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Four Facts to Focus On That Your Recruits REALLY Care AboutMonday, February 27th, 2012

You throw them around all the time.

You use them to sell your college, and you use them to combat a competitor’s advances.

If you’re a fan of classic television, Sgt. Joe Friday on the old “Dragnet” detective show was famous in asking for only these things.

We’re talking about facts.

But here’s the challenge for savvy recruiters:  Which facts are worth talking about, and which ones just take up space in your messages our to your prospects?  Moreover, what facts may actually be hurting your recruiting efforts?

We began asking that very question, beginning in 2011, with the athletes of our clients and during focus groups at our On-Campus Workshop.  Our theory at the time was that all the facts a coach presented to a prospect played a part in their final decision.

We were only partially correct.  Here’s why…

While today’s prospects do rely on facts about a college to form their overall opinion of the place, it is most effective when recruiters tie that fact directly to a benefit the athlete will receive as a result.

This is a very important distinction that coaches need to begin implementing.  Again, when you state a fact as a selling point of your program, it is vital that you take the extra step in explaining to your prospect exactly how they will personally benefit from that fact.

The reason is simple, really:  Our research shows that prospects won’t “connect the dots” between your points of benefits and what it means for them personally.  As we discuss at length in our two recruiting guides for college coaches, your recruits rely largely on their feelings – how they feel about you, your team, and your campus – to make their final decision.

However, when you can add facts that will personally benefit the prospect, and get them to understand those selling points, you win; more often than not, good feelings about your program coupled with these personalized facts are almost impossible to ignore.

To get you started, here are a few of the top facts that we’re finding recruits rating as most important in their decision-making process:

  • Your on-campus housing. According to the research we’ve conducted, it’s the clear #1 on the list in your recruit’s mind.  Interestingly, you don’t always need the newest and biggest dorms or apartments to win.  Instead, you need to make sure your recruits understand how they will have fun living there.  By the way, your team’s opinions and personal stories go the furthest in selling your on-housing campus to your recruits.
  • The food on campus. Prove to your recruits that they will eat well, and you’ll have an advantage over most of your competition.  Food, and the socialization around gathering together in a community on campus and “breaking bread” together, is one of the biggest comfort areas that your recruits are looking for when they come to visit campus.
  • The vision for your team. It’s very important that you clearly explain where the program is heading, and how the prospect will play a part in the plan.  Make sure you go into as much detail as possible when it comes to your plan.  And, if possible, have a separate conversation about that plan with your prospect’s parents.
  • How a degree at your school will trump a degree at another school. Coaches love to talk about the academic strengths of their college, but talk is cheap.  You’d better be ready to prove it to your prospect, and give them real-life examples (personal letters from your former players are great, by the way!) as to how your school is going to give them a better launch into their career after sports is done.

The misuse of facts is a major problem in recruiting.  We see it almost daily.

If you’re a coach who commits themselves to taking the extra step of stressing facts that your athletes care about, as well as finding how best to tie that fact personally to your recruit, you’ll most likely gain the upper-hand over your competitors who are content with reading this research and then choosing not to change the way they are telling their story.

Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you formulate your strategy when it comes to presenting facts about your program that get attention. We can take our research and put it to work for your program, making a big difference in your overall recruiting efforts as you get ready to communicate with your next recruiting class. Want more information on how we can do that for you and your program? Contact Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.

Creating Your Own Prospect Loyalty ProgramMonday, February 20th, 2012

Want an interesting view on creating momentum for your program, and the prospects that you are recruiting?

Think about this:

A car wash ran a loyalty program.  Similar to the one that Subway used to run for people like Jared, who loved their sandwiches.

For every car wash you paid for, you got one stamp on your card. If you completed eight washes, you got one free wash.

Another set of customers also joined that very same loyalty program. But they didn’t have eight blocks to fill on their card. They had ten blocks to fill. But there was a difference. The second set of customers had two stamps already filled for them in advance.

You see what’s happening with this strategy, don’t you?

Both sets of customers have to fill in the exact same number of stamps to get the free car wash…eight washes. So, which group followed through with the program designed by the car wash’s marketing company? You’re right, the second group. In fact 34% of the second group got to their free car wash vs. just 19% of the first group.

So, why did this happen?

By placing the first two stamps in the book for the customer.  It automatically creates momentum, and gives the customer a feeling like they’ve already started down the road towards their free reward car wash.  It also breeds loyalty.  After all, the car wash actually “gave” them the first two stamps for free, right?

Here’s where I’m taking this with college coaches aiming to beat their competition for the best recruits in the months to come:

You need a loyalty program that creates momentum. Don’t worry, it won’t involve free sandwiches or building a car wash on campus.  But it will involve some original thinking and a basic understanding of human nature – and why you can easily take advantage of it to improve your position with your next recruiting class.

Why do you need “momentum”?  Simple.  Our research and strategies that we recommend to coaches are focused around some key ideas that we see as being key to any successful recruiting class:  Start early, be consistent, and keep the process moving forward.

When you think about it, the team that can start that process first and keep it moving ahead of everyone else is going to have an advantage in the recruiting process.  That’s the momentum aspect of all this.  And when you do it first, and do it with some passion and originality, you’ll build loyalty along the way.

So, how do you start with this idea?  Here are a couple of ways we’ve seen work with our growing list of programs and coaches that we get to work with on an ongoing basis:

  • Start early so that you can be first. Like Ricky Bobby said in the move “Talladega Nights” (or was it is good-for-nothing father Reese?), “If you ain’t first, you’re last”.  And while I never thought I’d actually use that quote for any practical purpose, it holds a lot of truth with this concept.  When we get on campus and talk to athletes who just went through the recruiting process, it’s amazing how many times their first choice was the school who recruited them first.  It is important to today’s teenage recruit, which should make it important to you.  It’s an easy way to build loyalty.
  • Start the process mid-stream. You can’t put the first two stamps in your prospect’s recruiting book for them, but you can start the process at place that makes it seem like you’re farther along in the process than your competition.  For example, if other coaches are starting with the same stale recruiting letter and a questionnaire, why don’t you send a personalized email that says something like “I’ll bet other coaches sent you a long, boring questionnaire to fill out…but I want to get a little more serious with you.  Can you give me a call before this weekend?”  If you were a prospect who was getting contact from ten programs, and one of them sent you that message, who would you think is more serious about you?  Yes, it’s starting the process in mid-stream, but who says you can’t go back later and have them fill out the questionnaire?  That’s just one example of one idea…you can come up with your own that fits your style.  The point is, you don’t have to start at the beginning – and when you don’t, it creates the feel of momentum.
  • Reward their loyalty. Going back to that last example, if you have a prospect or parent who takes you up on that offer and gives you a call, make a point of making a big deal out of it.  Let them know they’re the first to call back, and that means a lot to you…it shows you that they’re really serious about taking a look at what you might be able to offer them.  Or, email them the same thing.  Reward their loyalty, Coach.  It doesn’t take long, but it’s a big deal for your prospects.

Simple idea, big potential pay-off.

If you’re a program that’s looking to differentiate themselves from your competition, this is an easy – and very effective – way to do it.  The same principles that work with us as adults to earn our loyalty to Subway, Starbucks or our local grocery store can build loyalty between you and your teenage recruit.

If you’re serious about learning more about advanced recruiting techniques, we want to invite you to join our team of experts and other college coaches at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer.  If you want to dominate recruiting, you need to be there.  Click here for the details.

Apple Launches New Tool That Might Give College Coaches a Messaging EdgeMonday, February 20th, 2012

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Note: Before implementing the below, please first check with your department’s compliance officer.

In January, text messaging became permissible in Division III.  And in June, the same will be permissible for Division II, and we have our suspicions for Division I (we think it’s only a matter of time before they open up texting to Division I coaches).

Well just a few days ago, Apple released something that is very interesting in an SMS acceptable world. It is known as Messages and while it is still in testing, it’s very exciting.

So what is it?

Imagine a control center, right on your laptop for sending and receiving sms messages.  A control center that works similarly to what iPhone users are used to seeing on their device but now on your laptop so you can type much faster.  A control center that resembles IM programs like your ichat, gchat, AIM, etc.

So how does it work?

Once you download messages, you will be able to send messages directly to your current contacts or any new numbers that you add. When the person replies, it will go directly back to your Messages application as well as your iPhone (if you have one). In addition, you can send messages in bulk by selecting multiple recipients. There replies however will go to all who were on your list so this is more applicable to sending messages to your roster.

So what else is new?

Well you can drag images directly from your laptop into your Messages account and send them on. You can tell if you are sending to iPhone users or individuals using a different device. You can keep a running history of your previous messages. You can sync it with your apple ID and pull in all of your existing contacts.

So whats the catch?

Well right now, it is in Beta testing. This means that it is still being tested by Apple and there are probably some bugs. Our internal testing shows that most features work pretty well. Also, you are going to have to have a MKac.

So how do you get Messages?

You get it here. http://www.apple.com/macosx/mountain-lion/messages-beta/.

And why do you need to ask your compliance officer?

Simple:  Because the whole text-messaging being legal and instant-messaging not being legal is really sketchy, at best.  Why?  Well (and this is a bit technical) because if you send a message from your iPhone to another iPhone user, it is a text-message right? NO! It is actually an instant message. The technology that Apple uses to send a message from one iPhone user to another is the same technology Google uses when you send an instant message from your gChat to another gChat user.

I know, right? Yes. Its crazy.

Know what else is crazy?  Coaches not using Front Rush.  It’s the lowest cost full service recruiting database management system in the world, and it’s supported by technical pros like Sean Devlin and an amazing support team dedicated to making it easy for college coaches to recruit in a more organized way.  Want more info on what they do, and why you’d be crazy not to have this tool working for you?  Click here.

 

Scheduling Your High Priority Activities as a College CoachMonday, February 13th, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

How long do you and your staff spend each day on unimportant things?  Things that don’t really contribute to the success of your program.

Do you know how much time you’ve spent reading junk mail, talking to colleagues, getting interrupted by somebody walking into your office, or getting phone calls everyday? And how often have you thought, “I could achieve so much more if I just had another half hour each day.”

In working closely with the team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, I know we continually hear from coaches who struggle with their day.  They lament how often time seems to get away from them.  Even when they plan their upcoming calendar as a coaching staff, it seems to never quite unfold the way coaches hope.

First thing I want you to do: Identify the high-payoff activities within your program.

High-payoff activities are the things you do that bring the greatest value to your program, team, or staff.  They are the three to five activities that lie in your “sweet spot.”  You do them with excellence.  These activities could be building relationships with recruits, making phone calls to parents, sending emails to recruits, managing your current team, etc.  They are your unique discipline or distinctive skills and abilities that distinguish you from other staff members.

Knowing what your high-payoff activities are and actually doing them, however, are two very different things.  Many surveys that I have read over the past several years have shown that the average American worker spends only 50-60 percent of the workday on activities specified in her or her job description.  That means that workers waste 40-50 percent of their time on low-payoff activities, tackling things that others with less skill or training should be doing.

Are you in this category coach?

The more time you spend doing the high-payoff activities, the more value you will bring to your team, program, and staff.  By disciplining yourself to clearly identify your high-payoff activities, and then by filling your calendar with those things and appropriately delegating, delaying, or dropping the low-payoff activities, you can and will get more high-payoff activities done everyday, reduce your stress, and increase your happiness.

Homework-Time tracking in an Activity Log

Activity logs help you to analyze how you actually spend your time, and when you perform at your best. The first time you use an activity log the results may shock you! I know that I was shocked the first time I did one.

Do this activity for a week. Write down everything you do, from the time you start working until the time you go home. Without modifying your behavior any further than you have to, note down the things you do as you do them.  I created a sample template below.  You will need to cut and paste and make the template the size you need it to be depending on the amount of things you do everyday.

Every time you change activities, whether opening mail, working, making coffee, gossiping with colleagues or whatever, note down the time of the change.
As well as recording activities, note how you feel, whether alert, flat, tired, energetic, etc. Do this periodically throughout the day.

At the end of every time-tracked day, tally the total hours you spent in high- vs low-payoff activities.  Although this may seem like a hassle, it’s vitally important for you to become very clear on how you actually spend your time over the course of the week.  You may be alarmed to see the amount of time you spend doing low value jobs!

Activity logs are useful tools for auditing the way that you use your time. They can also help you to track changes in your energy, alertness and effectiveness throughout the day.

By analyzing your activity log you will be able to identify and eliminate time-wasting or low-value jobs. You will also know the times of day at which you are most effective, so that you can carry out your most important tasks during these times.

Soon you’ll gain a clear picture of how you’re actually spending your time and whether you have room to fill your calendar with the activities that will truly add the most value to you and your program.

Mandy Green, a frequent contributor to College Recruiting Weekly, is a Division I head soccer coach and the author of an upcoming time-management guide for college coaches, as well as a corresponding calendar organizer.  In addition, she will be a featured speaker at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer.

Why You Should Reach for the Phone to Reach New RecruitsMonday, February 13th, 2012

NOTE:  The timeframe for when you can and can’t contact a prospective student-athlete depends upon your division level, as well as the specific sport you coach.  Please refer to your individual rules and your compliance officer for clarification on allowed phone call and texting communication to prospects.

Thanks to the new NCAA rules, earlier and more frequent contact by phone and text message are the new norm when it comes to contact a new class or recruits.  Getting in touch with your top prospects is getting a whole lot easier.

And with that new class comes the same age old question that has perplexed recruiters for the last two decades:  “How should I first contact my next set of recruits?”

That’s been a question which we have devoted a good amount of study to over the years.  And after crunching the numbers, conducting research studies all over the country during our On-Campus Workshops for college athletic departments, and hearing the feedback from this current class of prospects, the verdict is in:

Your prospects want to be called on the phone when you first start recruiting them.

Interesting, isn’t it?

I  think it’s surprising because most kids find it challenging to talk on  the phone with you when you call them at some point during the  recruiting process.  So why would they want to hear from you by phone as  the first point of contact?  Here are some of the answers we  discovered:

  • They want to know that you’re serious about them. When you call them, that shows them that they are a serious recruit in  your eyes – otherwise, why would you take the time to call them?
  • They want to hear how you found them. Sometimes those introductory letters that you send are a little to  vague: “You’ve been identified as a prospect…”  Or, “You’ve been  recommended as a prospect…”   Both are a little bit cryptic, and this  is one area where you don’t want to be mysterious.  Today’s athlete  wants specifics, starting with how you have found them.
  • A phone call automatically puts you at the front of the line. They’ve heard your voice, which is one better than most coaches who are  only going to send out a letter.  It will be hard to ignore you after  they hear your voice because they’ll be comparing you to the rest of the  coaches that aren’t taking the time to call them.  For this  generation, they want to be able to starting ranking colleges and  figuring out who’s serious about them, and who isn’t.  This is one of  the best ways we’ve found to make sure you are doing just that.

So,  have I convinced you take the time to make a phone call first with this  new group of prospects you’re getting ready to recruit?  Good.  Here’s a model for what should be included in the call (and a few things that shouldn’t):

  • Do include a short greeting and your phone number.  Your name, your college and your contact number.
  • Tell them that you want them to know that they are officially being recruited by your program.  You can play around with the wording a  little, but make sure they understand that you are serious about them  and that your phone call warrants their attention.
  • Tell them the  next two things that they should be looking for from you and your  program.  A letter and then an email, two quick emails with questions  they need to answer…whatever.  Give them an agenda of whats coming up  in the near future.
  • DO NOT ask them for information.  That’s not the purpose of the phone call.
  • DO NOT sell your school, unless they answer this next question:
  • Ask  them: “Before I hang up, do you have any questions about me, my  program, or the college?”  If they say no (which they likely will,  because their heart will be pumping a little too hard to focus on  questions they might have), tell them that you can’t wait for the next  time you can talk to them and end the call.  Leave them wanting more.  If they do have questions, take the time to answer them and sell your college where appropriate.

That’s  the simple formula that we’ve seen work over and over again.  The calls should last no more than a minute or two, they should have a purpose,  and you need to sound both confident and excited.

The results should be significant:  You will see greater engagement sooner from all of  your prospects, and you will clarify exactly where they stand with them as soon as possible (which is what they all want).

If you’re a coach who see’s an increased emphasis on recruiting phone calls as a way to differentiate yourself from your competition, keep this strategy in mind for your new group of recruits.

Want more information on creatively attracting recruits to your program instead of your competition’s?  Here are two ideas we’ll recommend:

- Order our two popular recruiting guides for college coaches, outlining the key foundational strategies that many coaches now rely on to win the best recruits available.  Click here for the details.

- Reserve your seat at this Summer’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  It’s a weekend of networking with other coaches, listening to some of the best recruiting minds in the country, and formulating a great plan for the next season’s recruiting battles.  Click here for the details.

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