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July 21st, 2014

Think About Adding The GoPro To Your Coaching Toolbox

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

We are seeing more and more coaches using a GoPro for their existing team. If you are not familiar with the GoPro, it’s the camera  strapped to an athlete’s arm, head, board, stick, etc. and made famous by extreme sport athletes (surfers, snowboarders, etc) so  you can see the action from their perspective. Just google GoPro videos and you will be blown away. Many savvy coaches are using these low priced cameras to grab footage of their team and  analyze the plays later. We’ve seen coaches put the camera on their player’s helmets (especially goalies) to see what’s going on from the athlete’s view. We’ve seen coaches hang GoPro’s from basketball nets to get a full court view of the action and we’ve see coaches set up stills to look at an athlete’s mechanics (think swings, throws, shots, and dives). The return is limitless and really up to the creativity of the coach.

Here’s what makes this all possible. The GoPro is small, light-weight, resilient, and waterproof. You can truly beat the heck out of them and they will keep on performing. The video quality is extremely high, it can take up to 4k video which is higher than your current tv can handle.  You can also interact with it from your mobile device,  there is an app where you can start and stop recording your GoPro even though it is 30 feet in the air or on a player’s helmet.

The price for a GoPro HERO3+, which is their latest and greatest, is $399.99. However, you still need to purchase memory cards (a 64 GB will be like 50 bucks) and accessories, like mounts, which can be another 30 bucks upward. So to get started, you’ll need a $500 budget, BUT in our opinion and in the opinion of the coaches we have chatted with, it is well worth it. The long term benefits are enormous. We are even playing around with a device that will move the GoPro to follow a particular athlete as they are on the field.

Check out the  HERO3+ GoPro for yourself here and good luck!

 Speaking of time saving tools, Front Rush is the best of the best.  If you’re a serious recruiter, this is one tool you don’t want to be without.  Click here for the low-down on this incredible resource used by thousands of coaches around the country.

 

July 14th, 2014

Teaching Your Prospects to Read the Greens Better

Golf glassesHold on a second:

They make golfers read greens better?  The sunglasses make golfers read greens better?

That was the promise.  Lured by the temptation of the tagline “seeing what #1 looks like”, I studied the ad display in the middle of the mega-sports store for more than a few minutes.

I came to the conclusion that it was brilliant.  And, as I thought about it later that afternoon, I realized that it’s exactly the approach that more college recruiters need to take when they are creating messaging for their recruits.

Coaches need to show their recruits that they’re going to read greens better, if they commit to their program.

Here’s what I mean:

Coaches need to go beyond telling a recruit what they have at their school, how many championships they’ve won, or how new the locker rooms are.  Instead, coaches need to explain how all of those things will impact the recruit.

  • Instead of listing what your school is famous for, explain to your recruit the end result of being around those great things on your campus for four years.  Outline how they are going to read the greens better.
  • Instead of rattling-off how successful you’ve been as a coach or as a program, explain to your recruit what it will look like for them as they go through their college career with you as your coach.  Outline how they are going to read the greens better.
  • Instead of just showing them your new locker room, and expecting them to fall in love with you because it’s nicer than what they’ve seen at the previous schools they’ve visited, make the case that they deserve what you’re showing them and should feel like the deserve the best that you have to offer.  Outline how they are going to read the greens better.

The reason that this is so important is because the research we’ve done on how recruits take in messaging from the coaches who are recruiting them clearly shows that they need a college recruiter to connect the dots for them.  You could talk with me adult-to-adult about your championships and past success, and I would understand pretty quickly why a smart recruit would want to be a part of that kind of history and tradition.  But most of the time, your teenage recruit isn’t going to make that connection.

You, as the person who is painting the picture for them, needs to go into as much detail as possible in explaining it to them.

And it needs to happen as early as possible, across all mediums.  Especially social media: When you post a picture, or show a video, make sure you are making the case to your recruit as to why it applies to them, and what it is that they will experience as a result of being a part of your program in the future.

It’s a simple concept, and it’s easy to implement into your messaging.  But it takes you making the adjustment in how you communicate:

Stop selling them new sunglasses, and start proving that when they put on the sunglasses, they’re going to read the green better.

There are intelligent ways to alter your communication to your prospects that will result in a higher likelihood of them seriously considering you as a potential program.  We’ve outlined one major way to do that in this article.  If you want more one-on-one help from our team of experts, email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com and ask about becoming part of the Total Recruiting Solution client program

July 14th, 2014

Pink Is The WORST Color

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

Recently a coach whom I have done camps with and known for a long time just got his walking papers. When you look at the success he’s had it doesn’t really make sense – OR DOES IT? This is not an uncommon thing in sports, all of us that have coached at the collegiate level know  it is more of a business than an extracurricular activity. The expectations of our results as coaches are absolutely explicit. Unfortunately, too many coaches feel that because they were great athletes they automatically are great coaches.

The intricacies of being a professional coach (this doesn’t mean a coach in the NFL or NBA, it’s a coach who gets paid to coach for his/her livelihood) are so far beyond the scope of learning a technique or strategy it’s mind boggling. The job description includes, but is not limited to, administrative duties, psychology of sport, mental training, athletic training, strength and conditioning, rules compliance in recruiting, budget management, transportation and logistics, academic monitoring, academic advisement and I am sure I am missing some.

As the National Director of Recruiting for Tudor Collegiate Strategies I have reached out to many colleagues to discuss working with them using our recruiting service. Although many have taken advantage and are seeing phenomenal results in their programs, others have said  they are good to go and know what they’re doing. This marks the THIRD time that a coach has been fired from their job in part because of recruiting issues that said they KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING!

What sense does it make to know that you are having challenges,  have an opportunity to make a change to rectify it and you make a conscious decision not to? Sounds a lot like why many of us coaches get frustrated with our athletes! We see a problem with their technique,   try to get them to adjust it and they continuously do the same thing over and over making the same mistakes again and again.

YES – Using TCS costs money, but so does anything of value!

YES – You will get information from someone else on how to change your recruiting practices and NO that doesn’t make you a worse coach (it actually makes you way smarter)

YES – You will start filling your rosters with better athletes

YES – You will have better retention – persistence & completion rates (big issue for the HLC)

YES – You will have better work-life-balance

The list is long regarding the benefits of using TCS in your program but the list is really short for why you don’t:

-    Ego

I know programs have budget challenges, I did, but I made a few changes and made it happen. Don’t lose your job because you think you know everything. You would be surprised at the coaches in your sport using TCS. Using TCS is part of the reason why they are successful and are keeping their jobs!

I know this blog is a little harsh, but you  and I both know that sometimes you have to rub off the skin to clean the wound! Do me a favor – if you haven’t won a conference championship, if you didn’t have a winning season last year, if you got beat IN the championship game, if you just got a new coaching opportunity, shoot me an email – tyler@dantudor.com –  so we can talk about how TCS can help your program.

It’s too late to fix it after the administration has made up their mind that you aren’t the coach that can get the job done! Don’t wait, let’s talk NOW! Don’t be the FOURTH coach in this list!

July 7th, 2014

7 Ways to Amp-Up Your Visual Recruiting Message

When my wife’s cell phone suddenly quit working yesterday, I jumped at the chance to earn a few points and rush to the cell phone store to talk about a replacement and return as the conquering hero.

Back in the olden days, men would be expected to kill a buffalo to feed his family, or ride horseback to the  next state for the opportunity to work in a mine.  Now?  We alpha-males negotiate cell phone upgrades with high school aged cell phone sales reps. That family from Little House on the Prairie would be impressed, I’m sure.

Once I had completed the dangerous journey to the cell phone store and fended-off savage marauders for a pretty decent parking spot, I began my quest for an iPhone for my wife.

ATT1In the midst of negotiating with my sales representative, the inevitable discussion of the terms and the contract came up.  We husbands tend to hold onto our wallets a bit tighter than this phase of any new cell phone contract, so when the rep started to try to talk to me about the terms of the contract, I immediately began to tune him out.  It all sounded too good to be true.

We’d pay less than we are now?

att2

Yeah, right buddy.  We’d get a new phone and more data to use in our smartphone plan?  Please…do I have the word “sucker” written across my forehead?

I was alone in my thoughts and was immediately discounting what he was saying, not even paying attention to the important information he was going over with me (that my wife would have to live with for the next two years of her cell-phone-life.

Then it happened.

He turned the tables on me, and got me to see what he was talking about.  He wrote it out, and showed me what the plan would look like.  And, I believed it.

What he did is what I want every serious recruiter to start doing when they are talking with their prospects and families.  Most likely, it will occur on campus, but if it can somehow happen earlier on a home visit or via Skype or Google video chats, even better.

He started writing down what he was saying verbally.

Why is this such a powerful tool for college coaches to emulate?  Because most people you talk to are visual learners.  We need to be stimulated by the sound of someone’s voice, but also by sight.  Someone wants us to believe them?  Fine, prove it.  Show it to us.  Retail merchants rely on proven visual stimulation research to increase sales, and in a one-to-one selling (like recruiting, or cell phone sales) it is vitally important as well.

So, if you want to begin to use more visual stimulation in your direct communication with recruits, here are some simple but effective steps to make it happen:

  • Always sit alongside your prospect, not across the table from them.  When you’re sitting at your desk, you’re an authority figure that is probably trying to sell them something.  That is likely to put your prospect on the defensive.  Instead, sit next to them.  You want to collaborate with them as a potential future member of your team, not manipulate.  Creating that atmosphere starts with your body position.
  • Write down EVERY big point you’re trying to make.  We all lose track of a conversation easily, and this helps us keep focused on the main points you’re trying to make.  Assume, in every conversation, that they are pulling away from you.  It’s your job to constantly make sure that your recruit is understanding what you’re saying.
  • Ask questions regularly.  Not “yes” and “no” questions, but questions that probe to see what they are agreeing with and what they are disagreeing with.  Keep in mind that most kids, and their parents, find it far easier to talk about what they are concerned about, what they don’t like, and what they are worried about.  Make sure you’re getting that real time feedback from your prospects as you talk with them one-on-one in a conversation like the one I’m describing.
  • Assume they are not happy with part of what you’re telling them.  If you do that, it will automatically become your goal to search out and discover what exactly that is that might be a stumbling block in your effort to bring them to your program.  Never, ever assume that they are happy with what you are telling them.  I think there is great value in taking a defensive attitude in every recruiting battle you engage in.
  • Explain the details.  ”The devil is in the details”, and we all know it.  So, when you open up and explain the why behind your plan for a recruit, we’re more likely to understand you and believe you.  Remember my initial hesitation about believing that we would pay less and get more data on our cell phone bill by upgrading the cell phone?  My skepticism vanished once he started writing out the side-by-side comparison of our current plan versus the proposed new plan.  How often do you write out the details of why you want a prospect right in front of them and their parents, Coach?
  • Ditch the brochures.  At best, they are a quick visual distraction that almost never factor into a recruit’s decision as to whether to become a part of a program.  At worst, they become a substitute for a coach who doesn’t want to do the small amount of extra work involved with writing out a plan in front of a recruit.  Your writing, in your own words, is far more effective than anything your college could print for you.  Please, Coach: Don’t rely on your brochures to sell your program.  If you saw how little they impacted your recruit’s final decision, it would depress you (if, that is, you are one of the coaches currently using brochures to sell your program to a prospect).
  • Ask for the sale.  If my cell phone sales representative had said, after doing a great job of walking me through the logic behind his plan for our account, “Do you want to talk this over with your wife and get back to me in a week or so?”, I might have taken him up on his offer.  We all like to delay decisions.  It allows us to defer a potentially wrong decision until “later”.  And, many coaches are happy to oblige because it delays a potential “no” just a little bit longer.  What have I seen work best?  If you want the prospect, and you walk them through why you see them succeeding in your program, complete the process by asking them for their commitment.  Most prospects are disappointed if you don’t ask them to take some kind of significant “next step” in your recruitment of them.  Please ask them if what you are telling them makes sense, and if they are feeling like they would be ready to commit.

There is power in sitting next to someone and visually outlining your plan for them, and writing down why it’s smart for them to be a part of what you’re building in your program.  There’s power in giving your prospect those notes you’ve written out for them, and letting them take it home with them (unlike your college’s lame brochure, your hand-written plan for them will be read over and over, and won’t be discarded after a few days).

My wife has her new iPhone as I write this article, and I have my new amazingly lower cell phone bill.  All because my sales representative told his story in a very engaging, logical manner.  I want to make sure you adjust your recruiting presentation moving forward, Coach.  If you do, I can assure you that you’re going to like the results!

As we enter into a new recruiting year, we’re committed to helping any coach who wants a more research-based, systematic approach to recruiting.  If you would like to find out more about how we work with other programs on a client basis, click here.

June 23rd, 2014

If Cat Food is Really for People, is Recruiting Really for…?

Best selling author Seth Godin put forward an interesting point that I think has application for college coaches and recruiters:

“Cat food is for people.

So is this bag of gluten-free, kale, peanutty dog treats.

And the first birthday party for the kid down the street is for her parents, not her. And the same is true for most gifts we give people (they’re for us, and how we feel giving them, not for the recipient, not really). And many benefits the company offers to its employees…

It’s easy to imagine that the giver is focused on the recipient at all times. But, more often than not, the way the gift makes us feel to give is at least as important as how it makes the other person (or pet, or infant) feel to receive it.

P.S.  If you think cat food is for cats, how come it doesn’t come in mouse flavor?”

So, how does all of this translate into relevance for serious college coaches in the midst of selling their programs and telling their stories to a much more complicated group of potential prospects?  No, it has nothing to do with cat food (or a birthday party for the kid down the street).

I think it has everything to do with the parents of many of your recruits.

The school that their son or daughter chooses, the program that they will compete for, and what you’re going to be offering them:  All of that, according to our research, is vitally important to a majority of the parents of the recruits that you are focusing on.

  • About 6 out of 10 parents have strong feelings about the level of the program that their son or daughter competes in.
  • Just over 7 out of 10 parents tell us that they felt it was personally important to make sure that the “brand” of the college or university their son or daughter chose was an important factor in their final decision.
  • 8.5 out of 10 parents said they felt “justified” with their son or daughter’s choice of school and sports program in regards to their investment of time and money into their child’s sports career leading up to competing at the college level.

Let me give you another scenario that I know plays out time and time again all over the country:  The parents of your recruit is sitting in the stands at their local Friday night football game back in their community.  They’re wearing the college gear of the school that their son or daughter competes for.  Inevitably, their friends ask them about their child’s college experience, and why they decided to go there.  In their answer, they’ll most certainly lean on the facts about how prestigious the school is, why it is the perfect fit when it comes to their child’s major, and probably jump at the chance to talk about how much money the college is giving them to play their sport at the school (yes, even the parents of Division III kids that are getting no athletic money).

In reading those three key statistics, and accepting that the scenario I described above is true (it’s based on hundreds of stories that we hear every year when we conduct our popular On-Campus Workshops for athletic departments), let’s all agree on one key conclusion:

Just like cat food is for people, and the big birthday party down the street is for the parents of the kid blowing out the candles, where their son or daughter chooses to compete in college is really important for how the parents end up feeling about themselves as, well…parents.

(This is where you come in, Coach).

What are you going to do about it?  You have an overwhelming number of parents who feel and act this way during the recruiting process, and it no doubt changes the way they look at your school, you as a coach, your program, and what you’re able to give them (I mean, give their son or daughter)

You can scan our blog library for specific strategies and ideas that you think might fit you and your program, but here are four key questions I think every staff needs to answer as you head into your next recruiting year:

  • How soon are you incorporating a conversation with the parents of your recruit into your recruiting plan?
  • What percentage of messaging are you dedicating to recruiting the parents of your prospects?
  • What kind of questions are you asking parents to get them to reveal what’s important to them as they help their son or daughter make their final decision?
  • Even if you feel you can’t beat a competitor with what you’re offering a recruit, how are you presenting it to make them feel justified in choosing you?

That last one is a biggie.  Do dogs really love kale peanutty flavored dog treats?  Who knows.  But a significant enough of buyers of dog treats obviously do, and isn’t that the most important fact if you’re a marketer?

I firmly believe that how you as a coach define your program, tell your story, and explain to the influential decision-driving parents of your best prospects what they should think about different aspects of your college, program and offer will completely drive the decision making process.

The problem is, most college coaches aren’t doing it.  Which is why most college coaches experience completely random recruiting results, don’t know what the parents of their recruits are really thinking, and get increasing frustrated at the power they have over the final decision of their sons and daughters.

Go back to those four questions, Coach.  How would you answer them?

Once you have the answers, and you feel you might want some expert help, email dan@dantudor.com and ask about the Total Recruiting Solution plan we construct for coaching staffs.  The unique plans we develop can help tell the right story to your recruits and their parents, and make recruiting a lot more predictable.

June 22nd, 2014

Make Sure Recruits Are Getting Your Emails

by Sean Devlin, FrontRush

When bulk emailing recruits through your recruiting software, bulk email provider, etc. we always recommend using your school email address. Logically it makes sense because if a recruit gets an email from a yahoo, aol, or gmail, address, it loses its pizazz and impact when compared to the sacred .edu or school address assigned to most coaches. Before this was a recommendation, but now it is a requirement. You see…recently yahoo/aol (and others following suit) decided to change their sending policy. If a 3rd party email provider (like your recruiting software) sends email on your behalf using your yahoo/aol account, those emails are automatically blocked/bounced. They won’t even show up in spam. They just don’t make it. They are flat out rejected.

For some this is a real issue. We see many coaches sending bulk emails for summer camps using their non-school address and many non-full-time coaches using non-school addresses (deliberate attempt to use non many times). But if you do that now, there is an excellent chance of failure. So what do we recommend?

Well, if you use godaddy or a similar service…for a couple bucks a month…you can buy a domain like StateUniversitySoccer.com and get the corresponding email account to go with it (coachsmith@StateUniversitySoccer.com). This way, you can send emails safely AND have the brand to go with it AND not break your budget.

Speaking of time saving tools, Front Rush is the best of the best.  If you’re a serious recruiter, this is one tool you don’t want to be without.  Click here for the low-down on this incredible resource used by thousands of coaches around the country.

 

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