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Using Facebook to Engage with Your Fans, Alumni…and Your Recruits!Monday, February 28th, 2011

by Mark Drosos, Lodestone Social Media

We have heard it hundreds of times in our conversations with athletic directors and coaches. How can we get more people interested in our teams and people coming to the games?

In todays noisy, media everywhere, social connected world the old school methods just don’t work. Posters, Free Pizza Night, Free T-shirt Night, e-mails, Media Guides, radio spots, etc. will not cut through the noise and get you new fans or remind your old ones that you are there.

They will get you what you have always got and do nothing to spread the word to new people. So why not try something new?  Something that is relevant!  Something that can allow you to target the fans you seek.

That something is using Facebook to target your local fan base, which is what we are helping college athletic departments do across the country. That fan base is not just people who like your college. You have people who may like your sport, like a player or coach, a local business, college students and media. All of whom have their own reasons for wanting to potentially support your team and they are all on Facebook waiting to be engaged.

We look at the local fan base world in three key areas:

  1. Sports Specific Fans
  2. College Organizations
  3. Media/Business Owners

First – Sport Specific Fans

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide you an opportunity to target specific groups of people with ease. Facebook allows you to target demographically, geographically, by interests and behaviors to reach the right people.

Let’s take for example TCU Volleyball and Facebook www.facebook.com/tcuvolleyball a quick look on Facebook showed there were over 50,000 people within 50 miles of the Fort Worth campus on Facebook that stated in their profile they liked volleyball. Not TCU, just the sport of volleyball.

A person may not care about TCU but if they like volleyball and are local you can bet they would come see a game. Either because they want to support volleyball as a sport or perhaps a youth who likes volleyball and see’s your team as a pro sport and something they aspire to become.

So TCU started to target those 50,000 volleyball fans and in one year generated almost 7,000 fans on Facebook. This has resulted in an attendance going from 700 per game average to over 1,300 and a 30% increase in camp registration.

So, use Facebook to find your local specific sports fans and turn them into your fans.

Second – University Organizations Such As Sororities, Fraternities or Groups

I have been on a lot of campuses and I always see the signs in the ground or posters in the student union, game today!  I think these are good, but if you look around just about every kid has their headphones on, looking down using their cell phone or engaged in a conversation and usually miss the sign or forget about it later.

Most school groups are looking for ways to connect to the school and some even have charters requiring it. But the once a year swing by the Fraternity House by a coach or an email to the Sorority President is not enough. You need to engage them where they are spending their time.

A good majority of them have a Facebook Page too and with the new changes to Facebook you can post and engage them as your team using your Page as person.

This provides a direct link into the life blood of your college athletic programs, the students!  An example of this is San Diego State Volleyball, who follows 18 different programs giving them access to over 15,000 of their followers.  Simply congratulating the group on their accomplishments, promoting their events and asking them to come to a game will keep you top of mind and cool!  You could even go as far as having contest or special sections and promotions for them via Facebook.

Third – Media and Business Owners

I hear it a lot from Olympic sports or from the non-dominate college in town that they don’t get their fair share of press or support from local businesses. Well with 24 of the top 25 publications failing and major magazines declaring bankruptcy most have moved to social media to get their news out.

The fast pace, media snacking world of social media has left them needing more stuff to talk about.  That’s where you come in. Simply emailing or posting your game notes will not get you the press you desire. Just about every local news outlet is on Facebook and/or Twitter. Engage them and the rewards will come.

Take TCU Women’s Basketball for example.  After simply following local Fox News and ESPN Dallas and re-posting their articles about sports they had ESPN Dallas tweeting and blogging about their program. They had Fox DFW promoting their Pink Zone game to their viewers.

Then there is local business. Local businesses have flocked to social media to reach the local market because newspaper ads and radio spots aren’t cutting it. Most understand the benefit to promoting local sports and would welcome the chance to cross promote with your team.

If you are not following your local coffee shop, sports bar, pizza shop or even dry cleaner you are missing the chance to create a buzz. You will also find they may give away specials just to your Facebook fans.

To recap, remember if you really want to market your team, find new fans and get more exposure.  Use the power of Facebook to target your local market. Focus on ‘Sports Specific’ fans, School Groups and your local media and businesses.  Follow and engage them and the rewards will come.

Lodestone is a recommended resource for college athletic departments, and the official social media experts for Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  If you want to know more check out this summary video or feel free to reach out to the author at mark@lodestonesocial.com with any questions.

The Importance of Selling Your VisionMonday, February 28th, 2011

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota Women’s Soccer

Coaching your team and developing leadership starts with having a vision statement, then developing a plan to achieve it.  That’s the starting point for every business that wants to be successful, and it’s a must for college coaches who want to build a successful program.

A vision statement answers the question, “What will our program look like 5 to 10 years from now?”

A vision is more than a destination.  It is an inspiration, a motivator, and a rallying point for a team.  Results matter, but they are often the by-products of an effectively created and communicated vision. 

How does the vision you have for you team apply to managing your time in the office?

Dan Tudor talks a lot about how recruits don’t care about your past or your present, they only care about how they fit into your future.   

Coaches who consistently sign the recruits they want have mastered really good communication and a great selling message on how the program’s future expectations, goals, and aspirations will meet the recruit’s needs and help him or her achieve their goals.  

Communication of a vision is the difficult process of inspiring your recruits to see the future reality which you see, and are committed to make happen for them. Communicating your vision will help recruits focus their energies to see that their real needs might best be met through your program.

So, how do you do it?  Communicating your vision is talking about the future, evoking images and responses in the mind about what it is going to be like for them over the next 4 years while at your college.  Communicate your vision so people can feel it, see it, and feel it. 

When communicating and selling your vision to recruits remember the following:

1. Clearly articulate the vision of your organization.
2. Be enthusiastic toward your vision, and let others see your passion for that vision.
3. Repeatedly share the vision in various ways.

Concentrate on the “what’s-in-it-for-them”, and the what’s-in-it-for-you will then usually take care of itself. 

Mandy Green is the head women’s soccer coach at the University of South Dakota.  As a coach, wife and mother, she is preparing a session on organization and time management for the upcoming 2011 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  The principles she developed and put into practice lead to her best recruiting class ever, and with a fraction of the stress that she experienced in past years. 

Creating the Right “Beat” for Your RecruitsMonday, February 28th, 2011

Ever listen to a song and start tapping your foot to the tune…even though you’ve never heard it before?

It’s probably because its using a beat that’s been used before in other songs.  Dozens and dozens and dozens of other songs you’ve listed to in your life, and have probably forgotten about.

You’ve just fallen for a secret tactic in the music industry:  They want to get you sucked-in to a new song by giving you a taste of something that you’re already familiar with.

What I’d like to suggest to you today is that you employ the same subtle messaging in your communication with prospects.

Here’s why it works…

Our brains (your teenage prospect’s brain, included) loves to be able to predict what’s coming next.  We do it all the time:  Try to guess the end to a movie, guess the next play in a football game we’re watching…we love to be one step ahead.  As I mentioned a moment ago, so do your teenage prospects.

And, like us, they also want to be intrigued by new, exciting information.  Actually, let me rephrase that:  They don’t “want” it, they need it.

The challenge, of course, is giving them those two ingredients:  Something new and exciting, as well as something familiar and comfortable.  However, if you can mix those two things effectively – like we try to do for our clients – then the results can be stunning. 

So let’s aim for “stunning” today…here are a few important rules as you begin the process of creating the delicate mix of these two critical parts of any good recruiting communication piece:

  • Watch for too much familiar information.  For example, grab a few of your recruiting letters and emails.  Do they all sound the same?  Do they seem to all sound alike and look alike?  Do they seem to be saying the same thing?  That’s what you could probably define as “too familiar”.  Time to come up with some new stuff, Coach.  Quickly.
  • At the same time, watch out for too much “new”.  My four year old son loves candy.  He’d eat it all day long if he could…its fun, tastes good…come on, who doesn’t like candy???  Me, for one, if that’s all my four year old son eats.  He’ll bounce off the walls, and then hit the sugar low.  He gets fussy.  So do your prospects when all you feed them is new, exciting, over-the-top, exclamation point filled messages.  A little bit is nice, but it needs to be balanced with the “meat” of solid, interesting facts that they can file away as a reason to take a serious look at you and the program you offer.
  • Develop a good beat.  I mentioned the music analogy earlier, remember?  When you go to create a new message, look for a balance between the candy and the meat.  One short paragraph about something exciting, one short paragraph that follows about something logical and sound.  You should almost be able to tap your foot to it if it’s balanced correctly.
  • As you get towards the end, invite your prospect to join in the tapping.  When you have them entranced and tuned-in to your message, the last thing you should want to do is end the foot tapping by saying something bland like, “so if you ever have any questions, feel free to call me at your convenience.”  That’s not a ”call to action”, that’s begging for forgiveness.  When you have them marching to your beat, it’s the perfect time to ask them to do something specifically for you.  “Email me and let me know if…”  Or, “Have your parents call me before the end of next week.  The best number to reach me at is…”  Be specific, and prompt them to take action. 

If you want some more ideas on how to create original ideas for your messages, campus visits, and phone calls, visit the resource section of our website.  You can also access all of our past newsletter articles here…just scroll down the right hand side of the page to look up past articles by topic or by date.

Make a commitment to re-energize your recruiting messages ahead of this next recruiting class.  Work on creating that “beat” and watch how your prospects respond.

Nashville is known for producing some pretty good musical beats over the past 100 years.  And come this June, the city famous for Music Row will be the center of the recruiting universe for college coaches from around the country when it plays host to the 2011 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  Join us June 3rd through 5th at the spectacular Scarritt Bennett Conference Center just steps from downtown.  Our early registration discount ends on March 31, so hurry and make plans to attend!  Click here for more details.

Adding Some Sanity to Your Coaching Travel ScheduleMonday, February 21st, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

At Front Rush, we do a fair amount of traveling.  And, as we can all relate, traveling can at times be a burden.

One app that we use quite a bit to make that burden a bit easier is called TripIt. We don’t have any affiliation with them and have never met the founders.  So what I’m about to say comes from my heart:  They make a good app.

Here’s how TripIt works: First, you create an account, let’s say using your gmail or school email credentials, and TripIt syncs all of your travel itineraries. Essentially, they look for any confirmation emails that you get from the airline that you are flying and make the information instantly accessible online or through your mobile app. The problem it is solving is the challenge of searching through your email, printing out your travel documents, storing them in a folder, and on and on. With this app, you don’t do anything…it all automatically syncs.

So before you take your next recruiting trip, check out TripIt.com.  We highly recommend it!

And, we highly recommend the recruiting management experts at Front Rush.  They’ve becoming the #1 resource for college athletic departments around the country by building the best recruiting tracking engine on the planet while providing great coach support along the way.  We use them to track all of our conversations with coaches, and we thing you should too!  Click here for more info on what they can do for you.

How to (Successfully) Play the Waiting GameMonday, February 21st, 2011

There’s almost an art to it, isn’t there?

They’ve taken their visit.  You’ve made your offer.

They’ve turned in their application.  You’re crossing your fingers.

And now you wait.

And wait, and wait.

How is there an “art” to it all?  Because if you don’t successfully play the “waiting game”, all your hard work goes down the drain.  The time period that many of you find yourself in right now as you read this is the critical phase in the recruiting process.  The sobering detail of that statement is that most coaches manage the waiting game very, very poorly.

Now the good news:  Today, I want to give you three, easy-to-implement ideas on how to effectively manage this crucial time period in the recruiting process.  If you’re one of our TRS clients, we can expand on this list, but use this as a starting point:

  1. Please – and I’m begging you here, Coach – keep giving them the reasons they should compete for you.  One big problem we see in athletic departments is the tendency for coaches to stop “selling” their schools, their programs, and themselves.  They (not you, but the other coach down the hall) go to their corner, and basically tell their recruits that they’ll not bother them anymore until they’re ready to make their decision.  Some coaches describe this as not wanting to pressure their recruits.  On the flip side, your prospects are craving direction.  They want good reasons to finally choose you.  Make sure you give it to them.
  2. Make sure you are talking to the parents.  Why?  As most of you know, our national study on how prospects make their final decision tells us that parents are one of the key outside influences in a prospect’s final decision.  So it should make sense that you should be communicating with mom and dad during that awkward silent time that happens during the waiting game.  We find that a conversation with the parents can really be insightful, mainly because they will often divulge crucial information about what’s going on behind the scenes.  Don’t forget to include them in good, in-depth communication during this part of the process.
  3. Don’t be afraid to set a (reasonable) deadline.  By “reasonable” I mean ten days…two weeks…a month…something that doesn’t demand an immediate decision.  So, what’s the point in a longer deadline?  Because it’s something that gives you some power, coach.  Too many of you give it away to the parents, and then complain when they use that power you’ve given them to make you wait and worry.  As we talk about in our On-Campus Workshops that we lead for athletic departments, someone has to control the sales process (which is what this is).  And as the lead sales professional, it’s your responsibility to lead that discussion by setting the guidelines for what’s allowed and what isn’t.  A reasonable deadline during this decision making process will give you a yes or a no that will enable you to move forward, and maybe – just maybe – give your prospect a reason to talk to you first and accept your offer.

Should you use these three guidelines?  If what you’re doing now involves you feeling like you aren’t in control of the process, or if your prospect that you have penciled in as your new starting poit guard hasn’t returned your phone calls in about six weeks, or if you’ve stopped sending emails and letters selling you and your program they way you did right after you put them on your recruiting list, then I think it might be a smart move.

These strategies work, Coach.  All it takes to be successful is a willingness to try something new, and the willingness to take control of these final days of the recruiting process.

 

The 5 Best Practices for Social Media in College Sports (Part Two)Monday, February 14th, 2011

by Mark Drosos, Lodestone Social Media

In Part One of The 5 Best Practices of Social Media for Sports we discussed the shift in the way fans engage with your team and consume content in today’s socially connected world. We also reviewed how major sports brands are shifting their marketing budgets away from traditional efforts and into social media.

We covered the first two fundamentals of those five best practices:

  1. Think Local
  2. It’s a Relationship not a Microphone

Social media can be a super-charged engine for sports marketing, but every engine needs fuel and in part two today we will cover the three remaining best practices that will fuel your social media efforts.

  • Design and Branding
  • Content is King
  • Promotions

3. Design and Branding

If checking Facebook is going to be the first task a fan does in the morning when they get up, they don’t want to visit an empty page. You need to make it look good and have relevant information on the page. You can do this through the custom ‘Tabs’ on the wall.

One of the most important ‘Tabs’ is the welcome tab. Encouraging fans to like the page will increase your conversion rate of people ‘liking’ the page. Two good examples are TCU Women’s Basketball and the video welcome from Mississippi State’s Baseball .

In addition to that providing a couple tabs with access to Content, Schedule or Tickets can enhance your opportunity to turn your social media program into a revenue generator for your team.

You should then extend this branding into your Twitter and Youtube channel with background images like Mississippi State Youtube and TCU Women’s Basketball. You can keep these a little more simple.

4. Content is King

If Design and Branding is your regular fuel, then Content is like using jet fuel. Content gives you the opportunity to connect with your fans and make them feel like they a bigger part of the program than just a “fan”.

The nice thing about social media is the fans want the content ‘raw’ so you don’t need to create over produced pieces of content. There are two types of content that are easy to do that can super charge your social media engine.

  • Updates – simple wall post or comments back to fans on your Facebook page or Twitter. You don’t have to William Shakespeare. Fans just want to feel like they are getting to ‘tag along’ with you. Here are a couple examples of simple post/comments/re-tweets that received a lot of response from the fans.
    1. Just landed in Vegas bring on UNLV tomorrow at 7pm
    2. It’s Friday what are you plans for the weekend, we’ll be watching film….
    3. 22 degrees outside, time for hot chocolate!
  • Photos – photos are actually the best and most viewed/commented/liked items on Facebook. With Facebook/Twitter mobile you can snap a picture on your cell phone and upload it via email in under minute. Program yourself to take a moment when you have 1 minute of down time to do this. Here are some simple tips:
    • On the bus or plane to the game
    • In the locker room, weight room or practice
    • At another game supporting your school
    • At Starbucks having a hot chocolate

Don’t try to over complicate it we all have a minute of down time a day, use that time to engage your fans and it will pay off.

5. Promotions

If ‘Content’ is your jet fuel, ‘Promotions’ are like the stuff that powers the Star Trek Enterprise. You don’t have to be elaborate with your promotions. Fans just want to feel like they get something for being your brand advocates.

So think of the things you already do and turn them into Facebook promotions. Here are a couple examples:

  1. Fan Challenges – use your fans to grow your fan base. You have old gear sitting around? Well how about signing it and giving to one luck fan if you reach a specific number of Fans. TCU Women’s Basketball gives away a signed Jersey for reaching certain milestones and has amassed 5,500+ fans so far.
  2. Ball Girl/Boy – you probably already try to find them for your game. Why not select them from Facebook or Twitter. Here is an example of TCU Women’s Basketball
  3. First Pitch/Serve/Free Throw, etc. – select a fan from Facebook/Twitter to throw out the first pitch or first serve at your tennis match. Give a T-shirt and you’re done.

These types of promotions are easy to manage, create an exceptional amount of buzz and activate your local audience to come to games.

Social Media can be the boost in the arm your athletics department or team needs to increase attendance, camp registration, media exposure and engagement from fans, alumni, recruits and students.

So, before you embark upon a social media program, think about how you will tackle The 5 Best Practices of Social Media for College Coaches.

  1. Think Local
  2. It’s a Relationship not a Microphone
  3. Design and Branding
  4. Content is King
  5. Promotions

If you want to know, more check out this summary video at http://budurl.com/SocialSports or feel free to reach out to me at mark@lodestonesocial.com with any questions.

Lodestone Social Media is the recommended social media strategy solution for college athletic departments, and we highly recommend them to help coaches and athletic directors finally figure out how to effectively Facebook and Twitter to connect with their recruits and their fans.  For more information on the expert service they offer college athletic departments, visit Lodestone Social Media

The First 5 Steps to Telling Your StoryMonday, February 14th, 2011

Whenever we go to lead one of our On-Campus Workshops for a college coach or athletic director, a big part of our job is helping them to develop their “story”.

I think effective stories are vital to the recruiting process.  And by the way, when I say “story”, I’m not talking about something that has been made-up to try and trick a teenager into choosing your program.  I am not talking about telling lies, making up statistics to bolster the prestige of your school, or anything associated with negative recruiting against an opponent. 

What I am talking about is giving your recruit something to reach out and touch, and feel, and connect with when it comes to what your program is all about.  What is your “story” that you want them to buy into?  Have you sat back and considered what kind of picture you are painting for your prospect in their head through your recruiting materials, phone calls and even on-campus visits?

If you have never seriously thought about “your story” before, and need help in creating it so that you can be a more effective recruiter starting immediately, I want to pass along five questions that you can ask yourself – and your fellow coaches on your staff – to see what you can find that is unique about your program, and how to present it as a compelling story that your recruit will want to hear more of:

  1. What are your prospects demanding?  Here’s a hint: It’s not always about the money, so don’t make that the focus.  If you’ve read our study how high school athletes tell us they will make their final college decision, it usually revolves around personal relationships with your team and you as a coach.  They demand attention, and they demand benefits that revolve around them.  What can you do to “meet their demand”?
  2. What do your prospects need?  Money?  Sometimes.  A degree?  Yes.  A chance to succeed?  All the time.  Ask yourself what your prospects need, and you will go a long way towards reaching them with a message – a story – that they will identify with.  Remember: “Needs” are different than “demands”.  Their needs revolve around the realities that they are facing, and are necessary for them to overcome those hurdles.  Figure out a way to meet their needs (that’s what they care about, anyway…their needs, not yours).
  3. What are they willing to pay for?  This is actually a fairly in-depth question.  What is it that they view as being a “premium” feature of your school that if they had to pay for it, they would gladly do so.  For example, if you are at a school that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, the premium might be a great education…or the brand new dorms…or the chance to compete in the best athletic conference in the country.  All of those things are tangible “premium” items that your prospects may be willing to pay for if they had to.  Understanding what the most valuable parts of your offering are in the eyes of your prospects is a big key in developing a great recruiting story.
  4. What athletic niches are underserved by other colleges?  Next week, I’m working at a university that is developing a specialized niche in the way they educate their incoming Freshmen athletes.  I give them credit for looking at what their school wants to do regarding enrollment, identifying its most likely student-athletes, and building a story around the focus that they have.  Taking a look at what kind of “specialty” niche you can put together for your prospects, whether it be a unique training approach, training trips to exotic locations, or what you offer them on your campus that most of your competitors don’t.  Find an area that your competitors are failing to focusing on and build out that unique brand for your prospect.
  5. What special credentials to you bring to your athlete as a coach?  Most college coaches we work with on a personal level have an admirable personal quality and, at the same time, a flaw that prevents them from connecting with recruits:  They don’t like talking about themselves.  Humility is a great quality, but it can hamper recruiting efforts.  Why?  Because your recruits desperately want to find a coach who has a strong vision for where he or she is taking their program, and is able to verbalize why they are the best choice as a future coach.  Telling that part of your story effectively requires a coach to be able to talk about themselves in a confident manner.

Just asking those five probing questions about you and your program can help you develop the beginnings to a great recruiting strategy…a strategy that will give your prospect the story they can get behind, believe in, and respond to.

Want to take the next step?  Here are two ideas:

  1.  
    1. Become a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  Let us help you develop and execute your story, saving you time and increasing your bottom line recruiting results.  Click here for more details.Our system works, and we’d love to tell you why. 
    2. Attend the 2011 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  Join us in Nashville on June 3-5, 2011 for the most powerful weekend of recruiting available for college coaches who want to take a serious approach to their most important job as a college coach: Effective recruiting.  Get all the details and take advantage of our early registration discount…click here!

How StatEasy Makes Volleyball Coaching SimplerTuesday, February 8th, 2011

StatEasy is sweeping the college volleyball world for one simple reason:
  
It simplifies the life of a coach.
  
“The main goal of StatEasy is to get the technology out of a coach’s way and lets them do what they do best…coach”, says founder Mike Ressler.  “You shouldn’t have to fight with your statistics or video software in order to get the information you want.”

Solving that problem goes back to the very start of the company.  “One of our earliest adopters of StatEasy was Kent State University”, recalls Ressler.  “I had the opportunity to travel to Kent State and watch them during one of their matches.  What immediately jumped out at me was that one of their assistant coaches was about 100 feet away from the bench, sitting next to the video camera with their undergraduate assistant.  Their video editing program required that he sit next to the camera, and it was so complex that two people needed to input all of the data!  From that one trip came the first StatEasy mantra – “Let Ernest coach!”  We wanted to allow Kent State to get their knowledgeable assistant coach (whose name happened to be – you guessed it – Ernest) back to doing what he does best – coaching – not sitting 100 feet away from the court attempting to shout loud enough so his players could hear him”.

 
Want to see how StatEasy can make your job simpler and more productive…. 

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE

Where Should You “Ask for the Sale”?Monday, February 7th, 2011

When I was getting ready to ask my smokin’ hot wife Teresa to marry me 19 years and 10 months ago, it took weeks of planning. 

It was going to happen at the beach.  It was going to happen at the end of the day at sunset.  And I was going to ask her at a peak overlooking the Pacific ocean, the same peak that she told me she would go to as a girl and dream of her life to come.  I had the ring ready to go ahead of time, and had practiced my “will you marry me” speech over and over and over again.  The place I asked her to marry me was important.

I was touring a college athletic department that we were conducting a workshop at a few weeks ago and the coach hesitated to show me the weight room.  In fact, he apologized twice before opening the doors…”it’s not as nice as we want it, and they keep promising that we’ll see some improvements here in the next year or two”, he said, explaining later that he was really embarassed to show his visiting recruits the area.  The look of the place that was important to his recruits was important to him.

I bring up these two individual situations to underscore one key thought that I think it is worth thinking about:

Your surroundings matter, especially if there’s an important event associated with those surroundings. 

Since this isn’t a marriage column, I’ll stick with recruiting.  Specifically today, I want to focus on one key part of the recruiting process.  Specifically, where you ask your prospect for “the sale”, or their commitment.

To start with, let me tell you one place that the vast majority of you should strike from your list right now:  Your office.  You know, the place that doubles as your storage shed and locker room.

I’ve seen your office, and it looks a lot like my office.  That’s not a good thing, Coach, especially when we’re talking about asking a prospect to commit to the most important decision in their young lives.  And if you’re thinking, “But Dan, I have a nice conference table and everything”, that doesn’t matter…please don’t conduct important conversations in your office.

With that said, let me give you some guidelines that I’ve seen work at the colleges we’ve worked with, especially over the past two years as we’ve increased our focus on the importance of planning an effective and original campus visit:

  • Again, any place but your office.  Not only is there nothing original in the setting, we see it being a distraction to coaches during that crucial talk with your prospect and his or her family.  Phones are ringing, activity is going on in the offices next to you…its just not a good atmosphere for driving home your message.
  • Consider a big stage.  It depends on your personality, of course, but I’ve seen this work really well when it comes to making your final talk memorable.  If you play in an arena or gym, set up a table and chairs at center court and have your conversation there.  If you play on a field, do the same thing at midfield.  It’s memorable and gets talked about.
  • Casual works, if… it fits your personality.  If you’re a take-charge, dominant personality, picking a setting that is too casual can send the signal that you aren’t serious about your prospect.  The benefit of a casual setting is that it can prompt some great conversation, and lets them know that they can ask questions and talk to you about your offer.
  • Pick a place that isn’t noisy.  It can be busy, just not noisy.  This is a big complaint we hear from parents who are forced to talk with a coach in the middle of a restaurant, or in a loud quad, or even a noisy office is that it’s too easy to not focus on what’s being talked about.  Seems obvious, right?  Just think about it, Coach…how often have your meetings with prospects been interrupted by something distracting?   
  • Ask for the sale in a place that says “we’re big time”.  The great thing about this?  You don’t have to be big time to make it work.  At the point of being asked to commit to your school, we find that your prospects are actively looking for a reason to feel good about you as one of their final choices.  Even if you’re a small college program, pick a place that tells your prospect you see yourself as a program that’s confident, proud and going in the right direction.  So, what place on your campus is your “big time” spot?  That’s something that only you can answer.
  • Talk to your athletic department about establishing a recruiting room.  A safe, effective place to have an important meeting like the one where you ask for your prospect’s commitment is a well decorated conference room.  Preferably, it’s couches or comfortable chairs surrounded by images, trophies, and other proof that you’re part of a first class organization.  It’s one of the best investments an athletic department can make, and will pay dividends for every coach in the department for years to come.

Where you ask your prospect for your commitment might seem like a minor detail.  It’s not.  When we ask parents about their experiences at the end of the recruiting process, the time and effort you put into asking their son or daughter for their commitment – and where you do that - sends important signals to them about how you operate, how you feel about them, and how serious you take their decision. 

So, ask yourself:  What is your current preferred “ask for the commitment” spot?  What does it say about you and your program?

It’s a serious question, Coach.  And if you think you could use a different direction when it comes to your closing technique, the time to change is now (before you host your next top tier prospect and have “the talk” with them!)

If you want expert help in determining how, when and where to close the deal with your prospect, consider becoming a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  We can put together an affordable plan that meets your budget, and effectively addresses your program’s unique needs.  If you want more information or have questions about how it would work with your program, email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com and just type “tell me how to become a client” in the subject line.  We’ll get back to you with more information and a plan for you to review.  You can also click here to see a complete overview of our client program for college coaches.

Should Coaches Buy the New Verizon iPhone?Monday, February 7th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

In our view, this whole thing with Verizon carrying the iPhone is, in fact, a big deal.  No doubt about it.

And since more and more college coaches are using their web-enabled phones to do their job away from the office, and because it is going to be hitting shelves later this week, here are a couple of things we feel our college coach clients need to know:

Don’t buy one right away!  In just a few months (the Summer of 2011) Apple will be announcing their new iPhone 5 which will most likely show up on Verizon’s system, as well (and I should mention that the rumors I am hearing are saying it will be completely redesigned).

Don’t buy one right away!  Although initial reports have shown that voice quality is better with the Verizon iPhone compared to the AT&T versions, the same has yet to be seen with the data consumption (which is the majority of what you and your fellow coaches will use the iPhone for).

Don’t buy one right away!   Analysts are expecting huge initial sales of the Verizon iPhone.  Once a large number of users hit Verizon, the whole voice quality issue and “no dropped calls” thing could go away.

Don’t buy one right away!   Go check out some competitive Android devices. Last month, some really sweet new devices were announced, and they will be released over the coming months.  Dan Tudor took our advice, and is happy he made the switch!

Ok…maybe you should buy one!  Verizon is offering unlimited data plans for early adopters, but after that these plans will go away from what we are hearing.  This is a really great offer and could be really difficult to pass up if you’re a Verizon customer who has always wanted an iPhone.

One other last item for those who aren’t expensing their phone costs:  By locking yourself into an unlimited data plan, you potentially could save yourself a ton of cash in the future, especially as data speeds get faster and faster.  With that said, if it were up to me…yeah, I would probably hold off on switching to the new Verizon iPhone if I were a college coach.

Front Rush is the recommended source for web-based contact management systems to use in your recruiting efforts.  They rank high in ease of use, as well as overall customer service and satisfaction with college coaches.  The fact that they’re the least expensive full-service solution on the market is the icing on the cake.  Click here to find out more about what they can do for your recruiting efforts…

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