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May 3rd, 2016

This Might Be Why They Didn’t Deposit to Your School

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Another ‘College Decision Day’ has come and gone. You can exhale now. I hope both you and your team reached your enrollment goals.

When it comes to students that you missed out on, typically there are many potential reasons why. If you’ve had me on campus to work with your admissions team you know that our research reveals one solid fact that every college admissions and enrollment professional should be aware of when it comes to what’s important in developing a recruitment strategy: Your prospects are trusting their feelings as they make their decision about you and your institution.

That’s the feelings you create while you recruit them, how effective your letters, emails, phone calls and social media posts are at creating the right feelings, as well as the feelings they get when they experience you and your campus community during that all-important campus visit.

We continue to see this generation of students make their choice based on how they feel and then justify it with the facts and data that they receive from you. Emotions are consistently outweighing logic. The important question then for you is, “What kind of strategies do you employ to give your prospects the feeling you want them to have about your school?”

Making them feel wanted is a great starting point. But, if you really want to break through the hard exterior of today’s teenager you need to go one step further and get to the core of that student and his or her parents.

Here are six ideas that I recommend you put into practice with this next class of prospects.

  1. Establish an early foundation for proving that you are the emotional choice that “feels” right to them. When you create an emotional tie with your prospect early in the recruitment process we’ve found that they will usually gravitate towards your school. It’s imperative to have a strategy for how to create that feeling in the first place. One of the examples I use during our On-Campus Workshop is Starbucks. They are the master of creating and managing a feeling of comfort when you walk in to any one of their thousands of stores. They use the lights, the comfy couches, the music and the free Wi-Fi. It’s all done with a purpose. As a smart recruiter you need to have a plan to create the right feelings for your next class of prospects now that the initial contact message is in their hands. If you fail to do that, you’re introducing random results into the recruitment process. So, what’s your plan for establishing a feeling that they will gravitate to over the coming months?
  2. Use keywords in your recruiting communications. If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter, you know how much today’s prospective student wants to be valued and have their wants and needs viewed as important. Why not tell them exactly that? Three simple words – “I appreciate you.” Try it and see what happens. Or if you’re face-to-face with the prospect how about, “I believe in you.” Those are powerful words that your prospect will respond to. Then think of other things you can tell them in the coming weeks and months that will emphasize the idea that you appreciate and value them. In addition, this year’s class of college prospects are telling us that having an admissions counselor inquire about how a prospective student “feels” about certain things on campus gets a much more in-depth response.  It encourages open discussion without the idea that there is a “right” answer that the prospect should be giving.
  3. Write things down and then use them as future reference. Taking notes is proof and it honors someone’s thoughts. This works well in-person when you’re talking to either the recruit or their parents. It shows the other person that you value what they’re telling you. Down the road when you refer back to those notes it will remind them that you were truly listening to their wants and needs, and it shows that you treat them as a valued partner in the process.
  4. Answer “why” during the campus visit. Too many schools show what they have to offer during the campus tour but fail to answer why it matters to a specific prospect. When you answer the “why”, it allows your recruit to visualize, which is a key ingredient in creating those all-important feelings.
  5. Demonstrate more passion than the next counselor. I consider passion to be the most underrated tool in admissions recruitment. If you want to know why, click here for that article. If your prospects are using emotion to make their decision, we’ve seen plenty of cases where the counselor who shows the same kind of passion and emotion connects the best with that student. A passionate recruiter takes the time to understand the wants and needs of everyone involved in the decision making process. Doing this creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other feelings that a recruit relies on to make their final decision. Oh, and the last time I checked, passion isn’t a budget related item that your competitor has more of (unless you let them).
  6. Telling the best stories will result in enrolling the best students.  When I talk about “telling stories”, I’m not talking about lying or embellishing. You have to give your listener (your prospect) a story to buy into because they will buy it, and believe or not, they’ll even pay more for it in many cases. As you explain your school’s story, be sure to relate how that story connects to them.  The best recruiters in the country take the time to create a story that their prospects can visualize and understand. If you didn’t do that this year, it cost you and your school some of those “best fit” students.

When you create the right feelings in the minds and hearts of your prospects, and those around them, you greatly increase your school’s chances of enrolling those students.

If your enrollment numbers aren’t what you want/need, let me explain to you how our research-based approach to communicating with students is working for college and university admissions departments nationwide. All YOU have to do is email me, and we will set up a time to connect and discuss.

April 26th, 2016

If Your Prospect Picks Another School, Here’s What You Should Do

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s happening right now to admissions counselors across the country: admitted students are saying thanks but no thanks to a school’s offer of admission. What’s even worse is some of those “no’s” are coming from recruits that many of you probably had penciled in as “yeses.”

The reasons will vary. Some will be legitimate, and some will make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

For most of you losing a recruit to another school should not signal gloom. I phrase it that way because if your no’s start to equal or out-number your yeses, I strongly encourage you to self-evaluate and discover why your recruiting efforts are failing. If you need help correcting bad habits or mastering closing techniques, feel free to reach out to me via email.

Today I want to focus on what to do next when your undecided admits pick another school. Handling this situation effectively is something that separates an average recruiter from a great recruiter.

Here are four simple tips to help you deal with rejection from your prospect:

  1. Don’t overreact. Sounds easy enough, right? If only that were the case. You just spent months, or in some cases even longer, cultivating a relationship with the recruit and their parents, and in an instant, all your hard work goes out the window. Combine that with fatigue and stress about yield, and it’s easy to see how a negative response from a prospect could become the tipping point for some counselors. Take a deep breath and exhale before responding to their email. If you get the bad news during a phone call, try hard not to change your tone and become bitter and combative with the already nervous teenager on the other end of the line.
  2. Respond gracefully (because doing so can lead to future “yeses”). When a prospect chooses another school send them a personal note wishing them well. Why, you ask? For starters very few counselors actually do this, so it will leave a lasting impression. “But Jeremy they picked a different school so that doesn’t matter at this point.” Oh, but it does! That kind of professionalism will pay dividends down the road when others around that prospect or their parents ask about your institution and the overall experience that they received from you. This goes back to one of my personal pillars of successful recruiting – Who’s recruiting for you, when you’re not recruiting. Think about that for a minute.
  3. Ask them WHY. Successful people in any line of work learn from their mistakes. Instead of trying to end the conversation abruptly when a recruit tells you they chose a different place to spend the next four years, use this as a learning opportunity. Ask them why they chose a different school, listen carefully to their answer, and thank them for their honesty. Your goal is not to try and change their mind (although we’ve seen it happen before) but simply to learn. What most counselors tell us they find is there was an objection left unanswered, or the school the student chose did a better job of consistently communicating with them during the process. Once you learn to overcome objections in particular you’ll find that recruiting gets a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. If you’re hearing the same objection or complaint from several prospects, it’s time to make some changes and come up with a new strategy. By doing so, I’m confident you’ll find that you get fewer “no’s” and more “yeses.”
  4. Never let rejection get you down.  Counselors, specifically less experienced ones, tend to get down on themselves when a prospect rejects their school’s offer.  Many develop a negative attitude and begin dreading the recruiting process.  Remember, they’re not rejecting you personally, they’re rejecting your school’s offer.  There’s a difference.  Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t lose your optimism.  Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to future success.

It’s getting late in the recruiting year.  Are the results what you expected?  More importantly, are the results what you want and need?  If the answer is “no”, then let us explain what our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program is all about.  Here’s what to do…email me at jeremy@dantudor.com so we can arrange a time to show you what other admissions departments have already discovered.

April 25th, 2016

Why You (and Your Recruits) Give In to the Fear Factor

Marketers know the rule.

So do politicians, drug manufacturers, and companies that sell gold.

We, the buying public, will make a buying decision based on the fear of something bad happening before we’ll decide to do something based on the possibility of a good outcome.

How often? Studies suggest it’s as high as six out of seven times.

We are prone to expect the worst, and plan our actions accordingly. And if we do it as adult consumers when we’re out shopping for an insurance policy, doesn’t it make sense that your prospects would be inclined to make their decisions the same way?

And yet, the majority of coaches feel the need to only focus on the positive. Tell the recruit what they want to hear, how great they’ll be as a part of their team, and how wonderful your college is.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that. A big place. Heck, when we create messaging plans and recruiting strategies for our clients much of them revolve around the positive reasons a recruit would want to choose their programs, and college. You may do the same thing with your messaging, as well…there’s a place for it, and a compelling story is needed for this generation of recruits in order to feel good about making a decision.

I’m not suggesting you give that up. Not at all.

But if you want to take a more serious, more realistic approach to recruiting, you’d better start planning for your prospect’s “fear factor”.

This generation, more than any recent generation that has been studied, is ‘scared’ of making the wrong decision.

So, what specifically do you need to be aware of when you’re taking a prospect through the decision-making process? It’s not an exhaustive list, but here are five things we’ve seen trending around the country when it comes to things that your prospects are fearful of as you do your best to choose you and your program:

  1. They get a little scared when you tell them that they’re going to be the new go-to player on the team. I know that isn’t the case with every recruit, but even many your top kids are feeling the pressure when you talk about how great they are and over-hype what their experience could be like. Tread carefully here, Coach. I’ve personally heard dozens of stories from recruits who point to the idea of being the center of attention on a team as the main reason they ended up declining the offer from that coach. We find that most athletes hesitate at the idea of owning the spotlight right when they step on campus, so be aware of that “fearful fact” with many of the prospects you’re talking to, Coach.
  2. They get a little scared of returning your email or direct message. It’s one of the most overlooked aspects of a recruiting conversation. Coaches email and return messages all day long, and it requires no great effort or thought. Your prospects, on the other hand, hesitate at returning your message. It’s intimidating. That’s why the structure, tone and direction in your message is critically important – IF you want to get a reply.
  3. They get a little scared of workouts during a recruiting trip. That doesn’t happen on every recruiting trip, of course. And it’s irrelevant in some sports that don’t make a workout with the team a regular part of a recruiting visit on campus. However, if it does apply to you, just remember that a workout with the team, or playing pick-up, or any kind of athletic competition, can cause a lot of anxiety for your prospect. It’s the age difference…many times, those situations pair a young prospect with older, more experienced athletes. Your prospects won’t usually say anything to you about them being uncomfortable in that situation, but they report it back to us as one of their least favorite parts of a campus visit.
  4. They get a little scared to give you honest feedback. That workout that they didn’t really like, and made them a little uncomfortable and a little intimidated? They won’t say a thing about it to you. Why? Because this generation of recruit doesn’t want to risk offending you, or having you confront them. In general, they are “pleasers”. So as you take them through the recruiting process, here’s my advice: Assume that they aren’t telling you everything (mostly because they rarely do). One of your primary jobs as a recruiter is to extract actionable information from your prospect on how he or she is making their decision, and what aspects of your campus and program they either like or don’t like.
  5. They get a little scared when they don’t know what to do at the end. If you haven’t explained why you like them, how they fit into your specific plans once they arrive on campus, and haven’t been asked to commit to your program, it causes paralysis. They don’t know what to do next. (If you’re dealing with recruits who aren’t moving in the right direction, I would bet that it’s something related to one or more of those three key end-of-recruiting landmarks that your prospects are looking to.

Your job as a recruiter is to make sure you are exactly sure, throughout the process, that their questions are getting answered and their fears are being calmed. If you don’t, expect the process to drag on longer than you want it to…or even end with a less than desirable outcome.

Learning the finer points of advanced recruiting is easy. Attend the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference! It’s a weekend full of learning, and incredible networking with fellow coaches from all over the country. Click here to reserve your seat to this investment in your coaching career!

April 25th, 2016

My 4 Favorite Productivity Tips I Learned From Brian Tracy

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

When I first started out on my journey of finding better ways to be more effective and efficient in the office as a coach, one of the productivity experts that I studied a lot was Brian Tracy.

Brian Tracy is one of America’s leading authorities on the enhancement of personal effectiveness, leadership, time management, goals, motivation, and success.

Brian’s stuff spoke to me.  It was so simple and incredibly applicable to everything we do as college coaches.

I really have gotten 100’s of amazing productivity tips from Brian Tracy, but here are four of my favorites:

1.  Be open to new ideas. Because I was so overwhelmed with work, I made the mistake when I first got into coaching 17 years ago of thinking that I had no time to learn about time management or even maybe that I already knew everything I needed to know.  I knew that the way I was working wasn’t working, so opening up to new productivity ideas and then applying them has been a game changer for how I now am able to get work done in the office.

2.  Develop a plan. Tracy is always saying that successful men and women are both effective and efficient. They do the right things, and they do them in the right way. They are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality and quantity of their output. Develop a plan, then decide what is the most important thing to do, and then decide how to do it.  Love it. This piece of advice was instrumental in me developing my Green Time Management System for Coaches.

3.  Set priorities. As a coach, we will never have enough time to do everything that needs to be done, so we must choose.  Tracy’s advice on this is that you must continually set priorities on your activities. He wants you to constantly be asking yourself, what is the most valuable use of my time right now?

4.  Start with your top tasks. The natural tendency is to spend a lot of valuable time clearing up smaller and easier things first. Tracy believe though that the self-discipline of organizing your work and focusing on your highest-value tasks is the starting point of getting your time under control and lowering your stress levels.

Another great tip from Tracy is that If you want to be a big success in any area, find out what other successful people in that area are doing—and do the same things until you get the same results.  Brian Tracy has been one of the many successful people that I have studied on time management principals.

If you are interested in seeing how I have taken what all of the successful experts on time management out there have done with the business world and see how I have applied it to what we do as college coaches, for now until my new website is up and running in a few weeks, go to www.mandygreencps.com.  If you want more productivity advice delivered into your inbox every few weeks, sign up for my free newsletter!  Have a great week!

April 25th, 2016

Digital Angel or Digital Devil?

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

There comes a time when I need to face the truth.

In this instance, there are three truths, digital truths, that I’m trying to process:

  1. Digital Truth #1: Digital is impacting coaches
  2. Digital Truth #2: Coaches adopt digital at different speeds
  3. Digital Truth #3: Screen sizes keep getting smaller

Here is what has me scratching my head … there is a positive impact (Digital Angel) and a negative impact (Digital Devil) to each of these truths. And I’m trying to understand how this will work.

Truth #1: Digital is impacting coaches

In a recent survey of sport coaches, over 35% of them told me they were significantly concerned about the impact digital was having on their coaching.

04-24-16 - impact of digital on coaches

 

Yikes — all those coaches worried about data flying around, media that’s called social, and powerful phones in people’s pockets.

Are their concerns valid?

At the other end of the survey results, 31% of coaches told me that they were NOT worried about the impact of digital. AT ALL.

Are they ignoring reality?

Who is right? On my end, I see the Angel and the Devil:

  • Digital Angel: One day I was pumped about the value of sharing a race video I just recorded, through social media, to team members.
  • Digital Devil: The next day I spent hours trying to sort out a “social media dust up” between team members. At the end of the day I was ready to condemn all things electronic.
  • Digital Angel: A huge percentage of coaches report the impact of digital on their recruiting is positive (>70%)
  • Digital Devil: Everyday there is another story about a coach who runs into trouble due to digital, like this one.

See, there’s an Digital Angel and a Digital Devil sitting there. On a shoulder. Whisper confusing things.

Truth #2: Coaches adopt digital at different speeds

Almost half of coaches in my survey (44.1%) told me as soon as they know about a new digital thing they want to try it.

04-24-16 - coaches adopt digital

That’s crazy stuff. What are these coaches looking for? A recruiting advantage? Easing of workload? Distraction?

Yet, the other half yawned when new digital popped up. They said they don’t care about the new stuff..

So, half of coaches are early adopters (that’s me, actually I’m a super-early adopter), and the other half are late (if ever) adopters.

Angel and Devil again.

Truth #3: Screen size is getting smaller

Thanks to Moore’s Law, digital gadgets are shrinking and so is their cost. And this is leading to smaller screen sizes.

desktop => laptop => tablet => smartphone => smartwatch

I have a theory. Here’s the first part: “smaller screen size means devices are becoming more mobile.” It is so easy to stick the smartphone in your pocket or slip the smartwatch on your wrist and take the screen with you — everywhere.

Here’s the second part: “smaller screens lead to greater human contact which leads to greater use.” And, of course there is an Angel/Devil aspect here.

  • Digital Angel: quick communication is at arms length
  • Digital Devil: distracted coaching becomes a reality (how many times do you check during practices?)
  • Digital Angel: everyone has a smartphone
  • Digital Devil: a smartphone in plain view, even if off, changes conversations

The list goes on.

So What?

Does any of this matter?

Growing up, rock-n-roll was just becoming popular. The adults around me were split between how great it was, and it being a sign of our society’s demise. Angel/Devil.

Digital is part of our coaching world. There are smart/safe ways to use it. I doubt if we will see a lessening of it’s popularity. Knowing there is both a Digital Angel and Digital Devil might be helpful as I (and you) keep moving ahead.

April 19th, 2016

6 Pointers for Creating Impactful Recruiting Letters

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s the first thing my 6-year old daughter does when she gets off the school bus: She runs over to the mailbox to retrieve our mail.

This started about a year ago after she received a recruiting letter, of sorts. She had received mail before from her grandparents, but this time was different. It was a flashy envelope addressed specifically to her from the kids club at our local mall.

As we walked up the driveway, my daughter tore open the envelope. Inside was a letter with her name hand-written at the top, listing upcoming events that “members” could experience as well as other perks that came from joining the club. As she read me each bullet point the level of excitement in her voice increased! I’ll let you guess what we did 15 minutes later.

The same “feeling” that came over my daughter last spring showed up again earlier this month. Inside our mailbox was the latest edition of National Geographic for kids. Her grandparents had signed her up without telling her. After jumping up and down for a few minutes she ran inside and promptly began reading the magazine (out loud of course). Since that time she asks me every single day when the next magazine will arrive.

It’s that kind of excitement and those kinds of “feelings” that you should strive to create with prospective students when putting together your recruiting communications.

Direct mail is a vital part of any successful recruiting campaign. Despite advances in technology, your recruits continue to tell us that there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned letters:

“Letters in the mail are a really effective way to recruit students.”

“Letters are a lot better because they’re physical, but make them stand out and catch our eye so we don’t throw them away.”

Both of those quotes appeared in a recent focus group research survey we did prior to leading an on-campus admissions workshop. We see similar statements all the time in the surveys we conduct.

The bottom line is letters still matter to this generation of students. Emails can easily be deleted and text messages are sometimes ignored. Letters on the other hand are real, written proof that a prospect can hold in their hand and show others, confirming that they’re wanted.

Before I offer up some secrets to creating effective recruiting letters, I have a question for each of you. Have you ever asked yourself why you’re sending a recruiting letter? It’s an important question, and one that you need to raise. Yes it’s important for prospective students to learn more about your school.   More than anything though, each recruiting letter should be built to generate a response. When you get a response from your prospect it confirms they’re genuinely interested, and you now have a basis for future communications. This is particularly valuable during the early stages of the recruitment cycle.

Now, here are 6 pointers that you should follow if you want your recruiting letters to make a big impact.

  1. Most admissions departments and counselors start a recruiting letter with what we call a “warm up.” The first paragraph contains facts, figures, and a lot of “fluff.” I want you to get rid of the fluff. Studies have shown this generation of students doesn’t want this. If you choose to keep it, you risk them losing interest before you even get started.
  1. Your main objective in those first couple of sentences should be to grab their attention. That means formal and professional, which is what I’m guessing most of your messages currently are, isn’t going to be effective enough. You need to be more direct. Consider starting with a statement that’s short and to the point. It needs to be something that gets their attention and makes them want to read further.
  1. Visually your letter needs to be easy to read. Think about your reaction when you receive a lengthy email with all kinds of numbers and links from your boss. You’re in the middle of cleaning out your inbox and want to keep things moving along. How many times have you closed it and said, “I’ll read it later.” Do you want that same reaction from your prospects?
  1. When coming up with a list of things you want to highlight to your recruits, don’t forget to ask yourself why they will care about what you’re telling them. It has to matter to them; otherwise it won’t work.
  1. In the middle of your letter, it’s crucial that you continue to keep them hooked. This is where we see a lot of admissions departments struggle. They choose a topic and try to jam everything into one letter. That’s the wrong approach. Instead, your goal should be to give them no more than two or three pieces of information on a single topic at one time. Additional points regarding that same topic should be communicated over several weeks. The reason behind that is simple. Teenagers forget things quickly. Let’s use your school’s location as an example. If you present everything that makes it great all at once, it won’t resonate for very long.  Instead I want you to take a long-term approach, like we do with our clients when we assist them with message creation.  That way when you’re ready to move on to something else it will be clear to your prospect why your school’s location is perfect for them and why they should be excited about it.
  1. At the end of your letter think long and hard about what you want them to take away from it. Avoid being passive and saying something like, “If you or your parents have questions feel free to contact us.” That’s not effective. Instead, demand some type of action from them. If you want them to call or email you with specific information, tell them that, very clearly. Tell them when to call or let them know when to expect an email from you. Always set up the next communication.   Our research continues to confirm that your prospects want you to do that for them. If you don’t tell them what to do, don’t be surprised when they don’t respond.

If your recruiting letters aren’t generating a good response, we can help revamp them using proven techniques.  It will save you time and provide you and your team with an Admissions Recruiting Advantage.

Email me today at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information about how to get started.

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