Dan Tudor

Join The Newsletter and Stay Up To Date!

Text Size Increase Decrease

Getting Your Athletic Website Ready for Prime TimeMonday, December 21st, 2009

Athletic Websiteby Sean Devlin, Front Rush 

The recruiting process is about engaging recruits and getting across the university’s and coach’s message, goals, and – ultimately – the brand. This engagement comes in a variety of flavors including email, phone calls, face-to-face, and more recently Facebook and Twitter. One major facet of this engagement that needs to be treated very seriously is the athletic website. Often times this is one of the first and most powerful medium’s that can get across your school’s message.

Perusing the web and doing random Google searches for various universities, you can come across many different athletic websites. Some of these websites are great, some of these are not so great. Some of these are clearly from high budget universities that can afford to bring in a professional firm and make the site very ‘flashy’, others are from universities that may not have the budget but have clearly invested thought into the site, and others resemble a basic web page created too many years ago.

So let’s first talk about the importance of the site and we can worry about the logistics later. In this web savvy world, your recruits are used to seeing and interacting daily with professionally built tools and websites – think Facebook, Hotmail, Google, Gmail, etc. If they come to your site, the first thing they want and expect is a site that is professional looking in design. Having a poor quality design, will immediately undercut your recruiting message. It gives them that ‘huh?’ message right off the bat.

The second thing that your recruits will look for is the content. They want to come to your site and find the things that they are looking for – so the goal is to make it easy for them to find it. We often times see an athletic site that is difficult to find a specific sport, or find out who the coach is, or find out how to get in contact with the university. As a user, this instantly gives frustration and negative feelings — the exact opposite emotion that you want your recruits feeling. Think about what parts of the site that your recruits want to see and put them right up front and easy to find.

The next thing is to give a reason for your recruits to come back. A very effective medium for this is a team blog. In this blog, you can give updates about your team, insight into your program, information about your University. This gives a recruit a reason to come to your site, and keep coming back if you keep the information fresh and new. Every time they come back, your brand gets drilled deeper into their decision making process.

So the issue is then a couple of things.

  • There are budget limitations.
  • You may not feel that you have direct access to have these changes made.

Well with budget limitations, that just means that you can’t invest in a professional firm to re-build the site but that doesn’t mean that most of the above can’t be done. Get the coaches together and make the case to your IT group or SID. By investing time into the site and thinking about the goals of it, the return will be obvious. In addition, for the blog, this can be done totally free of charge. A couple of killer applications for creating a blog are tumblr.com, blogger.com and wordpress.com

If you do have a budget than take a look at a professional firm, there are a couple that we feel actually are dedicated to building athletic websites. Some examples of companies we would recommend to our clients are ICS/Sidearm (internetconsult.com), Presto Sports (prestosports.com), and Jump TV (jumptv.com).

The importance of putting time into the site and thinking about it from a marketing perspective cannot be stressed enough. This is a major location that your recruits are going to land. Get your department together and get moving in the right direction if you feel your online presence needs some work.

Step one in the process of evaluating your website?  Email the experts at Front Rush.  They’ll assess your needs at no charge, and give you recommendations on what the next steps need to be.  Visit them at www.frontrush.com or email the nation’s leading technical guru for college athletics, Sean Devlin, at sdevlin@frontrush.com.

Three Wishy-Washy Words That I Wish You Wouldn’t SayMonday, December 21st, 2009

Off target!We say it when we pick up the phone.  

We say it when we start a new email.

When we say it, the recruiting process slows down.  Or, it stops altogether…never to be re-started again.  It gets us WAY off target.

And you know what?  We actually say it because we think it’s polite, non-pressuring and even a bit clever.

It’s just three little words:

"I was just…"

Those three words, when combined together, do more to grind the gears of recruiting to a stop than just about any other phrase I’ve heard when helping coaches over the past few years.

"I was just calling back to see if…"  Or, "I was just writing to check in…"

Have you ever done that?  I have many times over my professional career.  And every time I let it slip out, the results are less than desireable.

Why is that?  What is it about "I was just" that makes it so bad in a recruiting situation?

When you use that phrase, we all know what you want: You want information.  You want an update.  You need to find out if the prospect you really, really, REALLY want is close to making a decision.  

And, since you are a professional who doesn’t want to pressure your young recruit, you play it cool and slide into the conversation by saying, "I was just…"

However, what you are doing in most cases is giving your prospect the unintended message that they don’t need to take action right now.  Or, depending on the topic of the discussion, you might be telling them that they aren’t all that important to you.  Here’s why starting a sentence with "I was just" can be so crippling:

  • It conveys weakness.  There isn’t much drive or energy behind the phrase, and that communicates all the wrong things to your prospect.
  • It’s a lie.  You weren’t "just checking in" when you called that last prospect, Coach.  Right?  Of course not.  You were wanting concrete information.  You wanted a progress report so you could know what to do next.  You weren’t "just checking in", and your prospect knows it.
  • It gives your prospect permission to put you off for a while longer.  You say you were calling to just "check in" and see if I was close to making a decision?  No, sorry coach…I’m going to need a little more time.  And since it sounds like there’s no urgency on your part, I’m going to take as much as I can get.

So what should you say as your new opening line?  Here are a few ideas:

  • "I wanted to get in touch with you because…"
  • "There’s a decision we need to make here in the next week to ten days…"
  • "I need your feedback on something…"
  • "We were talking about you in the office yesterday, and wanted to ask you…"
  • "I had something happen with another prospect that I needed to let you know about…"
  • "We’ve got a deadline coming up and I wanted to talk to you about it…"

Each of those phrases can set your next conversation in the right direction.  They are strong.  They are going to prompt action.  They are going to demand attention, and – most importantly – they are going to demand a reply. 

I encourage you to really focus on how you start out your sentences when you start conversations.  I know it sounds like such a small thing, but it makes a big difference when it comes to how your recruit responds to you, and what information you get from them.

Try replacing the wishy-washy "I was just" intro when you call or write, and lead-off with something stronger that will stand a better chance of getting the response you’re really looking for from your prospect.

Want even more tips and strategies to use in your everyday recruiting at your college?  Bring Dan to your athletic department for the Selling for Coaches On-Campus Workshop!  We’re rounding out our travel schedule for the upcoming months and would love to add you to the tour schedule.  Email us at dan@sellingforcoaches.com for all the details and to check on dates, or click here for more information on what this two day event is all about. 

Protected Post TestSunday, December 20th, 2009


Test Post 2Friday, December 18th, 2009

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Test Post 1Friday, December 18th, 2009

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

5 Reasons Why Inciting Your Prospects is a Great IdeaMonday, December 14th, 2009

Indiana JonesAny good movie that you’ve ever seen has had one key element.  And, its something that you need to add in to all of your recruiting messages.

I’m going to teach you how to do it today.

I’m talking about inciting your prospects when they’re reading one of your letters or emails.  If you’ve ever seen a really good movie, one that keeps your attention from start to finish, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

The Indiana Jones movie series is a great example of "inciting" moviegoers.  If you’ve seen the start to any of them, you know it’s action and an important event that kicks off the story.  Whether he’s being chased by a giant ball down a cave, stealing an ancient artifact, or hiding in a refrigerator to survive a nuclear explosion, you’ve been hooked to watch the rest of the movie.

Some of the best movie writers use this technique to write blockbuster stories that we just can’t resist: The ask the question, "What is the big event, or the big moment, that really gets this story rolling?" 

That usually comes at the beginning of a film (a good one, anyway), and it keeps you glued to the screen from that point forward.

So, how does all this apply to your recruiting message?  What techniques can you use from this tried-and-true screenwriting trick to construct better recruiting letters and emails?

Glad you asked…

First things first: Take a look at the text of one of your recruiting letters.  

Now, divide it into thirds.  

Next, eliminate your first third of the letter.  Why?  Because if the typical recruiting letter were a movie script, you would unnessarily delay the main plot line – and the event that would "incite" your viewer – with needless text.  It’s extra fluff that doesn’t hook your reader, and that’s bad.

Coaches write wonderfully worded messages most of the time, but it’s mostly dull background stuff that our research shows isn’t important to this generation of recruits.  By chopping off that first third of your initial draft, you’ll be cutting straight to the point and giving yourself a better chance of capturing your reader’s attention. 

How else can you make sure you incite your prospects from the start?  Here are my suggestions:

  1. Make each message about one big idea.  Stick with one main theme in each of your messages, and you’ll have a much better chance of keeping the attention of your recruit.  For more ideas on what themes work best, and more detail on how to construct those messages, consult our two best-selling advanced recruiting guides for college coaches.  It’s better to split up one letter into six separate letters if you look at it and see too many themes or ideas that you’re trying to get across to your prospect.
  2. Paint a picture for your prospect.  Once you have that message down, its time to do more than just tell your recruit the facts and figures.  Your challenge:  To paint and emotionally compelling picture of what awaits your recruit if he or she chooses your program.  You have to do that through words, and the more you focus on the feeling of your school and your program, the better your message will connect with your prospect.  
  3. Who’s got your back?  Will you use one of your athlete’s stories about why they chose your program?  Will you tell them about an event in your coaching career that drives how your message?  It’s helpful if you can punctuate your recruiting points with real-life examples that will help your prospect feel connected to your program.  Plus, its one of the best ways to "incite" your recruit to keep moving forward with you as you continue to recruit them.
  4. Insert some danger.  Or trials, or trouble.  It’s O.K. to bring up some of the things you’ve had to overcome as a coach, or things that your program has had to deal with during a season.  In fact, danger attracts attention.  Danger or suspense in a movie almost guarantees that you won’t run out to get more popcorn during those scenes, and that’s the kind of attention you want to maintain with your recruits.
  5. After you’re all done, trim it some more.  Take your final work and cross out at least three more sentences.  You can never edit too much, and you can never make it shorter than it needs to be.  Why make it shorter?  Because time after time, as a part of our process of researching data with current college athletes when we’re doing our On-Campus Workshops around the country, your athletes tell us that they want more "to-the-point" messages that cut through the fluff and get straight to the good stuff. 

When you do each of those five things, and throw in creative email subject lines and catchy headlines in the body of your recruiting letters, and you’ll see an increased liklihood that you’ll keep your recruit around for the whole entire recruiting cycle.

So, Coach…what can you do today to incite your prospects?

The strategies we’ve outlined above are just a few of the components we use to build winning recruiting plans and messages for our Total Recruiting Solution clients.  If you like what you’ve read, but want a team of experts to come alongside you and help your program create more effective recruiting campaigns, email Dan at dan@sellingforcoaches.com.  Or, visit www.sellingforcoaches.com for all the details about the TRS plan.