Ward and June Cleaver never seemed to show much emotion when they were solving 1950′s TV family problems. Today, parents wear their emotions on their sleeves a lot more often.
Most of us, in fact, make emotional buying decisions on a daily basis. The parents of your recruits, included.
A cup of coffee that you absolutely “need” to start your day, for example. Or, name brand jeans. Even the uniforms you choose for your team’s next season. Every day, we choose emotion over logic in order to make a decision.
So how do emotional buying decisions affect your prospects? The results may surprise you, actually.
As we gather and analyze our data and focus group research from the past year of being on campuses and talking to athletes, we’re surprised to learn that this generation of student-athletes are picking schools based largely on the quality of the relationships they feel they’ve established with the coach and your athletes (see our other research references for more details on the reasoning behind that).
However, we’re seeing an interesting twist when it comes to the ways parents tend to influence their sons and daughters as they come to their final decision: They get emotional about a college, either in a good way or a bad way.
That means a couple of things for you as a recruiter preparing to convince a new class or recruits to get interested in your program and your school:
- We’re hearing consistent stories of parents deciding what school is tops on their list very early in the recruiting process, and they’re picking that school based on two main reasons: 1) The prestige and/or financial benefits offered by the college that is recruiting their son or daughter, and 2) which coach or program they decide is treating them with the most respect (which is why if you’re a TRS client of ours, you see that we design a lot of message content centered around engaging mom and dad with you as a coach).
- They’ll use logical reasoning to support their emotional decision about their favorite college or program. In other words, we see that parents are settling on their “favorite” very early on, and then using facts that you (or your competition) presents to support that emotional decision. And, they have no problem mentioning their feelings and observations to their son or daughter.
One other thing we’re finding that we see as pretty interesting:
You know those recruiting emails that you send to your prospects? Their parents, the majority of the time, are the ones that are replying to your emails. About 6 out of 10 times, to be exact. Kind of scary, huh? We’ve heard dozens and dozens of accounts from current college athletes who have told us about their parents managing their recruiting conversations and actually communicating back and forth as the recruit. (Another reason to curse those helicopter parents under your breath, right Coach?)
Now, before we give you some advice on how to successfully combat the emotions of your prospect’s parents, a little clarification:
We’re not talking about every parent. Just a lot…a slight majority. And, I’m not suggesting that you should assume a parent is strongly influencing your prospect’s decision in this way. There’s no doubt that we see parents playing a major role in helping their prospect with their final decision, but this is less about that indesputable fact then it is about what drives their motivation to influence their kids.
With that being said, here are four ways to target your strategy if your goal is to sway the parents over to your side:
- Prove that you’re a player. One thing I can now tell you about the parents of your recruits is that they want their sons and daughters to compete at a place they can feel good talking to their friends about. So, figure out what you can point to in your program, or on your campus, that is going to give them something that they can feel good about telling other people about.
- Start to write your emails with the parent’s eyes in mind. Just keep that statistic we quoted earlier in the back of your mind, Coach. What you’ll want to do is write your email to your prospect with the expectation that the parent is going to read it, respond to it, and then talk to your prospect about what you’ve said them.
- Enthusiasm about your prospect counts for a lot! Parents want to see you pay consistent, serious attention to their kids. The more passion you show will – over time - cement the idea that you want their son or daughter more than anyone else, in the mind of the parent. We’ve seen passion cause prospects and their parents to overlook a conference, facilities…even the lack of the prospect’s major at the college!…all because of the passion that a coach showed the prospect.
- (See the Tudor Collegiate Strategies fan page for our fourth and final recommendation. You’ll like it!)
I know a lot of college coaches view parents as a necessary evil in the recruiting process. Whether you hold to that belief, or actually enjoy getting to know the parents of your recruit and want to actively make them a part of the whole process, we want you to have a good idea of what drives them.
And, the research doesn’t lie: Parents rely on their emotions to make this big decision, just like most of us.
Want us to be on your campus in the coming months? We’re setting our visit schedule to campuses around the country, and we’d love to come work with you and your athletic department. The research we’ll use to uncover some of the secrets to effective recruiting on your campus will change the way you plan your recruiting campaigns (for the better!) Click here for all the details, or email Dan Tudor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask him for options and potential workshop dates with your staff.