Dan Tudor

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August 31st, 2015

Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Effective Recruiting as an Outsider

Politics offers some fascinating lessons for observant college coaches looking for lessons from the real world on how to effectively recruit their prospects.

After all, what is Presidential campaigning if not recruiting a few million votes from your fellow countrymen and women?

The similarities between recruiting and high-level political campaigns are numerous.

The Presidential primary campaigns of 2016, in fact, provide some fascinating examples of how to break through the clutter of the typical campaign white-noise, and what makes candidates rise – and fall – in this new era of message marketing and creating an identity that stands out from the rest of the pack.

Which brings us to the two most curious “recruiters” in this particular campaign cycle: Billionaire businessman Donald Trump on the Republican side, and self-describted socialist Senator Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side. At this writing at the start of September 2016, Trump is at the top of a crowded Republican primary field, and Sanders is steadily rising against the favored former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Which candidate you might favor – or despise – is irrelevant to the conversation we’re going to have today. To glean the lessons I want to focus on, you’ll need to suspend whatever partisan politics you might otherwise cling to and just study their methodologies, as well as some sea-changes in our society when it comes to how we perceive politics, candidates, party politics and the outsiders who are challenging the status quo.

If you can do that, I think you’ll come away with some fascinating lessons that you can apply to your recruiting efforts.

To start, lets focus on the question that is perplexing political pundits and much of the media:

How exactly are two outsiders doing so well against established, better funded, party-supported candidates? And what lessons do their candidacies offer college coaches?  Here are my four non-political-expert opinions and observations:

We’re at a time in our society when we are looking for something new. Politically, I don’t know if we know exactly what that is, given the political spectrum extremes of these two non-traditional candidates. There’s an element of frustration with the existing political powers that be, and these two candidates are taking advantage of it so far in these primaries.  The lesson for coaches?  I think it revolves around the concept of figuring out how you, and your program, can offer a recruit something different from the typical program and school. One thing we hear from high school student-athletes in the research we conducted is that they crave a reason to choose a school based on the unique selling proposition it offers them.  What story are you telling your recruits that differentiates you from the competition?

They aren’t afraid to be their own person.  In an age of carefully crafted, focus group tested, sound bite measured talking points, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders break the rules. Sanders is frumpy and passionately plain spoken, and it’s attracting the attention of the political left. Why?  Because his message and personality stand out.  Trump is uber-confident and dismissively insulting to rivals and other opposition, and it’s attracting the attention of the political right. Why?  Because his message and personality stand out. The lesson for coaches? Don’t be afraid to passionately and confidently state your case as to why your program should be the obvious choice to your prospects, even if it’s not perfectly crafted…even if it might cause a certain percentage of your to turn away…even if it causes people to stare. Plenty of the best recruiters around the country have made a name for themselves in the recruiting world by being larger than life and unique; give yourself permission to develop your own unique brand as you aim to take on the traditional powers you recruit against.

It’s important to state your case quickly, and memorably.  In our work with our clients, we accurately point out that telling a compelling story over a long period of time is the key to winning over the best recruits on a consistent basis. The same could be said about candidates who run an effective, long term campaign. But if you’re an outsider, you’d better stand out quickly as you begin to make your case. Why? Because as we often point out in our popular On-Campus Workshops for athletic departments, this generation of recruits (and their parents) are scared of making what they could perceive as the “wrong” decision; in other words, it would be safer to opt for the less risky choice in a college program given the choice in a vacuum of mediocre messaging. All things being equal, the school that’s close to home, has a history of success, or is a little less money might all be considered the “safe” decision unless you make the case quickly that your prospect, and his or her parents, should look at their choices differently.  That’s what both Trump and Sanders did effectively at the start of their campaigns: They got the attention of their audience quickly, made some unique and memorable (if not controversial) propositions, and drew the attention away from their better funded, more “safe” competition. The lesson for coaches?  As you get ready to reach out to a new group of recruits, give them a quick and memorable reason to justify continued conversations with you. (Note: If you’re a client, we’ve created a list of some ideas on how to creatively and effectively initially reach out to your new prospects. Just click here).

They don’t care what people think about them. Sounds counter-intuitive for a politician, doesn’t it?  Yet these two candidates are completely comfortable with who they are, what they stand for, and don’t apologize for anything.  You don’t like them? Vote for someone else. They aren’t going to re-calibrate themselves just for the sake of gaining a few percentage points in next week’s polls. The vitally important lesson for college coaches?  Own who you are. Embrace it.  Your school costs $53,000 a year and you don’t offer athletic scholarships? Embrace it. You play in a facility older than Hickory High School’s gym in the movie Hoosiers?  Embrace it. You’re 60 miles from the nearest mall, and a fun night out on the town for your team centers around going to a Subway sandwich place down the street from campus?  Embrace it. If you’re ashamed or apologetic about who you are and what you’re all about, your marketing-saavy recruit will pick up on it.  Truth is, they are more interested in how you view your school and what you offer than their first glance opinions. Are you willing to make the case to them that what they see should be what they want to get? Trump and Sanders have no problem with it, and so far it’s working out o.k. for them.

Recruiting a high caliber group of student-athletes is a daunting task, made more challenging given how competitive the landscape is with your competition.

As you develop your next recruiting strategy, take these four lessons to heart and figure out creative ways to implement the lessons into your approach. The person you may end up surprising just might be your long-standing championship competitor down the road who chose not to implement strategies that fit the times we now live in.

Want more in-depth training and lessons on how to develop a creative and effective recruiting approach? Join coaches from around the country at Tudor University, our online training and certification program for college recruiters. It’s inexpensive and easy to complete on your schedule, and will stay with you during your lifetime of college coaching. Click here for all the details.

August 31st, 2015

Making Your First Contacts Count on September 1st

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August 31st, 2015

10 New Things To Fire Up Your Coaching Experience This Week

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

So let’s talk coaching …

Below are 10 things I thought could positively impact your coaching experience this week:

     1. Having a positive peer group can make or break you. Here’s how to, and how not to build a good one.

     2. When your life is falling apart what should you do? Try giving away your ideas, of course.

     3. If Tiny Gains can have a massive impact, think what they could do for you — and your team!

     4. This has nothing to do with coaching, but it is so bizarre that I just had to pass it along

     5. If you think US coaches were lacking, this might change your mind

     6. When the parent thing gets really crazy, we coaches need to say, “Stop!”

     7. The man’s perspective on what to do when you give it your all, but it’s not enough.

     8. Are you and/or your team working too hard (Hint: probably so)

     9. Nothing like a good send off speech. This stuff should be in all coaching manuals

     10. It looks like a new season of This Old Coach, my podcast will be starting in September.

Rock your week, and coach well. Ya’ll know we need ya!!

– Mike

PS: As always, thanks for being here — I’m grateful for your time and attention. And if you think there is someone who would get benefit from this, I’d appreciate a share : )

August 24th, 2015

7 Tips for Making Skype and Google Video Calls to Your Prospects

Video calls used to be an intriguing option for college coaches to consider when they wanted to stand out from the crowd and go the extra mile to impress one of their better recruits.

Today, video calls using technology platforms like Skype, Google and FaceTime are becoming a go-to method for connecting more effectively with most of a college coach’s recruiting list.

But that can be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, the technology available to a coach today makes it so easy and seamless to connect with a prospect quickly and easily through video gives them the ability to add an extra dimension (sight) to the typical recruiting phone call.

On the other hand, many coaches struggle to make an effective call, meaning that they don’t treat it like the live television show that it is. And, you’re the star.  If you appear to be uncomfortable, boring, or unsure of yourself, those traits are only magnified when you’re on a prospect’s computer screen.

Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, my short lived television sports career taught me more than a few iron-clad rules to follow when you’re in front of a camera (most of which I promptly broke, which is why it was a short lived television career. But if you want to know what a younger, fresher Dan Tudor looked like close to 25 years ago, here’s a clip someone unearthed and placed on YouTube).

The point is, the rules for appearing on video haven’t changed.  So if you’re a coach that is determined to make video calls a part of your regular contact with prospects, I’d recommend you follow these seven tips to make sure you’re looking better than your competition:

  1. Pay attention to what you’re wearing.  Go for solid colors, preferably with your college’s name or logo displayed.  Video is a prime venue for branding, and since your prospect is going to get tired of looking at you they’ll search the rest of the screen for hints about who you are and what you’re all about. Stay away from busy patterns, as well as wearing white…it can reflect light rather than absorb it, which can lessen the quality of the video your prospect is seeing on the other end.
  2. Pay attention to your background.  Your office wall behind you is boring. Your cluttered office is boring (and not good branding). A darkened background is boring (and kind of creepy). Opt for something that has good indirect lighting, with depth of 4 to 8 feet if you’re indoors. Me?…I’d try to be outside on campus somewhere with a great background: The student union, your facility, the weight room…somewhere that showcased energy and people in the background. Don’t be boring.  And, very important: Don’t have a window in the background.  It will darken your image, and make it really distracting for your prospect.
  3. Be well lit.  You need some kind of lighting directly facing you. Natural light from a window in front of you is great, but you can even use a desk lamp angled towards you as a good option. This is one of the top mistakes beginning video callers make. Not lighting yourself gives you shadows under your eyes, and poor coloring. Face some kind of light source for your video calls.
  4. Sit up straight.  And, have your computer, camera, tablet or phone at eye level in front of you. One of the weirdest visuals teenage recruits comment on is when a coach is slumped over their computer, staring down at the camera. It doesn’t look professional, Coach.
  5. Look at the camera, not at the screen.  You’ve been on a video call when someone is talking to the screen, right? It’s really disconcerting to the viewer.  As a serious recruiter, you’re not on the call to watch a show; you’re making this call to showcase yourself and your program to your recruit. Focus on how you are looking to them, not what they are doing in their camera. Even when they are talking to you, look at the camera…react to what they are saying…pretend you have a person in front of you and you are trying to maintain eye contact with them.  This is important, Coach. If you’re shifting your eyes down to watch the screen, you’re taking your eyes off of your recruit. And they notice.
  6. Use your hands and show off your personality.  Yes, you should sit up straight and look at the camera.  But you also don’t want to come across as stiff and uninteresting. So, “talk with your hands” a little bit.  Also, make sure you over-eggaerate your facial expressions and your tone of voice. It will sound a little odd to you, but it will come across as normal to your prospect. One of the rules of television that I still use today is to over-eggagerate a little bit. If you don’t, you will most likely appear too dull and non-energetic to your recruit who is watching you. Next time you watch any kind of TV host or newscaster, notice how they over-eggagerate their voice inflections and their facial expressions. There’s a reason for that coach – and it’s the same reason you should do the same thing when talking by video with your recruits.
  7. Have something to say.  That may seem like an obvious recommendation, but I’m making it because once you’re on a video call with a recruit, it’s like the pilot of a new TV show a network is trying out. If the viewer doesn’t like what they’re watching, don’t expect them to tune in for more in the weeks to come. Keep your message on point, ask a lot questions and let them do most of the talking, and end the call a little sooner than you might normally.  Leave them wanting more.

Video calls aren’t rocket science, but there are some rules to follow for appearing calm, confident and engaging on video. If you don’t follow those rules, you could wind up being called the worst sportscaster ever.

Or, even worse: You could ruin your chances to land the recruit you really need.

August 24th, 2015

Your Recruiting Letters and Emails Must Do These 3 Things

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

When we work with an admissions department to adjust their recruiting strategies some of the advice we give goes against what their institution has been doing for years.

I’m used to hearing feedback like, “It doesn’t feel right,“ and “Jeremy, I haven’t heard of other schools doing it this way.”

Change is hard, but I think we can all agree it’s essential for growth and development. If your current recruiting methods aren’t producing the results you know they should be, now is the perfect time (early in the recruiting cycle) to modify your approach.

One of the topics I’m asked to speak on most often when I lead a workshop is communication flow. During those discussions I often pose this important question to the admissions staff – “What do you want a letter or email that you send to a prospective student to do?”

Here are the answers I hear most often:

  • “I want to know if the student is interested in us.”
  • “I want to tell them why we’re such a great school.”
  • “I want to tell them how much we like them.”

Those are all good answers. However, there’s an even better strategy that we’ve found over the years to be very effective.  For those admissions staffs that have signed on as clients, they see this strategy being used on a regular basis with great success.

The strategy is simple: When we create a message that will go to a prospective student, we want them to reply to that message,  leave some questions unanswered, and to have that communication to set up the next message. Let’s break down each of those strategies and why they’re vital to any effective recruiting campaign through the mail or e-mail:

  • Generate a response. The point of any letter or email that you send should not be to sell your school or convince a prospect to choose your school based on what’s written in one letter.  The focus of each of your written communications should be to generate a reply from your prospect.  Usually that will be in the form of an email or a phone call.  Why should getting a reply be your primary goal?  That’s easy.  You aren’t going to be able to effectively “sell” your college or university until a prospect feels like he or she can be comfortable interacting with you.
  • Leave some questions unanswered.  If your school is still trying to cram every single fact and statistic about, for example, housing into one letter or email, stop it! Your recruits tell us this is the wrong approach. They don’t want you to try to answer everything in one letter.  Instead, leave some details and answers out so that they have a reason to listen to you the next time.
  • Set up the next message.  One of the biggest findings that resulted from our research study on how today’s prospect makes their final decision was the importance of the prospect knowing what to do next in the process.  When you send a prospect a letter or email, make sure that you let them know what’s coming next.  In other words, a letter that goes out next week should set up an expectation that another message is following in the coming days.  Your recruit should be expecting the next step, not wondering when it will come.  The only way to do that is to very clearly spell out the steps that you’re taking in the process.

It’s imperative to establish this system as early in the recruiting process as possible.  As many of you begin written contact with this next class of recruits, I encourage you to make sure your letters and emails include these three important elements.

If you include them, and they are structured correctly, you’ll get results and responses that exceed your expectations.

Our team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies can revise your current recruiting messages, develop a new plan and messaging, and assist you with your top prospects on an ongoing basis. If you’d like to learn more, the NEXT STEP is to email me at jeremy@dantudor.com

August 24th, 2015

The Year Of Soulless Coaching, And How I Stopped

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I leaned against the wall. It’d been a terrible season.

Nothing helped. Whatever I did made it worse.

It wasn’t them. Wasn’t the kids. It was me.

Been there?

Coaching is hard. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. This time it was wicked hard.

Yet as sucky as it was I learned something valuable: my coaching experience lacked soul (but I could fix it).

I was going through the motions. A ghost playing the role of a leader. There were three specific sins I made which eroded the soul of my coaching that season.

Sin #1: I Stole — The Wrong Stuff

Bottom line … coaches steal. Like all artists, our “art” is based on the work of others.

And like my fellow coaches I was stealing stuff, so that wasn’t the sin. The sin was I did not make the stuff my own. I was trying to coach like someone else.

I would read an article, hear a speech, watch a practice, and think, “Yeah, I’m gonna try that …” And would without adapting it to my group, and it wouldn’t work. Olympic level workouts seldom work for walk-on college freshmen — just in case you were wondering.

I was failing because it wasn’t my stuff. Wasn’t authentic. Wasn’t right.

Sin #2: I Lied

I lied that year, to the one person who should never be lied to — myself.

  • I told myself I was a better coach than I was
  • I told myself the fault was the athlete’s — it wasn’t, it was my fault
  • I told myself “Things will work themselves out”, and I knew they wouldn’t

There are instances when it’s okay to lie, especially if the truth is just too bitter of a pill to swallow. But self delusion, what I was doing, helps no one.

Sin #3: I Coveted That

My third sin, probably jealousy, was the worst one. I wanted what others had. The grass was greener, and I wanted me some of that.

Which proved to be a distraction, and a thief. My jealousy made me miss the good things that did happening with the team, and it stole my PMA (positive mental attitude).

Finding Soul

Things finally got better towards the end of the year. It happened when I did this — I wrote down ideas, lots of ideas.

James Altucher, who we’ve discussed before, promotes ideas. Mucho ideas. Your own ideas. He says ideas are powerful. Can be explosive. Helpful.

I agree.

I remember writing down idea after idea of what could fix what was wrong. No editing, just idea after idea. I wrote while driving, while eating, while showering, while sleeping. A small notebook quickly filled with lots of scribbles.

Most were worthless. Most — but not all. And several made a big difference.

Action You Can (and should) Take

Something to consider, whether you are having a good or bad season, is recording your ideas. Write them and edit later. Put down ten every day. The first 3-4 will be easy. Then it gets harder — but that’s where the soul is.

And construct a positive peer-group. A few select folks who can cheer you on, listen, and support can be worth their weight in platinum, gold or pistachios (pick your favorite precious metal)! So you know the positive peer-group was one of those ideas I wrote down back then. Try it yourself.

Now let me ask you, how’s the soul of your coaching? Remember, don’t lie.

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