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October 20th, 2014

Personalization – The Secret to Increasing Enrollment

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

You pull up your list of prospective students. How are you going to convince each one that your school is the right choice for them? Will you start by sending out a few of the old generic form letters, follow that up with emails as well as a phone call, and then cross your fingers? That’s one approach, but I think we both know that in the competitive market of college admissions recruiting you’ve got to do more. You have to convince each recruit that his or her name is not just a number. You have to personalize!

Personalization was one of the most valuable lessons I learned as a College Advisor. Each student had individual needs and goals, and some were more ambitious than others. One of the first questions I used to ask them when discussing post-secondary planning was, “If you were given $100,000 dollars right now, what would you do with it?” The answers were wide ranging to say the least. The bottom line, however, became clear. Not everyone would take the money and produce the same results.

College admissions’ recruiting is no different. Today’s student is busier then ever. If they’re going to spend the next 4-6 years on your campus, and in most cases make a significant financial investment to do so, they want to feel that the messages they receive are relevant to their interests and needs. This mindset however is not limited to just your messaging. Prospective students want the entire process to be personalized.

The first step is to understand your audience: what makes them tick, what motivates them, and what content about your college they will find most helpful. As you ask questions, it’s important to know the right amount of information to ask for. Doing so will allow you to create personalized content. Keep in mind, though, that you can also overwhelm the prospective student if you ask for too much information, especially early on. For example, you may discover that a higher income student cares more about lifestyle and the academic reputation of your college. Conversely, a lower income recruit might be more concerned about the surroundings, friendliness and what your school will do to make it affordable. There’s no doubt that listening is a challenging task for many of us, but it’s essential to form that connection and create a personal experience if your school is committed to increasing enrollment.

Here are a few ways that you can effectively use personalization during the recruitment process:

  • Direct Mail. When students narrow down their list of potential schools, they’ve told us that direct mail plays a big part. As a college coach, every one of my recruiting mailers had two things: A hand written note or comment on the bottom that was related to the message in that specific mailer and a hand written mailing address. Teenagers are constantly looking for something that sets your college apart, and this is a simple and effective way to stand out.
  • Creative and Relevant Content. If you’ve started to build a relationship with your prospects, you will have discovered things they like and things they don’t. Use this to your advantage when sending mail. It’s much more successful than the patch and blast approach. If you have a student who wants to major in Music, figure out who some of their favorite artists are. Then create a unique mailer that incorporates something about that artist, the prospective student and your school. Make sure the message is clear, concise and not too drawn out. This will grab their attention, especially if it’s tailored to their interests.
  • Tell a Story. Today’s admissions recruiting cycle starts a lot earlier. Because of this it’s important to develop a long-term strategy. Storytelling is a powerful method for building relationships with your recruits. Start by picking a key message. Then, break that down into bullet points and over time create individual letters that build toward your ultimate message. Make sure that your letters are relevant to the prospect’s needs and it will keep him or her engaged. It also shows them that you took the time and effort to craft a unique message.
  • The Campus Tour. Simply put, this one can make or break your school’s chances. When surveyed, prospective students consistently state that the campus visit is a top 3 or 4 factor in influencing their college choice. It starts as soon as your recruit checks in at the admissions office. Whoever greets them and conducts the tour needs to be friendly, extremely knowledgeable about your school, and have some basic information about the recruit and anyone accompanying them. At the very least this includes first names, where they’re from, and what the prospect’s interests are. Like it or not,  students and parents often make the mistake of discounting a great school because the person or people involved in the campus tour turned them off. It’s also important that at some point during the visit, the prospect spends some time with the admissions counselor involved with their recruitment.   This creates continuity and shows them your staff is committed to helping them find the right fit. If your visits are already getting high marks, then I encourage you to raise the bar. For example, if the student is a big football fan, why not take them on a personal tour of your team’s locker room. This makes them feel special and is an easy way to create a lasting memory.
  • Social Media. Social media and technology have changed the recruiting game. Let’s start with email. Over 140 billion of them are sent each day, and this remains the most utilized method for delivering personalized content. Your subject line is the key. According to our research, students will judge whether or not your message is worth opening by that subject line. Keep it short, don’t make it formal, and do something to create curiosity like asking a question. Next we have your apps. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram remain popular with the high school crowd. Your school can organize a private Facebook group for prospective students, or use Twitter to create virtual information sessions on a particular topic assigned with a hashtag. Now, let me touch on the next big things – Snapchat and Vine. Snapchat is image based and allows you to take pictures, record video and even video chat. “Vines”, as they’re known, are short video clips that can be used in many different ways including congratulating students on getting accepted to your school. It is also very easy to embed your “Vines” on websites. Regardless of which method of social media you use, remember that recruits want you to show the personal, behind-the-scenes personality of you and your program.

The common theme with each of these methods is they’re more time intensive and involve some extra creative thinking. It remains a proven fact – students make decisions based on the level of personalized attention and immediate service they get. If you want to stand out amongst the crowd, I encourage you to make them a part of your next recruitment plan. Use personalization correctly, and your staff will be able to deliver effective communications that entice recruits to choose your institution.

Jeremy and the experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you develop research-based personalized messaging for both your current class and your future recruits. Want to learn how? Email him directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

October 20th, 2014

New Psychological Training for Your Team Available from EXACT Sports

EXACT Sports Banner

 

 

 

Tudor Collegiate Strategies is pleased to partner with EXACT Sports to bring the power of ‘mental’ to your team.

“I selected EXACT to be a resource for us as they bring some powerful technology to the college landscape”, said Dan Tudor, President of Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  “EXACT is the #1 sport psychology organization in the country, working with over 60 professional teams, Olympic and national teams and thousands of college & high school age athletes, and really excited to be able to see college coaches access it for their teams”.

EXACT was founded in 1997 by a neuropsychologist and professor, and remains a scientific, results-oriented group. They have built an advanced coaching toolkit for coaches to both measure the ‘intangibles’ of their athletes as well as provide training for improving psychological readiness to compete at the college level.

EXACT is giving TCS clients enhanced access to tools helping them not only evaluate prospective athletes, but also improve each athlete’s potential once they join the team.  No matter what time of year you choose to utilize these advanced coaching tools, it is a great time for teams to enroll in the Online Mental Training course.

Here are a few facts you should know about the 10 week mental training app:

  • Available for any college sport for the heavily discounted team price of $100.
  • Once set up, athletes access modules independently, on their own smartphones, iPad or laptop.
  • Each training session is efficient, taking 5-10 minutes to learn the skill needed to be successful.
  • A full online demo of training is available here.
  • Modules include the following:

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If you have any questions, please contact EXACT at director@exactsports.com, 888-853-8877.

Or, to find out more information about this incredible resource for college coaches, click here.

 

October 13th, 2014

Two Critical Money Questions Your Prospects Are Asking

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October 13th, 2014

Creating a Story About Money for Your Recruits (and Their Parents)

I’m writing this article using wifi that I bought from U.S. Airways at 32,000 feet.

For the convenience of Internet access, I forked over $27 for a three and a half hour flight.  If you do the math, that’s insane.  That’s almost what I pay for high speed wifi at my office for an entire month!

Why is that?  What makes the wifi thirty times more valuable on a plane than it does at your office?  What part of our brain justifies that kind of expense?  (I’m guessing it’s the same part of the brain that tells us it’s o.k. to pay $7.50 for a bottle of water in your hotel room).

Are we really just telling ourselves “stories” about money?  And, if we are, are there some secrets that college coaches can steal to make selling walk-on, non-scholarship or partial scholarship opportunities an easier sell with this generation of high school prospects and their parents?

Marketing expert and author Seth Godin has some ideas on where to start if we want to really understand how to think about money, cost, and the value of something like college tuition:

“Money’s pretty new. Before that, we traded. My corn for your milk. The trade enriches both of us, and it’s simple.

Money, of course, makes a whole bunch of other transactions possible. Maybe I don’t need your milk, but I can take your money and use it to buy something I do need, from someone else. Very efficient, but also very abstract.

As we ceased to trade, we moved all of our transactions to the abstract world of money. And the thing about an abstract trade is that it happens over time, not all at once. So I trade you this tuition money today in exchange for degree in four years which might get me a better job in nine years. Not only is there risk involved, but who knows what the value of anything nine years from now is?

Because of the abstraction and time shift, we’re constantly re-evaluating what money is worth. Five dollars to buy a snack box on an airplane is worth something very different than five dollars to buy a cup of coffee after a fancy meal, which is worth something different than five dollars in the grocery store. That’s because we get to pretend that the five dollars in each situation is worth a different amount–because it’s been shifted.”

Are you starting to see how this is applicable to college recruiting?

It’s not just applicable in a theoretical sense, it has immediate real world application if you’re serious about approaching the “money conversation” with your prospects.

So, with that in mind, there are some questions that every virtually every parent and prospect you are recruiting asks, and what each coach needs to answer when it comes to determining the right way to construct a conversation about money with his or her recruits.  Here are the questions (many of them courtesy of Seth) that run through your prospects’ minds on a regular basis (along with some insights on how to formulate your answers):

  • How much pain am I in right now?  As I interpret this and apply it to the college recruiting process, I think of the family is convinced a full-ride offer is right around the corner, which makes your partial offer seem almost insulting.  “Why should I pay for something that I feel I should be getting for free?” If that’s the place you find yourself in with some of your recruits, the answer to your prospect’s question, “How much pain am I in right now?” is “Not all that much”.  Fast forwarding to late in the process, when the prospect and parent is more desperate for a viable college option, their story about money might be changing.  Maybe now, they’re willing to look at a partial offer.  If you’re a D1 coach with full scholarships to give, you know your top recruits are asking a version of this question, as well.  Selling an early verbal commitment is tougher than it is a week before it’s time for them to sign their Letter of Intent.  We all start with this question when we’re determining whether or not it’s smart to buy something.  For your prospect, you need to help them answer that question, as best as possible.
  • Do I deserve this?  That question could come from a positive or negative point of view. Most recruits have the mindset that they deserve everything you have to give them.  They might also be asking that question negatively, as if to say “Don’t I deserve something better?” The big point you should take away is the idea that they are constantly trying to assess their place in your world, and more specifically in your program.  How are you showing them that they do deserve what you’re offering, and going into detail about why they should want it, is critically important in the recruiting process when it comes to justifying cost to a recruit and his or her parents.
  • What if the coach is trying to trick me, and am I smarter to hold out for more money later in the process?  That’s a legitimate question. Prospects and their parents are more savvy than ever about the process, and have heard lots of stories about similar recruiting situations and will use that info to construct their strategy in dealing with you and your offer.  We’ve talked in detail in our On-Campus Workshops with athletic departments about the incredible importance of honesty, and how prospects will be actively looking for demonstrated proof of it throughout the process.  As a strategic approach to justifying the “purchase” of your offer to play for your program, ask yourself: “What am I doing to demonstrate that I’m the most honest coach they’re dealing with?”  That’s an important question, Coach.
  • What will my friends think?  I believe, at the core, this question drives much of their earlier recruiting behavior.  “I’m not going to reply to this coach, they’re from a Division III school.”  Or, “I’ve played club ball for the last seven years, and my club coach says I shouldn’t take partial offers seriously.”  Or, “That coach is struggling. Would I look stupid if I committed to them, even though I really liked the guys on the team?”  Or, “Those other parents’ daughters all went to BCS-conference schools.  What are they going to think if we take the offer from this smaller D1?”  Sound familiar?  Just know, Coach, that this is a question going through the heads of all of your prospects and their parents early on in the process.  It’s up to you to tell them why they should want the opportunity to come to your school, to play for you, and to leave with a degree from your school.  Not telling them what you have, but telling them why they should want it.  There’s a big difference, Coach.

Money is not the real obstacle when it comes to convincing a prospect that your offer is a good one.  Defining the value of that offer, and explaining to them why they should want it, is the real secret.

Stop focusing on the dollar amount.  Start focusing on creating a story about the value of your opportunity, and watch how different your conversation is with each of your recruits.

Clients and Premium Members:  Click here for two additional questions that get asked during the buying process as you’re recruiting your prospect.  It’s important detail that we want you to know about, and will help you formulate a complete strategy on the question about telling the right story of your offer, money, and why your prospect should want to take advantage of it.

Want to find our more about becoming a Premium Member?  Click here.

October 13th, 2014

Creating a Good First Impression for Your School

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

You meet someone for the first time. Immediately after that stranger sees you, his or her brain makes a thousand computations: Are you someone to approach or to avoid? Are you trustworthy, competent or likeable? Studies say all of this happens in the first seven seconds of meeting.

With the competition to attract prospective students at an all time high, colleges and universities across the country have been forced to brainstorm new ways to improve student recruitment.  It’s also a fact that recruits are starting the process earlier and they now apply to an average of a dozen schools to assure acceptance.

In most instances, the first contact a prospective student has with a school is through an Admissions Counselor. Believe it or not, many of those students are hesitant to reach out to your staff because as one high school senior put it, “it’s scary.” Being approachable and memorable then, whether it’s at a college fair or during a high school or on-campus visit, is vital for admissions staffs.

It takes both verbal and non-verbal skills to make a great first impression. Here are some tips that will help separate you from the competition.

  1. Greet people by name.

Research indicates that people like to hear their own name. Instead of saying “Nice to meet you,” or “Good to see you again,” include the person’s name. If someone begins a conversation and doesn’t tell you their name, simply ask them. It will make a favorable impression.

  1. Listen more then you talk.

It’s a fact – people like to talk about themselves. By listening you will pick up pieces of information that allow you to expand the conversation and begin to build a relationship. Listening also shows that you’re genuinely interested in the other person’s well being.

  1. Smile.

It seems easy, but for some it’s also potentially uncomfortable. However, any successful business person will tell you, when you are willing to put a smile on your face, you become more engaging, likable and it helps put the other person at ease.

  1. Eyes on the prize (literally).

Eye contact is extremely important during the first meeting with anyone. Too often people look away and that creates the impression that they’re either not listening or they really don’t care about what’s being said.

  1. Say it like you mean it.

The power of positive thinking. Speak with confidence. It’s not just the words you say that matters it’s the clarity and tone with which you say them. If you’re excited about something, it shows.

  1. Put the phone away.

It was estimated this past year that there are now more mobile devices than people on the planet. The problem – respect has gone out the door. Think about how many times you’ve been in a conversation with someone only to have it halted when the other person answers his or her cell phone. Turn it off, or put it on vibrate. Voicemail will get it. Giving your undivided attention goes a long way.

  1. Thank you.

Two simple words that people often forget. Not only are you ending the conversation on a positive note, you’re also demonstrating that you appreciate the time and effort of the other person.

As the old expression goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Being memorable and likeable will go a long way in peaking the interest of prospective students, and subsequently result in them wanting to learn more about your institution.

Next time you sit down with a recruit or their parents, implement these proven techniques into your conversation and I’m convinced you will come out a winner.

Communicating effectively is a key factor in successful recruiting. That’s why we’re making sure our clients get one-on-one attention and the best training possible during our On-Campus Workshops. Our Admissions Recruiting Advantage (ARA) program will provide your staff with the tools to recruit more effectively – and more confidently – than they ever have before, because they will know the right messages and strategies to use based on our proprietary research and training techniques. 

Want to learn more?  Schedule a time to speak to Jeremy by emailing him at jeremy@dantudor.com It’s more affordable than you may think, and the results are turning heads on campuses across the country. 

October 13th, 2014

Featured Series: The ‘Miracle’ Behind Herb Brooks’s Miracle On Ice

by Charlie Adams, StokeTheFireWithin.com

There will be times when your programs will be young with many freshmen. The natural tendency is to downplay expectations when you are a young team, but Herb Brooks sure didn’t take that approach. As head coach of the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team, he specifically recruited very young players to try out and to make up his 20 man roster. These kids would stun the Soviets 4-3 in Lake Placid, New York, and then win the gold.

The average age was 21 and it was the youngest team in U.S. Olympic hockey history. He had only one player from the 1976 team and that was Buzz Schneider. Buzz and Mike Eruzione were 25 and everyone else was around 20. Herb wanted young players with a bucketful of working class gumption and flying skates.

He told them to ‘use their youth’. His strategy was to build through blistering speed. During their rigorous seven month training he constantly said ‘legs feed the wolf, boys. Legs feed the wolf!’ He told them that being the youngest team of the 12 in the Olympics was not a negative but a positive.

Sure enough, when they met the dynasty Soviet team on Feb. 22, 1980, their youthfulness was the reason they won the game. While the Soviets had three of the six greatest players of all time on that roster, several of their players were into their 30s. In the final minutes of the third period with Team USA up 4-3 the Soviet coach panicked and kept his veterans on the ice thinking they would surely do something! Herb had his team doctor time shifts the whole night, keeping his boys to forty seconds on ice and  then off. The Soviets were known for wearing down teams with their incredible conditioning drills, but in the third period it was them that wore down. One Soviet player looked over at Doc Nagobads and asked how the U.S. players could keep going and going. Doc, who knew Russian, simply said it was “the fountain of youth.”

If you find yourself in a recruiting cycle where you have to bring in a lot of freshmen, use it as a positive like Herb Brooks did in 1980. He also changed the Team USA style of play from a conservative approach to a more high flying and more creative style of play on the ice. The youngsters ate that up, and played with great spirit on the ice. One Soviet player said the US players had a spirit that you could almost touch.

When they had upset the Soviets the players sat in stunned silence in the locker room before breaking into God Bless America over and over. It took them awhile to realize the magnitude of what they had accomplished (Sports Illustrated would name it the greatest U.S. sports moment of the century). One of the positives about having really young kids on your roster is sometimes they don’t realize they shouldn’t be able to beat a team like the Soviets. Older players sometimes over analyze and ask why. Young kids sometimes say ‘why not?’

Herb Brooks was a genius in how he formed that team and led them through their journey to sports history. In my teambuilding sessions I share what he did and how you can apply it to your program.

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