Dan Tudor

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Should You Use Assimilation or Differentiation with Your Next Prospect?Monday, December 19th, 2011

All of us have the need to be included in a group.

Your prospects are no different.

It all goes back to our primary need for two basic psychological drives: Assimilation and differentiation.

Assimilation is our basic longing to be included in a group, while differentiation is the pleasure we derive from being “set apart” as special.  Both are important for coaches to keep in mind as they are recruiting.

So, let me ask you a question:

How are you incorporating those two basic psychological principles in your recruiting strategy?

Most coaches aren’t.  And those that are usually do so by mistake…getting great results, but not quite sure why.

So, I wanted to share some of the reasons incorporating answers to your recruit’s basic psychological need to be included, or set apart, are so effective in getting them to take a serious look at you and your program.

Here are three fairly common recruiting scenarios, and how this strategy can work to help overcome an obstacle you might be facing with a future prospect:

  • Designate their uniqueness by location. This works especially well if you’re dealing with prospects from out of state.  You can try to make them feel special by telling them that they are “one of only x number of players” you’re recruiting from that area, and that you are specifically wanting to take a serious look at them since they are from an area that you’ve targeted.  Sometimes, making them part of a special group you are targeting sets you apart from other programs that are just recruiting them as a regular prospect.
  • Use assimilation as a method to attract wishy-washy prospects to your campus. As you may have noticed, today’s teenage prospect (and their parents) are sometimes hesitant to commit to a campus visit if you and your program aren’t at the very top of your list.  An effective strategy we’ve seen work is to tell your recruit and their family that you need (not want, need) them to visit campus as soon as possible so that you can go over your plan for them, and – assuming it’s an athlete that you’ve decided you want in your program – talk about the offer you’re going to be making them.  Including them in a select group, and giving them a specific reason for needing to come to campus, is turning out to be a compelling draw for many recruits.  Consider it when you find yourself in the scenario I just described.
  • Ask for an early commitment so that your recruit becomes part of an exclusive group. We find that a lot of recruits are wary of committing early, especially to a program that hasn’t done well in the past, need an extra push at the end of the recruiting process.  Again, turning to those two proven psychological needs might provide you with the answer you’re looking for:  Try suggesting that you want them to be one of your recruits that gives you an early commitment so that they can be a part of a select group of your new athletes that you can start preparing early for their upcoming college career.  In other words, use the early commitment to place your prospect in an exclusive group that leads them to make a commitment, or explain why they aren’t ready.

You can expand this concept into other areas of your recruiting, as well.  The main point here is that more coaches need to try to formulate a strategy to find a way to get your recruit into a group that they want to be in.  They have a need to be included, and feel like they belong.

If you can find a way to do that, you’ll find that it’ll make a difference to the recruits you really want.

Want more ideas on how to use the latest research and recruiting strategies to your advantage?  We’ve got lots of great resources for serious college coaches.  Click here to take a look at what we can do for you, Coach!

Three Ways to Make Sure You’re a More Organized CoachMonday, December 19th, 2011

Coach, I’m sure you understand the frustration that comes with leaving the office and not feeling like you got the right things done.

Getting done all of the things we have to do as a coach is tough enough.  I know, because I am a D1 college soccer coach.  Now that I am married and have children, all the extra time I had to hang out in the office getting work done, make phone calls, talking with fellow coaches, recruit on the weekends from morning to night, is now not an option like it was when I was single.

For me, especially once my son was born, I realized that I needed to get the same amount of work done in half the time so I could spend more time at home.  I needed a plan.

I did some research and found three time management tools and techniques that I have put to use in an effort to increase my productivity, get more organized, and to regain my sanity.  I found that each of them takes a little time to learn and master, but trust me, it will pay you back in greater efficiency and effectiveness!

1.  Use a time planner. I think most coaches use a planner already.  But if you are anything like me, I had a notebook for my practices, my daily calendar where I put my to-do lists, a separate notebook with my goals, and then scattered on the 3 different computers and all of my zip discs were all of my recruiting plans and notes.   I needed to create a time planning system that would enable me to plan for the year, the month, the week, and for each day all in one that contained everything I needed to organize my coaching responsibilities and personal life. Since no planner exist that had everything that I needed, I created one.  This planner allows me to set and keep track of my goals, organize my recruiting, keep track of what I am doing with my team, etc.  Whatever time planner you use, make sure you are able to capture every task, goal, or required action as it comes up.

2.  Always work from a list. Working from a list has been one of the most powerful tools for me in becoming more productive with my time.  When you create your daily list, you begin by writing down every single task that you intend to complete over the course of the day.  I figured out that what I needed to do in a typical day fell into one of four categories: team, recruiting, administrative, and personal.  I organize and prioritize each task based on what category it falls in and then that list becomes a map that guides me from morning to evening in a very effective and efficient way.  At the end of the day, I take 10 minutes before I leave the office to make my to-do list for the next day and then review it again before I go to bed.  It is amazing how much more focused I am and how much more I get done when I have a plan of attack already set before I get into the office.

3.  Time block your day. Once you have your to-do list and have organized them based on importance or priority, block off a section of your day where you focus on only one thing at a time.  For example, I have the most energy and get the fewest interruptions first thing in the morning.  For me, recruiting is the task that I feel is most important in building my program into what I want it to be so I schedule it first.  From 8-9am every morning, I shut my door and all I do is recruiting tasks: I send and return emails, plan recruiting trips, plan my next month’s recruiting messages, meet with my staff to discuss who we are going to make calls to, etc.  I don’t answer my phone, I don’t return any new emails that have come in.  All I do is focus on recruiting for that hour.

Just by doing these three things, I am amazed at how much more I get done and that I even have time left over in the day before I head home.  I love the peace of mind and feeling of control that I get knowing that I am scheduling my day based on my program goals and getting it all done before I leave.

Mandy Green is the author of a soon-to-be-released productivity guide and calendar especially designed for college coaches.  Look for more details soon!  You can find more articles on organization and planning your coaching and recruiting life here.

Your Recruiting Strategy: Horse Race or Beauty Pageant?Monday, December 12th, 2011

One of our clients called a couple of weeks ago, and she was worried.

A couple of her new recruits hadn’t responded to her first two emails and was wondering if we needed to highlight more of the things her Division I college had to offer their students and athletes.

“I’m worried if we don’t out-shine a couple of our other competitors soon, we won’t be able to get her on campus this Spring”, said the coach.

What I told her is what I want to tell you:

Recruiting isn’t a beauty pageant, it’s a horse race.

Here’s what I mean:

A beauty pageant is all about picking who looks the best, and who presents themselves the most convincingly to the judges.  Now I’ll admit, there are some recruits who fall into this category…they’ll pick a program using the most basic criteria:  How new your facility is, how big of a conference you play in, or strictly based upon something that they want for themselves.

The beauty pageant prospect is the toughest to land because they are making choices based on assumptions and stories that they’ve already defined for themselves:  The decision that they “deserve” to play in the best facility…what your conference will say to their friends and teammates back home…or some other off-the-wall criteria that they usually don’t reveal until they’ve already made their decision.

In short, if you’re recruiting a prospect like you’re judging a beauty pageant – which many coaches choose to do – then you’ll going to experience a tough road when it comes to recruiting great athletes for your program:  Your results will be random, and while you will experience some incredible highs when your prospect decides your program is the most “beautiful” in their eyes, there will also be far more soul-crushing defeats when they decide they don’t like the way you look.

If you’re interested in another way to approach recruiting, you should think about recruiting as a horse race.

Why a “horse race”?  Because the more I observe recruiting at different levels, the coaches that take a horse racing approach usually have more consistent, more reliable results.

Here’s why successful recruiting resembles a horse race:

  • Everyone starts evenly right out of the gate.
  • There are always two or three horses that jump out into the lead right away, and take a position along the rail.  If you’re one of those top three, great.  If you aren’t, don’t panic.  Find your spot and settle in for the race (remember, it just started a few seconds ago!)
  • This is where things get interesting: Before they field makes the first turn, horses start dropping out.  Usually that’s because those “horses” don’t hear back from their recruits right away.  They haven’t filled-out their questionaire, or returned the first email.  Due to that lack of interest, they drop out of the race for that prospect.  My recommendation to you is to not be one of those drop-outs!
  • The longer you stay up with the leaders, the more you’ll be viewed as a serious consideration by your recruit.  As you enter the halfway point in your recruiting efforts, stay consistent and understand that there’s still a long way to go in the mind of your recruit.
  • What gets it done “down the stretch”?   Outlining the differences between your program and the others still in the race.  The more radical and unique the differences, the better your chances of jumping out into the lead.
  • Want to make sure you win at the finish line?  Stay connected and talk with your prospect regularly.  It is extremely important, Coach.  The worst thing we see a coach do is step back and leave the prospect alone to make their final decision.  Guide them down the stretch…that’s what they want.

Beauty pageants are random, and produce subjective results that rarely make anyone but the winner happy.

Horse races are about preparation, strategy and strength down the stretch.

My main point: You can choose the strategy that fits you best, but what I see working most consistently with programs around the country is a strategy based on a long term approach that doesn’t necessitate immediate interest from high profile prospects, but instead relies upon a consistent, compelling and creative message that forces them to take serious look at you and your program.

Looking for an in-depth discussion on recruiting strategy and techniques with fellow coaches and nationally recognized recruiting experts?  Join us at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  It’s an amazing three day retreat that earns raves reviews from coaches around the country.  Join us!  Click here for all the details!

Do You Use Excel? This Recruiting Tool is Built for YOU!Monday, December 12th, 2011

Whether you chalk it up to old habits dying hard, or no budget to upgrade to a fancy new web-based recruiting management program, coaches all over the country still use Excel spreadsheets to track prospects.

The good news?  You can still easily integrate your use of Excel with some of the newer technology tools out there!

“We received over 1000 survey results from college coaches, and a large majority of them wanted the ability to integrate NCSA Athletic Recruiting with either Excel, or whatever their contact management system was”, said Ryan Newman, College Relations Coordinator.

“Little did they know, they already have this ability, and we’ve now made the integration better than ever—anything bit of information on a recruit you would need can instantaneously be transferred from NCSA right to Excel.”

Not only is NCSA Athletic Recruiting compatible with commonly used programs like Excel, but fully integrated with Front Rush, which the majority of coaches seem to now use to manage their recruiting databases.  If you have a Front Rush account you can simply click the “Add to Front Rush Button” after evaluating any NCSA prospect online through your free coach account most programs have set-up.

“We find a lot of coaches have utilized Front Rush for their contact management”, said Newman.  “The way I see it, NCSA is the best way to search, evaluate, and find potential recruits.  At that point it is up to college coaches to actually contact with the kid, get him on campus, and so on.  That’s where Front Rush comes in, and having the ability to mesh both resources, has really streamlined the process for college coaches.”

Learn how to export data from NCSA to Excel, AND learn how to import excel data into your NCSA Recruiting Board in this short video clip: How to Export and Import to Excel

The Little Known “Other Inbox” Coaches Need to be CheckingMonday, December 12th, 2011

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Have you been checking your Other inbox?

Have you missed any important messages sent to you?

Well, its definitely possible due to the rules around Facebook’s “Social Inbox”.

Here’s the story, Coach:  Over a year ago, Facebook made some changes to their messaging system that put rules into place for receiving messages from other people on Facebook. The logic was very simple: If a person is your friend, or friend of a friend, then messages that they send you on Facebook will show up in your messages section. If a person is not in the group above, then their message will go into your “Other” folder. The problem is that nobody seems to check their “Other” folder and you are not notified the same way as your primary inbox. So as a result, many messages sent to you go unread.

If you are a division that allows for messaging to and from recruits, then it is very possible that you have some pending messages from recruits that are weeks, or even months, old. If you are in Division III, where Facebook messaging is not currently permitted, its still worth checking out because their certainly could be some personal messages that you wish you would have seen.

The reverse is true as well. Again, NCAA permitting, messages that you send recruits (on Facebook) will go into their “Other” folder if you are not currently their friend or friend of a friend. Its kinda like the whole spam thing. So it is a good idea to ask recruits to check out that folder as well.

Here’s how to check out your “Other” folder:

  • Go to your messages section in Facebook by clicking the icon at the top of the page.
  • Then in the navigation on the left, there will be an option for “Other”.
  • Click on that, and see if you have messages that you’ve been missing!

Coach, we’re here to help with this or any other technology need you may have.  You can always email me personally at sdevlin@frontrush.com with any questions.  And, if you’re ready to take a look at what our cutting-edge recruiting management message tool does better than anyone else, I’d be happy to tell you about that, too!

Did you know that Front Rush is consistently the lowest cost, full service web-based recruiting management program?  It’s true!  Contact Brad Downs at bdowns@frontrush.com and let him explain what some of your competition already knows – that Front Rush has revolutionized the way they are able to manage their recruiting lists!


Why a Good “P.S.” Might Just Be What Your Recruiting Message NeedsMonday, December 5th, 2011

Here’s the shocking truth about the letters and emails you’re writing:

They might be missing their most effective ending.

That ending?

Your “P.S.”

Adding a P.S. statement after your main text is one of the most effective selling techniques any coach, at any level, can start implementing as a part of their recruiting campaigns.  For our clients, we try to incorporate a “P.S.” into their message on a regular basis.  The reason is simple: It works.

Why does it work?  There’s actually some science behind the explanation.

We’re naturally “wired” to remember the last thing we read.  Whatever the message, we stand a much better chance of recalling the last part of what we were told.  Whether its a fictional story, a sales letter that you get in the mail, or a recruiting email read by your prospect, in each instance the thing we say last is remembered the most.

So, if you’re looking to add some punch to your recruiting messages, here are the general rules you’ll want to follow:

  • Hint at what could be lost. “Fear of loss” is a powerful emotion.  Nobody want’s to lose something that could be their’s for the taking.  Your prospects, and their parents, are no different.  Hinting at a potential loss of attention, a future roster spot, or an invitation to visit campus can be a powerful motivator when it comes to responding to you.
  • Lay out what they might gain. An even stronger motivator is explaining, in a detailed “P.S.”, what the result of your desired action will be.  Give them one or two things that they will gain personally from responding to you as you’ve instructed.
  • Add some urgency. That could come in the form of a soft deadline of some kind, or at least a date that they need to respond to you by.  I am a huge believer in giving recruits direction when it comes to their response to you, and adding urgency is a proven way to do that.
  • Make it short and to the point. No more than two sentences, three short ones at the most.  But since it’s the last thing they’ll see – and remember – in your message, make it memorable!
  • Make it say “oh by the way”. Write it in a very conversational, oops-I-almost-forgot-to-tell-you way.  In fact, if you aren’t sending out very many, one of my favorite recommendations to the coaches we work with is a handwritten P.S. statement.  Talk about getting their attention in a memorable way!  Keep in mind, however, that doing this will draw their eyes immediately down to the bottom of your message.  So make sure it refers to something that you said earlier in your letter or email so that they’ll go back and re-read what they just skipped.

For those of you who have read our two popular recruiting guides for more advanced college recruiters, you’ll remember that you learned all about the motivations behind why today’s recruit choose to either ignore or respond to particular messages.  Use that inside knowledge of how prospects’ minds tick when you’re putting together that last memorable P.S. statement.

Think about the idea of the last thing we read being the thing we most remember: Now ask yourself, “What are my recruits thinking as they finish reading my email or letter?”

Ready to have the staff at Tudor Collegiate Strategies come to your campus to work with your coaches?  Let us apply our unique approach and cutting-edge research to your specific situation on your campus…click here.

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