Dan Tudor

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Viral Videos, Social Media and the Lesson for College RecruitersMonday, June 25th, 2012

This article is really all about a video made my the Harvard University baseball team that has logged over 13,000,000 views on YouTube, but we’ll get to that in a moment…

Let me address the big picture first:  College coaches are constantly trying to come up with an elaborate strategy to dominate social media, and thereby become beloved destinations of every five star recruit in the country.

Maybe you’re one of them.  Or, maybe you wish you were one of them – but truth be told, you’re doing good just to answer the email sitting in your Inbox every day.  Or, maybe you see the whole things as way too complicated for you, and better left to someone else in your athletic department.

Regardless or how you’d label yourself, one thing seems to be universally true in the minds of most coaches:  Social Media is a complicated puzzle that takes more planning, expertise and know-how than you could ever muster during your coaching career.

Let me show you why it’s exactly the opposite of the scenario I have just outlined, and why it’s easier than ever for you as a coach – Division I, small college, tech-savvy or social media dinosaur – for you to use easy-to-use free websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to promote your program and connect with your recruits.

Which brings us back to that Harvard baseball team video I mentioned at the start:

This is the video they did.  They got the idea on a road trip, practiced a little, and then shot the video the next day.

It exploded online (approaching 14,000,000 views as I write this), went viral, and made them an Internet sensation.  Soon, another team challenged with their version.  Then another.  And another (all legs, no arms!).  All in all, dozens of college teams have joined in and recorded their version.  Harvard’s baseball team and one of their challengers, the rowing team from Southern Methodist, were featured on The Today Show.  All in all, not bad promotion for the teams, and the colleges.

So, what does all this have to do with you?  Everything.

Here are the lessons that I think every college coach can take away from my original points, and this amazing lesson in the power – and ease - on how social media can and should be used in recruiting:

  • All of what you just watched cost nothing. That’s in your budget, so invest in it.
  • All of what you just watched was done with no outside consulting, and no 50-page strategic plan. Not that there’s anything wrong with consultants that will help you with a plan; if that’s what you need to get started, then by all means use one.  But you don’t “need” one to be successful.
  • All of what you just watched was created by college athletes. Not many college coaches could come up with something so mind-numbingly simple and catchy.  My point, Coach, is that you don’t need to come up with the big ideas that will turn your team into the next online sensation…let your team handle that for you.
  • All of what you just watched showcases a team’s personality better than anything you or I could come up with. That’s what social media is all about: Fun, personality and interaction.  So if the majority of what is showing-up on your Facebook or Twitter team sites is electronic news releases or game summaries, I wouldn’t be waiting by the phone expecting a call from The Today Show, Coach.
  • All of what you just watched achieves for these teams something that most teams fail to answer for their recruits:  Why they’d want to play for you on your team at your college. And isn’t that one of the central goals of any coach who is aiming to bring as many great prospects in as possible?

All five of these end results can be achieved with no money.  Starting team accounts, if allowed by your compliance office and division level rules, can be done in about 10-15 minutes.  Still intimidated?  Bring one or two of your athletes in to help you…they’ll be happy to do it.

The big lesson for college recruiters is that this isn’t hard, and it’s the future of communicating effectively with your prospects in conjunction with the right mix of letters, emails and phone calls.

Ignore it at your own risk.

Effective Strategies for Bridging the Gap Between Admissions and AthleticsMonday, June 25th, 2012

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

* Full disclosure before I begin: Front Rush offers a product that handles the issues we’ll be talking about below, but this is not a sales pitch…rather a justification for why we have such a product that addresses this problem.

The future of recruiting – especially in Division II and Division III - is going to be much more integrated with admissions.

Here’s why:

Current recruiting applications and packages allow for coaches of the same staff to be on the same page by providing a solution that has all of the recruit data in a single place. These applications replaced the old model where coaches would have their own excel sheet or binder and would be limited in sharing information with other coaches on staff. The problem that we see today is not that coaches aren’t “on the same page”, but that they are completely separated from admissions even though the goals of the admissions department very close parallel the goals of athletics, at least from a recruiting perspective.

There is a tremendous overlap with the number of prospects being recruited by coaches and admissions yet very little information sharing. We have seen some schools attempt to solve this problem by using an admissions application that has some of the same tools that an athletic recruiting application offers. However, these software applications fall short on the coach side and leave coaches handcuffed and wishing for more. This is exactly why companies like Front Rush exist…admissions applications are built for admissions type users and lack any focus for coaches. With this in mind, its our thesis that there should be a bridge between coaches and admissions and this bridge should be automated and seamless.

Coaches are collecting highly qualified data on recruits that any admissions officer could use for their own recruiting initiatives. An athlete may fall short in their athletic ability and may not be a fit for their respective sport but at the same time that does not mean that they are not a fit for the university as a whole. The university could benefit greatly by having access to that vital recruit information. Similarly, if the recruit is a fit for the team and the university, the combined efforts of the coach and admissions officer could help improve the probability of actually recruiting that athlete. Then from a coaches perspective, they could leverage admissions data to help focus their efforts. For example, it would be great if a coach knew immediately when a recruit’s academic status changed from applied to accepted.

The tools that are being built now have this ideology as the focus. The fragmentation that currently exists between athletics and admissions is the problem that is being solved. These two departments share extremely similar goals and the historic barriers that have kept the two from communicating efficiently are being torn down. The future of recruiting is fully integrated from the bottom up. The software that the coaches use will speak directly with the software that the admissions departments has at their desks even if they are built by completely different companies.

If a recruit is added for a coach, admissions will be immediately alerted and the data can be pre-qualified to make sure it fits the caliber that the admissions department requires. Data will be passed back and forth so coaches can know the status of their top recruits in real time. This data passing is happening now and will only become more seamless and more detailed as time progresses.

That’s what coaches have been asking for, and now it’s ready to be delivered.  Click here for more details, or email me at sdevlin@frontrush.com so I can answer your questions one-on-one.

 

Two Huge Action Steps Towards Becoming More Productive as a CoachTuesday, June 19th, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

For a coach who is trying to learn ways to become more productive and efficient in the office, I think that the first HUGE step you need to take if you haven’t
done so already is to own your agenda.   No offense, but I think that a lot of coaches have become extremely wimpy in letting other people set the agenda of our day, our life, and our moment to moment experiences.

Unfortunately most coaches are not even aware that it is a problem.

Coach, if you want to spend less time in the office, get more important things done, and have time left over in the day to have a life outside of your sport, you must take back where are you going, what are you doing, how are you managing your day by regaining control over your agenda.

Your agenda is where you are going with your program and on your agenda are the things you need to do to progress your program forward.

By controlling your agenda it means that you are not doing immediately what your inbox is asking you to do, checking your email or Facebook every two minutes to check in on the world, stopping everything to pick up the phone every time it rings, letting a coach who stops by eat up a good chunk of your day with office gossip . . . I could go on, but you get the idea.

Do not let others mess with your agenda, EVER!

Coaches say to me that that is really hard: I have no assistants, I have kids, I am constantly getting interrupted, etc. Trust me, I get that.  I am a Division 1 Head Soccer coach and only have two part-time assistants working with me, I have a young son, and I get interrupted just as much as anybody.  I have made the choice to control my agenda and no matter what your circumstances are, you still have to choose to own your agenda as well.

After you have taken the first huge step in becoming more productive by deciding that you are going to own your agenda from now on, the next big step is to have clarity. Clarity with your vision, coaching, team, and recruiting aspects of your program will give you something to continually focus on during the day.

Vision = Ultimate Destination, Personal Plan = Values, Team Plan = Coaching Philosophy, Recruiting Plan = who you want and how you are going to get them.

By creating a vision you create a destination. Your vision becomes the filter through which you sift every decision, from how to train your team to whom you recruit to how you spend your time in the office despite all of the other stuff going on around you. Once your vision is solid enough, it will dictate every action you make (assuming you are owning your agenda), ensuring that everything you do takes you closer to your goals.

Personal, team, and recruiting plans are there so you know what you must do every day to succeed and they add structure to your vision. It allows you to come up with appropriate development plan for the day, week, season, and year. Planning is the tool that takes you from wherever you are to wherever you want to go.

A good plan identifies the outcomes you want, tells you whether you’re on track, helps you to get a better return on energy, and guides the decisions you’re making, especially regarding how you are managing your time. You will use it and refer to it on a regular, on-going basis.

I had always joked about having a “method to my madness.” I was able to eliminate most of the madness by putting in a lot more method. Once I knew my own “what’s” and “why’s,” I moved onto figuring out the “what’s” and “why’s” of my program. It was a lot of work, but I still believe it is the most valuable and important exercise that I have ever done as a college coach.

Coach, clarity does not come into your life and magically land at your feet, you have to choose or decide what you want. You have to create clarity, not wait for clarity. Lack of clarity is probably more responsible for frustration and underachievement than any other single factor.

Being clear on what your future looks like to choosing to own your agenda will help you make more productive choices and sound decisions in your present.

In my new Green Time Management System For Coaches, which consists of a workbook and daily planner, I teach you how to take back the agenda of your day. My goal with this Green Time Management System is to not just help you get things done, throughout the workbook, I will get you to map out what you really want, why you want it, and become very strategic about how you are going to get it. I show you how to think about your day so you don’t get sucked into all of the other crap coaches typically get sucked into because you may not have been strategically thinking about how to set up your day at all to be
productive and efficient.

Watch for Coach Green’s new workbook and calendar system soon here.

5 Important Ways to Show Your Recruits You Have “Staying Power”Monday, June 18th, 2012

Contacting a new class of recruits, as many coaches will be doing throughout the coming weeks, is the first chance to set yourself apart from your competition.

But what many coaches are unaware of is that most of the time, the wrong way to do that is to overload them with a lot of information they don’t care about (yet), or bombard them with a bunch of communication at the start of the process only to have your contacts trail off as the recruiting process wears on.

Want to know what our research consistently shows as the most important factor with your prospect determining whether or not you’re giving them that “wanted” feeling?  It’s whether or not you have “staying power” in their eyes.

Basically, we’re talking about the  importance of a consistent message.  One that makes sense.  And, I’ve  got a pretty interesting study to back up my assertions that I’m going to try and prove to you today:

The study was done by psychologist Geoffrey Miller, who studied how we as  individuals communicate their individual purchases to others, and – more importantly for you as coaches – why.

For  example, the study showed younger males will often display  aggressive behavior to young females in order to establish social  dominance in the initial stages of a relationship.  Later, however,  those same males need to move from being aggressive to being agreeable  in order to show that they have “staying power”…that they will be a  good long-term mate.

So if the study is true – as I think it is –  products that appeal to a younger males aggressive side are going to do  great.  For example, if you were manufacturing a body spray for guys and  named it “Sweet”, it probably wouldn’t sell.  That doesn’t match their  natural personalities.  However, the people who manufacture “Axe” nailed  it.  They’ve got a runaway best seller because they’ve marketed it well to the audience they want as consumers.

An  example of a wrongly aimed message?  Chevrolet has had a few bad marketing messages, the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV from a few years ago and, more recently, the Chevy Volt .   Both were marketed with a strong message of environmental sensitivity and  high fuel savings.  For the people who wanted to buy a massive SUV, this  message didn’t make sense: If I want to drive an SUV, would the extra 4  miles per gallon really matter to me?  Probably not.  Sales never took  off, and most experts point to muddled advertising as the big reason why.  The same mixed messaging is also dooming the Chevy Volt, who can’t woo buyers away from the popular Toyota Prius.

Here’s my point as it relates to the phone calls and messages you are  about to begin with your new class or recruits:

Make sure you and your program develops a message that very clearly matches your actual environment on campus, and the philosophy of you and your program, that are true selling points to your intended prospects.

  • Figure out who your audience is, and communicate clearly and directly to them.  Simple beats long and wordy every time, especially at the start of the recruiting process.
  • Don’t try to be something that you aren’t.  Proudly tell your story of exactly who you are, and why you should be their top choice.
  • Focus in on two or three big things that define you and your program.  Look for the edges…the things that will radically define you and set you apart from other programs and coaches.
  • Determine  the best language for you to use with your audience (your prospects) based on those big things that you find as positives about your program.
  • Don’t  blur your central messages with things that your competitors offer in  an attempt to be “just like them”.  Be O.K. with being unique and  different from your competition.

The phone calls that many  of you will be making soon are your first opportunity to define yourself  to new prospects who are waiting to be told your story.  Make that story you tell simple and effective as you start telling it to them over the phone, and then prove that you have “staying power” by giving them a consistent message.

Need help with that consistent message, Coach?  We’re preparing to launch our Total Recruiting Solution program with several new programs preparing to recruit a new class or prospects.  Want to get information on how we work with programs to help them develop and execute a winning recruiting plan?  Email Dan Tudor at dan@dantudor.com for more information.

Starting Your Coaching Day Out RightMonday, June 11th, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

I have been talking to a lot of coaches lately who are looking for ways to help them get more productive with their day. The first area we look at is what they do first thing in the morning when they wake up. I always start there with the coaches I am working with because I believe that what you do in the first hour of your day will set the tone for how productive you will be for the entire day.

As coaches, we spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get our athletes to perform at their highest levels and preach about diet, sleep, hydration, and being physically and mentally fit because we understand how doing those things right affects performance. Now, a lot of coaches won’t admit this but they have been secretly operating on the do as I say, not as I do when it comes to preparing themselves to perform at a high level during the day in the office. I believe that if you take care of yourself first, you will do a much better job of taking care of everybody else.

The 5 basics: Sleep, Water, Physical and Mental Exercise, and Diet.

Sleep: Studies have equated the fact that if you don’t get sleep for a few nights that it is just like being legally drunk. Think back to a time when you didn’t get very good sleep for 3-4 days in a row and how it affected your energy, decision making ability, and your focus. Peak and optimal performance comes from people who are rested and consistently get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

Hydration: 80% of headaches and most fatigue is related to dehydration. The #1 evil opponent in all of sports is dehydration. #1 thing that influences your physical vitality in terms of something that is taken in is water. You can go without food for a few days but if you don’t have water, you are in trouble and will die without it faster than anything else. It is the most important thing you can be taking in. Within the first hour of being awake drink a liter of water. After a full night’s sleep, you basically just went 8 hours in the desert without drinking anything. Drink a liter of water first thing and watch what happens to your energy throughout the day. That big thing of caffeine in the morning is hurting your energy throughout the day because it is sucking out all of the moisture like a sponge out of your body and when it does that it takes out nutrients and energy. Drink way more water.

Diet and nutrition: A huge key to high energy is a proper diet. To perform consistently at your best, you must eat the right foods. Most coaches that I have met do not do a good job at it. Most coaches eat for convenience so they go out and get the quickest thing they can find and usually the quickest thing is not the healthiest thing. Instead, be strategic about when you are going to eat and what you are going to eat to maintain high levels of physical and mental energy during the day. What you eat within the first hour of waking up will play a huge part in how you feel 6 hour later. If you are feeling sluggish in the afternoon, you need to readjust what you are eating for breakfast and have a couple more healthy snacks during the day.

Exercise. If you have been a coach for a while now you have an understanding of the physical and mental requirements to do the job. Energy is our greatest commode. If your body is not allowing you to do what you want to do day in and day out, get more aerobic and strength training work outs in. Scheduling workouts can increase your energy and maintain it. I know that this seems basic and that I am preaching to the choir, but this is fundamental to your stamina and strength.

Mental Diet
Start the day off thinking about your goals, who and what you are grateful for, what you are going to accomplish during the day, and read something motivational or inspirational. You are going to have a heck of a lot better start to your day when you are filling your head with positive thoughts and emotions than by filling your head with all of the bad things that are going on in the world as reported on the news.

The morning time before you go into the office is a great time to warm up your body and mind to have a great day. I want you to think about what you do in the morning as your pre-game routine before going into the office. If you want to have the mental and physical energy you need to be a high level coach, you need to be intentional and strategic about what you do in the mornings. When you can do this on a consistent basis, you should see your energy improve and you will find that you are going to have a lot more highly productive periods throughout your workday.

Coach Green has been a featured speaker at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference for several years, and is quickly becoming a sought after resource in helping coaches and athletic departments become more organized and efficient.  To see more articles and tips from Coach Green, click here.

3 Ways to Get Your Recruits to “Buy” You SubconsciouslyMonday, June 4th, 2012

I  often find that the primary thinking of most college coaches when it  comes to getting prospects interested in their program could be  described as a simple three-step process:

• Throw everything we can at them as soon as possible.
• They focus on one or two big selling points for our school or program.
• Those big selling points compel the prospect to want to come to our program.

Oh, if it were only that simple…

In  reality, we’re finding that today’s teenage recruit takes a much more  sophisticated approach to identifying with a school and, ultimately,  choosing a program.  While they have trouble explaining the process, our  research as a part of our On-Campus Workshops around the country and continuing work with our clients shows that their decision making process mirrors that of grown adults.

The best example of this is found in a recent fascinating study just published in the Journal of Neuroscience.   Researchers have shown that we make buying decisions even when we  aren’t paying attention to the products, and that electronic observation  of brain activity can predict these decisions. Here are the details  from the study:

Imagine you are standing at a  street with heavy traffic watching someone on the other side of the  road. Do you think your brain is implicitly registering your willingness  to buy any of the cars passing by outside your focus of attention? To  address this question, we measured brain responses to consumer products  (cars) in two experimental groups using functional magnetic resonance  imaging.

Participants in the first group (high  attention) were instructed to closely attend to the products and to rate  their attractiveness. Participants in the second group (low attention)  were distracted from products and their attention was directed  elsewhere.

After scanning, participants were asked to  state their willingness to buy each product. During the acquisition of  neural data, participants were not aware that consumer choices regarding  these cars would subsequently be required. Multivariate decoding was  then applied to assess the choice-related predictive information encoded  in the brain during product exposure in both conditions. Distributed  activation patterns in the insula and the medial prefrontal cortex were  found to reliably encode subsequent choices in both the high and the low  attention group.

Importantly, consumer choices could be  predicted equally well in the low attention as in the high attention  group. This suggests that neural evaluation of products and associated  choice-related processing does not necessarily depend on our processing  of available items. Overall, the present findings emphasize the  potential of implicit, automatic processes in guiding even important and  complex decisions.

So, let’s circle this back to recruiting:

If  subtle messages do indeed play a key role in your prospects’ view of  you and your program as psychology suggests, what are the most effective  ways to reinforce your story to your recruits?

Here are three foundational ideas that we think work for practically any coach, at any college level:

Consistency. No matter what college staff we happen to be working with,  the one consistent measure that we find important to today’s prospect  is consistency.  Your message to them has to be consistent, both in  timing and in content.  From a timing perspective, we find it is  critical that your prospect has some kind of contact from you – either  through letters, social media, email, phone call, a visit to your blog, seeing you in  person – on a weekly basis.

From a content perspective, consistency is  important in your message: You need to make sure you are telling a story  that takes them through the recruiting process step-by-step, building  on your message and leading them to a decision.  If you’re a coach who  has had trouble mastering this aspect of your recruiting approach, as  many do, make it a priority to build out a plan for accomplishing this  before the next recruiting class is ready to make their decisions.

Keep it short. What we find works the best in terms of message retention is a shorter,  more straight-forward message.  Your prospects have told us that most  of the recruiting letters and emails that they open and read are way too  long, and centered on all the wrong things (mainly, you, your college,  your facilities, your facts and statistics, etc.).  Your messages need  to be re-worked so that they are shorter and more easily understood by  your prospects.  That enables them to pick-up on those little details  that will stick in their mind…and stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Head towards the edge. It’s safe and comfortable to look and sound like everyone else.  For  example, your admissions department’s brochures do a great job of  looking exactly like every other college in the country in terms of the  photography showing the smiling photos, highlighting your school’s  impressive statistics, and bragging about the education that they can  deliver. The problem with that?  Every single other admissions  department presents the same message.  And, that trickles down to the  marketing philosophy of most college coaches.  You head towards the  middle, and play it safe.  For 1% of you reading this, you can get away  with this because of how your program is performing at the moment.  But  for the other 99% of you mere mortals, if you want to get the attention  of today’s marketing savvy teenager you’d better say things differently  than your competitors.  So, when I advise you to “head towards the edge”  I mean that you need to come up with a compelling story, told in a  different way, and not be afraid to define yourself so precisely that  you will let a few of your prospects know instantly that you aren’t for  them.  While you’ll lose a handful of recruits that would have said no  eventually anyway, you’ll attract three times more who will gravitate  towards your philosophy of being unique and different from everyone else  that’s recruiting them.  I’ve seen it work numerous times, for coaches  willing to take a leap and tweak their approach to their prospects.

The  science backs me up on this way of approaching your prospects.  And,  that same science could just hold the key for you and your program making this year’s upcoming recruiting class the best ever.

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