Every September 1st, college coaches begin the annual ritual of contacting a new class of prospects.
Of course, depending upon your sport and division level, you may have had “contact” prior to September 1st of a prospect’s Junior year, but most coaches look at that date as significant since it marks the date when outbound written communication can start.
And the question on every college recruiter’s mind is the same:
“How do I make an incredible impression on the recruits that I really want to be a part of my program?”
Making that first impression is something you don’t get a second chance at, so here are some things to keep in mind as you begin communications with your Junior recruits. And I’m not just talking about letters and emails that you’ll be sending out soon. Your follow-up ongoing communication over these next few weeks will be almost equally – if not more – important. Why? Because they’re looking for who contacts them consistently early on…it’s an indicator of who seems to be serious.
So hear you go, Coach…here are the six things your prospects want to hear from you on September 1st (and every week on a regular basis) when you are communicating with them:
- Be specific in what you tell them. Our study on how today’s prospects make their final decision tells coaches that today’s prospects value specific information about them, or about your program. What did you like about them specifically? What do you see as the fit for them in your program specifically? What are you looking for specifically? Those are the questions that you need to answer for your prospect early on.
- Don’t oversell yourself. Kids today can sniff out a fake more quickly than they can bang-out a text message to their BFF. Be straight-forward and genuine. One other thing: Take it easy on the statistics about your college, details about your conference, and what the geography around the school is like. Those are some of the “boring” topics that they are most likely to gloss over as they read your initial recruiting messages.
- Keep it brief. Long messages right out of the gate are most likely to be ignored, and that’s not what you want on the first day that you make contact with them. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Tell them how you found them, why you like them, and what their next step should be in the process (in other words, how they should respond to you).
- Have a call to action. That’s what gets them to respond to you! You need to tell them what to do, and how to do it. Open the door in the language of your communication to guide them towards what they should do next as a “next step” in the process.
- Create curiosity. In our recruiting workbooks for college recruiters, we talk about the importance of making your prospect leave your message with unanswered questions, especially early in the process. You want to create curiosity and prompt them to want more interaction from you…something that makes them want to go to the next step in their communication with you. Ask yourself, “Are we creating curiosity in the way we talk to our new recruits?” (Hint: Curiosity is not built by more information about you and your college, it’s done by giving them less information).
- Tell them what to do next. This goes back to the “call to action” concept I mentioned a moment ago, Coach. Want them to call or email you? Tell them that, very clearly. Tell them when to call, and let them know what you want to talk about. Want them to reply to your email? Be crystal clear and instruct them on what you want back from them.
Communication with your prospect should result in one thing, especially at the start of the recruiting process at the beginning of a new recruiting cycle: A response from your prospect! Your specific goal over the next few weeks should be getting them to talk with you via email or phone.
To do that, the six things we just outlined are a good start to creating effective communication with your recruits, whether its the 1st time they are hearing from you or the 21st time. Simply changing the tone of your messages can change the number of prospects you end up hearing back from this year, and get you off to your best start ever with a new recruiting class.
Note: If you are a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies, and you need help creating or updating your first contact messages, contact us immediately so we can do that for you in plenty of time for your first contact messages to be sent to this next class of recruits.
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