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August 14th, 2018

They’ll Do the Same Thing My Daughter Does If You Let Them

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

    

My wife and I already know the answer before we even ask the question.

Every now and then we let our 9-year old daughter pick where we go out for dinner. There are a ton of nice restaurants within a 15-20 minute drive from our house. But, every time despite having all those options, she opts for one of two familiar choices – McDonald’s or Culver’s.

My daughter chooses ‘safe’ over the unknown. It doesn’t matter that what she usually orders (hamburger, Mac and cheese, or noodles with butter) is available at a bunch of other restaurants. In the end, she settles.

Prospective students do the same thing throughout their college search. They did last year, and they will again this year unless you help them make an uncomfortable decision.

Here are four core issues you’re going to have to find a way to take control of if you want prospective students to bypass their own McDonald’s or Culver’s:

  • Understand the psychology behind their motivation for playing it safe. Most students begin their college search adventurous and seemingly open to anything, including what you’re telling them about your school. But, as many admissions counselors discover, it wanes as time goes on. Why? Because they, like most of us, gravitate to familiar and safe. That might result in the student choosing the school that’s the closest to home, the one that’s the least expensive, has the biggest name recognition, or some other traditionally safe-sounding reason. Sometimes, you benefit from being the safe choice. Many times, you don’t. What I want you to remember is this reasoning is common, and it can be overcome.
  • It’s your responsibility to tell them how to think. Let me be clear on this. I’m not suggesting you trick students into choosing your school. You don’t have that power. However, you do have the tools needed to define why your college or university is going to be the better choice in the end. And you have complete control over how much passion and confidence you exude. You need to clearly lay out all the reasons that a student should take the risk and choose your school. If you don’t, who will? Telling your story effectively is one of the foundational ways you begin to change the hearts and minds of your prospects.
  • Ask them to explain why they’re feeling ready to take a big risk. Another important part of an admissions counselors’ job is to understand why a prospective student is ready to take a risk. For example, you have an interested student from several states away who’s telling you that he/she is open to hearing/learning more about your school. The first thing I want you to ask them is, “So tell me why moving away from home and going far away to college seems like it might be the right decision for you?” If that student comes back with defined reasons as to why they’re looking at colleges out of their area, then you’ve got a strong start to that prospect’s recruitment. If on the other hand you get an answer like, “I don’t know, I just want to see what all my options are and look around a little,” I would argue you proceed with a lot of caution. That scenario can take the form of a lot of different conversations, but the main point I’m trying to make is this: If you sense your prospect is taking a risk or isn’t the typical student you usually see interested in your school, ask them early on to explain why they’re interested.
  • Ask them to define their timeline. One of the most important aspects of getting a prospect to leave their safe zone and consider a riskier path is to have them define their timeline for how their process will move forward, and how they’ll make their final decision. I’ve talked about timeline at length before, but if you need a quick reminder or maybe this is your first time reading my newsletter and you want more strategies on how to do that effectively, read this article I wrote. Defining their timeline early in the process is a critical piece for making sure a student is ready to seriously consider your school.

As you start to have in-depth conversations with this next class of prospective students, make sure you’re looking for what your prospect’s safe options are, and make a plan to clearly and consistently justify why taking a serious look at your school is well worth the risk.

Have a great rest of the week!

August 13th, 2018

Your Call to Action Gets Things Done

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

[This is part four in the series on effective persuasion for sport coaches. Click here for the other articles.]

Here’s a fact—whenever your athlete leaves a meeting, a practice, or a huddle without knowing EXACTLY what to do…you’ve missed a chance at success.

And you may never get that opportunity for success again.

You need to nail the effective persuasion part

Coaches persuade.

Our job is to convince people to take positive action.

Persuasion is our bread & butter and the best coaches are masters of it.

Unfortunately, persuasion does not come easy for many. That’s the bad news.

The good news—with practice you can become very effective at persuasion.

Persuasion, the act of convincing someone to take positive action is a series of steps. Over the past weeks, we’ve been working on the first three steps of effective persuasion, which are:

  1. Step 1. Grab Attention
  2. Step 2. Spark Interest
  3. Step 3. Fascinate

Now it’s time for the final step…

Your call-to-action

This last step is no secret to the marketing world.

They are experts at using a call-to-action:

“So you don’t forget, call before midnight!”

“Operators are standing by, so call now!”

“Stop smelling bad, buy Stink Away today!”

We can learn a lot from from the marketing world. And we should, because coaches are marketers, and an effective call-to-action can make or break you.

What makes an effective call-to-action?

A call-to-action is asking (or telling) someone to take action. Athletes hear them all the time:

You’re primary receiver, so run a post pattern.

The bus leaves early, be here at 6:30 am.

Get your physicals to the trainer by end of the day, tomorrow.

Each of those are simple.

Each are specific.

And each leaves little doubt in the mind of the person what action he should take.

Being specific and keeping it simple are at the core of a good call-to-action.

There are a few other important things you should keep in mind:

A good call-to-action aligns with the person’s values. “I know you want to win this game, so doing this drill now will help you score in tonight’s game.

A sense of urgency improves the odds the person will follow through. “The deadline for your physical form is tomorrow. No form and you cannot be on the team.

An examples of the action helps. “See the exercise Jane just did? You need to do the exact same thing.

Timing of your call-to-action is critical

When do you think is the perfect time to ask someone to take action?

It depends on the person (or team), and the situation.

Usually, after you complete the first three steps of persuasion is the best time to issue a call-to-action. If you ask before then, your chances of success dwindle.

And don’t hesitate.

Strike while the fire of fascination is burning bright.

Wait too long, and the person will have moved on to the next call in in her life (friends, studies, work, social media, etc.)

You will know if your timing was right, if the action happened.

If it didn’t, then next time adjust your timing.

The medium matters

Be mindful of the method of communication you use.

The medium you use matters.

Personally, I find my calls-to-action work best when issued in person.

Yet, there are times when calls come through email (summer letters), or phone calls (distant recruits), or letters (fundraising).

A good rule of thumb—the closer to a personal connection you make when you issue your call, the greater the chance of success.

Also, be selective with your choice of words. Here are three ways of asking for the same action:

  • Do as I say—pick up that barbell now!
  • Lifting weights are critical to your success. Ready to lift?
  • I notice you are not lifting correctly. Would you like to discuss it?

They elicit a very different emotional response in the person. When you issue your call, what exactly do you want the response to be?

Your choice of wording will determine how positive the response is.

Where can you go with this?

Let me ask you,

  • Would you like to be a better coach? Then, click here.
  • Simple, short tips can make your coaching more effective. Please listen to a few.
  • Stuck? Then try this.

Each of those are my calls-to-actions.

Did any of them work on you? Did you click any of the links?

Take a moment and think through why you did click, or why you did not.

Here’s the bottom line of the entire series

Persuasion is the life blood of coaching. Effective persuasion is how you will get those around you to take positive action…the positive action they need to take.

Like all good tools, effective persuasion won’t do you any good if it lingers in the bottom of your toolbox.

Take it out, practice with it, and use it.

The better you are at effective persuasion, the better coach you will be!

August 7th, 2018

It Might Not Make Sense, But

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

    

It happened again, this time during a staff training workshop that I led for a college in Illinois yesterday.

During a break, one of the admissions counselors came up and asked me if his peers at other schools are also dealing with students making completely illogical college decisions. The short answer I gave him was, “of course.”

Choosing a college based on whether or not they have a football team might seem completely illogical to you and the wrong way to break a tie between schools, but it happens from time to time. And some students in 2018 are also still picking colleges based on where their high school friends are or are not going…that includes a boyfriend or girlfriend as well. One student even said in a recent survey we conducted for a school that the deciding factor that led them to pick their college was, “I thought it would be easier to change my major here than at other schools.”

Over the past couple of years I’ve seen and heard more examples of irrational, emotional decisions than ever before in our ongoing work with college admission departments.

Here are five important constants I see with this generation of students that I want you to keep in mind as you start to communicate with this next class:

  • They’re deciding based on their emotions. Emotion often outweighs logic and facts, including when it comes to deciding which colleges to visit and apply to.
  • They’re thinking short term, not long term, when it comes to their college experience. What feels right at that moment is often more important versus over four years.
  • They’re looking to see which colleges truly personalize the process and really take an interest in them. Are you a resource or salesperson? Are you consistently staying in touch and asking them for their feedback and opinions on things? Do you feel like someone they can trust?
  • They’re relying on others to help them make their decisions. Namely parents, peers, and other family and friends in their inner circle/community.
  • They’ll often turn to irrelevant statistics to justify their actions. You might develop a great relationship with a student and offer them a competitive financial aid package, but in the end, they pick the school with the larger, newer residence halls or the one where their boyfriend, girlfriend, or group of friends is going.

The bottom line is this generation is a tough group to recruit. They often change their minds multiple times daily, and they do things that leave people like yourself scratching your head.

Let me share with you some additional ideas/thoughts that might help you moving forward:

  • Search out information as early as possible about how they’re going to make their college decision. Ask questions about tiebreakers and other things that matter most as they look at different schools…no matter how silly you might think they are.
  • If the early emails and letters you send are focused solely on the logical argument that your school and your academic programs are the best choice, you may be making a huge mistake. It’s not that your prospect doesn’t need that, it just may not be the right time yet.
  • Over the past two years in both this newsletter and during NACAC affiliate conferences I’ve spoken at, I’ve really tried to drive home just how much this generation of students are driven by fear. How are you, your colleagues, and your recruiting communications helping to alleviate that fear?
  • Find ways to feed their emotions and make a personal connection rather than a logical case. If you take that approach, you’ll set yourself up for having them listen to your logical case more intently once you have that emotional connection.
  • Make your case with more passion than your competition. I continue to see/hear plenty of stories where the emotional connections that the admissions staff, tour guides, etc. helped build end up being a significant reason why the student chose their school. Emotions sell because emotions are real. And remember, passion has nothing to do with your budget.
  • Always include/engage the parents. When you clue them in early on to your conversations with their son/daughter, and when you ask them for their feedback on things, you gain allies who feel like a valued partner.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

As always, if you have questions about this article or any other aspect of student recruitment, leadership, or professional development, I’m ready to listen and help. Reply back, and we’ll start a conversation.

August 6th, 2018

Why Your Recruits Choose “Safe” If You Let Them

It’s a little after 6:00pm, and I’m two blocks from Times Square in New York City. There are hundreds of great restaurants within walking distance, offering every delicacy known to man. I’ve walked by them before, and swore that “next time” I’d venture in and try one. But every next time, faced with that choice, I opted for my old familiar foodie friend:

Chipotle.

When faced with a decision, I cave.

I’ll choose ‘safe’ over the ‘unknown’, and my usual from Chipotle is an easy decision I long ago justified as being smart, relatively healthy, fast and affordable. Not exciting, not new…safe. I look at the other restaurants, and check out their menus online, and read the reviews. But in the end, I settle.

So do your recruits. They did last year, and they will again this year unless you help them make the uncomfortable decision. In New York, I don’t have that personal guide walking along with me, offering me advice and direction on the new restaurant that I just can’t pass up. Instead, I opt for the familiar.

Your recruits do the same thing on a regular basis.

Want to work on changing that for this next recruiting class? Here are four core issues you’re going to have to find a way to take control of if you hope for your prospect to take the lead – bypass their own “Chipotle” – and choose you:

  • Understand the psychology behind their motivation for playing it safe. Most recruits start out adventurous and seemingly open to anything, including what you’re telling them about. That’s a common trait early in the process, but as many coaches discover, it wanes as time goes on. Why? Because most of us gravitate to the familiar and safe. That might come in the form of eventually choosing the school that’s the closest to home, the one that’s the highest division level, best conference, biggest offer, or some other traditionally safe-sounding reason for choosing a particular school. Sometimes, you benefit from being the safe choice. Many other times, you don’t. Just understand, this reasoning is common, and it can be overcome.
  • It’s your responsibility to tell them how to think. That sentence sounds a little manipulative, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you “trick” or “force” your prospects into choosing you; coaches don’t have that power. However, you do have the tools needed to define why your program is going to be the better choice in the end, and doing so with passion and confidence (even if you’re coaching at a school that you’re not that passionate about, and don’t feel all that confident about when it comes to what you offer). You need to clearly lay out the reasons they should take the risk and choose you. If you don’t, who will? Telling your story effectively is one of the foundational ways you begin to change the hearts and minds of your prospects.
  • Ask them why they’re apparently feeling ready to take a big risk. Another key responsibility for coaches is to understand why a recruit is apparently ready to take a risk. For example, you have an interested prospect from several states away who is telling you that she’s open to hearing about your program and your school. The first thing I’d want you to ask is, “So tell me why moving away from home and truly going away to college seems like it might be the right decision for you?” If she comes back with solid reasons as to why she’s looking out of her area, then you’ve got a strong start to that prospect’s recruitment. If, on the other hand, all you get is “oh, I don’t know, I just wanted to see what all my options are, and take some time to look around a little,” you don’t have a true prospect. That scenario can take the form of a lot of different conversations, but the main point is this: If you sense your prospect is taking a risk, or isn’t your typical recruit you usually see interested in your program, ask them early on why they’re interested.
  • Ask them to define their timeline. One of the most important aspects of getting a prospect to leave their safe zone and consider a riskier path is to have them define their timeline for seeing the process move forward, and making their final decision. This process also provides you with a natural transition into the conversation about establishing your own timeline for your program, as well as setting up a fair but firm deadline. For more strategies on how to do that effectively, listen to this podcast we did on the topic. Defining their timeline is a critical final piece for making sure your recruit is ready to seriously consider you and your program.

Coach, make sure you’re looking for what your prospect’s safe options are, and make a plan to gently introduce the idea that you are more than a temporary distraction on their way to making a safe choice. Justify why you’re worth the risk, and reinforce that consistently throughout the early parts of the recruiting process.

 

August 6th, 2018

One Simple Strategy That Could Save Coaches 10 Hours Every Week

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

I have made some of my biggest breakthroughs with productivity only after I created systems.  The systems that I have created have played a big part in helping to reduce the amount of hours that I work while in the office so I can get home quicker to my family. 

Over the next few weeks, I will share with you some very simple, but effective systems that you can create for yourself to help reduce the time it takes you to do things.     

In my study of the best time management strategies, it became very apparent that effective self-leaders in every profession have systems for just about everything from work activities like scheduling, follow up, entering data, and sending thank you cards, to personal activities such as sleeping, eating, dealing with money, cars, and family responsibilities.

Those systems make life easier, and ensure they are always ready to perform.   Here are two examples of basic systems (the third one being the ultimate game changer):  

Daily Attire— In addition to being a college coach, as you may know because you maybe have read some of my articles in the College Recruiting Weekly newsletter before, I run a company teaching time management strategies to college coaches called Busy Coach, have two children, and I have spent the last two and half years completing 5 different products that help coaches make a greater impact in a shorter amount of time.

As you can imagine, there is not a moment of time to spare. In order to ensure that I do not have to waste any time preparing in the morning, and to make sure I have proper attire, I make sure to lay out the night before what I will wear the next day in the office, to work out, and then out to practice.  It sounds simple, but that extra fifteen minutes every morning adds up in the course of a week.

Travel— As we all know, we travel a lot during our seasons, in the off season we are recruiting week after week, we may travel with youth teams we coach, and then we are traveling some more if we decide to be on the road working other camps.  Collecting the items we need for every trip can be time-consuming, inefficient, and ineffective, especially if you tend to often forget things at home or in your office. 

For me, after the third time of forgetting the charger for my computer and having to spend another $75 for a replacement or ask the front desk for a phone charger, or a toothbrush, I’d had enough. I assembled a travel bag containing every single item I need for my trips, and now I can leave at a moment’s notice because my bag contains everything I need to be on the road— business cards, toiletries, adaptors and chargers for my phone and computer.

You’ll know you need a system when you have a challenge that is recurring or you find you’re missing opportunities because you’re unprepared. If you’re walking out the door with just enough time to make an appointment only to discover you’re running on fumes, you need a system for getting out the door earlier: pack your backpack the night before, have your clothes already out and ready to go, set the coffee maker, get up earlier, etc.

Said another way, wherever you feel like you need to get your act together, you need a system. A life without systems is a life with unnecessary stress!  

If you want more ideas on how to create systems for your recruiting, for working in the office, for your team or travel, or other time management techniques delivered to your inbox every Sunday, email me at mandy@busy.coach or visit www.busy.coach.

July 31st, 2018

If You Want Them to Visit Campus

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Before you know it school will be back in session. My daughter actually starts third grade on Thursday, which still blows my mind. Where has summer gone?

Late summer and early fall continue to be popular times for a lot of rising seniors to take a college visit. You and I both know how important that visit is for this generation of students. It’s typically the make or break moment when your school moves up or down the list. And students rely on it heavily when making their final decision.

Let me give you another important piece of information. Our focus group research with colleges and universities across the country over the past year indicates that close to 60% of incoming college freshmen only visited between one and three schools during their college search.

The explanation is simple. Time is at a premium for both parents and prospective students in 2018. Now, more than ever, colleges need to make a stronger case as to why the campus visit (specifically their own) holds so much value.

If you’re wondering what your school has to show a prospective student before they’ll visit your campus, I can help you with that. We ask that exact question on the recruiting survey that goes out before I lead a staff training workshop.

Besides having the academic program/major that a student wants/is interested in, the two biggest themes that repeatedly come up are:

  • Taking an interest in them as an individual
  • Showing them that your campus community is inclusive, welcoming, and that it won’t be hard for them to fit in

We continue to find that most students want and need to understand WHY you want them to become a part of your student body and HOW your school will help them transition and “fit in” so seamlessly.

Ask yourself the following question – Have I given the students in my territory a reason to visit our campus? I mean a real, concrete reason.

Your prospects need a reason that is solidified in their mind – either one that they came up with on their own or a picture that you and your school have painted for them over a period of time. Putting it simply, what they need is what we all need to prompt action from time to time:  A “because.”

Let’s take things a step further. How else are you going to lay the foundation for a campus visit? Consistent, engaging messaging (i.e. letters and emails) that comes from one voice and creates/cultivates a recruiting relationship not only with the student but also their parent(s) is an extremely effective strategy.

Let me mention one more thing before I let you go. Asking for a visit too soon in a student’s college search process can be extremely detrimental. You have to be a little patient, let that recruiting relationship build, create some anticipation, and then ask. Pushing the campus visit as your call to action every single time during early communications can quickly becoming unnerving and overwhelming.

Good luck!

If you want to talk further about anything I mentioned in this article, reply back to my email and we can do that.

P.S. After the campus visit is over, do you know how to determine whether your school moved up or down a student’s list? The answer is in today’s newsletter in the section that’s titled, “A Related Article From Jeremy.”

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