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7 Ways to Make It All About You (and Why It’s a Smart Recruiting Strategy)Monday, May 28th, 2012

Last week at an On-Campus Workshop, it happened again.

A coach that I was speaking with had way too much modesty for his own good.  He was the nicest, most humble person you’d ever want to meet.  However, from a recruiting standpoint, it could be making a hard task even harder.

Why?  Because your prospects are trying to get to know their potential coaches.  They are trying to understand whether you want them or not.  And they are trying to formulate the beginnings of a relationship with you.

And when a coach is reserved, quiet, and – yes – even a little too humble, it makes it hard for a recruit to get a good “read” on who you are and, more importantly, whether or not you’re excited about the prospect of them competing for you.

It all illustrates a hard, cold fact of life for coaches that they need to understand about this generation of teenage prospects: Our reasearch shows that one of the two major factors in how they decide if a college is right for them is their view – and their relationship – with the coach at that school.  Take the coach out of the equation, and suddenly the college isn’t viewed in the same light as it once was.

Agree with me so far?  Good.  Now that I’ve established this nearly universal truth about today’s college prospect, here’s the bad news for a lot of you that are reading this:

The letters, emails and other printed material you send a prospect barely reference you.

I’m serious, Coach: What percentage of your mailings talk about you as a coach?  What you are like as a person?  What your coaching philosophy is?  What your plan for them is?  What you’d like them to do next in the process?

When we begin working with a college coach and their program as one of our Total Recruiting Solution clients, one of the first things we do is to establish the coach as the person that is going to be the main attraction to the program.  Sometimes, college coaches are uncomfortable with the idea of not being modest.  I try to make the best case I can for them to get past that feeling.

If it were all about the school, logic would dictate that a coach could leave and the recruits wouldn’t care one bit.  But that doesn’t happen: When a college coach leaves, it causes the recruit to reconsider.

So, how should you put yourself in the spotlight more effectively?  Here are some ideas that we’ve found to work well for our clients:

  • Make all of your messages centered around you.  As you lay out all of the nice facts about your school, make sure the conversation comes back to you.  Never assume that the school or your program is going to sell the recruit on coming to your campus.
  • Talk about the personal side of you along with the professional side of you.  Yes, your impressive win totals count, as do your Coach of the Year awards.  But your prospect is looking for more than that…they want to know the person behind the whistle.  Learn ways to reveal the real you to your recruits.
  • Unveil your screw-ups.  Your prospects know you’re not perfect.  Don’t be afraid to talk about the mistakes you’ve made, and what you learned from them.  In our workbooks for college recruiters, we make the point that this is one of the best techniques for breaking down walls that might exist between you and your recruit.
  • Get on Twitter. It’s an incredible social networking tool that is paying off for the coaches that are using it to build a following.  Twitter is free, it’s easy and it’s a great way to reveal the real you to your recruits (and your fans, and your boosters, and other coaches and Athletic Directors that might be looking to hire you).
  • Create a fan page on Facebook. Update your recruits on what’s going on with you and your program using the most popular communication tool in the world.  This can be one way communication out to a group that broadcasts the daily pulse of you and your program.
  • Write a blog.  The benefits are too many to count.  If you want more ideas on what makes a great blog, and how to get started, click here for a popular article on the topic that we wrote a few years ago on the power of this under-used medium.
  • Make it all about the conversation.  All of your communication should focus on building the relationship between you and the prospect.  Not the school and the prospect, you and your prospect.  Everything you send out should prompt them to feel more connected with you.

Here’s the bottom line, Coach:

Whether you’re a Division III softball coach that only won three games last season, or a Division I coach that we see interviewed regularly on ESPN, the facts remain the same: Your prospects are going to pick the program who has the coach they feel most connected to.

Still don’t believe me?  Just ask one of the dozens of recently de-committed prospects who are searching for a new coach they feel connected to…they’ll back me up on what I’m saying.

Two Critical Time Management Mistakes Coaches MakeMonday, May 28th, 2012

by Mandy Green, Head Soccer Coach – University of South Dakota

Coach, have you ever come back from lunch, checked your email, fiddled around on the web, and realized that two or three hours had just slipped away from you?   Every day, so many coaches engage themselves in activities that are not relevant to their goals, recruiting, or their vision for their program.

These coaches waste an enormous amount of time every day and they aren’t even aware that they are doing it.

Brian Tracy, motivational speaker and best-selling author, says most people can waste up to one and a half hours per day because of time-management mistakes. That’s seven and a half hours per week… almost an entire work day!  It’s not a solid block of an hour and a half, but a minute here and a minute there, like a leaky hot water faucet…drip, drip, drip…it doesn’t seem like a major loss, but at the end the day, we’re dumping gallons of hot water down the drain.

The simple truth is that if you could just avoid or properly manage the following list of time-wasters and energy-killers better, you would be free to accomplish your goals and grow your program in profound ways.

One of the services we here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies offer when I go and do time management workshop for college coaches is to go through an eleven-point check on how they go about managing their time and identify any mistakes they may be making in terms of their approach.

It’s usually pretty revealing, and I am almost always able to identify mistakes that are being made by a coach in managing his or her day. Finding the time-wasters is the first step in determining how a coach can do his or her job better, and it is key in determining how we need to work with that individual coach or program.

There are two really big time wasters I will talk about here but obviously there are a ton more. Each one has the potential to really eat your time and heighten your stress levels. Even if you’re doing O.K. with one of the two areas I’m going to talk about, that one area you’re failing at can short-circuit your entire day.

1. Multi-Tasking
Every coach likes to think they’re great at multi-tasking, and some of them actually are. But there’s a limit to how many things you can do at once without taking away from the quality of your work, plus it almost always greatly increases the time it takes to finish each project. Experts estimate that the tendency to start and stop a task, to pick it up, put it down and come back to it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That means that a task that should take 10 minutes to complete now takes almost an hour.

That’s why it is very important to absorb yourself with one thing at a time. Give that task your full attention and complete it before moving on to the next thing. By concentrating single-mindedly on your most important task, you can reduce the time required to complete it by 50% or more. Do your most important task first. Do it until it’s completed. Then, and only then, move on to the next most important task.

2. Meetings
We have all been in meetings that don’t start on time, seem to have no purpose, and don’t end when they should. Those terrible meetings should tell you something about how your meetings should go.

First: Have a purpose and stick only to that purpose.
Second: Your meeting should start on time.
Third: Your meeting should end on time.

To sum up, if you say you are going to have a meeting from 11:30 to 12:00 to discuss the practice for the day, you better start your meeting at 11:30, it better be about the practice for the day and nothing else, and it better be over by 12:00.

No matter what sport you coach, time is valuable and work is interconnected. If you fail to start meetings on time or fail to meet commitments, you affect the work of the rest of your staff. Schedule blocks of time for each item to be discussed and then keep track of the time. Always keep commitments, and if you can’t, make sure all affected staff members know what happened.

The key point here with both of these time wasters is to stay FOCUSED – That’s all that really matters. Refuse to let other things distract you from the task at hand and you can triple your productivity in the office. It may be difficult at first but the more you practice it, the easier it will get.

Mandy Green is a regular featured speaker at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, and a talented coach, author and workshop leader for Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  Look for her new organizational workbook and calendar system for coaches soon!

What GM’s Cancelled Facebook Ads Can Teach Coaches About Social Network RecruitingMonday, May 21st, 2012

The news that General Motors announced they were pulling all of thier advertising from the popular social network website Facebook may have been a passing news story to most Americans outside of the business and marketing world.

However, I believe it holds an important lesson for college coaches:

There is a right way – and a wrong way – to use Facebook to spread your program’s message to recruits.

From the business side of things, analysts in a story in the Wall Street Journal outline the simple fact behind the GM decision to quit paying for advertising on Facebook:

“Companies in industries from consumer electronics to financial services tell us they’re no longer sure Facebook is the best place to dedicate their social marketing budget—a shocking fact given the site’s dominance among users,” said Nate Elliott, an analyst at market research firm Forrester.

In other words, just because the platform (Facebook) is used by a lot of people – including your prospects – doesn’t mean that traditional advertising will work.  In the same way, there is growing evidence from the work that we do with our college coach clients that recruiting with a traditional recruiting message on social media websites doesn’t work well.

Here’s why:

  • Facebook is all about relationships, not being sold products and services.
  • Facebook is all about quick back-and-forth conversations, not traditional sales messages.
  • Facebook is all about connecting with friends, not researching new companies to do business with.

So for coaches who want to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites, here are some important emerging findings that you should be aware of as you continue to craft your social media strategy:

Don’t overtly sell you or your school. The key word there being “overtly”.  I believe you can quietly, subtly sell you and your program.  You can certainly use the relationships you develop on social networks to move the sales process along, and foster more in-depth personal communication with your prospect.  But don’t use Facebook messaging to send your recruits the same type of communication you would in a letter or email.

Don’t use Facebook to post press releases. We’re seeing more and more college coaches and sports information directors use their Facebook feeds to primarily post game results and news stories.  A mix of these with more personalized posts is fine, but if those types of stories take up most of the content on your Facebook or Twitter sites, you should know that your prospects will slowly start to lose interest in your posts.  Remember, Facebook and Twitter are about personal relationships…and nothing is less personal than a news article that first appeared on your school’s website.  In the same way traditional advertising didn’t work for General Motors on Facebook, using social media to pass along news won’t sell your recruits on your program.

Focus on behind-the-scenes. The social media content we see working best is video taken behind the scenes – normal, everyday stuff that you probably take for granted:  Eating lunch at the student union, a tour of the locker room, your team goofing off in their dorm rooms…the more relaxed and uncut, the better.  That’s what your recruits are interested in because it helps them develop an emotional connection and relationship with your program.

Focus on your team telling your story. Again, Facebook and other social media websites are ideal venues for your team to introduce themselves to your next class or recruits through pictures and video.  That’s something that’s not easy to do in emails, letters or on your school’s website.  Use social media to help you take up the slack and give your prospects something that they really want:  To know your team on a more personal level.

Social media, used correctly, can be a huge weapon in the battle for recruits.  And the way the medium is growing and multiplying, choosing to ignore this newer form of communication is done at your own peril.

What Looks Like a Square Hockey Puck and Helps You Present Ideas to Recruits?Monday, May 21st, 2012

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

For a long time, when giving presentations, we used the whole projector+laptop+cords set-up.

Even internally when going over our own “playbook”, our conference room here at the Front Rush headquarters is outfitted with the same type of set-up. I’ve never been a big fan of projectors because they never seem to fit the screen right, they take forever to load up, you’ve got a bunch of wires, and you have to replace bulbs. Not to mention, unless you can afford the HD version, the image quality is really poor.

Well, like many times before, we found a solution in Apple.

Apple offers a hockey puck sized device for $99 bucks called “Apple TV” (http://www.apple.com/appletv/). Apple TV connects directly to your television and then you connect your iPhone, iPad, Laptop, etc to it wirelessly. All you have to do is be on the same wifi network.

So whats cool about it? Well there are a few things, and many of them could be great ideas for you as college recruiters:

1) If you are watching a video on your iPad, you can automatically stream it so that it appears on your television (through your Apple TV). This includes both video and sound which is great for watching recruits on YouTube, or showing a family your team highlight video on a television monitor.

2) If you want to show your staff something that exists only in an app, you can display it directly on Apple TV. So for example, we are currently working on a new Front Rush iPhone app. To get a full size version, we just stream it via Apple TV and everyone can see it.

3) If you are giving a presentation with Keynote (think Powerpoint for Apple) on your iPad, it can show up directly on the television.  It’s a great visual tool to use with your recruits.

4) Its completely wireless, so while you are displaying your presentation from your iPad or iPhone, you can be walking around.

5) Its more portable than a projector. It can fit in the front pocket of your book bag. Of course, this assumes that the location of the presentation has a television but still not a bad start.

Technology is providing more and more tools for smart recruiters to use in their coaching life.  Are you taking advantage of them?

Sean Devlin is our resident technical guru, and one of the brains behind the popular Front Rush recruiting management system.  Visit FrontRush.com to see the latest advances in recruiting organization, and consider joining your fellow coaches from around the country in using the most popular and most reliable recruiting management software available.



Irrational Recruiting Decisions Made by Recruits (and College Coaches)Monday, May 14th, 2012

It’s the thing that drives recruiters absolutely crazy when it comes to understanding how teenage athletes make their final decisions.

Most of the time, they make irrational final decisions.

This past year it seems like I’ve seen more examples than ever of that in our ongoing work with college coaches.  Here are some of the constants I see in this generation of recruits when it comes to how they are choosing the school that they would describe as “the right fit” for them:

They are deciding based upon their emotions. That includes both male and female prospects, Coach.  How they feel – and how their parents feel – about you and your program seem to consistently seem outweigh the logic and facts behind your program.

They aren’t taking a long term view of their college experience. Make no mistake, they start thinking about it right after they make their decision (hence all the de-commits and second looks) but as they are making their final decision (the first one, anyway) they are, in large part, considering what feels right at that very moment.  I’ve said it many times before: They choose with their hearts, and justify that decision with their head.

They are conscious of the highs and lows in recruiting. If you skip talking to them for a few weeks, expect them to be looking elsewhere for options.  If you’re consistently talking to them?  You earn big points.  And so it goes…up and down, over the course of recruiting.  And they are remembering who is giving them those highs (and lows) and factoring that in to their final decision.

They are relying on others to help them make their decisions. Primarily their parents, followed closely by their high school and club coaches.  Our research shows that they will often go against what their own gut is telling them and side with these highly influencial outside decision makers.  It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what is happening.

They will often turn to irrelevant statistics to justify their actions. You’ve seen it before:  You hit it off with the prospect, mom and dad love you, she’s a perfect fit for your program, but then at then end she chooses the school that finished two spots ahead of you in the U.S. News rankings for their major.  Will those extra two spots on the list make her happier in the long run?  Of course not.  But right now, it makes her feel like she made a smarter decision.

We could add more to that list, of course.  Or we could end it here and just agree that this generation is a tough one to recruit, and resign ourselves to just rolling the dice and hoping to get lucky every few years with a great recruiting class.

That’s not the smart approach, though.  Yet that’s the attitude of many college coaches: They lament the problem after correctly identifying it, and then don’t do anything to change their prospect’s irrational outlook despite knowing that they are taking that approach.  In other words, I see coaches reacting to their prospects’ irrational behavior during the recruiting process with their own irrational behavior.

Am I suggesting you fight irrational behavior with your own version of irrational behavior?  Yes.  I’m giving you permission to attract this next class or recruits using techniques that will help prompt your recruits to stop in their tracks and snap out of their irrational decision making process.  See if any of these ideas might work for your recruits:

  • Make your case with more passion than the other guy. If your prospects are using emotion to make their decision, we’ve seen plenty of cases where the coach who shows the same kind of passion and emotion connects the best with that athlete.  And the last time I checked, passion isn’t a budget related item that your competitor has more of (unless you let them).
  • Challenge them: Tell them that they are going about all this the completely wrong way.  Once you have their attention, make your case that they need to reconsider how they’re deciding on a program.  Get them to take a second look.  Compel them to continue the conversation with you…but start it off by contending that they are doing it wrong right now.  Get their attention!
  • Ask them, “Is that the smart way to do it?”  Maybe the answer is yes.  Or maybe it isn’t.  Asking that question and actually getting them to think about everything in a new light is one of the most productive challenges you can issue during the recruiting process.
  • Counter their illogical views with logical facts.  Again, the theme here is “do the opposite”.  It worked for George Costanza, it can work for you (if you aren’t a “Seinfeld” fan, that won’t mean much too you).  If they are all about the feelings, and you can’t seem to connect with them, stop them in their tracks with facts that go against their emotions.
  • Always include the parents and coaches.  Clue them in on what you’re talking to the prospect about, and why it’s important that your point of view should be seriously considered.
  • Exude a confidence – even if you’re not feeling like you have any! – that tells them they’d be CRAZY not to choose you.  No explanation needed, Coach.  The only thing I’ll tell you is that your prospect and their family are looking at you closely, and trying to figure out if you really believe what you’re selling.

Don’t fret about a prospect acting irrationally, Coach.  Develop a strategy around it to ensure that they’ll pick you and your program!

We’re beginning our planning sessions with new clients for this next recruiting class.  Want to talk to us about working one-on-one with you and your staff to develop a rock-solid recruiting plan?  Contact Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com so we can set up a time to discuss how we do it, and why it works.


    Cementing Your Prospect Relationship Using This Tested TechniqueMonday, May 7th, 2012

    There’s a great deal of psychology that the professional business world uses daily in their interactions with their prospects and clients.  As a college sports recruiter, you can (and  should) use the same kind of techniques to solidify your relationship  with your athletic prospects.

    One such technique is what I  call the “stay the course” technique.  Here’s a sampling of how it  works, using an actual study that was conducted to back up my ideas to  you today.

    When most people (your prospects included, coach)  decide on a course of action, they have a very strong desire to stay  with that course.   Frequently, this desire is so powerful that they  will refuse to alter their chosen path … even when there is  overwhelming evidence that it is unwise.

    There are several reasons  for this. For one thing, there’s the simple power of ego. Nobody likes  to feel like they made a bad decision.  Perhaps more important is that  nobody likes a “flip-flopper.”  A classic example from the world of  politics would be a candidate who “flip-flopped” on positions and,  therefore, couldn’t be trusted. There have been numerous instances over  the past decade where the allegation alone were enough to derail the  political aspirations of many politicians.  As a society, we don’t like  people who appear to not keep their commitments.

    Once a person chooses a certain position, their desire to be consistent will compel them to behave as promised.

    An interesting study illustrated this universal human tendency. A “beachgoer” (an accomplice to the study)  would stroll onto the sand and choose a spot near a target subject. The  “beachgoer” would then spend about five minutes spreading out his  blanket and setting up with suntan lotion and a small portable radio.    Just another person enjoying a day at the beach. He would then stand up  and walk away, without saying anything to the target.

    Shortly  after the “beachgoer” left, a second accomplice would approach the  unguarded blanket and make a move to steal the radio. Only five percent  of the time would the target make any effort to confront the “thief” or  do anything to try and prevent what appeared to be a crime.

    Now  … here’s the interesting part of the study: With a second group of  targets, instead of simply walking away from his blanket, the  “beachgoer” asked them to keep an eye on his things. And the results  were drastically different. Ninety-five percent of the time, these  targets aggressively attempted to prevent the “thief” from stealing the  “beachgoer’s” radio.

    What made the difference?

    Like  the first group, this second group of targets didn’t know the  “beachgoer.” The only communication they had with him was that single  verbal exchange when he asked them to watch his things.

    But because these subjects had agreed to do something, they aggressively stayed the course … despite the  fact that it was not in their best interests.   In fact, it put them in  the potentially dangerous position of confronting a brazen thief in  order to protect the low-value property of a stranger they’d only spoken  with for one moment.

    Understanding this tendency of people to  follow a consistent course of action can help you persuade them to act  in a way you want them to act – whether you want to get your boss to  assign you to a particular project or get your child to do better in  school.  Or, get your recruit to commit to your program.

    One of the things that we constantly hear from college coaches who read our two foundational recruiting guides is that they now understand how their prospects feel makes them most  likely to commit to a particular program or a coach.  How they feel  about the coach, how they feel about the players on the team, and how  they feel about the thought of playing for you as a coach.

    There are three steps to making this technique work, Coach:

    1. Make a statement of fact that your prospect can agree with. (“Playing for us here really improves your odds of being able to start as a freshman.”)

    2. Link a conclusion to this statement of fact. (“In order to make sure that happens, we need to make sure you’re one  of our early commitment prospects so that we can stop recruiting other  athletes that play your position.”)

    3. Obtain a commitment from your prospect based on that conclusion. (“So, you’ll get that application paperwork I sent you  last week turned-in early and start planning your college career here  at our university right away?”)

    It’s easy, it works, and it begins to get your prospect thinking about a permanent athlete-coach relationship with you and your program.