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June 27th, 2016

How to make next month better than this month

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

Last week I wrote about how to reflect at the end of each day to improve your work performance for the next day.   As we are coming to the end of the month now, I’d say before you start planning for July, take a few minutes to reflect on the month of June.  

Here are a few of the questions that I go through myself, and am now taking the coaches that I am working with right now through at the end of each month.  

My achievements this past month:

Things I need to do less of next month:

Things I need to do more of next month:

Things I need to stop all together:

There are many more questions that you can ask yourself, but I think ultimately, you need to make sure what you are doing during the month is getting you closer to achieving your goals.  

At the end of the month is the perfect time to look back and reflect on what you’ve did right last month, what could improve, and it is an opportunity to learn from what you’ve done.

As I am being more intentional about using reflection at the end of each day, each week, at the end of the month, and at the end of each year, I am finding that is has many benefits.  

  1. It has helped me learn from my mistakes
  2. It has helped me see where I need to be spending more of my time on.
  3. It has made me a happier coach because I am spending more time celebrating the wins that I am getting
  4. It is giving me better perspective about things that are going on in my program.  

It only takes a few minutes but payoff is well worth it.   If you are interested in getting more organization, performance, or productivity tips specifically for coaches, go to www.busy.coach.

June 21st, 2016

Establishing Trust With Prospects and Parents

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Why is it that many of us don’t hesitate to sponsor or donate money to one of the neighborhood kids when they ring the doorbell with that Jump Rope for Heart form? What’s our primary reason for buying Girl Scout cookies other than the fact that they taste really good?

Conversely, why do we try and get off the phone as fast possible when a telemarketer calls?

It boils down to trust. The organization sponsoring the child from our neighborhood or those girls selling cookies has spent years building trust, and we have faith that our donation is going to a worthwhile cause. The reason we don’t trust the telemarketer that calls is because we don’t know him or her, and something just doesn’t feel right about a complete stranger calling us at home to sell us something.

The gut reaction we have to each of those scenarios has big implications for college admissions professionals.

Most of us don’t like interacting with people we don’t feel like we can trust. Prospective students and parents are no different. Establishing trust with them early on is an important element of the college search process that often times we see admissions undervalue. Without trust, how can the student believe that your school will deliver on those statements or assurances that get made during the recruiting cycle?

Lately I’ve been talking to a number of admissions directors who are reassessing how their institution interacts with prospects and parents. If you’re doing the same or plan to have discussions about your communications during an upcoming retreat, I encourage you to remember that the same factors you use to judge the trustworthiness of people and organizations are being used by this generation of prospects, and their parents, to judge your trustworthiness.  Many of those prospects and parents tell us that early in the process they’re figuring out whether or not to have a serious interaction with your school based on whether they feel like they can trust you or not.

The decision to interact happens before your prospect actually listens to what you have to say. How you construct your letters, what you say in your emails, the layout of your website, and how you interact with them on social media will determine whether or not you get to communicate with that prospect.

I’ll bet you might be surprised at how many different types of interactions factor into whether or not a new prospect chooses to trust you enough to communicate with you or a member of your admissions team.  Here are a few of the most important:

What your website and email templates look like: When they look at those properties, which studies say they do, what’s the brand image that comes to their mind?  If you’re a smaller school, do you look like the bigger brand institutions?  If you’re a well-known college or university, how are you separating yourself from your other big-name competitors?  These are serious questions that you need to consistently ask.

Your first letter or email between you and your prospect: Does it look and sound like everybody else’s, because I can guarantee you that when you reach out and communicate with a prospective student for the first time the way your message is worded is going to determine whether or not they feel you’re worth interacting with. When you’re writing your message, does it sound like you would if you were talking face to face with your prospect?  Or, does it sound so formal that your prospect is going to know it’s the typical, mass mail, semi-personalized message they’ve become used to seeing from your competition?

What they’ve heard about you:  If your prospect has heard good things about your school from people he or she knows, the entire relationship changes. You automatically get the benefit of the doubt. That begs the question: What are you doing to make sure that your current students, as well as the students (and their parents) who chose another college instead of yours, experience superior customer service? Remember, you can actually control what they’re saying.

Their fear:  As we talk about extensively in our On-Campus Workshop that we conduct for college admissions departments, your recruit’s fear is present throughout the recruiting experience.  What are you doing to answer that fear?  How are you doing that early on as well as late in the process? If you don’t think their fear matters, you’d be wrong, and I’d strongly encourage you to read my article in last week’s newsletter.

What you’re asking them to do early on: If you’re asking a prospect to reply to your email early in the recruiting process, there’s a decent chance that’s going to happen.  On the contrary, counselors and schools who want to jump into an early conversation about a campus visit or filling out the application immediately might be going too fast, too soon.  Urgency like that rarely leads to increased trust from your prospect. Be mindful of what you’re asking them to do and whether or not you’ve given then ample reasons as to why they should.

What they see about you social media:  How well you post on Facebook, Instagram and the other social media platforms matters to this generation of prospects.  In fact, it matters a lot!  Your online presence is one of the most immediate impressions that gets formed by your recruit.  And in most cases it helps to determine how much interaction they wish to have with you and whether or not they’re excited to learn more about your school.

You understand it’s about them:  How are you proving that you understand the college search process is about their wants and needs and not why you think they’d be crazy not to pick your school?  More importantly, how are you communicating that?

Your honesty:  This generation of prospects and their parents are actively searching for people who prove they’re honest.  It’s vital that you demonstrate that honesty and showcase it to them through your recruiting emails and letters.  Don’t be the counselor who, in trying to build trust, over promises and under delivers. You need to repeatedly demonstrate that you are the counselor they can trust.  That means from time to time it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong or your school isn’t better than a competitor in a particular area. The counselors who are trusted always end up with a decisive advantage.

How consistent you are in your recruitment efforts: How much did you communicate with this next class of prospects when they were juniors? Do you have consistent messaging for transfer students? These are important questions in the minds of your prospects.  When we work with new clients and take their admissions team through a series of focus group questions to determine how best to help formulate their recruiting strategy, one of the most common themes that stands out as being vitally important to prospects is how consistent a counselor or school is in the way they communicate.  If your school sends a couple of messages at the start, and then is hit-and-miss during the rest of the recruiting process, you’re probably going to get labeled as inconsistent.  If this sounds like you, then make a change now because our research shows that’s going to hurt you when your prospect reaches their final decision.

Since you’re going to be judged by this generation of prospects, doesn’t it make sense to make sure you’re taking an intelligent, thorough approach to establishing trust?

Good luck!

Jeremy Tiers and the team of recruiting experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies answer questions and work with admissions professionals of all levels every day.  If you have a question, just email Jeremy at jeremy@dantudor.com

June 20th, 2016

Reflect in Order to Improve

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

One strategy that I use in my time management routine I feel has been extremely effective is Reflection.

Reflection can be a valuable tool as you are searching to learn what should be eliminated or what you should continue to do as you are building your program. It’s how you acquire knowledge about yourself as a coach and about the work you are doing for your program. And the more knowledge you have, the more likely you are to get to where you want to go. This knowledge will allow you to stop the cycle of working harder and harder until you collapse, you can then begin to work smarter.

There are 3 times when I think you should reflect…

Create time for reflection at the end of each day, week, and month– a time to go back over, to study again the things you’ve learned and the things you’ve done each day. Reflect on what you did, what worked, what obstacles you encountered, what you can do better next month, etc.  

At the end of the day.  Review the day so that it locks firmly in your memory so that it serves as a tool.

Did you accomplish your goals?

How was your focus?

When were your high- and low- energy times?

Was there a time where you were interrupted a lot?

How were you with only checking your email one or two times a day?

Finally, did you get your high-priority tasks done?

At the end of the week.  Take at least 30 minutes at the end of the week to reflect on the week’s activities – I would suggest at least one half-hour. Also during that weekly time, take a few minutes to reflect on how this material should be applied to your life and circumstances.

At the end of the month.  Take a half-day at the end of the month and a weekend at the end of the year so that you’ve got what works and that you continue to make these things habits, and part of your routine.  This will ensure that the past is even more valuable and will serve your future well.

By taking 5 minutes at the end of each day to reflect on your performance as coach, it can provide you with some very valuable information that you can use to make further improvements to how you are working or what you are working on.

June 14th, 2016

What Are You Doing About Your Prospect’s Fear?

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Yesterday my daughter had a dentist appointment. Nothing major, just one of those twice a year check-ups.

During breakfast she said, “Daddy, the one thing that’s scary about the dentist is the sucking thing they put in your mouth.” The technical term for that long dental suction tool is a saliva ejector (I Googled it because I was curious).

On the drive over, and while we waited for her to be called back, again she mentioned the “sucking thing” and her fear of it. I calmed her down by telling her that Daddy has the same thing put in his mouth every time he goes to the dentist for a check-up.

Do you get nervous if you have to give a speech or presentation? Do you hate heights? How about spiders and insects? Or maybe, like my daughter, you dislike those trips to the dentist.

It’s all about our fear of fear.

Now let’s apply this to prospective students, who in many cases, have not one but multiple fears when it comes to the college search process.

If you’ve had us on your campus you know that the biggest fear this generation of students has is the fear of making the wrong decision. They’re scared to answer your phone call, scared of saying the wrong thing to you during said call, and scared to ask you for help solving their problems.

They, like you perhaps, have a fear of fear.  They’ll avoid an honest conversation with you to avoid the fear of saying something wrong.  Sounds crazy, right? Like it or not, that’s who you’re recruiting.

Your job, if you’re going to be a dominant recruiter and truly be your prospects’ “go to person”, is to find out what scares them and address it.

With that in mind, here are a few strategies we see working well for our clients around the country.

  • Focus on their feeling of being fearful.  It’s not actual facts that your prospect is scared about, it’s the feeling of being scared that they’re trying to avoid. For example, if you’re focusing on selling your school by talking about last year’s ranking by publication ABC as a way of overcoming the fear that’s ingrained in the mind of your prospect, you’re going to struggle.  Instead, address the question of why they’re feeling scared about something – leaving home, visiting campus, or returning your phone call. That’s the secret. Focus on the feeling that’s creating the fear.
  • Ask them what scares them most about the whole recruiting process. Logically, if they have an irrational fear that needs to be discussed as a part of the recruiting process, who is more equipped to lead that conversation: You, or the teenage recruit? Of course you have to be the one to lead that conversation!  It starts by asking them the question that most counselors don’t think to bring up – “What scares you the most about the college search process?” This is an extremely effective question early in the recruiting cycle. If you don’t ask it, you’re missing out on a BIG opportunity to both solve a problem and develop trust.
  • Tell them what you think they’re thinking.  Tell your prospective student what you see them being scared about and see if they agree with you or not.  It’s easier for them to react to a statement about what you think they’re thinking than it is for them to tell you what they’re thinking.  Is it confusing? Yes.  Regardless, it’s what we find to be true, so use it to your advantage.

These three approaches are meant to merely be a starting point.

Just remember, fear is driving almost everything that your prospects do during the recruitment process. If you can help calm their fears (which is one of the biggest things your prospects really want you to do), you will win their trust and in turn be way ahead of the competition who doesn’t believe this is important or doesn’t know how to address fear.

FREE HELP! Yes you read that correctly. If you’ve got a question about recruiting, leadership or anything else that can help you do your job more effectively, simply send me an email or call me directly at 612-386-0854.

June 13th, 2016

They Decide With Their Heart, Justify With Their Head

I’m talking about your recruits, Coach.

In over a decade of research, focus groups, and personal recruiting stories, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. Your prospects aren’t making logical decisions; they’re making illogical, emotional decisions, and then justifying that decision with just enough facts to justify their choice.

Understanding this simple fact will make recruiting a whole lot easier.

And yet, college coaches make it more complicated:

  • The messages coaches sometimes send their teenage recruits goes heavy on the facts and logic, and less on the relational aspect of the decision making process.
  • Coaches focus on the process of recruiting, rather than the emotional connections, that a teenager is looking for from a coach.
  • The parents are looking for a coach to lead them through the process, and yet most coaches don’t make a connection with the parents of their recruits. Not doing so is one of the prime ways families decide who to visit, and who to cross off their list.

Fixing this is simple, and reformulating your core approach before it’s time to recruit your next class of prospect. But first, you need to define a few things:

What is the big thing that you and your program can offer as something for a recruit to fall in love with? You need something to give a recruit to become emotionally attached to: Your team, your plan for them, what their role on your team will be, joining the fight to win back-to-back championships, or signing-on to help rebuild the program, for a few examples. You need to connect with the heart of your recruit. What are you leading with?

What is the big objection you see as something you’re going to have to overcome? My suggestion is to address it right away as part of what they should love about you. We worked with a football coach several years ago who used to apologize for, and avoid, their old outdated locker room. Then, we came up with research on why his players loved the place, and how they viewed it with a lot of positive emotion. Now, that coach makes his old locker room a center-piece of the story they tell a recruit.

 

June 7th, 2016

4 Facts That Matter to Your Prospective Students

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

You throw them around all the time.

You use them to sell your college or university, and you brag about them in an attempt to separate your school from a competitor.

Facts.  We’re talking about facts.

But which facts are worth talking about, and which ones just take up space in your messages to prospective students?  Furthermore, are some facts that you present actually hurting your recruiting efforts?

While this generation of students does rely on facts about a college or university to form their overall opinion of the school, we’ve found that it’s most effective when admissions recruiters tie those facts directly to a benefit the student will receive.

This is a very important distinction that admissions counselors need to begin implementing.  Again, when you state a fact as a selling point of your institution, it is vital that you take the extra step in explaining to your prospect exactly how they will personally benefit from that fact.

Why is that worthwhile? Our ongoing research continues to find that many prospects don’t usually “connect the dots” between the benefits that your school offers and what it means for them personally. They also, as I’ve explained many times before, rely largely on feelings to help them make their final decision.

When you’re able to communicate facts that will personally benefit a prospective student, and get them to understand those selling points, you win, more often than not. Good feelings about your school coupled with these personalized facts are almost impossible to ignore.

Here are 4 facts that we’re seeing recruits rate as very important in their decision-making process:

  • Your on-campus housing. Interestingly, you don’t always need the newest and biggest dorms or apartments to win.  Instead, you need to make sure your prospective students understand how they will have fun living there and how easy it will be for them to make new friends, “fit in”, and enjoy campus life. By the way, your current student’s opinions and personal stories go the furthest in selling your on-campus housing to your recruits.
  • The food on campus.  Prove to prospective students that they will eat well, and you’ll have an advantage over your competition just about every single time.
  • How a degree at your school will trump a degree at another school.  Every admissions counselor in America loves to talk about the academic strengths of his or her school.  I’m here to tell you that you’d better be ready to prove it to your prospect (and their parents) with real-life examples as to how your school is going to better prepare them to find and successfully start a career.
  • How the admissions staff, and how current students, treat them during their campus visit. Regardless of location or school size or type, these two factors rank at or near the top on almost every single focus group survey we’ve done over the past year. Today’s generation of students can easily spot the difference between those who are acting friendly and welcoming, and those who truly are. We see quotes all the time that contain phrases like, “everybody was welcoming and you could tell they really love their school”, and “the student ambassadors were super friendly and could answer or give a polite response to all of my father’s hundred questions!”

The improper use of facts is a major problem in student recruitment.  We see and hear about it almost daily.

If your admissions and enrollment team commits themselves to taking the extra step of stressing facts that prospective students care about, as well as finding how best to tie those facts personally to those students, you’ll gain the upper-hand over your competitors who are content with reading this research and then choosing not to change the way they are telling their story.

Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you formulate your strategy when it comes to presenting facts about your school that get attention.  We can take our research and put it to work for you making a big difference in your overall recruiting efforts.  To learn more, simply contact me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

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