Dan Tudor

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Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Effective Recruiting as an OutsiderMonday, August 31st, 2015

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.

The Big Recruiting Lesson From Online DatingMonday, July 13th, 2015

In the beginning, there was Match.com.

And lo, after many years, Match.com begot eHarmony.

But not satisfied with the mass market nature of online dating, the people looking for love started looking for niche dating websites. And that begat websites like ChristianMingle.com and jdate.com.

And lo, over the past many years, dating websites have become ultra-specialized. You’re a vegetarian? Try VeggieDate.org. Are you a clown looking for another clown? Try ClownPassions.com or ClownDating.com. (NCRC speaker and best-selling author John Brubaker has a great twist on this idea that he geared towards businesses in Entrepreneur Magazine here).

There’s a lesson here for you, Coach.

As you sell your program to a new batch of recruits, you’d better specialize.

Here’s what I mean:

We now live in a world that offers us incredible niche products and services. Look at the beer market, for example. There are over 1,500 different brands of beer you could buy, all with their own twist on a very basic recipe. Same for dog food, shoes, soap…you name it.

Your prospects, unfortunately, expect the same from you. They need a very specific story of how you operate, what your brand is, and why they should align themselves with you. I say “unfortunately” because many college coaches don’t take the time to define themselves in a way that specializes them in the eyes of their recruits – the same recruits who have been conditioned through the Internet, television and other forms of advertising, to actively look for specialization.

How? That’s where it gets tricky:

  • You have to figure out who you’re wrong for. The temptation for colleges around the country is to try and make themselves vanilla enough so that everyone might have an interest in them. Coaches who do that are finding, more often than not, that they can’t attract prospects as easily as a few years ago if they don’t differentiate themselves from their competition. The easiest way to do that? Define who you and your program is wrong for. Come up with a list, and talk about it with your recruits.
  • You have to figure out why you love your school.  It’s surprising to me how many times I begin work with a client and it’s obvious that they aren’t sold on their school. The location, the cost, the degree…the whole enchilada. If you aren’t 100% sold on your school, you need to be. Now. Prospects and their parents seem to have an innate ability to figure out whether or not the coach they’re considering is all-in when it comes to the campus where they coach. Are you “all-in” when it comes to your school, Coach?
  • You have to figure out your audience. Dating websites each have their specific audience defined. Do you? How do you talk about it with a prospect who’s right for you, and one who’s wrong for you?

There are other questions I could ask, of course. But start with those three. They are the most important, and if you can’t answer those three questions there really isn’t a point in moving on with asking other questions.

It’s vitally important that you develop your niche, Coach. Ask the tough questions, and start telling your story.

You and your coaching staff can learn all of the in-depth strategies that advanced college recruiters are using to win better recruits. There’s a science behind it all, and we’re ready to teach you the process step-by-step. How? By having you enroll in Tudor University. Click here to start.


They Don’t Care About You (Until They Know Who You Are)Monday, June 1st, 2015

They don’t care about you.

Until, that is, they know who you are.

You might have the best facility, you might be the nicest coach, and a degree from your school might send your prospect out into the world as the best prepared college graduate on the planet.

But if they don’t know you, they aren’t going to listen.

Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon and legendary rock band U2 prove my point. They headed out to a subway platform in New York City, in disguise, and started playing. Free concert from U2, hosted by Jimmy Fallon. Here’s what happened.


Notice the before and after?

When they were viewed as just an average group of New York street performers, nobody paid much attention. But did you notice the change in the crowd’s energy level once the disguises came off?  Completely different.  Once they knew who it was, it was worth their time to stop what they were doing and give the band their full attention.

Let me bring this back to your world as a college recruiter with this core truth:

The reason why many of your prospects aren’t paying attention at the start of the recruiting process is because they don’t know who you are.

That doesn’t mean you have to be famous.  It really doesn’t even mean you have to be all that talented.  But it does mean that you have to be known.

So if you’re serious about achieving that with this generation of high school student-athlete in your next recruiting campaign, here’s what our research shows as being some of the essential things you need to do to become “known” to your recruits:

First and foremost, be the coach that’s easy to talk to.  It’s such a simple concept, and yet it’s something that many coaches just don’t pay attention to. In the way you communicate – the text and sentence structure that you use in your letters, emails, social media campaigns and text messages – you need to make it easy for your prospect to actually reply to your outreach. If you aren’t getting kids to reply to you, it might mean that you aren’t “sounding” like you are easy to talk to. Which means they aren’t going to ever really get to know you.

Have them listen to your team’s stories.  In any way you can, get your athletes involved in telling the story of you and your program.  Especially you.  They need to talk about how you operate as a coach, why they like the school, and why they’d make the same decision all over again.  Your team has way more credibility than you do as a coach, because as a coach you are really seen as the salesperson. And that gets viewed with a degree of skepticism by this generation, especially as the process extends beyond the first initial points of contact. Your team, on the other hand, has credibility: They’re closer to the same age as your recruit, and are less likely to be viewed as someone trying to trick them into committing to the program.  So, ask yourself, “How are you utilizing the power of my team in telling our story to my recruits?”  If you can’t name concrete examples of how that happens, it’s unlikely your recruits are really getting to know you.

Build a reputation.  Don’t wait for a reputation to develop, build a reputation. Decide how you want to define your program, and then start telling that story. That’s taking an active, controlled approach to the way others view you and your program.  One great example of what I’m talking about is how Jim Harbaugh began to develop an attitude and swagger around his University of Michigan football program…before he even coached his first game at his alma mater. He took a program that was slipping into mediocrity from a reputation standpoint, and turned around that perception overnight.  To be known, sometimes you have to decide what your reputation is, and then start selling it to your recruits.

Enlist your famous friends.  U2 needed Jimmy Fallon to help make the transition between average street performers in disguise to world-renowned rock superstars. Minus Jimmy, the whole thing may not have worked.  Who are the famous friends you have around you on your campus? Another coach on campus? A school president who doesn’t mind having you drop by with your recruits to say hi? Another team on campus that wouldn’t mind coming and saying hi to your recruits and talking positively about the campus?  All of those count as your “famous friends”.  They’re the people that your prospects will talk about after they leave campus (and believe me, they do!)  Enlist those famous friends to help you become known.

Those four recommendations aren’t an exhaustive list, of course.  But I hope it gets your mind turning a little bit.  This entire topic of how you build a reputation, and what recruits respond to as you reach out to them, is an area that most college coaches never take time to think about.

Be the coach that does, and watch how recruits start to view you differently.

Did you know that our team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you develop your approach with recruits?  It’s true.  We’ve been working one-on-one with coaches and their programs for over a decade, and we’d love to help you to.  Email us at dan@dantudor.com to have a conversation about how we’d do that, or click here for more information on our Total Recruiting Solution program.

How I Use Sticky Notes To Be A Better CoachMonday, April 6th, 2015

Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Looking for a sly way to persuade people?

Are you taking advantage of this simple tool every office has?

Our most powerful coaching tools can often be right in front of us, and we don’t even know it. A basic clipboard can be sneakily powerful. So can a smart phone. But the power of the clipboard, and even a smart phone can pale in comparison to the coaching power of … a sticky note.

Really? Absolutely.

Take a piece of paper. Cut it into squares. Add a special adhesive along one border, and you’ve made yourself a sticky note. And a powerful tool.

Sounds simple right? But don’t let the simplicity fool you. A sticky note, the most popular version known as Post-it Notes, can have a significant impact on your coaching-processes. Here’s how, and how I use sticky notes.

In the book Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive (a book I highly recommend all coaches have in their library) the authors relate an experiment undertaken to see what, if any, impact a sticky notes would have in convincing someone to take positive action.

A researcher sent out surveys to people with a request to complete them. The surveys had either:

  • a handwritten sticky note requesting competition of the survey, or
  • a similar handwritten note written upon the cover letter, or
  • just a cover letter and the survey alone

The results were crazy. More than twice as many surveys with the sticky notes (75%) were returned, compared to the surveys with no stickies (36%).

Sticky notes have a persuasive impact — but it is not just the paper size or color, or even the novelty of it being a sticky note — it is also what you put on it that matters.

The experimenter continued his study, and sent out letters that had

  • a blank sticky, or
  • a sticky with a simple note, or
  • a sticky with a simple note and personalized with the researchers initials

He found that the note with initials to be the most persuasive, shooting the response rate up even higher.

Why? The authors relate this:

“An ounce of personalized extra effort is worth a pound of persuasion. The more personalized you make a request, the more likely you’ll get someone to agree to that request.”

A quick sticky with your initials can have a significant impact in getting results — so think about the action you want taken, and personalize it with your initials to empower your persuasion.

Where I’ve used them to persuade:

  • On recruiting letters (“It was my pleasure meeting you – MD“)
  • On fundraising solicitations (“Thanks for considering this – MD“)
  • On workout plans for athletes (“Keep up the good work – MD“)
  • On thank you notes (“Thanks for being so kind. – MD”)
  • On items I wanted moved (“Put the boat back when done. MD“)

I focus on making the handwriting clear, the words short, and I make sure to include my initials.

So … sticky notes help me persuade, and I also use them  to …


I love seeing computer screens adorned with sticky notes. It shows someone who is busy and has found a novel way to get things done.

But does it work? Can a sticky help to remember things? I couldn’t locate research on this — but stickies do help ME remember, and they’re part of my do system.

I put them everywhere, along my computer, on my desk, and even on my mirrors. My do system runs like this:

  1. I plan my day using the app Todoist
  2. Items needing immediate action are listed as “1’s”
  3. I put “1’s” on sticky notes, and put them wherever they’ll be seen
  4. Task done, sticky trashed

Oh-so-simple. It is, and that’s exactly why it works for me.

Besides the focused planning, stickies help me remember those phone numbers and tasks that pop up out-of-the-blue. Yesterday I put a sticky on my clipboard to remind me to tell a team member she had paperwork to complete (which I learned about 5 minutes before practice), and to remember a lock combination I just changed.

Those two actions, persuading and remembering alone make sticky notes worth buying, many times over. But I’m not done yet … here are a few other quick ways I use sticky notes:

  • Organize – I mark parts of books I use for research, to help be quickly find a reference
  • Inform – I put on my office door, to tell visitors when I’ll be back
  • Capture – I keep a pack in my car, so I can jot down notes at safe times
  • Entertain – I read Doug Savage’s Savage Chicken cartoon – he makes me laugh. Just what the doctor ordered during stressful coaching days.

It would be easy to dismiss this entire topic as my goofy ramblings. Got that — but there is solid research indicating a well placed sticky note can help with the processes of coaching — especially persuading.

Is it worth a try? — Yes It Is!

Is there a place sticky for notes in your coaching? May Well Be!!

Game for an experiment? — I Hope So!!!

Letting Your Inmates Run the Recruiting AsylumMonday, February 23rd, 2015

It all started to go right when San Diego State women’s golf coach Leslie Spalding had to leave campus and go out on the road to recruit.

At the last minute, she assigned the task of doing a video for a little trick shot contest to the young women on her team.  She gave them no instruction.  The last-minute project wasn’t planned out and assigned by Coach Spalding, and there were no adults nearby supervising and directing them.  It was just the women on the team, an iPhone, an iMovie editing app, and took a little over an hour to make.  They made up the shots as they went along.  (The segment of the team putting 7 balls into the hole at one time?  It took 25 tries!)

Fast forward a few weeks:

Their trick shot video has become an internet sensation.  It’s approach 1,000,000 views on YouTube at this writing, and has received publicity in USA Today, various golf magazines, The Today Show, and more.

It’s received so much attention that the video has now been turned into a fundraising tool for the team, as well (come on, Coach…give a little something to reward these young ladies for their creativity!)

It’s matching the success that the Harvard University baseball team and SMU Women’s Rowing team had with their creative videos a few years ago.

And none of it happened until the coach let her team take over the project.

And therein lies an important lesson for college coaches:

If you let your team take more of a role in your recruiting efforts, good things will happen.

This generation of recruits tell us on a consistent basis that they look to your team to gauge whether or not they would want to consider your program and, ultimately, commit to your program.  To be sure, you, your college’s reputation, and how you show your facilities all have a part to play in painting a picture for your recruits.  But your team holds a big key to connecting with your prospect and making him or her feel like your program feels right to them.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Give your team the reigns.  Show them the videos and other ideas that other teams have done, and ask them to come up with ideas.  Let them have fun with it!
  • Focus on video.  It’s the easiest thing that gets attention, and can be easily forwarded to experience by your recruits.  Let your team come up with video ideas and execute it.  NOT YOU, COACH!
  • Consistency is key. Whether it’s once a week, or once a month, make sure you’re letting your team come up with something on a regular basis.
  • Let your Freshmen and Sophomores lead the way.  It’s not a universal “rule”, but your younger players are usually going to be the ones that approach this kind of project with more enthusiasm and more creativity.  Give them a role in your program by letting them lead this effort.
  • Your team can write a letter or email to your entire prospect list.  Have them tell your recruits why they came to compete for you.  Their voice is more believable, and more interesting, than your voice, Coach.
  • Give your kids a bigger role.  We’ve talked a lot about involving your team on the campus visit – including in our new book.  What three aspects of the visits can you turn over to them that would add more energy and creativity to the visit?

The simple message is this: Take it to your team, and challenge them to beat what some of these other programs have done.  Give them control.  Trust their creativity.

When your team is given just a little bit of power to take control in the process, good things happen.

Recruiting Lessons From the Sticky Note on the Hotel BedMonday, December 29th, 2014

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Why Your Prospects Might Not Care About Your Version of “Better”?Monday, November 24th, 2014

The college coach that can prove their business degree is more highly rated than a competitor’s business degree is often bewildered when their prospect chooses the other school.

The same holds true for the coach who wins their conference championship, only to lose a kid to a program with a new coach and no winning history.  Or, the coach who can boast that her program is closer to home, only to lose the prospect to a school 2,000 miles away.

In each case, the coach can make a very good case that their program.

Here’s the problem:

Their prospect may not care about their version of “better”.

This time of year, college coaches need to be aware of this very important reality with recruiting this generation of teenage prospects.  Whereas you – being a smart college coach – have made career decisions, recruiting decisions, and game decisions based on the best (or “better”) information possible, your recruits aren’t using that same process.  As we’ve chronicled in detail over the years, your prospects make decisions based largely on emotion (and so do their parents).

So, as a coach begins to formulate a recruiting strategy based on simple assumptions on what’s better, they run into the stinging reality that their recruits aren’t operating on the same level.  What I’m saying is that many of your prospects that you’re in the middle of recruiting may not really care about your version of “better”.

Why?  There are some very simple, but vitally important, principles that you need to know if you want to successfully make your case to these athletes:

Your recruit may not know why you are the better choice.  How could that happen???  You sent them two or three very detailed messages, outlining all of the awards and honors your program and your college has won.  Plus, they came for a campus visit.  So how could be there be any confusion on their part?

Quite simply, because your story has been lost in the noisy, marketing-filled world that they live in.  That’s why we preach the need for a consistent, ongoing message starting as early as possible in the recruiting process.  We have case study after case study that proves this is the best methodology when communicating ideas to recruits and their parents.  If you aren’t sending out a message to your recruits every six to nine days that clearly states why they should choose you, there will be a high likelihood that they don’t figure out why you are the better choice. (If you’d like our help in creating that strategic plan, click here)

Your recruit may not believe what you’re telling them.  It’s another hard truth that many college coaches don’t put enough focus on: Your recruit needs more than just words, they need proof.  They need proof that your team, your program, and your school is going to give them exactly what they are looking for in a college.

It isn’t enough to just say that your classes have a great teacher-to-student ratio.  It may be true, but you have to assume that they’ll say “so what?”  Or worse, they may think to themselves, “that’s great, but every college I’m looking at has told me that…they’re just trying to sell me something.”  As a coach, let me ask you this important question: What have you told them that proves you are telling the truth, and puts it into context with where they are at in their decision making process?  Answer that question, Coach.  If you have a good answer, then you’ll be on your way to eliminating this point as a possible reason they would reject your version of “better”.

Your recruit may not believe the risk of switching allegiances to you is worth it.  For the top 1% in your sport, they have the luxury of picking and choosing the prospects that they want, and those prospects will happily accept their offer.  If you aren’t part of that 1%, you need to assume that there are legitimate reasons your prospect will have reasons to not choose you as one of their top choices.  Taking that glass-is-half-empty, worst case scenario approach will help you take the right approach as you communicate with your prospects.

This is probably the primary reason you lose most of your prospects.  They just haven’t come to believe that you and your program should be the logical choice.  Yes, it’s because of their own prejudices, ideas and decisions.  And most of those are illogical, or even downright incorrect.  But that’s what they believe.

Have you made the case to them that it’s worth the “risk” to say no to the program that they’ve dreamed of, and choose you instead?  And if so, how have you done that?  At this time of year, many of your prospects are deciding whether it’s worth the risk to choose you, Coach.  Be vigilant in how you help them do that.

Your recruit may not believe that your “better” is their better.  In fact, as you read the end of this article, I can tell you that in many, many cases that is true for your prospects.  Does it mean you can’t change their mind?  Of course not, but you need to take an aggressive, persistent approach in telling your story to that skeptical recruit and his or her family.  However, you also need to analyze where you are at in your conversation with that prospect, and make the judgement as to whether or not it’s time to move on.  There are times when it’s advisable to stop recruiting a prospect that is never going to belief your better is best.

The bottom line to the points I’m making here?  Adopting this philosophical approach to your recruiting process demands continual action.  Recruit is not a passive activity, and there are no down times.  This is especially true when you’re trying to convince an important recruit that you and your program truly are better than your competition.

Our Total Recruiting Solution program is designed to break through the clutter, and deliver consistent, research-based messages that connect with your prospects.  If you need help down the stretch, and in preparing to effectively recruit your next class, click here.

A Trick To Coaching “Different”Monday, November 17th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Years ago, I worked in New Zealand as a white-water raft guide.

We would start each trip by gathering all the customers in a large group, and then the guides would introduce ourselves. From there the customers would pick the guide they wanted for the day’s adventure.

Of the 10 guides, only two of us were Americans, the rest were locals

Our customers were also locals. On a regular basis us Yanks would get more customers wanting to ride with us than the local guides would. One day I asked my boss about this.

The two of us weren’t the best guides, or even the best looking. But truth-be-told, we continually had to turn away customers, sending them to other guides.

My boss told me it was “Because of your accents.”

He said, “You sound different, so the customers think you are better than the local fellows.”

I notice how often I do this myself, thinking new or different will be better. I’m sure that’s one reason I’m so distracted by the latest and greatest technology.

And you? How might this play into your coaching? More importantly, how about your athletes?

Are they bored with you? And if so, how could you change that?


Airport Restrooms, and What They Teach Coaches About RecruitingMonday, October 20th, 2014

As a frequent flyer, I have visited my share of airport restrooms.

It’s one of the worst parts of flying, to be honest.  Bathrooms don’t smell good, they are usually in need to some cleaning, they’re crowded, and sometimes just plain weird (if we ever meet, ask me about the time I walked into a crowded restroom at LAX and saw a man with his shirt off, washing himself and shaving his back. Wow.) They’re also incredibly “utilitarian” – meaning that you’re there to do one thing, and one thing only.  They serve a basic need, and don’t try to venture very far from that basic need.

Unless you travel through the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Restroom attendantWhen you walk into a restroom at CLT, you’re greeted by a smiling attendant like the one I had the pleasure of meeting on a recent trip visiting clients along the East coast.

The bathrooms at Charlotte International are clean.

When you’re ready to wash your hands, you’re often offered a paper towel by the attendant, as well as a small cup of mouthwash or a breath mint.  The whole time, the attendant is usually politely wishing people safe travel, and asking them about their day.

Their tip boxes are usually full, deservedly so.

So, why in the world am I talking about airport bathrooms with college coaches?

Because it’s important that coaches who want to be serious recruiters understand the important mistakes that get made on a regular basis.  And, because the similarities between your run-of-the-mill airport bathroom, and the challenge you have in separating yourself from your recruiting competition, are many.

  • Most airport bathrooms look the same. So do most campus recruiting visits.
  • Most airport bathrooms make you notice what’s wrong with them instead of what’s right with them.  So do most recruiting messages you send to student-athletes.
  • Most airport bathrooms are dull, making you want to do what you need to do and then get out.  That’s how most prospects treat your recruiting phone calls.
  • Most airport bathrooms are a necessary evil for an airline traveler. So is the closing process through the eyes of a prospect and his or her parents, as a coach is either pressuring them to make a commitment before they’re ready or not adequately outlining what the prospect should do down the stretch.

Now, what you might be expecting at this point is a list of what you should do next.  You might be hoping to see a series of tips that have worked for other coaches, guaranteed to work no matter what campus you’re coaching at or how well your team did last year.

Sorry, that’s not the point of this article.

I want you to ask yourself, or have a conversation with your coaching staff or athletic department, some important questions about how you are executing your recruiting plan:

  • Ask yourself about your campus visits, whether they’re unofficial or official (and by the way, as early as recruiting is getting, your unofficial visit really might be your official visit!). Do you know the worst thing your visit experience can offer a visiting recruit and his or her family?  The exact same thing the last two visits they went on offered. If your current visit looks, sounds and feels like the visit you went on as a college prospect waaaay back when, then that’s a problem.
  • Ask yourself about the recruiting messages that you’re putting into the hands of your recruits.  Specifically, ask the questions that I’ll bet you’ve never ever really sat and thought about: “What are my recruits saying about my message right now?” And after you’re done answering that question, “Did that message prove to him or her that my program should be the obvious choice when it’s all said and done?”  Your answers are important, because just like that airport bathroom, your prospect is hyper aware of what’s wrong with you instead of what’s right with you.
  • Ask yourself how you’re making your recruit desperate to pick up the phone the next time you call.  Because, quite honestly, that’s what recruiting calls are all about: Getting them to pick up the next time you call them! What about your phone calls are so unique, so interesting, and so compelling that your recruits are looking forward to the next time you call?  And if you can’t come up with anything, what are some non-traditional, slightly off-the-wall ideas that you can use to separate yourself from other recruiting phone calls your recruits are getting.  Just like one airport taking the unique step to staffing their busy restrooms with friendly attendants, mouthwash and breath mints, you can find unique ways to approach your recruits creatively – if you’re willing to take a fresh look at the way you do things, and not be afraid to do things that aren’t the traditional way you’ve done them before.
  • Ask yourself how well you guide your prospect (and his or her parents) through the process of making a final decision.  Are you willing to be involved in that conversation, or are you too timid to lead that discussion?  Are you willing to help them through the decision making process, or are you simply going to set a deadline and leave it at that?  Are you comfortable in leading a closing discussion – the ultimate necessary evil in the recruiting process – with your prospects, Coach?

Those four questions, along with your four answers, are some of the cornerstone philosophies that you need to define for yourself if you’re going to become a serious, consistent and successful recruiter.  The easy thing to do is not spend a small part of your day coming up with great answers to those four important questions.  Do the hard thing, Coach…fight hard to not settle for ordinary in a world of recruiting approaches that all look the same.

Want more great ideas on how to stand out from the crowd? We’ve written several popular recruiting workbooks that have helped coaches all over the country re-define their approach and become more successful recruiters.  Click here to order your copies today, Coach!

Teaching Your Prospects to Read the Greens BetterMonday, July 14th, 2014

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

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