Dan Tudor

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Determining Staff Roles for More Effective RecruitingMonday, June 24th, 2013

There are a few precious times during each year as a coaching staff that you actually have a chance to sit down, take a deep breath, and figure out what you want to do differently the next season from a recruiting standpoint.

I’m not talking about plays you should have called, or strategies you failed to execute during competition.  And, I’m not talking about the way you coach together as a staff.

I’m talking about the way you organize what you do as a staff – especially when it comes to recruiting.

Summer is one of those times of the year that is usually ideal for organizational planning for your staff.

That kind of planning is especially important when it comes to recruiting.

Because “organizing” and “planning” were always big topics for college staffs, I wanted to share one key concept we’ve discussed with some clients who have struggled with the organizational approach to the way they plan an execute their recruiting approach .  It’s a concept originally outlined by business author Michael Gerber in his best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It.

The concept is that a small business – similarly to your operation as a college coaching staff – won’t grow and prosper unless it is organized in a very specific way.  Gerber contends that every small business needs a Visionary, Managers and Technicians.  I contend that the same would hold true for college coaches when it comes to their recruiting approach.

Here’s the basic concept and the role of each individual coach in this proven plan for how (and why) you assign roles and responsibilities to members of your coaching staff:


The Visionary’s role is fairly obvious: He or she needs to set the direction of the program, develop the core recruiting philosophy, determine the goals that need to be met, and help pin-point who in their organization is right for the other two roles of Managers and Visionaries.

When we work with our clients, this is one of the areas that we try to determine early on in our work with them.  Here are some quick observations after seeing different staffs change their organizational philosophy and adapt this format:

  • Sometimes, the head coach is not the best person to be the Visionary.  Most of the time, yes.  Not all the time, though.
  • Visionaries need to be able to make the tough calls, put their name on a plan, and be confident in their vision for the program.
  • Can there be more than one Visionary?  No.  However, the Visionary can get input from other people on their staff.  But there needs to be one person that is in the role of the Visionary.
  • If at all possible, the Visionary should not also be a Manager.  And, they should almost never be a Technician.

Visionaries on a college coaching staff should constantly be assessing where they are with regards to their recruiting class, and figuring out if the vision that has been outlined is being realized.  It’s ongoing, active work.  Visionaries are accountable to the whole organization for the overall success of the year’s recruiting.


The next role(s) that need to be assigned would be that of Manager.

The Manager’s role is singular in focus: To make sure that the vision your staff has established is realized through daily management and measurement.  The Manager needs to make sure that the individual assignments tied to the vision are being completed exactly as planned.

Good Managers need to:

  • fully buy-in to the vision that’s been established when it comes to the staff’s recruiting goals.
  • be loyal to the Visionary.
  • be looking for more efficient and better ways to achieve the vision sooner and more effectively.
  • be able to keep the Technicians on task and accountable.
  • be able to measure what is being done on a regular basis to achieve the vision.

Can there be more than one Manager?  Sure.  But each Manager needs to have their own separate areas of responsiblities whenever possible.  Don’t bog down this emerging organizational system with double coverage.

And last, but absolutely NOT least…


Just because I’m listing this last, don’t think that it is the least important.  Especially when it comes to recruiting.

The Technician(s) is responsible for making sure the Vision happens.  Without great Technicians, its all just a bunch of good ideas that never actually happen.

It’s natural to assume that assistant coaches and grad assistants, who perform the role of technicians when it comes to game planning and scouting, would be the likely choice of the Visionary to carry-out Technician duties when it comes to recruiting.  Here are the hallmarks of really good Technicians:

  • They’re able to focus in on the assignments established by the Manager.
  • They’re able to provide great communication on the progress or hurdles that transpire along the way.
  • They understand that they have an equally important role in the organization.  In other words, not Manager or Visionary envy (in many ways, Technicians have the best role of the three).

Why is recruiting organization like this so important?  Because without it you feel burned-out.  A coach that is the Visionary, but also takes on the role of Manager and Technician is going to be the coach that starts feeling trapped.  Bitter.  Frustrated.  They won’t quite reach their goals, and they’ll always feel three steps behind every one of their competitors.

Even if you have a small staff, try to farm out roles to those in the athletic department when possible.

What if you’re the only coach on a staff?  You already know you have it tough, so you don’t need me to tell you that.  In that case, you’ll want to try to organize your week into Visionary, Manager and Technician time blocks.  Separate your duties, and try not to mix roles in the same day.  You’ll feel a lot less exhausted and frustrated if you can do it.

That’s an overview of the concept, and it’s going to look different from college to college, and staff to staff.  However, it’s important: Think about how much time you put in to determining how to split up scouting and recruiting area coverage, but don’t put much time into detailing organizational assignments once those scouting details are back in the office.

Once you separate and organize roles in your recruiting plan, you’ll probably want to do the same thing with the rest of your duties as a coaching staff.  And why not…it works!

Need help in determining how best to use your staff for more effective recruiting?  You can bring Dan to campus to work with your staff or your athletic department this coming recruiting year.  If you have questions, email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.  

On Being That Coach…Monday, June 24th, 2013

by Dr. Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Take all the coaches in your sport.

Put them in a line.

They would probably settle out like this:

Our eyes are drawn to the right of the spectrum. Those freakishly-successful coaches — they pull us in. We want THAT. To be THAT Coach.

We covet their contracts. Would like their money. Their fame. Their success.

Interesting — we disregard the grouping of coaches in the middle. Those ordinary, hard working, pretty-successful coaches. That is where most coaches live and breath. Boring.

And those on the left? We vehemently ignore them —  the freakishly-unsuccessful coaches. They repell us. We want to run from their shame. Their troubles. Their failures.

Those reactions are all typical and understandable.

But they are the opposite of what we should do

It was 2am, outside of Prague, and I was crawling through the dirt.

My mission was to take the measurements of an Italian lightweight men’s rowing shell. That team, and their boat, was a freakishly-successful team and our US coaching staff was convinced they had to know the secrets of the Italian’s equipment.

And so, I was in the dirt, crawling toward their boat, trying, really trying, not to be spotted by the armed security guards.

Years later I’m having lunch with a coach-friend and the topic of the sexual abuse scandal and Jerry Sandusky comes up.

My friend wants to hear nothing of that freakishly-unsuccessful coach and the travesty. Not how it happened, how it could have been prevented, what steps we should take to make sure it doesn’t happen around us. He excuses himself, deposits his dishes and tray, and leaves. The topic is never discussed between us again.

Where should I look?

In the world of coaching, the ends of my made up coach-success scale get the most exposure. Triumph and despicable failure are made more visible than the coaches in the middle. That is the way of the World.

Unfortunately, for an observer like a coach looking to improve, it is easy to get distracted by the illusion of the probability of great success (or terrible failure).

Rolf Dobelli, in his book The Art of Thinking Clearly, calls this survivorship bias. He suggests that people systematically overestimate their chances of success. Coaches, like people from all walks-of-life, do this. We get distracted by a desire to be That Coach, and that can be a bad thing. (And ignore the signs of the other end of the spectrum.)

In 33 years of coaching, this was one of my more successful years. If, when I started coaching, I was fixated that I must be That Coach, NOW, the experience of coaching would have quickly crushed me, and I would have missed so many wonderful things during those years.

Those coaches in the middle, the ordinary, hard working, pretty-successful coaches, are often doing everything right. Working hard, paying their dues, having much success. They just haven’t written the NY Times bestseller, won the Pulitzer, or the Noble Peace Prize. What they do, and how they do it is often great stuff, just so often overlooked.

Take action now: If YOU want to improve, focus on the middle group. Talk to them, watch them, learn from them.

Kevin Johnson, who has coached 10-11 year-old boys basketball for the past 9 years (he is in the middle group of coaches) can probably teach us all more about coaching than either Erik Spoelstra —Miami Heat head coach, or Gregg Popovich — Spurs coach (both being on the far right). Not that Spoelstra or Popovich aren’t great, but are any of us going to be coaching professional basketball?

Being That Coach, in terms of being freakishly-successful, is something to strive for, but not to get distracted by.


Does Your Brand Include A Special Prize?Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

by John Brubaker, Author and Performance Consultant

 Special Prize Inside

A week ago my family had a reunion in New Jersey and it brought back some great memories. My cousin Erik is a year younger than me and as kids growing up I always enjoyed visiting him. Besides the fact that we had the same interests, it was fun because his parents had sugared cereal in their house. Boxes of sugared cereal always seemed to have the best prizes inside. (My parents outlawed junk cereal in our house like it was some kind of narcotic, opting instead for Cheerios, Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran.)

You’re probably wondering, What does sugared cereal have to do with athletic recruiting? Everything!

Your athletic program really isn’t all that different than a box of cereal up on the shelf in the grocery store. There are lots of “boxes” just like yours though the size and shape may vary slightly. How do you position your program as a must have that makes prospects hungry to pick you up and put you in their cart so to speak?

Does your brand offer a “special prize” to attract prospects and retain customers?

The special prize concept made certain cereal brands memorable, so much that I still remember getting a Mickey Mouse spoon from Cheerios, baseball cards and matchbox cars from Corn Flakes. I bet you still remember your favorite too, don’t you? I drove my parents nuts by “going straight for the kill” opening the cereal box from the bottom to get right to the prize at the bottom of the packaging.

Does the product, service and experience your brand offers elicit that same straight for the kill reaction from your prospects? Is it equally memorable? If not, you need to create a “special prize” (within NCAA regulations).

Think about why kids love McDonald’s happy meals so much, there is a toy prize inside. Did you know happy meals account for 10% of McDonald’s revenue ($3 billion) and are served in 30,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. While it wasn’t their goal, it made McDonalds the largest toy distributor in the world, simply because of a special prize inside.

We’ve all still got a child inside of us and you can engineer the same “special prize experience” for your prospects and their parents. The special prize concept creates an emotional connection between you and your prospect and builds intense brand loyalty. When we offer special prizes or deals to people we need to make sure they exceed expectations. (Remember the disappointment the first time you opened a box of Cracker Jacks and it just contained a sticker instead of a real toy.) To elevate and separate yourself from the competition, over deliver value in a memorable way.  This is one of the reasons people stay connected with an organization or brand. People love special surprises (good ones at least) it’s not only what customers and prospects want; it’s what they’ve come to expect.

Why is this special prize concept so powerful? Because we make buying decisions based on feelings and then try to justify the decision logically after the fact. Too many recruiters make the mistake of over promising and under delivering. If you are one of the few who never disappoint because you surprise, delight and over deliver value to others, you’ll be remarkable. Your program will become the kind of product and experience your prospects just can’t get enough of and you will become the person they want to hear more from.

Do you remember making your parents buy you a certain box of cereal because you desperately wanted the prize inside? What was the cereal and what was the prize? What is your special prize you can offer?

Keep your eye on the prize this week!

Coaching Point: How to build your special prize-It should answer one or more of these four questions…

  1. Does your prize solve a problem?
  2. Is it game changing? (or maybe even life changing)
  3. Does it add value to others?
  4. Does it elevate and separate you from the competition?


About the author: John Brubaker is a nationally renowned performance consultant, speaker and award-winning author. Using a multidisciplinary approach, Brubaker helps organizations and individuals develop their competitive edge. Brubaker is the author of two books: The Coach Approach: Success Strategies From The Locker Room To The Board Room and his latest book Seeds of Success. He also co-authored Leadership: Helping Others To Succeed with Senator George Mitchell, Dr. Warren Benis and several other experts. John is also the host of Maximum Success: The Coach Bru Show on NBC Sports Radio Boston. He is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and he also earned a master’s degree in personnel psychology from FDU. Brubaker has completed his doctoral coursework in Sport Psychology at Temple University.  www.coachbru.com


Click Here For More Information on Coach Bru’s Newest Book: Seeds of Success

Making The Most Of Your Google SearchesMonday, June 17th, 2013

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Most answers are a Google search a way. Sounds obvious and ridiculous, but it’s true. Well, it’s true to the extent that you are proficient in Google searching. Just like having the fundamentals in your respective sport, we feel like it is important to know the fundamentals when doing a Google search. The fundamentals will help you get better results quicker. Here are a couple of tricks and tips…

Exact Phrase Search

Search using the quote (“”) marks. This allows you to search by exact phrases so that you only will be returned results that match this exactly. For example, searching by “Dan Tudor” will return better results than searching for Dan Tudor. This is because it will look for the exact phrase Dan Tudor as opposed to Dan and Tudor.

Math Caluculations

Do the math right in google. If you don’t have a calculator on hand, you can type directly in Google things like 87 + 10 – 2 + 4 and you will get back 99. You can do 10 * 2 and get back 20. It supports all kinds of calculations.

Weather Reports

Just type the word weather and then your zip code. For example: weather 08530 and you will get the weather report back immediately without searching on a weather site.

Time Zone Information

Type in the text current time: and include the state or zip code and you will figure out the whole time zone thing. Like current time Indiana.

Image or Picture Search

Type the word image before your search term to get back pictures. For example: image princeton logo will get you back initial results with the Princeton University logo.

These are a few ways to make your Google search much more efficient and resourceful for college coaches. And, they can save you time along the way.

Front Rush should be one of the tech tools you and your fellow coaches go into this upcoming recruiting season with.  There’s a reason they have become the #1 choice for recruiting management software among college coaches: They’ve created a system that’s the best in the business, with personalized support to match.  If you aren’t a Front Rush user, consider becoming one soon!


Preventing Prospects From Giving You the “Right” AnswerSunday, June 16th, 2013

The danger for coaches in asking their prospects questions lies completely in the answers they receive back.

Very often, those answers guide the coach down the wrong path as they look to recruit student-athletes (and their parents) by formulating what are, on the surface, perfectly reasonable questions.

“What are your academic goals are in college?”

“What do you think makes up a good college athletic experience?”

“Why do you want to compete at this next level?”

Why are these, and questions like them, so dangerous for a serious recruiter?  Simple:

Your prospect will likely give you the right answer – with the same mindset that they use when bubbling-in an answer on a multiple choice test.

By “right”, I mean the correct answer.  The answer that they think a smart student-athlete would give.  The answer that isn’t going to make waves, will let them go on to the next question, and continue on until they pass your test.  That is, by the way, what most of your student-athletes view your questions as…it’s a test, something that they have to get through so they can keep moving on through the process.

And so, when you ask questions incorrectly, you’ll risk getting standard answers such as “My academic goals in college are to be the best I can be while competing in sports…”  Or, “I think a good athletic experience in college would consist of a proper balance of academics and athletics…”  Or, “I want to compete at the next level because I want to challenge myself and make myself the best I can be…”

The answers sound wonderful, but are they genuine?  Have you gained any real knowledge by getting those answers?

Are you noticing, Coach, that you’ll finish a 30-minute phone call with a prospect that is filled with lots of questions and reasonably good answers, and feel like you really didn’t learn anything new about your prospect or move the process forward in any tangible way?

If the answer is yes, you’re starting to understand what I mean by getting the “right” answer.

You don’t want the right answer, Coach…you should be aiming for the insightful answers.  The answers that they stumble through, and have to start over and explain.  The answers they have to think about in order to verbalize to you.  Remember those times you really connected with a prospect, and felt like you got really good insights into what kind of a person they’d be if they were on your team?  I’ll bet that their answers were conversational and a little disjointed as they tried to verbalize it to you.  THAT is the type of answer you should be looking for every single time.

So, how do you create the best environment for bypassing their “right” answers, and get inside their head to get to the good stuff that they’re holding back?  Here are some key suggestions I’d recommend:

  • Eliminate “yes” and “no” questions.  Quite a few of you have read our recruiting guides that outline some of the basics of how to ask effective questions, but for the rest of you I want to set this as a good foundation: Never, ever, ask questions that set-up a “yes” or “no” response from your recruit.  As adults, we’ll be asked a question that could garner a yes or no response, and have the mental sophistication to expand on that answer and give our reasons for answering the way we did.  Most teenagers, on the other hand, will keep their responses as short as possible in an effort to not say anything embarrassing or too revealing (according to our research and focus groups, this is especially true at the beginning of the recruiting process).  This problem has an easy fix: Don’t ask yes-no questions.
  • Focus on the process.  By focusing your questions on the recruiting process itself, and how they will be figuring out how they’ll be making their decision, you’ll stand an excellent chance of getting truthful, insightful answers.  It’s determining the process that actually can lead to developing a strategy for how to recruit that particular prospect based on his or her particular needs.  For example, if you discover that they plan on making their decision within the next three months because they don’t want to drag out the recruiting process, you know that your recruiting approach needs to be completely different than if you had the next year and half to tell your story and recruiting them over an extended period of time.  That’s the benefit of focusing your questions on the process…they are the questions they feel best equipped to answer honestly.
  • Develop one or two follow-up questions that demand honesty.  Once you ask a question, be ready with one or two questions that force your recruit to answer more in depth.  They won’t want to initially, which is why you’ll need to press them with some tough follow-up questions.  For example, if they gave you the answer we used as an example earlier, “I think a good athletic experience in college would consist of a proper balance of academics and athletics”, two logical follow-up questions might be, “That’s interesting…so how would you describe a situation that was out of balance for a college athlete?”  And then, “So what are you going to be looking for when you visit campuses that might tip you off to a bad situation that would be out of balance?”  When they answer, you may get an idea of what kind of work ethic they’ll be bringing to your program, as well as how you can construct a campus visit that would address some of the specific items on their mental checklist.  Notice, however, that you only get that really good information in the follow-up questions.  If you don’t ask them, they aren’t likely to tell you.
  • Include the parents (especially early on).  It amazes me that some coaches still have reluctance to ask parents questions early on in the process.  If you are a coach that is holding on to the idea that you are recruiting the athlete and not his or her parents, you are swimming against the tide that is this generation and their reliance on mom and dad as trusted advisors through the recruiting process.  This generation of student-athlete wants and expects their parents to be involved in the conversation, and many times they’d prefer if mom and dad answered some of the initial questions you have.  I strongly suggest a healthy mix of questions for the parents as well as the prospect, and take the time to ask parents what they are expecting from you as a coach over the coming months.  Set yourself apart as a coach who wants them involved, and as someone who is putting value into developing a relationship with them.

Here’s what to do next: Reformulate your questions to include the ideas we’ve listed above, and start asking them to this next class of prospects.  What I predict you will discover are better, more in-depth, and more honest answers that give you the tools you need to create more individualized recruiting approaches for each prospect.

This generation of student-athlete and their parents differ greatly from those that you may have previously recruited.  Failure to adjust the way you communicate with them will likely make convincing them to come to your college a failed effort, as well.

Want a more personalized assessment of what you and your athletic department need to do to address objections and answer questions for this next class of recruits?  Dan and his team of experts is ready to help: Ask us about becoming a client or hosting an On-Campus Workshop by emailing him directly at dan@dantudor.com.

5 Curious Recruiting Trends for College CoachesMonday, June 10th, 2013

I write this having just finished up hosting our annual college coaches’ gathering, the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

One of the focuses of this year’s NCRC?  The changing landscape of effective college recruiting.

Part of what we do at this event every year is outline the trends, news and changes we’ve tracked over the past year in college recruiting at all levels, and put together an outlook for those that attend this June conference for the upcoming year.  To do that, we assemble what has to be one of the most diverse collection of experts from around the country, and let them give our coaches a view from their world on what it takes to be a successful recruiter: Leadership, technological savvy, the right strategy, inspiration, organization, and – most importantly – an understanding of where recruiting is headed for the upcoming year.

There was over 20 hours of information crammed into our weekend conference (hey, it’s for serious recruiters who want to advance their career, not vacation-seekers!), but I wanted to pick out five trends that we wanted to share with everyone around the country that couldn’t make it to this year’s event.

The recruiting trends listed are just observations; you have to decide how to apply them to what you’ll be doing this upcoming year, and how to adjust your approach and your recruiting communication as you seek to connect with this general of teenage prospects:

  1. Families are balking at college debt.  If you are a program that does not offer full athletic scholarships, you will lose athlete prospects this coming year – and in the years to come – if you don’t adequately justify why they should invest in your program and your college.  And when I say “you”, I mean you.  Make it your job to understand how to have that conversation, and don’t leave it completely up to your financial aid office to sell the family of your top prospects on why they should invest in you.  A higher percentage of your recruits than ever before are opting not to incur debt, and we see that as a trend that will continue into the near future.
  2. Social media isn’t being used correctly by coaches.  Note the word correctly.  Coaches are great at tweeting, liking, and texting in terms of the function of posting to a social media website.  However, we are hearing from athletes that say coaches risk losing their attention with the topics they are posting online – mostly news and other “boring” posts that are easy for coaches and athletic departments to slap up on Facebook or Twitter, but don’t engage and interest the prospects they are trying to reach.  Our recommendation?  As we outlined in detail for those that were a part of the NCRC, coaches need to focus on showcasing their own personalities, and the personality of your their teams.  Do that, and you’ll have a great chance of reaching your recruit.
  3. It’s getting a lot easier to reach out of region recruits.  While I’m not at all saying you’ll get every out-of-area athlete you target in the future, the trends are clear: More athletes than ever are open to seriously considering a program if that coach outlines why the athlete is wanted, how he or she will be used as a part of their overall strategic plan for their team, and developing school-specific reasoning as to why an out-of-area education is going to be better for them compared to staying near home.  Use those three talking points to make your case this upcoming year, and watch your results of attracting new out-of-area prospects increase.
  4. The traditional printed athletic materials are obsolete.  I’m not talking about hand-written notes and well-constructed letter messages, I’m referring to the tri-fold brochures you insert into your envelopes.  Or, media guides and view books from your athletic department.  Anything not specifically related to you and your team that the recruit will be with once he or she comes to campus on your roster.  Don’t be generic in visually showcasing your program, be specific.  This generation is telling us that unless it’s virtually all pictures in printed materials, with current team members who they will know once they commit, don’t invest money in sending them to your prospects.
  5. Athletes are becoming less afraid of asking you tough questions.  We are getting reports from coaches all over the country that athletes are raising tougher questions during the recruiting process.  Many recruits tell us they are being coaches on what to ask by their parents and coaches, afraid of the horror stories that they’ve heard in the media and teaching their kids how to stand on their own two feet so that they don’t make a mistake in choosing a program.  This is going to require you to strategically map out a plan to head off objections before they start, and effectively answer them once they do ask them (here are some good reference articles on the topic if you’d like to dig deeper).

The art of effective recruiting is a consistently changing challenge.  Make sure you know the trends, and use this time to prepare for the upcoming recruiting year.

Psychology of Your Prospect’s Unconscious Decision MakingMonday, June 3rd, 2013

I often find that the primary thinking of many college coaches when it comes to getting prospects interested in their program as they approach this time of year 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, 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 as you gear-up for this next class of recruits.  And, that same science could just hold the key for you and your program making that recruiting class the best ever.

Looking for more great approaches in recruiting?  We’ve collected our best ideas and strategies and produced two recruiting workbooks for advanced college recruiters.  Your competitors have made them part of their coaching library…shouldn’t you?  

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