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.
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?
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.
When 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.
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:
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!
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.
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 email@example.com and ask about becoming part of the Total Recruiting Solution client program.
by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator
In 1937 a concept was published that has been discussed, dissected and disseminated in every conceivable way across every possible industry. Thought leaders, CEOs, managers, coaches, you name any type of leader and they have used this concept in an inspirational speech along the way to their team and employees.
As it usually happens, if you believe and look hard enough, life imitates art in a way that leaves us with indistinguishable knowledge that the 77 year old concept is was then and is now – real. The basic concept of the book Think And Grow Rich was……..
If you have a belief and a passion that is strong enough and you surround yourself with like-minded, passionate people – regardless of how many failures you have – success is inevitable!!
Well, it seems that a group of Hymenopus Coronatus decided to read the book and incorporate that same philosophy in the Amazon jungle. The Orchid Mantis has made evolutionary changes to mimic flowers in the jungle for camouflage. This puts itself in a much better position for success in hunting for food. A study conducted by scientists James O’Hanlon and Marie Herberstein of Macquarie University in Australia shows the Orchid Mantis actually attracted MORE insects than the actual flower it was mimicking.
The interesting part is the strategy the Orchid Mantis implements is different from most other camouflaging predators. They are out in the open, out in front on the flower and are not sitting back in the vegetation hiding, waiting for insects to come by via happenstance. This is a really important shift because so many people wanting to succeed go at it from the comfort of the camouflage back in the vegetation and wonder why someone else is having so much more success.
The Orchid Mantis has proven the real secret is not keeping your desire, goals, dreams and passion hidden in the backdrop. The lesson is to mimic those who came before you, even if it requires a massive change in your personal paradigm! If you attempt to feed on the left-overs of the Orchid Mantis from back in the shadows – that is exactly what you will get, the scraps and leftovers, if there are any.
When you have the opportunity to follow something or someone that has been successful in what it is you are attempting to be successful at, latch on and do what they did. Get out front and commit 100% to doing exactly what “that guy” did because he was a national champion, made it to the league, coached a national championship team or whatever.
The biggest question is this – as a coach, will you evaluate your program honestly? When you discover what needs to be changed, are you willing to make an evolutionary change to create enormous success in your program? Are you willing to learn from the Orchid Mantis (and all of the others doing the same thing) to bring absolute success to your team?
I had the chance to be in the crowd at the 2014 NCAA women’s basketball national championship game, where the UConn Huskies won the title and completed a perfect season.
At the center of the celebration was their longtime coach, Geno Auriemma. Fans of women’s basketball seem to either love him or hate him (proportionally, I’m guessing, based on how close you live to Storrs, Connecticutt). However, no matter which side you land on, you have to admire what he has built through recruiting and coaching.
But what I want to focus on has nothing to do with how well his Huskies played against a previously undefeated Notre Dame team.
It’s actually something I heard their talented center, Breanna Stewart talk about in front of their cheering fans as they were being presented with their championship trophy. She was asked about how Coach Auriemma convinced them that “the pressure of going after perfection was fun.”
“This season we wanted to chase perfection, and we did that,” said Stewart, the 2014 Women’s Final Four MVP.
Added senior center Stefanie Dolson: “Everyone said we had a lot of pressure on our backs but we didn’t. We went in there having fun. We were loose and playing great.”
For me, this was the big story that not enough people are talking about – and not enough coaches are trying to emulate.
Coach Auriemma has put into practice an idea we’ve advocated for several years, based on our research and focus group studies with prospects and current college student-athletes:
Today’s athlete needs (and wants) to know how to think about ideas and facts you may be presenting them.
That doesn’t mean their not smart. They are. And, it doesn’t mean that they are ripe to be manipulated or tricked into playing for another coach (well, most of the time anyway).
What it does mean is that they need help defining how to think about an idea that you are trying to present them, whether that’s when you are recruiting them or when you are coaching them.
Let’s rewind to Breanna Stewart’s comments that I listened to at the Final Four. To paraphrase, she recalled how Coach Auriemma starting talking to the team about how fun they were going to have trying to chase perfection and win a national championship. And, that the pressure and incredibly hard work that it was going to take to achieve that goal should be…wait for it….”fun”.
In short, he took a concept with a lot of potential negativity tied to it – hard work, sacrifice, pressure – and declared it to be “fun”. And, as most teenagers and young adults tend to do, his team listened to what he was saying and decided to believe it.
Understand, they had the choice to look at it as a negative. Truthfully, most coaches and student-athletes are going to choose to take that approach. As humans, we tend to look at the worst possible outcome for a particular situation, not the best. What happens when you are told something contrary, and buy-in to a coach’s vision and enthusiasm? You win national championships.
Again, here’s what Coach Auriemma did:
Your words and ideas are powerful. What you tell your recruits, your team, your assistant coach, your head coach, and your athletic director, about how to view a situation is key to making it through that potential negative situation.
What kind of situations or obstacles are needing your defining (or re-defining)? It might be your team’s record, your facility, your college’s location, the challenge of trying to win a conference title, the challenge of winning your first conference match in two years, the challenge of recruiting your best class ever, or why the new offense you are installing this next season is going to be the key to turning everything around.
Whatever it is, your team is listening to you. What exactly are you telling them?
by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
“Begin With The End In Mind” – Stephen R. Covey
My youngest son is great at creating Lego masterpieces. One day I asked him how he did it …
“I see myself as this tiny Lego guy, floating in space, see. Suddenly, I’m in my new Lego creation. I ask myself ‘How does the Lego make me feel? What can I hear? How does it smell? What is the view?’ I feel all those things. I take those answers. Then I get on it and build the Lego.”
It would be easy to dismiss this as a kid’s imagination-run-amok. To do so would miss a sneaky advantage for your coaching.
DOWN WITH GOALS
Not long ago I would get tied up with goal setting.
At the start of a season I’d think,
Okay, what’s a goal, we want? Hm, let’s win the Conference. Fine.
And from there I would make that a goal and then figure out how to make it happen. But I learned over the years that was a doomed plan for several reasons:
So I don’t do that any more.
I use experience-coaching instead.
UP WITH THE EXPERIENCE
Experience-coaching is not goal-setting. Goals happen when you have achieved something like – I’m going to win a medal at Sochi!
Admirable, but experience-coaching works differently.
Experience the end, and then I build to get to there.
See, experience-coaching is about the intrinsic (experience) rather than the extrinsic (achievement). The difference is subtle … so small it is easy to miss. Yet so powerful it could knock your socks off.
PEOPLE WANT THE EXPERIENCE
Today, more than ever, people want the experience.
Shoot, we now EXPECT the experience.
The coach who can deliver the experience is the one who will be positively and warmly remembered. And to help you be THAT COACH, you need to zone right in on the experience.
Here’s me …
I imagine my team at the last contest of the year. They are happy. Smiles all around. They hug each other and high five. Parents are happy. Things are good. It’s a very positive experience.
Then I question:
What’s it going to take to make that experience happen?
Obviously it had something to do with how well they performed. But that is just one small part of the equation.
Then I work backwards to build that experience, one-part-at-a-time. And this is the tricky-smart-beautiful part. So much of that building impacts what I do today.
For instance, for the parents to be there they will need to know the date and time of the event. That means communications from me. For that to work, I need to have a way to communicate with them, and I need to build that now (such as collect their email addresses.) So that goes on the to-do list.
Then, for the athletes not to be hungry, we need food. Maybe we need to bring it, and that means buying it, which means money. So, do I have to do check request, or buy it with a credit card? Who’s card? Another to-do-lister.
That continues until every aspect of the experience is planned, and before you know it my to-do-list is stuffed.
QUIETING THE ECHO CHAMBER
Like all coaches, regardless of the level or the sport, there is pressure to win. Internal pressure especially. I hate that part of coaching, which is one of the big advantages, for me, of using experience-coaching.
Simply, it quiets the noise in my Echo Chamber. Stuff like, “What if we don’t win?”
Instead, when those rustlings arise (and they do) I focus on creating the experience. That distracts me from the gnash of the contest outcome. It also gives me an action plan to focus on.
This may all sound like ramblings of an old coach well into his bozo years. I get that. And I can’t say this would work for any other coach.
But I will say, “Ya won’t know until you try.”
Worth a shot?
Dr. Mike Davenport is a longtime college coach and the man behind the popular website CoachingSportsToday.com. He is a regular contributor to College Recruiting Weekly.
The headline you can take away from the Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos was how Seattle’s defense managed to shut-down the Broncos high flying offense, leading to one of the biggest championship routs in the history of the big game.
It wasn’t through brute force. And it wasn’t from stopping a last-minute drive at the end of the game for a lucky win.
No, the big news was that the Seattle defense was able to crack the code of Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning’s vaunted hand signals – the same secret code that lead Denver to the becoming one of the best offensive powers during the 2013 NFL regular season. Here’s what Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman said after the game:
“All we did was play situational football,” Sherman said after the game. “We knew what route concepts they liked on different downs, so we jumped all the routes. Then we figured out the hand signals for a few of the route audibles in the first half. Me and my he other guys in the secondary… we’re not just three All-Pro players. We’re three All-Pro minds. Now, if Peyton had thrown in some double moves, if he had gone out of character, we could’ve been exposed.”
So, what does all this have to do with recruiting your next college prospect? Simple:
I want you to start stealing their hand signals.
They give them all the time, and yet sometimes coaches miss them. I want to outline a few of the big signals you should be looking for, and de-code them for you so that you can get a better idea of how these recruits (and their parents…and their coaches) try to give you a head-fake in the big game of recruiting:
That’s not an exhaustive list, of course, but chances are you’re dealing with a prospect or two that are signaling what’s really going on behind the scenes. Your job as a coach is to read what they’re signaling, interpret it, and then act on it. It’s a crucial part of the job if you’re aiming to be a high-level, successful college recruiter.
No go out there and play the big game in recruiting the way we all know you can.
Want more innovative approaches that will help you become a dominant recruiter? You need to be at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this June. It’s the greatest weekend on earth for serious recruiters who want to make sure they use the latest techniques and approaches with this next class of recruits. Get all of the details here.
The night of Christmas Eve, lots of little kids are full of anticipation.
The thought of toys under the tree, some extra sugar in their bellies, and just the overall fun and excitement of what the holidays brings is almost too much for them to handle. If you doubt me, I’ll let you talk to the 7-year old boy in our house who has spent the last week trying (and failing) to guess what’s under the wrapping paper in those boxes under the tree with his name on them.
What many coaches miss in that scene being repeated in homes around the country is the incredible power of that anticipation, and how it changes the emotions, thinking and general outlook kids who can’t wait for Christmas morning. More specifically, many coaches miss the lesson that they can take away and apply to their recruiting efforts.
The reason we talk about the importance of creating a “feeling” in the story that you tell your recruits is because they rely on those powerful emotions to make their final decision much of the time. You and I can agree that this isn’t always the smartest way to choose a college or program, but there’s little doubt that it occurs on a regular basis in the recruiting process – at least according to our research.
So as a serious recruiter looking to connect with a prospect you really want, shouldn’t you want to create the same energy and excitement around your contact with a recruit, as well as how they view your program emotionally while making their final decision? If so, building anticipation – and understanding the components of why it’s such a powerful force – should be something that you aim to do in your recruiting message.
Here’s how you do it:
One more thing:
Since we’re building-out these concepts using the excitement of presents under the tree during Christmas and the holidays, think about what happens after they open the presents. There’s an almost immediate “crash”. The anticipation and excitement is gone, and all that’s left is a pile of toys, the hand-knit underwear their Aunt Edna sent them, and wrapping paper strewn all over the place. The energy is gone – as is that valuable anticipation.
If you’re a parent, watch what happens Christmas morning after the presents are all opened. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
The point I’m making is that you need to anticipate that, Coach. That means after they visit campus, for example, you need to anticipate that they will need a clear picture of what the next step in your process is in order to maintain their focus and excitement about the idea of competing for you. My personal observation is that coaches tend to take an optimistic view of their recruit, picturing that with each step they take in the recruiting process he or she becomes more and more excited, and naturally wants to talk more about competing for you. In the majority of cases, I find that the opposite is true: The anticipated is now the familiar, and they’ll search out a new source of anticipation and excitement in the form of another program (remember that recruit who got spotted late by a competitor and rushed through the process to commit with them?…That’s a prime example of a kid continuing to look for anticipation and excitement in the form of another program).
Your job, Coach, is to put a focus on managing the experience and continuing to build that anticipation in your recruits’ mind. In trying to show them why you are the smart choice, it is also your job to get them to “stop believing in Santa”, to a large extent. If you can master that art, you’ll solve a key riddle when it comes to how to ride that wave of anticipation in the recruiting process.
After the holidays comes New Years, and with New Years comes resolutions! If you are focused on developing a more research-based, strategic approach to the recruiting process, talk to Dan Tudor and his team. To get an overview of how the process works, and what they do when they work with a coaching staff as clients, click here. Or, contact Dan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org