Dan Tudor

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5 Ways to Use Your Recruiting SensesTuesday, October 26th, 2010

The coach I was visiting appeared to be slightly insane.  At first glance, anyway.

She was walking as we were discussing what she told visiting prospects in her new locker room.  As she walked, she held up what looked like a perfume bottle and gave one little squirt every two or three steps. 

After seeing her continue this ritual into the hallway, I had to ask her why she was doing what she was doing.

Her answer was borderline brilliant: She was using scent to add to the overall “experience” that their recruits would encounter later that morning.

Think it’s a minor detail that is recruiting overkill?  Maybe you should think again…

Most recruiters focus on written messages and phone calls to get their message across and create a “feeling” that their program is going to be the right fit.  That means that two primary senses, sight and sound, are used to make that connection.

However, studies show that most “buyers” going through a decision making process (your recruit and his or her family) use other senses to make decisions, as well.  Dan Hill, a marketing researcher and author, has some surprising data that shows we use multiple senses at one time to judge whether or not we feel connected and comfortable with a product or service (or college program):

  • One study showed a 40% improvement in one’s mood when exposed to pleasant fragrances during a buying experience.
  • Shoe buyers, for example, spent $10 more on purchases in areas that had a pleasant scent.
  • Touch (handshakes, putting your hand on a prospect’s arm or shoulder, etc.) matters.  We all respond to touch, even in a professional setting like a recruiting visit.  For example, massaged babies gained 50% more weight than babies who were not massaged.
  • One of the highest positive responses that a prospect can experience is taste.  For all of us, that experience is remembered and valued the longest (so make sure that prospect dinner is extraordinary!)

One of the most important aspects of the study outlined by Hill should make a big impact with creative college coaches and recruiters: Marketers who added smell, taste and touch to a product advertising or display experience had three to four times more positive experiences than those that relied only on sight and sound.

The coach I just mentioned added a very specific scent to her environment to make sure that her prospects’ senses were firing on all cylinders.  You’re welcome to steal that idea and use it yourself.  Here are five more ways I think you can focus on some of your prospect’s senses to enhance their experience with you on your campus:

  1. Kids love to eat.  Make sure the food is really, really good.  Taste is one of those senses that we remember the most.  It adds to an experience, and helps us associate the experience with something memorable like a great meal.  It works in the opposite way, too: Remember a horrible meal at a restaurant or someone’s home?  Let me ask you…do you remember anything else about that experience? The conversation, who was there…anything?  If you’re like most people, all you remember is the really bad food you tried to choke down.  Your prospect’s visit can be largely defined by the food they eat on their trip to your campus.
  2. Scent matters.  I don’t need to go into too much detail on this point, do I?  If you smell good, it gets noticed.  If you smell bad, it really gets noticed.  Enough said.
  3. The right kind of touch can create a connection.  A professional handshake is a nice start, but I don’t find it to be enough to create a really memorable connection with today’s prospects.  Some simple ideas to take it further?  One of my favorites is to lightly touch the back part of your prospect’s shoulder if you are walking and talking with them…not constantly, but every so often to make a point or to gently guide them where the two of you are going.  If you’re comfortable with the idea, you can also have your athletes welcome them with a polite (but heartfelt) hug when they first meet.  Our research shows that one of the most vital things you need to prove to your prospect is that they are wanted and accepted by you and your team.  This goes a long way towards doing that.
  4. Smile a lot.  Your prospect will read your face as they try to quickly figure out if they like being around you or not.  Be upbeat and show energy and a positive spirit through your facial expression.  Studies consistently show that when we meet someone new, we refer to their face as we try and figure out if we like them, if they are telling us the truth, and if they can be trusted.  We can even sense whether someone is smiling or not when we’re talking to them over the phone.  What is your face telling them?
  5. Paper is important.  I say this because emailing prospects is becoming the exclusive way many coaches will recruit them these days.  That’s fine, especially if you use cutting edge email programs that gets your recruit’s attention and brands you effectively.  However, you need to send them at least a few letters written on paper.  Why?  Paper seems more “real” to the prospects we talk to.  It’s “official”.  It’s something they can hold, it has your signature on it, and it tends to verify the idea that you’re important.  Make sure you include some good old fashioned letters on a regular basis to reinforce the idea that you are serious about them, and to let them touch and feel something tangible from your program.

Are these minor details?  Sure they are. 

But I find that most prospects make their decisions using little details and observations during their visits on campus and their conversations with coaches on the phone.  Sight, sounds, smell, taste, touch…all of those senses are ways we as humans use to process information.  “The devil is in the details”, as the saying goes; I see a recruit’s final decision being found there, too.

Want more easy to use resources and tools to use in your recruiting efforts?  Visit our recruiter’s store at dantudor.com.  Many coaches are using our instruction to change the results of their recruiting efforts.  Are you?

Two High Risk Computer Security Mistakes College Coaches Are MakingSunday, October 24th, 2010

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Just recently in the news we read of a professor from Umea University in Northern Sweden who had his laptop stolen. Its not the price to replace the laptop that concerned him, but rather the 10 years work of work that he had saved on it.

What makes the story interesting is that a week after the laptop was stolen, he received a USB stick in the mail with all of his data. The thief spent hours downloading it and returned it to him (minus the laptop).

This story inspired us to speak briefly about some really common security issues that we see on a day to day in our work with college coaches who are clients of Front Rush. We aren’t going to get into the debate on requiring alpha-numeric-capslock passwords, but here are just two subtle items we wanted to make you aware of that may be putting you (and your computer) at risk:

“Remember this password”
When you enter your username/password into a site for the first time, most browsers will give you the option to “Remember this password”. Its a nice convenience so that you don’t have to type it in every time. We think its a bad idea for three important reasons:

1) If someone else were to have access to your computer and went to the same site, they instantly would have access. A person with malicious intent could do some pretty damaging stuff to your recruiting initiatives, not to mention your bank account or social media world.

2) These saved passwords can and will be reset in your browser. Once this happens, we very often see college coaches who can’t get into their account because they don’t remember their original password since they have relied on it being saved in their browser. They then have to go through the inconvenience of resetting it, getting a new one, and ultimately storing or saving it again.

3) You are not always at your computer. Very similar to #2, we often times will speak to a college coach who can’t get into their account because they are on a different computer.

“Other Peoples Computers”
When using someone else’s computer to access your recruiting information, there is some potential for some damaging things to happen. Because it is someone else’s computer, you don’t know their settings or their usage. As a result, you could access your recruiting software and by default save your stored password in their computer. This may not be a big deal with someone that you trust but it is pretty scary when using hotel computers or internet cafe’s. Generally if you do use someone else’s computer, you should:

1) clear your browsing history
2) clear your cache
3) clear you cookies

A nice article on how to do this in all browsers can be found at http://bit.ly/clearhistory.

It’s certainly up to you if you want to do the above or not. I didn’t like wearing a mouth guard in pee-wee hockey and it worked out fine despite what I was told.

Ultimately though, it probably is a good idea to follow the best practices above.  There are plenty of former pee-wee hockey players still missing a few teeth, as well as your fellow coaches who have gone through their own computer security nightmares.  Learn from their misfortune and take the precautions we’re recommending.

Front Rush is the undisputed leader in recruiting contact management solutions for college coaches.  The added plus?  It’s a LOT less expensive then the competition.  Want to find out more?  It’s easy…just click here.

Six Keys to Really Effective Home VisitsMonday, October 18th, 2010

Although becoming somewhat more rare these days because of budget cuts and NCAA time restrictions, home visits by college coaches are still a big part of the recruiting puzzle.

When they’re done right, they can be the difference maker.

One of our clients likened it to a lot like hunting.  You’ve got your ammo, you’ve scouted out the best hunting ground, and now your sights are set on your prospect. 

But there’s a big hurdle remaining.  The actual visit:  The trip to the house, the parents, the questions…you know the drill, right?

There’s a section in one of our special recruiting guides, “Selling for Coaches”, that focuses on connecting with prospects and parents during a home visit.  But you might be a coach who wants a little bit more right now.  Maybe you’re about to make a crucial home visit with your prospect, and need it to go well.

Today, since there are coaches just like you all over the country that are in the middle of criss-crossing the country visiting the homes of prospects they’ve been recruiting, I wanted to share some of the things that I discussed with coaches this past year, both on the phone and in person during our On-Campus Workshops for college athletic departments.  If you’re wanting to refine your approach to personal visits, think about using these tips as a way to boost your performance in front of your top prospects.

Focus on relaxing before your meeting.  Sounds so simple, yet most coaches don’t take a few minutes to do it.  In the same way that your athletes might spend an hour before their athletic contest listening to music to pump them up, visualizing them making a big play, or just being quiet so that they can get ready to compete to the best of their abilities, you need to get in the zone when it comes to getting ready to recruit.  But instead of getting pumped up, you need to calm down: Listen to your favorite music on your way to the appointment.  Think positive thoughts.  Visualize a great evening of talking.  The ultimate goal is to go in relaxed, in high spirits, and with an attitude of a winner that shines through to your prospect.  Great sales professionals in the business world do this before any important sales call.  You should also!

Believe your program is the best.  Along with relaxing before you go into an important meeting with a prospect, you need to develop a mindset that your program, your staff and your college is the best.  Period.  You’ve got to believe it, and believe it whole-heartedly.  If you don’t, it will show.  Your passion for what you’re selling to your prospect will be weak, and that will rub off on your prospect.  Coaches who are passionate sell more effectively, and are able to get their prospects excited about their vision for their program better than a coach who is just going through the motions.  Do you believe – really believe – that what you’re offering is the best in the world?  If the answer is no, you need to get yourself to that point.  Fast.

Come in to your meeting with ideas.  At least two.  What I mean here is that you need to be the one to lay out ideas that can help the athlete (or even his or her parents) reach their goals.  Tell them that you’ve been thinking about them, and you’ve come up with a few ideas as to how to best take advantage of what your program or college offers as it specifically relates to that individual athlete.  What are those ideas?  I can’t answer that for you.  Just focus on things that get your prospect from where they are now to where you know they want to be athletically or academically.

Ask one amazing question at the start of your meeting.  Make it a killer question.  One that stops everyone in their tracks and will get them to think.  Make it a question you know your competition isn’t asking them.  Be original.  When I was talking with a basketball coach at one of our On-Campus Workshops recently, we stumbled upon a great question that she could ask.  It took a few minutes to come up with it, but once we did we both knew it was “the one”.  Now, she can ask that same question for years to come.  Anytime you can come up with a question that stops your prospect in his or her tracks and gets them to think, you’ve got their attention.  And, you’ve got their respect.

Don’t “need” the prospect.  Don’t go in with the attitude that this athlete is a make-or-break signing.  Truthfully, there’s no such thing.  Don’t try too hard.  Don’t pressure too much.  Don’t beg, plead or press too much.  That kind of thing shows through, and its not good.  You’ll be telegraphing that desperation in your face, and it won’t play well with your prospect.  Note the difference between “desperation” and “enthusiasm”.  You can let your prospect know that you are excited about having them there, and let them know how you envision them making a big impact in your program.  But don’t let that cross over to “needing” the prospect.  Once you do, you lose the power that you hold and now the athlete controls you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for their commitment.  That’s why you’re there, right?  You won’t turn them off my asking them to give you a verbal commitment.  In fact, many athletes are waiting for that question.  But too many coaches leave a meeting by telling their prospect that they hope they hear back from them, or hope that their at the top of their list, blah blah blah.  Don’t be a wimp.  ASK FOR THEIR COMMITMENT.  If they’re not ready, they’ll tell you.  If they are ready, you just got the win.  And all it took was asking the question that’s on everyone’s mind.

The more we interact with clients and coaching staffs, the more I firmly believe that there is a logical, systematic way to approach to the way you conduct home visits with your prospects.  Of course, once you are in the home – with your prospect, and their parents – it all comes down to how well you connect with your recruit.

But first things first: Make sure you’re doing the things you need to do to prepare for a successful hunt.

One more way to get to the lead of the pack with your recruit?  One way we’ve discovered to do it is by being consistent with your recruiting message.  Listen to Dan Tudor talk about how to do it, and why it works, in this free video on our Facebook fan page.  Take a minute to watch it!

Sneak Peek at the 2010 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference DVD!Monday, October 11th, 2010

NCRC 2010 DVD Preview.

Coaches from around the country are finding out what we talked about at the 2010 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Chicago.

How are they doing that?  They've ordered the complete 3-DVD set of the entire conference, along with the free conference notes workbook that will help you put the strategies and techniques to work immediately:

  • Keynote speaker Ari Fleischer, one of the most influencial voices in sports today and former White House Press Secretary to President Bush.
  • Body language expert Jennifer Senchea
  • College sports technology experts Sean Devlin and Frank Marick
  • Social Media expert Brian Davidson on how college coaches can use the latest tools to recruit athletes and communicate with fans and alumni
  • Plus coaches, recruiting experts and more...every minute of every session at the 2010 NCRC!

Watch the preview above, and then order the 2010 NCRC DVD set by clicking here

How to Reel-In More Prospects to Your CampusMonday, October 11th, 2010

There’s an interesting trend we’ve uncovered over the past year, and I wanted to share it with you today.

It involves your prospect, and what may be keeping them from taking you up on your invitation to come to campus.

Here’s what you need to know…

Over the course of several dozen On-Campus Workshops this past year, we asked the athlete focus groups that we put together on those campuses what reeled them in to a visit to the school they ended up signing with (and even the schools they didn’t with!)

There was an interesting factor that ended up being a big draw for prospective athletes to accept an offer for a visit, especially at schools that weren’t at the top of their list in the first place:  A scholarship offer.

O.K., I realize that I risk losing a few of you right now.  You might be reading this and saying, “Get real, Tudor…I can’t offer a scholarship to every kid that I want to come to campus.”  (Agreed).  Or you might be thinking, “My school doesn’t offer athletic scholarships…so I guess I’m out of luck.” (Disagree).  Stay with me for a few more minutes and let me talk you through this.

The main motivating factor in a prospect’s draw to a college that they weren’t originally planning on visiting was the idea that there was something important to talk about during the campus visit.  In short, there was a reason for reconsidering the offer.  As I’ve told some of you at different times, what they needed is what we all need to prompt action from time to time:  A “because”.

So, here’s how to use this information to craft a new recruiting strategy when it comes to campus visits and your prospects:

  • If you have a scholarship to give, and this is a prospect you’d probably offer it to if they were interested, then use it as a motivator to come to campus.   In other words, don’t hold back talking about a scholarship with that prospect you really, really want.  If you find that a prospect is resisting your invitation, one of the worst things we see coaches doing with this generation of prospect is to keep the fact that there is a possible scholarship hanging in the balance a secret.  Don’t do it.  Approach your prospect with the idea that he or she needs to come to campus because you want to talk to them about a scholarship, and that coming to visit will give you the chance to sit down face to face with them.  Doing that just might get them to commit to a visit (at least that’s what our research has been showing).
  • If you might have a scholarship to give, but aren’t sure the prospect is the right fit for you, use the idea of a campus visit to help each of you decide if you’re right for each other.  Approach your prospect with an acknowledgement that they aren’t sure about you, and you aren’t sure about them, and the campus visit would be a good chance for each of you to decide if it’s a right fit.  And, you’d want to sit down and discuss scholarship options with them. 
  • If you don’t offer scholarships, use the idea of a campus visit to show them why your school just might be worth the investment.  Or, use the idea of the campus visit to suggest that meeting with you, and the different departments on campus, might significantly lower the cost of the overall tuition (if that is indeed a possibility).  One of the advantages that I see private schools and most Division III schools holding over their competition is the flexibility that many of them have in the total cost that a student-athlete will incur as a net cost.  However, most of the time that “flexibility” requires a visit to campus by the prospect.  If you take the time to explain that to your recruit, it might be enough to sway them toward the idea of a visit.

This concept works, Coach.  You’ll want to adapt it to your own unique situation, of course…just like an earlier tip we gave you that you’re telling us works.  But it’s the overall idea that we see being so effective…the idea of giving a hesitant recruit a real, solid, something-in-it-for-them reason for accepting your invitation to come to your campus.

Speaking of coming to campus, we’d like to do that!

Bring Dan Tudor to work with you and your staff, and watch as we develop unique strategies for your staff to use in your daily recruiting battles.  It’s highly effective, completely customized, and can give your recruiting results a big boost immediately.  For more information on what we do, click here.  Or, email Dan personally at dan@dantudor.com

New Findings: Paper Beats Digital for Recruiting Message ImpactMonday, October 4th, 2010

The thinking over the past few years has been this:

“I’m a college coach who wants to make the biggest impact with the best prospects.  And that means I need to focus on technology to communicate with them.”

Sure, there’s some truth to that.  Technology, such as email, Dartfish, Twitter, Front Rush, NCSA and Facebook make interacting with recruits a lot easier and very effective.

However, a recent study will give coaches who still love the look and feel of the good ‘ol fashioned recruiting letter some good news: 

Mail outranks electronic media when it comes to some important areas.

  • Physical media, such as recruiting letters and other creative materials, caused more emotional processing in the brains of those tested.
  • The same physical media left a deeper footprint in the minds of the receipients.

The bottom line of the study, which you can read in full here, is that physical mail and media seems more “real” to the reader.  That’s an important fact to pay attention to, Coach, because the areas of the brain that are engaged during this processing are some of the places that make the deepest impact when it comes to our emotional connection with the sender. 

There are some really effective ideas that are NCAA compliant that we recommend you focus on when it comes to making the most out of your physical mail recruiting:

  1. Pay attention to the stock and quality of the paper you use.  The study seems to indicate that the weight, brightness, and other quality factors are noticed by the reader.  For example, what if you wrote about wanting to talk to your recruit about an offer, and did so on a heavier card stock?  The look and feel of the paper you use helps to underscore the message you’re talking to them about.
  2. Since paper registers deeper with our emotions, save your more emotional messages for the printed page.  Things like your vision for your program, an official invitation to campus…those kinds of messages.  
  3. Paper is a great place to emphasize your logo and your program’s mission statement.  And, recruits are looking for those kinds ideas from you.  Go into as much detail as possible, and try to make your emotional appeals to recruits on the printed page.

Does this mean you should ditch electronic recruiting altogether and start licking stamps all day?  Of course not, Coach.

Electronic communication with your recruits, when done consistently and correctly, can be a primary way to communicate with them.  There are ways that you can interact with a recruit electronically that you just can’t with written letters. 

However, what I am suggesting is that you put a stop to the growing trend I see when we consult with coaching staffs…the trend of moving totally away from written mail in favor of all-electronic recruiting campaigns. 

It’s an easy lesson:  Balance your more modern communication with some physical mail, as well.

Want some ideas on what to include in a great mail piece?  We’ve put together a list of great elements of an effective recruiting message for free on our Facebook fan page.  Click here to read it, and while you’re at it stop by our Facebook page to become a fan of Tudor Collegiate Strategies so you can get regular updates and exclusive tips we feature on our page.