Dan Tudor

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How to Persuade Them Through Small WinsTuesday, November 13th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

It’s important to take your time and lead prospective students through the process of understanding all the different reasons why they should want to choose your school over the other colleges on their list.

That involves persuasion and patience…sometimes a lot of patience. Always remember though that the college search process for a student is exactly that, a process.

Too many colleges right now are trying to skip steps and accelerate a student’s decision-making process. They’re pushing them to visit campus and/or complete their school’s application before the student feels ready to do so. Sometimes that works, but typically those students struggle after they’re admitted to understand what really makes that school different from their other finalists. They end up being the students who tell you things like, “I need some more time to think about it,” or “I’m not sure yet.”

Along with persuasion, you need to begin to lay the groundwork for agreement in the early stages. Consistent messaging and personalized communication are one of the most effective ways to do that. Another is by asking effective, targeted questions each time and then listening closely. Both involve patience.

Patience is also at the heart of this next strategy that I want you to adopt if you’re not doing it already – Gaining agreement through small wins, or as I refer to them in workshops, “little yeses”.

When you get a prospective student (or their parent) to offer agreement to something and give you that “little yes”, versus you telling them what they should do/think, they’re more likely to move forward in the process and complete their next step.

Here are some examples:

  • You get the student to reply back to an email with the answer to a question you asked
  • You get the student to agree to set up a phone call with you
  • You get the student to agree to talk to their parents about visiting campus
  • You get the parent and student to agree to have the cost/paying for college talk
  • You get the student to agree that your college’s location is going to be a plus
  • You get the student to agree that filling out the FAFSA now can be beneficial
  • You get the parents to agree that your campus is a safe environment, and you have programs in place to help their child successfully transition to college life
  • You get the student to agree on what the next step in their process will be

I would classify each of those things as small wins.

Think about how you can gain at least one “win” every time you interact with a prospective student (or parent). If you do, it will make asking for the big yes (their commitment/deposit) much easier and less stressful because they’ve already given you a bunch of agreements along the way. In some cases they may even be persuaded to pay more.

There’s proven research behind this idea. Develop a plan to implement it, or let me know if you need help. This is another way for you to stand out from your competition.

Here’s Why You Need ConsistencyTuesday, October 9th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Do me a favor and take 10 seconds to think of who the two or three most successful people that you know are. Now, what are some of the things that those people have in common?

For me, the people that I know who are at the top of their fields are consistent in their actions each day…what they do when they wake up, when they get to work, how they lead their team, etc.

Speaking of leadership, which is a topic I’m extremely passionate about and trying to bring more attention to in the world of admissions and higher ed, I would argue that if you’re a leader and you’re not consistent, your team (or whomever you manage) won’t completely buy in and follow you wholeheartedly when you ask them to execute. Some important food for thought.

When it comes to student recruitment, I can’t stress enough the importance of being consistent from start to finish with all of your recruiting communications.

If your office doesn’t have a clear long-term plan to consistently communicate all the different parts of your school’s story and the things that make you unique to both prospective students and parents, student recruitment will be harder for you.

Here’s why consistency works and how it will give you an advantage over your competition:

  1. It gives prospective students a predictable flow of information. As obvious as that may be, there’s still a large number of colleges and universities whose recruiting communications are anything but consistent. Some schools come out of the gate strong for the first month or two with a new prospect or inquiry and then run out of things to say before really gaining traction. Others blast students with information at various points in the funnel but provide little in between. My recommendation is to use the drip method of communication. From start to finish communicate small chunks of information about various aspects of your school that explain why students should want to learn more and take action in your favor. When you extend your messaging out over the entire recruiting cycle, you’ll win over some students simply because other schools fall off.
  2. It plays a role in their decision making. It’s a proven fact – this generation of students appreciates and values when a college consistently stays in touch with them and when they consistently make the process about them. I’ll expand more on that in point number three. When we work with clients and help them develop a messaging campaign for an entire cycle, we often hear stories like the following one from students in the surveys we conduct. When it came time to make a decision between two or three schools and they had to use a tiebreaker, the school that communicated with them the most during the college search process won out. It might not make sense, but consistency is something that matters a lot to this generation of students and it influences their decision-making.
  3. It helps create connections and build trust. I’ve talked before about the importance of having one consistent voice in your recruiting communications (your emails, letters, phone calls, text messages). Instead of sending singular pieces throughout the cycle from your leadership, the admissions counselors, a current student, faculty, etc., establish a point person from the beginning. My recommendation, based on our focus group research, is that your admissions counselors be that person. When you do that it increases the level of personalization, and it sends a clear message to students and parents that your counselors care a great deal and are willing to help problem solve. Over time that will build loyalty and what you’ll find is the student/family continues to interact with you more than your competitors.
  4. Consistency helps prompts a response. Do you ever wonder what prospective students and parents think about the recruiting emails and letters that you send them? You should. The easiest way to find out is to consistently ask for their opinion and feedback on various things, not just pushing them to visit and apply all the time. When you have a call to action like this it gives them a safe, non-committal way to connect with you. Doing so will lead to another layer of demonstrated interest. Keep in mind that it may take you three, five, or even ten times to get that response, but remain consistent and stay the course. A lot of your prospects tell us that they’re looking for a reason and permission to reach out and contact you. Most won’t do it on their own because of fear, but the more they see you consistently asking for their opinion and feedback, the easier it becomes for them to engage.

I hope these four points got you thinking a little bit…or maybe a lot.

A word of caution – schools can be consistent but with a poor message. Dan (Tudor) and I see it happen all the time. Generating a weak message consistently can sometimes be as bad as getting a great message out randomly.

Let me give you one more related piece of advice that may be helpful. Consistency also builds discipline. It can help you put structure into your day, and that will lead to greater productivity and efficiency.

I hope you have an amazing rest of your week! 🙂 And if you use Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, click on those icons at the top of this article and follow me for more tips, strategies, and behind the scenes content.

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