Dan Tudor

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November 29th, 2016

Episode 5: Price and Risky Work of Earning Your Prospect’s Attention

 

For the 98% of you that can’t offer full ride scholarships to your prospects, talking about money the right way is an ongoing mystery.

And for those of you that can offer full ride scholarships, it’s not about money: It turns into a debate over the “price” of your conference, facilities or program history.

At the center of it all is the aversion by many coaches to want to do the risky work of earning your prospect’s attention. But what exactly does that mean, and how should a college coach craft the right kind of story about the cost of their program? Dan Tudor dives into the topic with the help of a timely article from the world’s top marketing expert.

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November 29th, 2016

Advice On Talking About Cost With Prospects and Parents

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

You and I both know that talking about paying for college is a stressful and complex topic for most families.

In our focus group recruiting surveys on college campuses across the country, we ask freshmen students which of the following three things was “most stressful” for them during the college search process – Thinking/talking about paying for college, filling out applications, or waiting for decision letters/emails. The number one answer every single time (close to a 70% overall average) is thinking/talking about paying for college.

Unfortunately I continue to both read and hear a lot of stories about college and university admissions counselors waiting until their school’s financial aid packages are distributed before starting a real conversation with a family about cost…unless you count sending out reminders to fill out the FAFSA and other aid forms (which I don’t, and neither should you).

So, if you’re not sure where to begin, or you’re willing to consider a different approach, let me share with you some strategies that we’ve seen work over the past year that you should think about putting to use with families of this current recruiting class.

  • Start the conversation early. Too many counselors do the exact opposite. They avoid talking about cost until a family brings it up in conversation mainly because, they tell us, they’re worried it will lead to an objection.  Your ability to clearly explain the process early on will lead to a greater comfort level and a lot less questions down the road when you try to convert those admitted students. I would also recommend that initially you have separate conversations with students and parents about cost and financial aid, not the parents and your prospect together at once. It’s a sensitive topic, and we’ve found that when a school does it this way, both conversations end up being more productive.
  • Ask the parents what kinds of challenges this process creates for them. That type of question is one of the effective questions that I recommend to admissions teams when I lead an on-campus training workshop.  You need to understand what obstacles the subject of cost creates when it comes to considering your school.  By engaging the parents in that conversation, you’ll help them connect the dots which is something they value.
  • Focus on what you can offer them instead of what you can’t. Our ongoing focus group research also continues to show that more often than not, multiple other factors rank ahead of “being more affordable than other schools” in terms of their importance of influencing your prospect’s final decision.  The “feel” of your campus, how your admissions staff and students treat them on their campus visit, the perception of the college as a whole, and other non-monetary factors play a huge part in the final decision.  Are you directing your conversation with your prospects back to those factors?
  • Be their guide and always keep them in the loop. I’ve talked numerous times in previous articles about how important transparency is with this generation of students (and parents). The college selection process is confusing and stressful. Both you and your admissions colleagues need to be their guides from start to finish. Be sure and reiterate key dates and deadlines well in advance. If you want to avoid “sticker shock,” explain to them how the bottom-line total is calculated and why that’s the important number to remember. Also, try and touch on how a financial aid offer might change in years two, three, and four as well as how your school can help them manage their student debt. Don’t just pass these things off to your financial aid office. I want you to strive to be an honest guide who makes the details easy to understand. If you do that, you’ll quickly gain their trust.
  • Be prepared to provide detailed student outcomes. You can’t expect a family to commit to taking on any sort of debt unless you can provide a detailed outline of the potential return on their investment. For example, if the student wants to major in business, show them how many graduates have been produced by your school as well as where those recent alumni live and work and what they earn on average in the first few years after graduation. A detailed account like that will help prove your school’s value in easy to understand dollars and sense terms.
  • Understand that they might have the money, but they don’t know if they want to spend it on your school. When a family talks about not being able to afford your school, remember that in some cases they can afford it, they just haven’t decided that they want to. Ask yourself what would happen if a bigger, prestigious brand name school with a perceived higher academic reputation entered the picture for your prospect and offered the exact same financial aid package. Chances are that family would find a way to “make it work” financially. Just remember that more often than not your prospect has the money, they just aren’t sure yet if they want to spend it on your school. It’s your job to consistently and creatively find ways to get them to justify the expense and why it’s worth the investment.
  • Collaborate with your school’s financial aid staff. The days of directing all “money” questions to your financial aid office are quickly coming to an end. If you haven’t already done some cross training with the folks in financial aid, now is the time. You need to understand what financial aid officers look for and how they make their decisions. Be able to navigate your school’s financial aid website because if you can’t do it, you can guarantee your prospects won’t be able to either. Cultivating these relationships will make a tangible difference. Remember that both offices are working towards the same goal of enrolling those “best fit” students.

At the end of the day there will be times when, despite your best efforts, you won’t be able to overcome the reality that some families just cannot afford your school without taking on what they consider significant financial debt.

I’m confident, though, if you start the conversation earlier and focus more on the value of your institution and not the dollar amount, you’ll avoid a lot of confusion and frustration by your prospects and their parents.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this week’s article. If you’ve got a question about any aspect of student recruitment, let’s schedule a time to connect. All you have to do is email me directly at: jeremy@dantudor.com

November 29th, 2016

Admissions VIP Extra: November 29, 2016

How to Make a Better Recruiting Argument: by Jeremy Tiers

Every time you recruit a student you’re making an argument.

You make an argument that they should visit your campus.  You make an argument that they should fill out your application.  And, some of you make an argument as to why they should pay more to attend your school.

Here’s the problem: Many of you “argue” with your prospects, and their parents, from your point of view.

You have deadlines to meet, applications to get completed, and so on and so forth.  As a result, many of you get so wrapped up in the procedure that your school uses to recruit students that you forget one important aspect of the recruiting and decision-making process – Your prospect usually doesn’t care about your school’s process.

Ask yourself, “How often am I arguing from my point of view, rather than empathetically from my prospect’s point of view”?

It’s not about just sharing what you believe. It’s about what the listener (your prospect) believes.

Here’s a simple three step plan for you to revamp pretty much any argument, recruiting pitch, or conversation with your prospect:

Define what you want to tell them from your point of view. Before you can react with empathy, you need to narrow down what exactly it is that you want to tell your prospect. Be specific.

Reverse sides – How is your prospect going to hear your argument? I want you to think worst case scenario here.  What’s the least positive way your prospect would hear what you’re telling them?

Now redesign your argument that takes your prospect’s point of view into account. Any argument, recruiting message, or sales pitch you’re hoping to make needs to focus on “what’s in it for them”.  Nothing to do with your school’s priorities, deadlines or process…everything to do with their perspective, hopes, dreams and fears.

 

November 28th, 2016

A Smart Way to Control Your Schedule

Mandy Green, Busy Coach

Due to the nature of the work, coaches have to follow a flexible schedule. You need to be free to accommodate the needs of your teams and recruits and other administrative staff with whom you work.

But coach, you don’t have to turn your schedules over to others as much as you may think.

The most successful people in any profession are usually highly scheduled. Have you ever met a successful doctor who tells patients to “come on in any ol’ time”?

No, doctors have highly scheduled lives. They have blocks of time set up for seeing patients, performing surgeries, and working at their hospitals. They know how many patients they need to see each day to create the lifestyles they choose to live.

Is it possible for you to run your program the same way? It’s certainly more efficient than the way most of us coaches run our programs now.

Time blocking involves consistently setting aside time for the high priority activities.  Time blocking will provide some much needed structure in your day and as long as you avoid getting distracted and commit to just doing the one thing, it will allow you to complete tasks or at least complete a large part of a task before moving on to something else.  The fundamental rationale for time blocking is the knowledge that if high priority activities don’t get scheduled, they usually get done feebly, fruitlessly, or not at all.  

Here is how it works. Decide on the tasks you will do for a particular day. Instead of just having a “to do” list with everything listed in order of importance and working down the list, take a few items from the list that are top priority for accomplishing what you need to accomplish, and block out whatever time you want to allocate to that task. This can be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours. The point is to only allocate the allotted time to each task.

What activities should you time block for?

Time Blocking at Work
What if you had two uninterrupted hours every day to focus on nothing else but your most important activities? The time might be spent planning or working on recruiting, developing your team and staff, getting caught up on administrative work, or learning something that will add value to your program. How would spending just two hours dedicated to the really important things improve your program? Keep in mind that these two hours are focused, uninterrupted work time and do not include all the other time spent traveling, in meetings, talking by phone, sending email and other activities also directly related to achieving these activities.

Personal Time Blocking
You cannot be effective in your work if your inner reserves are depleted. Making time to “recharge your batteries” will actually boost your energy. Block time for exercise, contemplation, relaxation or recreation. Be sure to carve out time for family or friends as well. And, before committing to anything else, be sure to pencil in some vacation time as well. Then, treat appointments with yourself as respectfully as you would with others.

After talking to all of the coaches that I have worked with since coming on board with Dan Tudor about 10 years ago, I would say that the number one reason coaches do not reach their goals is because they did not allocate enough time in the office to accomplish the goal or goals that they set for their recruiting, team, staff, or for themselves.

Tonight, figure out what your 3 most important activities are for tomorrow.  Then open your calendar and block off the time you need to get these activities worked on.  When it is time to get to work, WORK! Protect that time and don’t let anything interrupt that time you have allocated to work on a significant task or goal that you have.  Good luck!

If you want more information like this to help with your office organization and productivity, please email me at mandy@busy.coach or check out my website at www.busy.coach.

Have a productive week!

November 22nd, 2016

If Your Recruiting Communications Plan Doesn’t Do These Two Things…

ncrc3by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

…then I think you’re making student recruitment harder than it needs to be.

Throughout the year we’re constantly reviewing comm. flow plans and individual pieces for clients and non-clients alike. When Mackenzie Mulligan (TCS Communications Director) and I compare notes, there are usually two consistent themes – the emails and letters inform but don’t encourage engagement (outside of apply or visit), and there’s an overall lack of continuity.

One of the follow up questions I ask the admissions and/or marketing and communications leadership is, “What do you want a letter or email that you send to a prospective student to do”?

The answers I get most often sound something like:

  • “We want to give them information about our school”
  • “We want it to help them move to that next step”

Both answers are good and make sense, but I think there’s an even better strategy that you should employ. It’s a simple, yet highly effective approach that we help our clients execute on a weekly basis.

When we create our clients’ personalized recruiting plans and messages, we always aim to get them a response to the email or letter, and to have that communication set up the next message.

Here’s why both of those strategies are vital to any effective recruiting campaign:

  • Generate a reply. The point of an email or letter shouldn’t just be to inform and convince a prospect to choose your school based on what’s written in that one communication.  That’s not realistic. It’s also unrealistic to expect a prospective student to take a big step like apply or visit campus without having some consistent interaction with you or someone in your admissions office first, during which a comfort level is created. That’s why the focus of each of your written communications should be to generate a response from your prospect, be it via email, text, or a phone call. I would even encourage you to specify the response you want.  Without that response, you can’t expect to truly understand your prospect’s overall mindset or their opinion (positive or negative) on the information that you just sent them.
  • Set up the next message.  One of the biggest findings that resulted from our research study on how today’s prospective students make their final decision was the importance of the prospect knowing what to do next throughout the process.  When you send an inquiry, a prospect, or an admitted student an email or a letter, make sure that you let them know what’s coming next.  In other words, a message that goes out next week should set up an expectation that another communication is following in the coming days.  Your recruit should be expecting the next step, not wondering when it will come.  And as I mentioned at the very beginning, your recruitment emails and letters need to connect with each other and provide a continual flow.

It’s imperative to establish this system as early in the recruitment process as possible.

Now I’m going to ask you to do something small for me that will actually benefit you. Take 15 minutes over Thanksgiving break and review some of your most recent emails and letters. As you’re looking them over, I want you to ask yourself:

  • Are they too formal?
  • Are they just a bunch of facts, figures, and fluff?
  • Is there one big idea in them and not three or four?
  • Are they prompting the right kind of engagement from recruits (and parents)?
  • Is there a continuous flow in what’s being sent?

I promise you the answers to those questions will tell you whether or not you currently have a high probability of keeping your recruit’s attention, and successfully recruiting them.

If you’d like an outside perspective on your comm. flow plan or some feedback on a few of your individual emails and letters, email me at jeremy@dantudor.com. I’m here to help.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

November 21st, 2016

EPISODE 4: Theresa Beeckman on Building a Winning Team Culture

 

So often, college coaches get tunnel vision when it comes to their program.

There is always the tyranny of the urgent at hand: The next game, the new recruit, the meeting you were supposed to be at ten minutes ago.

Lost in the shuffle, for many coaches, is creating and maintaining a winning team culture. It can be the difference between another mediocre season, or your first conference championship. So, what does developing a winning culture in your program look like? And, what’s the best way to develop it?

We talked to former Division I coach Theresa Beeckman, a team culture expert and founder of Tree Roots, about the topic. You’ll find her advice and direction immediately applicable to you and your team’s situation, Coach.

Are you building your culture the right way?

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