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November 24th, 2015

11 Recruiting Reminders: What You Need to Know

workshopby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Like many of you, I just finished my fall travel season. Last week’s admissions training workshop was my final one until the New Year.

A big part of every workshop I do is the individual meetings. I flat out love them. It’s an opportunity to meet one-on-one with the counselors, assistant directors and the director and provide them personalized training and direction based on their individual needs and experience.

One of the first questions, if not the first, that I always ask is, “You tell me, what can I help you with?” Inevitably the discussion topics vary based on a college’s location, institution type and the level of experience of the staff member. Needless to say, there’s a lot of great discussion and strategizing…usually to the point where I have to end the session because it goes past our scheduled time.

Today I’ve taken eleven of the most popular topics from those meetings and turned them into helpful reminders just for you. Each one is something that you can use right now (if you’re not already).

  1. Regardless of where the student is in the process you have to vigorously and continually cultivate a recruiting relationship with each recruit. It starts with understanding or remembering that different recruits have different problems and motivations. I have counselors tell me all the time that they understand the importance of personalizing the recruitment process…yet when I ask them to share some of the strategies they’ve come up with to do that, most times I get, “I’m still working on that part.” It’s your job to try and put yourself in each recruit’s shoes and develop a plan that will explain why your school is the right place for them to spend the next four years. Also, just because a prospect has applied and/or been admitted to your school doesn’t mean that you can ease up on developing that recruiting relationship and focus extra time on new inquiries or prospects who haven’t responded to your communications.
  1. Make sure you are communicating foundational, logical facts about your school to your prospect every six to nine days. Remember that those messages should be sequential and contain short, fact-based pieces of information with the goal of creating anticipation and engagement. Our research firmly indicates that when a prospect sees ongoing, regular contact from you, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also feel valued. Your recruiting campaign should consist of a regular flow of letters, emails, phone calls, personal contact and social media. During those communications, make it a goal to write or speak in a conversational tone as if you’re talking to a friend.
  1. The reason why many of your inquiries/prospects aren’t paying attention at the start of the recruiting process is because they don’t know who you are.  No, you don’t have to be famous, but you do have to be “known.” One of the simplest things you can do to become “known” to your recruits is be easy to talk to. It’s such a simple concept, yet it’s something that many counselors just don’t pay attention to. In the way you communicate – the text and sentence structure that you use in your letters, emails, social media campaigns and text messages – you need to make it easy for your recruit to actually reply to you. If that’s not happening with new names, it might mean that you aren’t “sounding” like you are easy to talk to. Which means they aren’t going to ever really get to know you.
  1. Leaving voicemails that get a response. How are you going to set your message apart from all of the other messages your prospect is receiving from your competitors?  What are you really saying when you leave a prospect a voicemail?  Anything worthwhile?  Informative?  Interesting?  Or, is it the same old, “Hey, sorry I missed you, give me a call.” I want you to focus on creating curiosity by keeping your voicemail messages shorter – much shorter in fact. When you do that you avoid overloading your prospect with so much information that they lose track of what they’re supposed to do in replying to you. I’ll even go so far as to say that the less you tell them about why you’re calling them, the more likely it will be that they will call you to ask you for more information.  We’ve recommended that strategy for years, and it works.
  1. Having more productive phone conversations when they do answer. Do you know what you’re going to talk about if your recruit answers the phone tonight, tomorrow or next week? I mean other than asking them how their day went, how school’s going, or if they’ve finished their application to your school. Your prospects tell us it’s questions like those that cause them not to want to pick up the phone when it rings. We find the best kind of questions right now should not be about declaring who their top school is or anything that pressures them to give you information about what they’re thinking.  Instead, ask questions about their approach to the process or anything else that keeps the focus on them.
  1. You need to become the “go-to” counselor. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Your prospects (and their parents) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good). There are huge benefits that come from being a resource for your prospects. For starters, it’s much easier to connect with them.  If you connect with them, they’ll see you as someone they can trust.  When you develop a reputation as someone who is trustworthy, you’ll become the “go-to” counselor for help and advice. Does this sound like you right now?
  1. Time management. Let’s talk specifically about multi-tasking. Often many of us forget that there’s a limit to how many things we can do at once without taking away from the quality of our work. In fact, experts estimate that when you start and stop a task it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That’s why it is very important to focus on one task at a time. I understand that other things will come up throughout the day, however starting five different things and completing none of them isn’t an efficient use of your time.  Instead, at the end of the work day, take your new list and prioritize things for the next day.
  1. The parents. We all know the important role that they play in their child’s decision-making process, yet many admissions professionals still don’t establish early contact with the parents. You need to be okay with talking to mom/dad in place of your prospect. They’ll almost always offer accurate, useful information that will help you in the weeks and months ahead. More importantly, when you call them, email them and ask them questions, they will view you as someone that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner in the recruiting process of their son or daughter.
  1. Campus visit follow-up. What you say to your prospects in the first week after they visit, and the information you ask them, can not only help set you apart from your competition, but it can yield some of the best information possible during a critical point in the recruiting process. Here are a couple quick examples that you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your prospect’s mindset:

What are your parents telling you to do at this point in the process?

What did you guys end up talking about the most on the way home?

  1. Handling objections. This will be an extremely important topic over the next couple of months. First, I want you to understand that you should want to hear objections from your prospects. Whenever I make that statement during a workshop I often get puzzled looks from some of the admissions staff. “You mean I want people to object to something about our campus or our school?”  That is correct. An objection usually indicates that your prospect is actively listening and processing the information that they’re seeing or hearing from you. Your initial reaction and re-direction is key to keeping them listening to you.
  1. Don’t try and prove to your prospects that you want them. Prove to them why they should want you.

Want to talk in greater detail about one or more of these 11 things and how you can incorporate them successfully into your recruiting strategy? Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com or give me a call at 612-386-0854.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends later this week!

November 23rd, 2015

The Not-So-Surprising Reason Your Recruits Prefer Text Messages to Phone Calls

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.14.58 PMIt’s not that they “can’t” talk, its just that they have plenty of reasons to text instead.

Simple as that.

I find that’s challenging for many college coaches we get to work with closely on two fronts:

  1. There’s a resistance to switch from phone calls to text-based communication from college recruiters. Phone calls are more personal, and usually reveal more to a coach. Texting and direct messaging? It might seem disjointed and incomplete. Most coaches that I talk to just plain prefer a good-old-fashioned phone call over electronic messaging.
  2. Many college coaches don’t understand the “why” behind the recent switch in communication preferences by their prospects.

I can’t help with the first challenge. That’s up to an individual coach and his or her personal preferences in how they communicate with a recruit.

But when it comes to the “why”, there are some key reasons that drive this generation of prospects to prefer electronic communication. They actually mirror some of the communication challenges that companies are discovering with the millennials that they’ve hired (but can’t get to answer their phone calls).

If we take a look at the five primary reasons millennials don’t like talking on the phone that are outlined in the article, we’ll get some good insights into why many of your recruits just aren’t all that excited about the idea of spending time with you on the phone:

It’s distracting to your recruits. Phone calls tend to force them to stop everything, find a place to focus on a conversation, and devote time to you and only you. While you, as a college recruiter, kind of like that aspect of one-on-one phone calls, your recruit – like the millennial generation before them – often finds that a phone call distracts them from whatever they were doing before, while texting and social media direct messaging allows them to communicate with you when it’s convenient for them.

They might see it as presumptuous.  In other words, a phone call presumes that they should drop everything and talk to you. Texting and direct messaging is more collaborative, in their mind, because it allows them to think about the right way to reply to your message, and gives them time in which to do it. (By the way, you can lessen the potential negative impact of this reason if you remember these three rules we’ve told you about before, Coach).

Phone calls tend to get superfluous. Getting to the point in a phone call is sometimes a series of missteps, tangents and can involve a bigger time commitment than it needs to be. As we discuss all the time during our On-Campus Workshops we lead for college athletic department coaching staffs, that’s not how this generation of recruits tend to communicate. They like short bursts of information that are on point. Coaches that don’t get to the point right away in a phone call will risk losing the right to have future phone conversations with their prospect. Text messaging forces you to put your thoughts into words, and do it in a concise, to-the-point manner.

Phone calls can be ineffective in reaching your prospect. Especially if you end up leaving a voicemail. Trying to get this generation of prospect to return a call is challenging, to stay the least! But when you text your prospect, as the study in the article finds, it’s likely that your message will be returned within just three minutes. That kind of quick, engaged interaction has to count for something, right?

Phone calls always take longer than promised. Your prospect knows that all to well, which is why a lot of coach phone calls are immediately sent off to voicemail purgatory. In our previous research study that determined how high school prospects use social media in the recruiting process, they made it clear that one of the reasons they tended to like texting and direct messaging better than phone calls was because it was more time-efficient, and didn’t take up big chances of time trying to talk to a college coach on the phone.

I tell you all this because if you understand the why behind your prospect’s preference for texting and social media messaging over phone calls, it might be easier for you, as a serious college recruiter, to develop a strategy for using this kind of modern technology more regularly as a part of your overall recruiting strategy.

Your prospects are looking for something simple and to the point. That holds true for anything you write them in an email or a letter, and it definitely is true when you figure out what method is best for more personalized, one-on-one communication.

Get to it, Coach.

November 23rd, 2015

Sinister Coaching Truths

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Three years ago I started CoachingSportsToday. I was noticing many of  my coaching-peers struggling.

I thought, “What the heck, someone helped me through my problems. Why don’t I share what I’ve learned.

And CoachingSportsToday was born. Since then, I’ve published over 150 articles, several videos and assorted recordings.

On this special Monday, the one before Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to tell you something — THANKS. (And it doesn’t matter if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m still saying thanks.)

Specifically, I want to thank you:

  • for being here
  • for reading
  • for sharing your attention, your comments, your positive vibes

But most of all, I want to say thanks for being involved in coaching.

And to go beyond a simple thanks, I want to give you something.

This month, I’ve begun publishing a series of Kindle books about how to Hack Your Coaching. The books are intended to help readers overcome specific coaching problems with simple solutions.

The first book has just been published, and I’d like to give it to you as a gift.

No charge.

No sign-up.

No strings.

The 3 Sinister Truths of Coaching Sports Today: And What You Can Do About Them is about the little secrets we are never told, how they can mess up our coaching, and how we can overcome them.

And there’s no cost — if you download it within the next two days. But the price goes up Tuesday, at midnight. Really, really.

Action You Can (and I hope you do) Take

I hope you get my gift copy. I hope you read it. I hope you find a solution in it that addresses an issue with your coaching. I know that’s a lot to ask, but I can hope, right?

So, here’s what you need to do:

  • First, go here, and download the book.
  • Second, read it. Its a fast read. You can finish it in less than an hour.
  • Third, the book has actions steps you can take. Take the one(s) that can help you.
  • Fourth, after you read it, if you have comments or suggestions, tell me. (And if you are so inclined to leave a review at Amazon that would be a great Thanksgiving gift for me.)

So there you have it. Thanks, and hope this next week finds you enjoying your family, friends, yourself, and especially your coaching.

– Mike

November 18th, 2015

NCRC Highlights and College Coach Testimonials


Click here for all of the details on attending the 2016 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana this coming June 10-12, 2016

November 18th, 2015

Be a Speaker at NCRC 2016

Indianapolis NCRC2016

We’re looking for coaches, authors and experts to be speakers at this Summer’s upcoming 2016 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

We’ll gather a few hundred smart, motivated college coaches in Indianapolis this June 10-12, 2016, at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

Past conferences have seen dozens of coaches lend their expertise to the content at previous NCRC events, and we want you to speak at this year’s conference. You don’t have to be a professional speaker, or previous experience presenting ideas in front of an audience. What you do need to bring is a willingness to share your ideas that have worked for your program.

As a coach speaker, we will pay your conference registration fee and give you access to our limited number of heavily discounted block of hotel rooms reserved for our presenters. In addition, your talk will be available to college athletic departments around the country, increasing your professional profile. Many of our past speakers have used their speeches as part of their application process for new job opportunities, with great results.

If you are an author or expert in your field? Join past speakers who have contributed their time, talents and expertise to this appreciative group of college athletic leaders. NCRC does not compensate for presenters or pay speaker fees, but we will make space available to conduct business and sell your products or services to this influential group of leaders. Past speakers who have come to speak at NCRC have included Ari Fleischer (former White House press secretary), Roy Firestone (entertainer and ESPN journalist), Buddy Hobart (best selling author and speaker), Dan Wolken (USA Today college sports journalist), John Brubaker (former coach and best selling author), Charlie Adams (speaker and author), and Paul Biancardi (former basketball coach and ESPN recruiting analyst), along with dozens of other experts over the years.

To get more information, or to propose a topic that you would like to speak about, contact Dan Tudor at dan@dantudor.com.

We hope to see you at NCRC 2016 in June!

November 17th, 2015

Overcoming Your Prospects’ Recruiting Bias

coffeeby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you read last week’s newsletter article on personalization as an enrollment tool, or you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, you know I’m quite fond of Starbucks coffee.

I started drinking it in my early 20’s and haven’t looked back. One day I’ll get a latte, the next a mocha. No matter the location, it’s always made the way I want it. Over the years their stores have also become my mobile offices. Comfy couches, free Wi-Fi, and now a pay ahead option.

In other words, the hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising and branding that Dunkin’ Donuts, McCafe (McDonalds) and the rest have invested in hasn’t convinced me to switch allegiances.  I’ve decided that Starbucks is the best, and in turn, I tune out the others’ advertising messages. I know what I want and that’s that. I have an emotional bias towards Starbucks.

We all have irrational biases. For some it’s politics. For others it might be the neighborhood that they live in. Each of us has decided that certain things are right and wrong for us.

The exact same reason I don’t seriously consider switching coffee brands may be the reason many of your prospects don’t seriously consider you and your institution. It’s a principle called confirmation bias, and it’s an important area of study for our team here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies as we map out recruitment strategies and communication plans for our clients.

Confirmation bias happens when we only pay attention to the information or data that affirms our decision or beliefs. Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring or rejecting information that casts doubt on it. Even though evidence may overwhelmingly contradict our position, we hold tenaciously to our preferred belief. In my case, it may be irrational love for Starbucks coffee.  For you it could be affecting your prospect’s ability to look logically at the opportunity your school offers him or her.

Our research shows more and more prospective students are coming into a recruiting conversation with an existing bias either for your school or against it…and some of it is irrational:

  • They don’t want to consider you as a private college because they’ve seen the price tag, and those around them have told them that there’s just no way it can be made affordable.
  • Your prospect doesn’t want to visit campus because they aren’t used to cold winters, so of course they’d be unhappy going to school in your town…and every time they see cold weather forecasted for your region of the country, it confirms that notion.
  • Your prospect has grown up close to campus, so they think they know everything about your school. They want college to be an adventure for them, and they’ve decided that will not be possible if they stay close to home.

Sound familiar? Right now, confirmation bias – and the negative effects it carries – is creating more hurdles for you in the recruitment process.  It’s a powerful psychological aspect of our decision making, albeit illogical.

So, what are you and your admissions colleagues doing to combat that?  How are you getting your prospects and their increasingly influential parents to look at things in a different way?

For starters, I need you to understand that it’s going to take some time to successfully attack a bias. If you think it can be done in one email or one letter, you’re mistaken. It has to be an ongoing process because you’re essentially going to show and prove to your prospect and/or their parents, why their way of thinking is in fact wrong.

Understand that your prospect has probably already decided what they want and don’t want in a college. That might be a good thing for you, or it could be the reason that they haven’t replied to your initial emails.  Once you agree that most of your prospects come into a conversation with preconceived biases and ideas, I believe it changes the way you construct a recruiting message. The student comes in thinking they know what they want. You then need to approach this situation patiently and also say to them, “I know you feel this way, but I think you might want to take a look at this over here and here’s why.” Again, understand you’re going to be suggesting that they’re wrong. That’s okay. You’re just going to have to tell them what they need to do differently and how they’re going to have to think differently. Some examples might include: Here’s why you should want to stay close to home for college. Here’s how a private college can be made affordable. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry so much about school rankings when you make your decision.

They aren’t looking for logic right away.  They’re looking for an emotional reason to have a conversation with you.  Have you ever asked yourself why a prospect doesn’t respond to you when you send out a logical, factual outline of what your school offers, the successful history of recent graduates, and the outstanding community that your students enjoy?  The answer is because they’ve already decided that their original choice is the smartest one for them.  I’ve decided that Starbucks is the right coffee for me based on nothing more than the fact that I’ve drunk it for years and I like the personalized service and look/feel of their stores. Similarly, your prospect is basing his or her initial decision on whether to communicate with you or not on simplistic, illogical reasons.  So don’t try to sell them on the logic behind choosing you right away. Instead, work on creating an emotional connection with them…and it can’t just be a list of bullet points about your school.

Discover what makes them happy.  Why have they decided that a bigger/smaller college or another location is right for them?  What are they assuming that makes them feel this way?  You need to ask these kinds of questions early on and then come up with a list of wants. Then you can start to make the emotional case that experiencing something different is actually a great thing. Only after those basic ideas are accepted as possibilities can you move on to the logical argument that your school is the best option for them.

Never underestimate the power of consistency.  As I said earlier, this strategy doesn’t take place over one or two emails, or in one long phone conversation. It may take weeks to create that emotional connection.  Consistent, long term communication with your prospect using the rule that we talk about during our on-campus workshops is key. That research-based rule says that most prospects want a message every six to nine days that tells them here’s why you should want to join our student body. Your prospects need that consistency, and they need it talked about in a personalized way. Doing so makes it easy to reply back and engage in conversation.

Many admissions professionals won’t attack biases for the simple fact that success isn’t instantaneous. Here’s the thing though: A lot of biases are based on bad information. If you prepare an effective recruiting communications plan and execute it, you can change the mindset of your prospects.

Questions about any of this?  Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com Our team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies is here to help!

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