up? Humor. Successful communicators have been using it for ages, and as long as it’s appropriate for your audience, humor can wake your prospects up and get them paying attention to your recruiting message again.
  • Make a prediction about the future.  Every once in awhile, use your expertise to make a bizarre or risky claim about the future. If you have any authority at all, people will take notice. When experts make a surprising prediction, it gets talked about.  As a coach, you aren’t looking for media attention…just for your prospect to take notice and pay attention to your message.
  • Make sure you are ALWAYS telling a great story.  I’ve talked about this over and over again, and use it as a foundation for creating our Total Recruiting Solution plans for our growing list of college coach clients.  And you know what?  Some coaches still don’t get it. Yes, stories support your points, make solid openers, and teach your prospects while entertaining them, but a good story can make you a legend in recruiting. I’m not talking about the little anecdotes that pepper the blogosphere and the occasional recruiting letter. I’m talking about the story that haunts you on your deathbed or gets told over and over again at parties. Forget about all the others. Tell me that one.  As a coach, tell me great stories about you and your team and your program, and how I fit into that story as a prospect.

Being interesting isn’t easy if you’re a coach, and converting that interest to your writing is even more challenging.  But for those coaches who master the art, there is almost nothing that they won’t accomplish in the competition for the best recruits.

Strive to be interesting creatively, and watch what happens to your recruiting results!

Need help with creating an interesting, effective recruiting plan?  Dan Tudor is ready to personally help you.  Bring Selling for Coaches to your campus for a personalized workshop for you and your staff, or ask us about becoming a TRS client.  Both things are cost-effective, creative ways to significantly improve your recruiting results.  Email Dan Tudor at dan@sellingforcoaches.com for all the details.

Blackberry vs. iPhone: Technology Smackdown for College CoachesMonday, September 28th, 2009

iPhone vs. Blackberryby Sean Devlin, Front Rush

We are often asked to make recommendations here at Front Rush on technology purchases ranging from computers and software to mobile devices.

Needless to say, we are very happy to give our personal (although often one-sided) opinion to the thousands of coaches who rely on Front Rush for their recruiting technology needs. This week, we are going to discuss the mobile device we recommend for college coaches and recruiters.  More specifically, we’re going to try to shed some light on one of the most popular questions we get asked at least once a week as we are helping coaches:  "Should I get an iPhone or a Blackberry?"
 
Here at Front Rush, we are split down the middle. In an attempt to keep the iPhone vs. Blackberry debate as "Swiss-neutral" as possible, we will discuss some of the pros and cons of both devices.
 
iPhone

The iPhone is focused on usability and user experience. It is a fun device to use and anything you want in terms of applications and cool gadgets is probably available, or will be available, on it.

Today, there are over 65,000 iPhone applications available to the users of the device. These "apps" allow you to do everything from updating your Facebook and Twitter pages, to exchanging information with other iPhone users just by bumping the two phones together. The experience of surfing the web is by far superior on the iPhone, as well.  Google has found that iPhone users do 50 times more searches from their iPhone than other users do from their respective devices. This means that if you own an iPhone you will actually use it to surf the web.
 
The negative to the iPhone is that you are locked into AT&T as your service provider. The iPhone is such a ‘resource vampire’ that you will (guaranteed) experience issues when trying to perform basic tasks like texting and making telephone calls when you are in certain geographic areas (anyone in the New York City area can attest to this).
 
Blackberry

The Blackberry is, and always has been, focused on email. It is incredibly secure and offers a rich array of tools when using and sending emails. It’s much easier to navigate, organize, and even get your emails on this device. In fact, this is the biggest plus if you are a Blackberry user and are a Verizon rather than an AT&T subscriber. The level of service (i.e., no dropped calls, constant connection, etc.) is by far more consistent than the iPhone.
 
The negative to the Blackberry is that it does not have the number of apps compared to the iPhone. And, the web browsing experience is awful at best, in my opinion. There are certainly options (like downloading Opera Mini – mini.opera.com).  However, it still falls short relative to the iPhone. In fact, if a new technology is announced, you will probably be waiting in line while your iPhone counterparts experience it first.
 
So there you have it…a brief overview of the iPhone and Blackberry. I personally carry an iPhone because of its drive of innovation. My counterpart sitting two desks away here in the Front Rush offices, however, often times laughs at me while he gets his email substantially quicker.

Have a technology question that you just can’t seem to get answered?  Go to the experts dedicated to serving college coaches just like you.  Email Sean at sdevlin@frontrush.com and ask him your technology related question.  You don’t even have to be a Front Rush user…Sean and his team of experts are happy to assist users of any recruiting contact management database program, or coaches who don’t use any software for tracking recruits. 

For more information on the services that Front Rush provides leading college coaches around the country, visit www.frontrush.com.

Why Smart Coaches Should Give Themselves AwayMonday, September 21st, 2009

Answers to their questionsGive some thought this week to giving yourself away.  For free.

I’m talking about your experience and credibility as a college coach.  You have exactly what your teenage prospects and their parents are looking for as they try to weave their way through the recruiting process: Answers.

With all those answers, and all your experience in terms of what a prospect can do to improve their chances of playing at your level, have you ever gone out of your way to make sure you are the one providing those answers to prospects?  I didn’t think so.

But you have the missing piece to their puzzle, and that’s valuable information.  In my opinion, you should use it.

At this point, the idea of spending time on the phone or answering emails from dozens and dozens of curious prospects probably asking "So Dan, what’s in it for me?"

Lots.

  • You set yourself apart from the other coaches (even the one’s at a bigger name school) who won’t offer to do it.
  • You create a conversation with prospects, which is the first step towards recruiting them.  It’s one of the core philosophies in what we do daily for our TRS coach clients, and it works.  Big time.
  • You come off as someone that is approachable and nice, two traits that are good to have as you move through the recruiting process.
  • You are giving them something of value without asking anything in return, other than their attention and interaction.
  • If you are a smaller college or coach a team that has yet to build a name for itself in competition, you level the recruiting field by being the coach that is the guide for the parents and the athlete going through a very confusing process for the first time.

How do you do it?  Here are a few ideas:

  • In your recruiting letters and emails, offer to answer specific questions for your prospects.  You can be selective in who you offer this to, of course…if your time is limited, you’ll probably only want to do this for your top prospect group.  If you need the numbers, offer it out to your second or third tier groups as well.  You will get responses!
  • Create your own eBook on how to go through the recruiting process.  Offer your tips and insights out for free, and become known as "the approachable expert" along the way.
  • Use free video services like YouTube to create a series of short topical videos on the different aspects of the recruiting process for your sport at your level.  If you have a blog (and what savvy recruiter doesn’t?) then post those videos to your blog, as well, and direct prospects and their parents to it.
  • When a family visits your campus, make sure you take time for you AND your team to sit down and answer their general questions about recruiting.  Encourage your team to offer their insights and advice based on their experiences, as well as that of their friends at other colleges, and what they would do differently if they had it to do over again.

The point of all this is simple, but important: You need to give before you receive.  Give yourself away as an expert with the answers before you expect to receive serious communication with the prospects you really, really want.

It’s a bedrock principle in today’s business and marketing world, and as the same terrific results when it is used by coaches who are recruiting athletes.

Now that the recruiting year is getting started, you should take a look at becoming a Total Recruiting Solution program client.  Our staff of recruiting and marketing experts can create your best recruiting plan ever and help you come up with just the right messages.  It’s working great for lots of other college programs…(maybe one of your competitors?)  Click here for all the details.  Make this year the one where you finally get the recruiting results you’ve been promising yourself!

The 10-Minute Recruiting Call RuleMonday, September 14th, 2009

Watching the clockCheck your watch, Coach.  Especially when you make your next recruiting call.

Once you hit the 10-minute mark when you’re talking to a prospect, you’ve crossed a line that’s pretty dangerous in terms of the effectiveness of connecting with your prospect.  The source for our information comes from interviewing several hundred college student-athletes at college campuses around the nation.  And their answers to our questions can give coaches some big ideas on keeping their recruiting phone calls short and sweet.

The basic rule I’m recommending that you follow is simple:

Keep your recruiting phone calls to ten minutes or less.

What we found from conducting our surveys on campus was that most prospects get bored with recruiting calls that go past that mark.  Many mentioned that they will put their phones on speaker so that they can do other things while you are talking.  Or, they’ll just be polite and engage you in a polite conversation until it comes to an end.

Their biggest complaints centered around long recruiting calls taking them away from studying, delaying them in texting friends, and being too "sales" focused…coaches that were more interested in selling their schools early on than getting to know the prospect and asking interesting questions.

So what should you do in the ten minutes that they’re giving you?  Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t talk about your school unless they ask you about it.  For coaches and programs who are our Total Recruiting Solution clients, we recommend that they don’t try to "sell" their recruits on anything about their school for at least the first 30 days of recruiting them.
  • Make the phone call about them, not about you (or your school, your program, or you).  Come up with a list of great questions that are original and all about them.  Focus on establishing the relationship with your recruit instead of on selling them right on your program right away.
  • Only talk about you, your school and your program IF…they ask you about it.  If your prospect is curious enough to ask you about you or your program, then you can talk about it and "sell" all you want.  According to our surveys, the time limit goes out the window and you can take all the time you want so long as they are the ones driving the conversation.

Observing the ten minute rule can completely change the way your recruits view you.  Oh, and if you are reading this and worrying that the length of the phone call is going to hurt your chances of signing the recruit, fear not: About nine out of ten prospects confided in us that the length of the phone call made no difference in their overall interest in the school.  However, they did rate regular frequency in phone calls as a sign that a program was serious about them.

Confusing?  Sure, a little.  But the thing I want you to understand is that there is a definite right way and wrong way to execute successful recruiting phone calls with this generation of recruits.

Try following these simple but proven rules the next time you pick up the phone to talk to your prospect.

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Social networkingby Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Many coaches are now jumping into the blogoshere, Twitterverse, and Facebook world.  In fact, coaches are spending an ever-increasing amount of time utilizing these services as content is being written.  Ultimately, the goal of these sites is to create a conversation; however, before your conversation can begin, you need to attract the readers – your recruits and fans.

Here are some ways we’ve helped our clients do this, and we think it will work for you as well:

Email
Include in the body of your email a link directly to your social networking accounts.  For example, if you have a Twitter page, you should have a link that is clickable in your email so that your recipients can easily access it.  (In the body of all my emails, I include links to my linked-in profile, our Twitter page, our Facebook page, and even our latest blog posting.  I actually use a firefox plug-in, which you can find at www.wisestamp.com, that automatically embeds it).  Take a look at it!

Website
On your website or your recruiting questionnaire, you can do the same thing. Namely, provide links to all of your social networks that you want recruits, alumni, etc., to access.  A quick example can be found at http://www.yodaa.com (and scrolling to the bottom) or even http://www.frontrush.com.

Blog
In your blog, allow people to "re-Tweet" your posts.  People like to share information if they find it valuable.  If you have a blog posting related to an upcoming event, wouldn’t it be great if your readers could spread the word via their Twitter feed?  We use the retweet plug-in that automatically embeds in our blog.  You can see an example at http://blog.frontrush.com.

Twitter
Twitter has built-in tools that allow users to retweet your posts.  My best advice would be to simply ask people to retweet them..it’s a great way to spread the word abour you, your team, and your blog.

The tips I listed above are a few quick, easy tips to help you get your message out as you start this new year of recruiting.  Please feel free to contact us if you need help with any of the above, or have any other questions involving the right ways to use technology to recruit more effectively,.

What It Takes to Write GREAT Recruiting BlogsMonday, September 7th, 2009

Blogging for CoachesSo, you are a coach who has been seeing your competition break out and start a blog…

You’ve heard it can give you a unique tie-in with your fans and alumni (true), and also is a great way to tell your team’s story to your recruits (also true).  Now, the big question: How do you write a really great blog?

That’s been a question we’ve been getting lately.  A lot of our TRS clients have started a blog as they start the new recruiting season, which is great because nothing helps tell a great story like blogs with video, pictures and a personal story.

So, to help kick-off the new year of writing and blogging, I wanted to pass along a few writing tips specifically for writing blog posts.  Keep these writing rules in mind the next time you sit down to pound out your next entry into the blogosphere:

  • Don’t fall in love with your own writing. We all enjoy reading what we have written.  Your audience, however, might not be as smitten with your writing as you are.  So, don’t be afraid to edit ruthlessly and cut what isn’t needed to be effective and interesting in your blog post.
  • Your blog post should have one central point.  Stick to it. That means all of your supporting points, funny stories and the rest of the content in your blog post needs to be tied-in to your central point.  Each of your blog posts should have one theme.  Have more than just one theme to talk about?  Great!  Write a separate blog post about that topic.
  • Trim the fat right from the start. Next time you write a blog post aimed at this year’s class of recruits, go back and look at the first paragraph.  Now, cut it out.  Eliminate it.  Chances are, you just cut off some unneeded fluff and opened the blog post with a more interesting sentence.
  • When it comes to language, keep it simple. Don’t use words that are meant to impress.  Instead, keep your language simple and to the point.  And once you’ve made your point, stop writing.
  • Don’t make your exaggerations lazy. Here’s what I mean: Don’t write something like, “Our last game had an incredibly heart-stopping ending!”  Don’t exaggerate, Coach.  And whatever you do, don’t exaggerate to the point where you are no longer believable in the eyes of your recruit.  Sometimes, your quest to write an exciting blog post can decend into a mess of wordy paragraphs that confuse (and maybe even bore) your reader.
  • Is there a shorter, more effective word? Find it and use it.  Instead of “an incredibly close game”, consider saying it was “a nail-biter”.  Something like that is shorter, and it might cause a little intrigue that will make your reader stick with you until you get to the good stuff.
  • Save the scraps. Looking for your next blog post?  It may be left in the edit heap after making all of these strategic cuts that we have outlined here in the article.  Find a new blog post in the discarded remains of your old blog posts.

Coach, writing blogs is easy.  If you can type a Word document, you can write a blog post.

And, as many college recruiters are finding, blogs can help strip away a few layers and let prospects really get to know you.  The result?  More recruits engaged in your story and your program.

When you go to write your next blog post (or your first one), keep these important tips in mind to make sure what you write is…right!

Looking for more new techniques to become more persuasive recruiter?  Bring Dan Tudor to your campus to teach a day-long session on the most effective, most proven recruiting techniques.  We work with entire athletic departments, or individual sports.  Email Dan Tudor at dan@sellingforcoaches.com for the details.

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