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Tips For Enhancing Your Social Media Connection With ProspectsMonday, May 25th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Connecting with today’s prospective student has become a new and more complicated adventure for college admissions departments nationwide. Social media is a big reason why. It has changed the way that high school students approach the college selection process.

According to a new study from Pew Research Center, 71% of teens use more than one social media network site. Those same teenagers are using the various channels to not only gather information on colleges but also to help them make their decisions. Not fully convinced? Here’s how both Twitter and Instagram have helped students find that “right fit.”

Most colleges and universities are active across multiple social media platforms. Your admissions office and/or staff likely have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and possibly are on Instagram. My question is, “Are each of those platforms being used effectively?” While social media is unlikely to make or break your college in the minds of your prospects, it can help deepen your connection and allow you to stand out from your competition.

Today I want to provide you with some basic tips on how to use social media to your advantage with this next class of prospects.

  • Remember that it’s only one part. To start with, let me be clear that social media is only one part of an effective recruiting communication strategy. Just because a large portion of your target audience is constantly on their smartphones doesn’t mean that you can substitute social media contact in place of hand-written letters and phone calls. Your prospects continue to tell us that a regular flow of mail, email, phone calls, personal contact and social media is what they’re looking for.
  • Don’t forget our golden rule. Our expanding research on social media has produced one very important rule that this generation seems to gravitate around: There are different rules and comfort levels for different prospects. Here’s what that means. Some of your recruits will have no problem with the admissions staff communicating with them by following them or sending a direct message on social media. Others however have a greater need for privacy and don’t want you to venture into this part of their world. My advice: Ask each prospect what they’d be okay with. Keep it simple and let them know why you’re asking that question. Explain that you want to communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with. You might be surprised how much they will appreciate that.
  • Less news, facts, and figures. We continue to see colleges and admissions departments use their Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines to primarily post school press releases. There’s also a group that relies heavily on facts, figures, and statistics. If your school falls into either of these categories you should know that you run the risk of boring your recruits early on. A mix of these with more personalized posts is fine, but using social media to pass along news or brag about rankings won’t consistently sell your prospects on your school.
  • More visual behind the scenes content. The social media content that we see working best is visual, normal everyday stuff that you probably take for granted. By visual I’m referring to pictures and videos. These capture the attention of your prospects and their short attention span better than text. Go ahead and showcase the personality of your campus and the student body. The more relaxed and uncut the better. Encourage student-generated content, especially around school traditions. Those genuine interactions and images are powerful and can help create an emotional connection that is hard to accomplish over the phone or through a letter with your recruits.
  • Come up with creative and attention getting headlines. Remember that short attention span I referenced? If your headline or post isn’t east to read visually or worded the way that your prospects want it, they’ll just tune you out. Create a headline that makes a statement and offers the reader an idea of where you’re going and what’s in it for them.
  • Post consistently. The worst thing you can do is create social media accounts and then post randomly. What message do you think it conveys to a prospect or his or her parents if they search for you or your school on social media only to discover there hasn’t been a post in over a month? If social media content is to aid in your recruitment it’s important to post consistently. That consistency will build recognition and memorability. (If you want to know how often the research says you should post on the various social media platforms, click here)

Social media should be an important part of any effective recruiting communication plan for admissions. It’s free, simple, and it’s the future of communicating effectively with your prospects in conjunction with the right mix of letters, emails, and phone calls.

If you have questions about any of this feel free to email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

Recruiting Calls: How to Make Sure Your Prospects Remember YouMonday, May 18th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Spring yard work. That’s what I’ve spent the past two weekends doing. Trimming, planting, burying my down spouts, and mulch…lots of mulch. Does this sound familiar?

I’m clearly a bad judge when it comes to mulch because I ended up making not one, not two, but three trips to the local garden center in the same weekend. As I was checking out with the last round of mulch, the cashier (same one as the previous two times) asked to see my card so she could verify the signature. Upon doing so she says, “Oh I remember you…you’re the guy with that ugly signature.”

I’ll be the first to admit that my signature is a little messy and hard to read. Truth be told this isn’t the first time either that a store employee somewhere has pointed those facts out. The point I’m trying to make is simple. My ugly signature gets me remembered.

In this age of smartphones and social media, it’s amazing that so much of the recruiting relationship with prospective students still hinges on making a great old-fashioned phone call.

Making effective phone calls is a challenge for many admissions professionals, particularly those early recruiting calls. Instead of trying to cultivate a meaningful relationship with the nervous teenager on the other end, many counselors end up focusing on one thing – selling their school. As I’ve touched on before, that’s the wrong approach. You risk your prospect becoming annoyed, bored, or even worse, both.

Your goal during those early recruiting phone calls should be to “plant the seed,” grow the relationship and find ways to be memorable. When you accomplish that your prospects will look forward to that next recruiting communication. If you do it over time your school will be the one on their mind when they’re ready to make a decision.

Here are 5 strategies that will get your prospects to remember you:

  1. Eliminate their fears early in the conversation. One of the things we discuss during our on-campus training workshops is just how present your prospect’s “fear” is throughout the recruiting process. As a result, you should expect them to have their guard up during the onset of any initial conversation. One of the easiest ways to remove that fear is to demonstrate right out of the gate that you’re a passionate recruiter. Passion is both hard to fake and contagious. Tell your prospects why you think they’ll be a good fit at your school. Ask him or her questions that will reveal things that excite them. You can then use those in future recruiting communications. Demonstrating passion will remove any doubts and provide a level of comfort for your prospects.
  1. Be authentic. I know it can be tempting to list every single reason why your institution is the “right fit” during those early conversations with prospects. The problem is most of your prospects tell us that method of selling comes across as pushy and doesn’t make for an enjoyable conversation. What resonates with today’s recruit is an authentic discussion where you let them get to know the real you, and you really listen to what they have to say. Be honest, open and direct about the recruitment process. It sounds easy enough, but the reality is few counselors have completely mastered this skill.
  1. Stay current. Pop quiz. Do you know who Calvin Harris is? Are you familiar with ‘Pitch Perfect 2’? (If you answered “no” to either I recommend you click on the links after you’re done with this article) Effective recruiters who want to be remembered are “students of the game.” They keep up on trends and what’s popular with their target demographic. That knowledge then allows them to engage in and develop deeper connections with their prospects, who by the way love to talk about movies, music and celebrities. Make a statement or ask a question about something from the current pop culture landscape. You might be surprised by the response you get.
  1. Listen and then prove that you were listening. Your prospects have a lot of questions they want answered. Will you allow them to have control of the conversation? (Hint: It’s okay to do so). Assuming that you’re on board with me, sit back, listen, and take notes…lots of notes. You can then use that information in future letters and emails. For example let’s say your prospect shares who their favorite music artist is. Why not take one of that artists’ current songs and change a verse or two to contain lyrics about your prospect and your college. Cheesy, right? You’re exactly right, and it works! The lyrics you come up with are insignificant. The fact that you took time to listen to your prospect and come up with something unique about them immediately differentiates you and will be remembered.
  1. End your conversation with something impactful. Pick your favorite television drama. There’s a reason at the end of every episode something big happens or a question is left unanswered. It causes you the viewer to feel something and/or create anticipation for next week’s episode. That same rule can and should be applied to your recruiting contacts. You should always set up your next communication. Ask yourself, “What can I get them to anticipate next?” If you’re a client of ours you know how important it is to have the flow of the recruiting process move as efficiently as possible toward securing a campus visit. What about telling them a story or making an impactful statement. Those are the kinds of things that are committed to memory.

Try putting one or all of these strategies into practice with this next class of recruits during those early communications. Doing so will make your prospects take notice and achieve more positive results for your recruiting efforts moving forward!

Need help formulating a strategy and putting proven ideas to work for you and your admissions team?  Become a client of ours. We work with you one-on-one to create and execute a recruiting plan that will get results.   Email me directly for more information.

4 Strategies to Developing Your Recruiting RelationshipMonday, May 11th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I heard it again last week. In the middle of my conversation with a first-year admissions counselor who was reflecting on the past 10 months, he blurted out, “I never really thought of this job as a sales position, but that’s what it basically is.”

At a time when colleges and universities are looking especially hard at the bottom line, admissions professionals must be able to consistently market and sell their school to prospective students and their parents. That’s the bottom line.

One of the biggest challenges we’re often asked to address during our On-Campus Training Workshops is how to get and keep the attention of today’s typical recruit. It’s an on-going battle that’s for sure. If the teenager on the other end wants to ignore your recruiting message, you can’t stop him or her. What you can do however is provide them with compelling reasons to choose your school over the competition.

Here’s even better news! You don’t need to have a big time budget to successfully communicate your message and cultivate a positive relationship. You just need a few easy strategies that savvy business professionals use on a daily basis.

Think about how you develop relationships in your personal life. Any good relationship is built on trust. When there’s trust, there’s loyalty. When a relationship has those two characteristics that means there’s a genuine concern for each other’s well being.

Your recruiting relationships should be developed the same way. You cannot expect your recruit and his or her parents to commit to your institution if they don’t trust you. When you build trust, loyalty will follow. Your recruits will want to continue to interact with you rather than your competitors.

It’s important to start establishing those real, caring, long-term relationships with your prospects early in the recruitment process. If you do, you’ll have an easy time proving to your recruits (and their parents and others around them) that you’re concerned about them, and want to help solve their problems. You’re not just there trying to sell a college. You’re there to help.

If you want to differentiate yourself from counselors who will read this and then forget about it later today, try these four proven strategies for establishing those all-important prospect relationships.

  1. Be specific when telling your recruiting story. Are you currently developing a story that tells your recruit something very specific or very memorable about your college? Sometimes a specific focus can help you tell your school’s story in a much more compelling way, and give recruits a reason to listen to what you’re saying.
  1. Understand that different recruits have different problems. Your recruits all have worries, fears and hopes. Here’s the thing. Those of a traditional student (teenager) are going to be very different from those of a non-traditional student (single parent, mid-career professional). If you don’t believe that then you’ll rarely connect with prospects the way you need to if they’re going to enroll at your school. It’s your job to try and put yourself in each recruit’s shoes and develop separate messaging that will truly help them. When you do that you’re sending a strong message that you care.
  1. Make your recruiting messages personal. When you effectively use personalization during the recruitment process you stand out from the crowd. To build a close relationship with your prospect and his or her family you must communicate on a personal level no matter the type of contact. That includes mail, email, phone calls, social media and face-to-face contact. I understand doing this will take up more time and involve some creative thinking. The end result will be a feeling of being wanted. That’s something that every single recruit is looking for.
  1. Commit to utilizing social media. Let me be clear. I’m not talking about your admissions Facebook page. I want you to invest more in your personal Twitter and Instagram accounts (both are free). Don’t have one or both? You’re missing out on a prime opportunity (according to a new study, 92% of teens report going online daily) to reveal the “real you,” as well as offer a behind the scenes look at what makes life at your college so great. As always, no matter what type of communication you use, you must be consistent if you expect favorable results.

A quick word of caution. Don’t ever pretend to be someone you’re not. Your sincerity, or lack thereof, will always shine through.  Teenagers today are smart.  They know when you’re telling them the truth and when you’ve embellished a little too much.

These four strategies will help you quickly establish real rapport with your prospects and increase your school’s chances of enrolling them when a decision is ready to be made.

We help colleges and universities improve their recruiting relationships year-round. If you have a specific question or want help developing a winning strategy call Jeremy directly at 612-386-0854. Or feel free to email him.

Could This Be Why They Didn’t Deposit to Your School?Monday, May 4th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

May 1 has passed. Hopefully your school achieved its enrollment targets.

When it comes to prospects that you missed out on, there are many potential reasons why. If you’ve hosted us on campus to work with your admissions department and learn how to recruit more effectively, you know what our studies show: A large majority of the time that final decision comes down to how your prospect “feels.”

Freshmen frequently offer responses like “feeling of a person and not a number,” or “the feeling of community on the campus” in response to why they chose that particular school on one of our customized research surveys.

Throughout the recruitment process many admissions departments are coming to the conclusion that they must create the right feelings in the minds and hearts of your prospects because they trust those feelings as they make their decision about your college.

How do you do that? Making them feel wanted is a great starting point. However if you really want to break through the hard exterior of today’s teenager you need to go one step further and get to the core of the recruit and his or her parents.

Here are five ideas that I recommend you put into practice with this next class of prospects.

  1. Establish an early foundation for proving that you are the emotional choice that “feels” right to them. When you create an emotional tie with your prospect early in the recruiting cycle we’ve found that they will usually gravitate to your school. It’s imperative to have a strategy for how to create that feeling in the first place. One of the examples I use when presenting our On-Campus Workshop is Starbucks. They are the master of creating and managing a feeling of comfort when you walk in to any one of the thousands of their stores. They use the lights, the comfy couches, the music and the free Wi-Fi. It’s all done with a purpose. As a smart recruiter you need to have a plan to create the right feeling for your prospects now that the initial contact message is in their hands. If you fail to do that you’re introducing random results into the process. So, what’s your plan for establishing a feeling that they will gravitate to over the coming months?
  1. Use keywords in your communications with them. If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter you know how much today’s prospective student wants to be valued and viewed as important to someone else. So then why not tell them exactly that? Three simple words – “I appreciate you.” Try it and see what happens. Or if you’re face-to-face with the prospect how about “I believe in you.” Those are powerful words that your prospect will respond to. Then think of other things you can tell them in the coming weeks that will emphasize the idea that you appreciate and value them. In addition, this year’s college prospects are telling us that having a college representative inquire about how a prospective student “feels” about certain things on campus gets a much more in-depth response.  It encourages open discussion without the idea that there is a “right” answer they should be giving.
  1. Write things down and then use them as future reference. Taking notes is proof and it honors someone’s thoughts. This works well in-person when you’re talking to either the recruit or their parents. It shows the other person that you’re valuing what they’re telling you. Down the road when you refer back to those notes it will remind them that you were truly listening to their wants and needs, and it shows that you treat them as an important individual.
  1. Answer “why” during the campus visit. Too many schools show what they have to offer during the campus tour, but fail to answer why it matters to a specific prospect. When you answer the “why” it allows your recruit to visualize, which is a key ingredient in creating those all-important feelings.
  1. Be passionate. I consider passion to be the most underrated tool in admissions recruiting. If you want to know why, click here. When people smile, speak with enthusiasm and look others straight in the eye, they become hard to ignore. In the process they bring joy to those around them. A passionate recruiter takes the time to understand the wants and needs of everyone involved in the decision making process. Doing this creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other feelings that a recruit relies on to make their decision.

When you create the right feelings in the minds and hearts of your prospects, and those around them, you greatly increase your school’s chances of enrolling those students.

Tudor Collegiate Strategies offers one-on-one help with formulating a research-based approach to communicating with recruits. If you’d like to see what that looks like, and get an overview of our approach, email me at jeremy@dantudor.com.

 

The Secret Weapon of Recruiting Communication (And Why it Works)Monday, April 27th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Building good habits can be difficult. Take for example my golf game. I started playing in my late 20’s. No lessons, I just went out and tried to “hit em’ straight.” As you can imagine I experienced up and down (mostly down) results.

I enjoyed the game so I asked a friend who was a local golf pro for some pointers. In a nutshell he told me fundamentals plus practice would equal better results. The late Jim Rohn – entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker — has said, “Success is neither magical nor mysterious.  Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”

If I wanted my golf game to improve, I was going to have to be consistent with my practice and game habits.

As you prepare to begin another recruiting cycle, I want to stress the importance of being consistent when it comes to recruiting communications with your prospects. I know it sounds easy enough, but for many admissions teams this can be one of their greatest challenges.

If your office doesn’t have a clear long-term plan to consistently communicate your school’s story, I strongly encourage you to start developing one. I don’t want you to be the school that panics come wintertime because they haven’t done anything consistently or offered anything of value to their recruits since that initial communication. We’ve seen colleges in that situation try to cram everything together in hopes of catching back up to the competition. I’m here to tell you that method rarely works.

Today I want to provide you with a more effective way to build your next recruiting plan and discuss why consistency works with this generation of students.

Let’s start by reviewing the different types of communication that a solid recruiting campaign needs to consistently feature.

  • Written communication. Both mail and email matter to your recruits. According to our research you need to send a logical, foundational message about your school every 6 to 9 days. That’s the right amount of time according to your prospects.
  • Phone calls. I know it’s tempting, but don’t try and skip right to verbal communication. Sacrificing letters and emails is not a winning strategy. Your prospects want more. Mix in phone calls, but be sure that your recruit is comfortable with that type of contact first.
  • Social media. In the age of smartphones it’s becoming more important how you communicate with prospects through social media. While it’s unlikely to make or break your college, it can determine whether or not you form a solid connection with a recruit, or make the kind of missteps that exclude you from your prospect’s future communication online. Utilize social media to give them an ongoing behind the scenes look at life inside your college at least once a week. If your office has the resources it might even happen every couple of days.

This generation reacts to a good, consistent combination of all of these facets of recruiting.  If you focus only on one or two communication methods with your recruits, you are leaving the door open for a competitor that will utilize all of their communication resources.

Now to “the Why” – why consistency works.

  1. It gives your prospect a predictable flow of information. Seems obvious I know yet many counselors don’t have that long-term game plan. They come out of the gate strong for the first month or two and then run out of things to say before really gaining traction.  Here’s the problem with that approach. Most prospects won’t make a decision until later in the process. Instead let me encourage you to take what we call the “drip, drip, drip” method of communication. Communicate small chunks of information about your college and why they should want to come there. When you extend your messaging out over the entire recruiting cycle, and not just when it’s convenient, you’ll win over some recruits simply because other schools fall off.
  1. Your recruits value consistent communication. It’s a proven fact – today’s recruit appreciates and values you being there from start to finish. When we work with clients and help them develop a messaging campaign using focus group research, we often hear stories like the following one from students. When it came time to make a decision between multiple colleges they felt a little more loyal to one because that school communicated with them the most during the recruitment process. It might not seem like the smartest way to pick a college, but that’s what this generation of recruits says matters to them.
  1. Consistency prompts a response. Your ultimate objective when you communicate with a prospect should be to get a response. You want to create a back-and-forth conversation. It may take you 7, 8 or even 10 times before you get that response, but remain consistent and stay the course. Believe it or not most prospects are looking for a reason and permission to reach out and contact you once a relationship has been developed, and most will not do it on their own. Start by asking them a question or getting their opinion on email or social media, not with a phone call. Not too many teenagers today are willing to jump right into a 20-minute conversation with you when they know virtually nothing about you or your institution. When you have a call to action it gives them a safe, non-committal way to connect with you.
  1. It builds trust and loyalty. Building close relationships with your prospects and their families is all about communicating on a personal level. That takes time and is hard to accomplish if you’re inconsistent with your contact. When you try to understand the problems that your prospect (and his or her parents) faces, you’re sending a strong message that you care. Over time your reliability to help problem solve will build trust. It will also build loyalty – so the recruit wants to continue to interact with you rather than your competitors.

Our clients have achieved enrollment success when they provide a consistent message using a variety of communication types. Over time if you’re consistent you become hard to ignore. As other colleges peel off you will move up your prospect’s list.

A small word of caution – schools can be consistent but with a poor message or poor phone etiquette. Trust me we’ve seen it happen. Generating a weak message consistently can be as bad as getting a great message out randomly.

Not sure what the best strategy with your next class of recruits should be? Having a hard time coming up with talking points for your messaging? We can help. It’s what we’re here to do. Contact me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

 

5 Valuable Recruiting Lessons From My Daughter’s Soccer PracticeMonday, April 20th, 2015

NewSoccer1by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I used to hear about it all the time from friends who have kids, and now I understand. Last week the Tiers taxi was busy. My daughter began playing youth soccer. Practices were Tuesday and Thursday, with a game on Saturday morning. Sandwiched in-between those practices was a gymnastics practice, Kindergarten registration and our latest shopping trip to the mall because she continues to “grow like a weed.”

One of the drills that my daughter’s soccer coach introduced at practice on Thursday was “snake.” Some of you may be familiar with it. At one end of the field two children link arms. At the other end the rest of the team members each have a soccer ball. Their goal is to kick the ball to the other end without getting tagged by the two children who are linked together. Each time someone is tagged they join the snake until everyone is out. Seems simple enough, right? Not when you’re dealing with 5-year olds and the rule is the snake must be one connected group for the tag to count. Needless to say it turned into organized chaos…albeit fun, organized chaos.

As I watched from the sidelines I was reminded of an important recruiting lesson that all admissions professionals should be applying. By the end of practice that night, one lesson had grown to five.

Here then are those five real life lessons. Applying them, if you’re not already doing so, will help you become a more effective recruiter:

  1. Consistent communication is a must. Early on during the “snake” game the first two kids were tagged with relative ease. After that confusion ensued. Some of the snakes including my daughter wanted to run in one direction, while another wanted to go the opposite way and decided to let go, as you can see in the above photo. Instead of communicating with one another the kids who were the snake spent most of their time running and pulling each other in circles. After about five minutes the coach had them stop, link back up, and talk to each other. This eventually yielded a new addition to the snake chain.

The inconsistent contact hardly ever worked for snake, and it will rarely yield prospects for your school. Instead make a plan that involves a consistent track of messaging every 6 to 9 days. That’s what today’s recruit has told us they want from you. Mix it up and make sure your content demands interaction and clearly states why they should choose your college. Infrequent communication will lead your prospect to question just how serious your school is about them and will likely create a feeling of pressure when you ask them if they’re closing in on a decision.

  1. Keep it simple. How you communicate your message, and the degree of simplicity in which it is delivered, is key to making sure it sticks with your next class of prospects. Each time my daughter’s coach had a teaching point during a drill he got straight to it and broke it down to a single thing for the kids to remember. Simple gets remembered.
  1. Being different is good. We consistently stress to our clients the importance of taking a creative approach and standing out when it comes to recruiting. It’s a proven fact – people are programmed to notice what’s different. That means you need to differentiate your messaging, your campus visit, and your phone conversations, among other things. During your campus tour get rid of the non-impactful meetings and instead have a discussion about something that matters in the eyes of your recruits like ROI. Separating yourself from the competition and the traditional way of doing something may sound risky. When schools are willing to do that however, we’ve seen it produce big recruiting wins.
  1. Demonstrate passion. My daughter’s coach is “all in” with the soccer team. He wasn’t just at practice going through the motions and checking his watch every five minutes to see if it was almost time to go home. He got there early. He offered to stay afterwards and answer any questions that parents had. And he even followed up with an email congratulating the team on their progress after the first week. Can you say the same thing when it comes to recruiting your prospective students? Do you tell them why you think they’re the “right fit” for your school and how those on campus will help them achieve their long term goals?   Do you smile and speak with enthusiasm and listen closely when they reveal an objection? Those who have passion are able to create meaningful long-term relationships with their recruits.
  1. Be okay with losing more than you win. Towards the end of practice the team had its first scrimmage. It became clear rather quickly that one of the boys (the league is co-ed at this age group) liked to dominate the ball and was a very good player. Whatever team he was on won, primarily because he scored just about every goal. None of the other kids complained. They were just happy to be playing the game as best as they could. The point I’m trying to make is you will lose recruits to other institutions – sometimes for reasons that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Be okay with that. It’s a fact of recruiting life. Don’t let it discourage you.

Follow these five rules that I’ve laid out as you develop your new recruiting plan for this next class of prospects, and watch what happens.

Our team of recruiting and marketing experts work with schools around the country helping them craft and deliver the right messages for their recruits.  Want to see what we can do for you?  Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com I’ll show you how we do it and pleasantly surprise you with how affordable it is.

How to Take the Early Lead With Your Next Class of ProspectsMonday, April 13th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Here we go again. New names, new faces, yet the goal remains the same. The Class of 2020 will soon take center stage with college admissions. Are you ready?

Spring college fairs and high school visits bring with them the chance to make a lasting first impression with your junior prospects. That should never be undervalued. Your follow-up communication in the coming weeks however will be equally, if not more important. Here’s why. Early in the process prospective students are looking to see which schools maintain consistent contact. In their minds, it’s an indicator of just how serious of a prospect your institution considers them to be.

Determining those early talking points can be a challenge for many counselors. In fact it’s one of the biggest reasons that admissions departments start working with us. The messaging in those first letters is simply not generating a reaction.

Today we’re going to change that. It starts by defining what gets them to keep talking to you after you make that first contact.   Our research shows that when a prospect and his or her parents are comfortable engaging in conversation with an admissions counselor, that school immediately moves up the list.

Here are five things your next class of prospects wants and needs to know from your initial messages:

  1. If possible, remind them where you met. This is a great example of the obvious getting overlooked. Most counselors don’t even think to mention where they first met a prospective student. And yet, recruits tell us it’s one of the easiest ways for them to determine that your school is serious about them initially.  It gives them context for why you are reaching out to them and more importantly why they should take the time to reply back to you.
  1. Tell them what you like about them. This generation of students wants to know what you like about them. Why? Believe it or not some of your prospects aren’t sure they’re good enough to be considered by a school such as yours. Pointing out two or three specific things you saw from their information is another important way to tell them they “have what it takes” to be considered for admission to your school. If you include these first two points in your initial messages, you will see an increase in replies versus a more generic, non-specific message.
  1. Write a short story, not a novel. If you read last week’s article on creating impactful recruiting letters then you understand that worst thing you can do early on, is cram tons of information about your college all together. If you want a response from your prospect, that is. By being short and to the point, you will leave room for their curiosity to take over. That curiosity then prompts them to want more interaction with you.
  1. Engage the parents. Our research finds that many parents are anxious as you begin contact with their child. They want to play a part in the recruitment process, and naturally they too have questions they want answered. While a majority of your competition will ignore the parents as long as possible, I encourage you to do the exact opposite. Begin contact with them early and work to establish that same emotional connection. If you do, you’ll find that they’ll be more than willing to contribute useful information during the process.
  1. Have a call to action. This is essential if you want them to respond to you. You need to clearly tell them what the next step in the process is and how to do it. Start off with one simple thing. For example, the next logical step in the communication flow if you’ve been mailing and emailing your prospect, is to speak with them on the phone. Establish a day and time for that call and let them know what needs to happen between then and now.

Early communication with a prospect is about getting a response. Your goal should be to get a back-and-forth conversation going, and let the relationship (and their interest) build from there.

Do you have more questions about how to generate that initial response or carry on a logical, consistent conversation with your recruits from the start? Send me an email. I’m here to help.

What to Do When Your Prospect Picks Another SchoolMonday, April 6th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s frustrating, but it’s going to happen to admissions counselors across the country this month: prospective students are going to say no to your school’s offer of admission.

What’s even worse is some of your “no’s” may very well come from recruits that you had penciled in as likely “yeses.”

The reasons will vary. Some will be legitimate…and some will make no sense at all.

Students are applying to more schools than ever before. Nearly one-third applies to seven or more colleges according to the most recent NACAC survey. That means despite your best efforts, the reality is the number of “no’s” is on the rise.

For most of you losing a recruit to another school should not signal gloom. I phrase it that way because if your no’s start to equal or out-number your yeses, I strongly encourage you to self-evaluate and discover why your recruiting efforts are failing. If you need help correcting bad habits or mastering certain techniques, please reach out to me via email.

Today however I want to focus on what to do next when your prospect picks another school. Handling this situation effectively is something that separates a good recruiter from a great recruiter.

Here are four simple tips to help you deal with rejection from your prospect:

  1. Don’t overreact. Sounds easy enough, right? If only that were the case. You just spent months, or in some cases even longer, cultivating a relationship with the recruit and their parents and poof, all your hard work is out the window in an instant. Combine that with fatigue and stress about yield, and it’s easy to see how a negative response from a prospect could become the tipping point for some counselors. Take a deep breath and exhale, even though it may take everything you have not to change your tone and become bitter and combative with the already nervous teenager on the other end of the line.
  1. Respond gracefully (because doing so can lead to future “yeses”). When a prospect chooses another school send them a personal note wishing them well. Why, you ask? For starters very few counselors actually do this so it will leave a lasting impression. “But Jeremy they picked a different school so that doesn’t matter at this point.” Oh but it does! That kind of professionalism will pay dividends down the road when others around that prospect or their parents ask about your institution and the overall experience that they received from you. This goes back to one of my personal pillars of successful recruiting – Who’s recruiting for you, when you’re not recruiting. Think about that for a minute.
  1. Ask them why. Successful people in any line of work learn from their mistakes. Instead of trying to end the conversation abruptly when a recruit tells you they chose a different place to spend the next four years, use this as a learning opportunity. Ask them why they chose a different school, listen carefully to their answer, and thank them for their honesty. Your goal is not to try and change their mind (although we’ve seen it happen before) but simply to learn. What most counselors find is there was an objection left unanswered. Our research shows this is the number one reason people fail when it comes to recruiting. Once you learn to overcome objections you’ll find that recruiting gets a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.

If you’re hearing the same objection or complaint from several prospects, it’s time to make some changes and come up with a new strategy. By doing so you’ll likely find that you get fewer “no’s” and more “yeses.”

  1. Never let rejection get you down.  Counselors, specifically less experienced ones, tend to get down on themselves when a prospect rejects their school’s offer.  Many develop a negative attitude and begin dreading the recruiting process.  Remember, they’re not rejecting you personally, they’re rejecting your school’s offer.  There’s a difference.  Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t lose your optimism.  Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to future success.

It’s getting late in the recruiting year.  Are the results what you expected?  More importantly, are the results what you want and need?  If the answer is “no”, then let us explain what our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program is all about.  Here’s what to do…email me at jeremy@dantudor.com so we can arrange a time to show you what other admissions departments have already discovered.

6 Keys to Creating Impactful Recruiting LettersMonday, March 30th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

A few weeks ago my 5-year old daughter became the official “mail getter” for our family. I know this because she told me so.

This new position of hers came about after she received a recruiting letter, of sorts. She had received mail before from her grandparents, but this time was different. It was a flashy envelope addressed specifically to her from the kids club at our local mall.

As we walked up the driveway my daughter tore open the envelope. Inside was a letter with her name hand-written at the top, listing upcoming events that “members” could experience, as well as other perks that came from joining the club. As she read through each bullet point the level of excitement in her voice increased. I’ll let you guess what we did 15 minutes later.

The “feeling” that came over my daughter is the same “feeling” every admissions professional should strive to manufacture with prospects during recruiting communications.

Direct mail is one form of communication that should always play a big part in your recruiting campaign. Despite advances in technology, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned letters.  Want more proof?  Our on-campus focus group research at colleges around the nation confirms that receiving letters still matters to this generation of students.   Emails can easily be deleted and text messages are sometimes ignored. There’s also a temporary aspect to both. Letters on the other hand are real, written proof that a prospect can hold in their hand and show others, confirming that they are wanted.

Before I discuss some keys to creating impactful recruiting letters, I have a question for each of you. Have you ever asked yourself why you’re sending a recruiting letter? It’s an important question, and one that you need to raise. Yes it’s important for prospective students to learn more about your school.   More than anything though, each recruiting letter should be built to generate a response. When you get a response from your prospect it confirms they’re genuinely interested and you now have a basis for future communications. This is particularly valuable during the early stages of the recruitment cycle.

Now let’s go over some of the fundamentals of constructing the right kind of recruiting letters.

  • Most counselors start a recruiting letter with what we call a “warm up.” The first paragraph contains facts, figures, and a lot of “fluff.” I’m here to tell you to get rid of the fluff. Studies have shown your target audience doesn’t want this. If you choose to keep it, you risk them losing interest before you even get started.
  • Your main objective in those first couple of sentences should be to grab their attention. That means formal and professional, which is what I’m guessing most of your messages currently are, isn’t going to be effective enough. You need to be more direct. Consider starting with a statement that’s short and to the point. It needs to be something that gets their attention and makes them want to read further.
  • Visually your letter needs to be easy to read. Think about your reaction when you receive a lengthy email from your boss. You’re in the middle of cleaning out your inbox and want to keep things moving forward. How many times have you closed it and said, “I’ll read it later.” Do you want that same reaction from your prospects?
  • When coming up with a list of things you want to highlight to your recruits, don’t forget to ask yourself why they will care about what you’re telling them. It has to matter to them otherwise it won’t work.
  • In the middle or “heart” of your letter, it’s crucial that you continue to keep them hooked. This is where we see a lot of counselors struggle. They choose a topic and try to jam everything into one letter. That’s the wrong approach. Instead, your goal should be to give them no more than two or three pieces of information on a single topic at one time. Additional points regarding that same topic should be communicated over several weeks. The reason behind that is simple. Teenagers forget things quickly. Let’s use your school’s location as an example. If you present everything that makes it great all at once, it won’t resonate for very long.  Instead I want you to take a long term approach, like we do with our clients when we assist them with message creation.  That way when you’re ready to move on to something else it will be clear to your prospect why your school’s location is perfect for them, and why they should be excited about it.
  • When you construct the end of your letter, think long and hard about what you want them to take away. Avoid being passive and saying something like, “If you or your parents have questions feel free to contact us.” That’s not the right way to communicate with today’s student. Instead, demand some type of action from them. If you want them to call or email you with specific information, tell them that, very clearly. Tell them when to call or let them know when to expect an email from you. Always set up the next communication.   Our research continues to confirm that your prospects want you to do that for them. If you don’t tell them, you may not hear from them.

If your letters aren’t generating a good response, we can help revamp your recruiting letter strategy using proven techniques.  It’s another way to give you and your team an Admissions Recruiting Advantage.

Email me today at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information about how to get started.

How to Win Your Prospect’s “Bracket Challenge”Monday, March 23rd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

How’s your bracket? If you’re one of the tens of millions of people like me who filled out an NCAA tournament bracket, hopefully it hasn’t been introduced to the shredder just yet.

While the nations top college basketball teams try to figure out how to survive and advance to Indianapolis and take home the trophy, many of your recruits are dealing with their own version of “March Madness.” They applied to several colleges and received multiple acceptance letters. Some of those prospects immediately jumped at chance to attend your school, while others for various reasons said, “thanks, but no thanks.” In many cases however, you likely have a large group of admitted students who have yet to make their final decisions. My goal today is to help your school end up on the “champions” line of those admissions brackets.

Selling against your competition is probably the most important battle you face during the recruitment cycle. Here’s a scenario I’ve been frequently discussing with counselors as of late. A recruit has narrowed down his or her list to three or four colleges, including theirs. A couple of them are similar institution types in comparable settings. One or two are completely different. And, every now and then there’s a school that has advanced deep into a prospect’s “bracket,” baffling everyone. The conversation then becomes, “Jeremy…how do I tell this student that I know those other schools aren’t the right fit for them without bad mouthing those schools?” Great question!

Here are seven things you can do to beat out other schools for your undecided admits…tactfully.

  1. Ask them who they’re leaning on to help them make a final decision.  Once they tell you, ask yourself how well you’ve connected with those other individuals. If the answer is “not very well,” you know what you need to do ASAP.
  1. Discover what they like about the competition and then start to chip away.  Before you can chip away at the opposition, you have to know what your prospect perceives their strengths to be.  Ask him or her to state the strong points for each of the other schools still under consideration. After hearing the answers, reply to each one with a phrase like, “It’s interesting that you mention that, because our school is actually stronger in that area than them.”  Then, list why.  Even if you’re going up against a more prominent institution this subtle reply works well.
  1. Get your prospect to create doubt about those other schools.  An effective way to do this is to ask your prospect, “During this process, what are some things that you’ve noticed that you don’t like as much about (insert school name)? You can word the question differently, but the point is to get the prospect to start actively thinking about your competition’s weaknesses instead of their strengths.
  1. Make sure you’ve overcome ALL your prospect’s objections.  This remains one of the most asked about topics when we customize an admissions training workshop for a school. Why?  Because it’s the most important part of recruiting a student, and it may be something that your competition isn’t doing.  Clarify any specific objections your prospect has, and make sure they get addressed. Every situation is different, so it’s hard to give a general technique that would work in any situation. If you have a specific question I encourage you to email me at jeremy@dantudor.com
  1. Make sure you’ve proven your school’s VALUE. If you haven’t engaged in a comprehensive and prospect-specific discussion about value, I’d pencil one in very soon. Students and parents expect and want this information from admissions and financial aid. Surprisingly, some studies show that a large number of schools are still failing to address this topic.
  1. Get them back on campus. When prospects try to weigh the pros and cons of different colleges they’re serious about, it often becomes hard for them to create much separation. Admitted student day events are a great way to remind them what life on campus will look and feel like. Keep in mind that families lead busy lives and as a result will likely have to pick and choose which schools they’ll revisit. It’s crucial that you give them a good reason to come back. (If you want to learn how to create awesome admitted student days, click here).
  1. Confidently explain why your school is the best choice. Believe it or not, your recruit may not know why you are the best fit. How could that possibly happen, right? Simply put, your story has been lost in the noisy, marketing-filled world that they live in. That’s why we advocate the need for a consistent, ongoing message from the start to the end of the recruitment cycle. If you’re not consistently telling them why they should choose your school, there will be a strong likelihood that they don’t figure out why your school is the best choice.

The second part to this point is in how you explain that “why.” You’ll note my use of the word confidently. If you’re going to make a great persuasive argument, you need to ooze confidence. Our research shows that when it’s time to make a final decision, students and their parents are desperately looking for someone who can confidently articulate a plan for success for that student once they step foot on campus.

Competition for the next generation of students isn’t going to get easier any time soon. Use some or all of these strategies to get an edge on your competition in the battle for prospects, and let us know if we can train you further on any of these techniques.

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