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When To Make Fields Required On Your Recruiting QuestionnaireMonday, March 6th, 2017

neal_headshot_dantudorNeal Cook, Front Rush

As a coach, you have many ways of acquiring and storing data from your recruits.

One of the more popular, and effective ways of obtaining a recruit’s information is via a questionnaire that is placed on your athletic website. Once the recruit fills out that questionnaire, they are automatically stored in the proper database so you have access to this information and can start recruiting the athlete.

If you go to your school’s athletic website, click on your sport, and find your recruiting questionnaire, this submitted form is winding up in one of two places:

  1. Your Recruiting Database for the sports software you use (i.e Front Rush)
  2. Your Admissions Database, which your admissions department uses to facilitate the recruits info to you

Now to the form itself. Let’s take it back a few years, before computers, when you had to fill out a paper form with a pen or pencil (as a 28-year-old, I do have a faint memory of such times).

With a paper form, it’s possible that a form-filler (your recruit) could turn the form into you without filling out all of the fields. Since there’s no way of forcing a recruit to fill out every single field, unless you know some magic I’m unaware of, it’s possible the recruit could leave some important fields empty. There was, however, an unspoken understanding that if a question was asked, you’d be best to fill it in.

Then came along the internet which allowed form-fillers (your recruits) to fill out forms digitally instead of manually.

With digital forms, you have the ability to make certain fields required/mandatory, so when the user clicks ‘submit’ they would be unable to proceed unless the required fields are filled in.

You’ve seen these required fields (usually marked with red * symbol) when you sign up for a website or place an order online. It makes sense. If you are ordering a new pair of shoes from Zappos, you should be required to enter your shipping details and payment information before the order goes through.

The same rules apply for your athletic recruiting questionnaire. As a coach, and a Front Rush user (OK, maybe you use one of our competitors, but we still love you), you have full control of the required fields on your questionnaire.

By default, Front Rush only requires First Name and Last Name on your form. Meaning, a recruit could technically only put in their First and Last Name and press ‘submit’ and the form would go through to you.

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 5.18.09 PM

Recruits, and humans, in general, are pretty savvy and they realize that just giving you their name would be pointless. You can’t do anything with just their name. Add the fact that recruits are trying to get YOU to contact them, and this results in recruits giving you plenty of data points that will help you research them and contact them (name, email, address, grad year, high school, position, gpa, video links, etc.).

Still, as a coach, you can take measures to ensure that you have the minimum info on a recruit so that you, or your admissions office, can contact them.

All you need to do is contact our Front Rush support team and let us know which fields you’d like to make mandatory for your recruit questionnaire, and we can make those fields required.

If you are a Front Rush school that uses our Admissions package to pass recruits automatically back and forth between Admissions, you’ll notice there are certain required fields on your recruit questionnaire. The fields that are typically required are: First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Home Address 1, City, State, Zip and Graduation Year.

Admissions offices need these fields in order for them to start recruiting your recruits academically and pass their enrollment info back into Front Rush.

Even if you are not using our Admissions package, you can still make those fields mandatory on your questionnaire so that you send emails out of Front Rush, create mailings labels via an Export, etc.

Besides contact information fields. You can make your academic fields mandatory (high school name, GPA, SAT scores) or athletic fields (position, club team name, club coaches name, video link).

However, there is research that shows that form-fillers may be more inclined to ONLY fill out the required fields on your form, omitting the optional fields that are also important, but not required.

My recommendation would be to make sure the recruits necessary contact info (name, email, address, cell phone number) are required, along with some academic and athletic info (grad year, high school, position, club team name), that is important to you. If your school takes academics very highly in applications, you may want to think of requiring more academic info. Likewise, if you are very select in the recruits you contact, you may wish to make more athletic fields required.

A Game Changing Mindset For Your ProgramMonday, March 21st, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies 

The late Steven Covey, who wrote the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has done a lot of research on your work mindset.  He says that most people have one of 2 mindsets when it comes to dealing with work: urgency or importance.  Whether you’re operating from a mindset of urgency or a mindset of importance, it will profoundly affect your coaching life.  

When you react to the urgent – you tend to stop what you are doing to do the things that are right in front of us and seem to “need” our immediate attention.  

Or you can act on the important – which means you take the proactive initiative to determine what the right things are and to take action on them.   

I know for me, when I get sucked into the urgency mindset when I am in the office, I tend to keep my inbox open and my phone is on and as I get work done, it seems that my brain is just hovering, waiting.  The email chimes, the phone rings, or a text message beeps.  There’s something new!  Somebody wants me!  I’ve got to respond!

You get a dopamine hit, right, and in time you become dependent on the rush and excitement.  Like Pavlov’s famous dogs that were conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell, we, too have been conditioned.  Can you relate coach?  

And if you’re like most coaches you get a dozen of these little interruptions every hour—do the math, you literally can’t focus on one thing for more than 5 minutes.

There is just no way to get significant work done that will move your program forward when you can only focus for short spurts.

My tip today for getting out of the urgency mindset is to close your inbox and don’t use it as your to-do list.  

These are the 4 things that I find happened when you keep your email open all day:

  1. You are letting somebody else dictate your priorities.  I’ve heard it said a lot that the email inbox is just an organizing system for other people’s agenda.  
  2. Basically, somebody else can control your day just by sending you a bunch of emails.  
  3. As you are checking your to-do list (your inbox), other messages come in to demand your attention, and you’re always distracted.
  4. Your inbox organizes your emails in chronological order making it virtually impossible to have a prioritized to-do list.

The key to true productivity is not to get a lot of other people’s requests done, but to get the right things done—the important things.

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage-pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically—to say no to other things.    

I don’t know that it is possible to do this all day, but find a few blocks of time where all you do is work on your important stuff.  You might find this hard at first.  I did.  At the time, I just couldn’t quite get ahead in anything I was doing and felt busy all the time.  It wasn’t until I changed my mindset, turned off my email for parts of the day, and spent larger chunks of time working on important things that I really was able to make significant progress on turning the program I am at around.  Try it.  Then email me and let me know how it goes ☺ mandy@mandygreencps.com.   

 

How Do I Get Athletes To Respond To My Emails?Monday, February 29th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I hit “Send Message” and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

My head began to spin … I muttered, “What’s wrong with these athletes — why don’t they respond?”

  • Do they hate me?
  • Have they quit?
  • Were they kidnapped?
  • Are they conspiring against me?

Nothing but silence. Argh …

You’ve probably had the same experience

Many coaches asked, “how do I get athletes to respond to emails,” in my digital impact survey. It’s something that annoys a lot coaches — not just me.

Here’s the good thing…its an issue WE can do something about.

Here’s the bad thing…WE are probably the problem.

It’s a generational thing

If you coach high-school or college athletes, then you coach a very special generation — the “Millennials.” Born between 1984-2002 (there’s no agreement on these actual dates) they are the first generation of digital natives. Their lives have always had computers and email and quick communications.

They are comfortable around different platforms and quick exchanges. And drumroll please … THEY prefer YOU communicate with them on THEIR terms.

And if you don’t communicate their way, then you’re not going to get an answer.

As I found out.

So, How Do You Get Responses?

Here’s a few questions to consider:

  • Do YOU have to communicate by email?
  • Are YOU open to trying other methods?
  • Have you discussed with your athletes what method THEY prefer?

Hold onto your answers for a moment.

Y’see, the email thing drove me nuts. Then I realized that I can get a timely response, if I did a little tweaking.

So I tweaked and here’s what I did.

A) I meet them where they are. This generation values the right tool for the right job. Email might have worked for me — but it did not work for them. Which means it no longer worked for me … right?

So I asked what they used, and then starting using it.

To reach my team quickly, it’s GroupMe.
To reach individuals fast it’s SMS (texting).
For info to be digested later, its email.
Phones hardly get answered.

That’s what they prefer. I didn’t. They did. So now I do.

I look at it this way — who wins if I were to take a stand and demand they use email? Not me. And not the team.

Yet, there are times when I HAVE to send email.

B) I send only necessary emails. When I HAVE to send an email (say, an important message from the College needing action) I’ll forward that to the athletes. And I’ll send along a group text prompting them to answer the email. I don’t send wasted emails such as “I appreciate that …” or “no worries”, because those get in the way.

Also, I …

C) Set their expectations. I told the team we will need to communicate for many reasons (schedule changes, emergencies, organizational issues, etc.). So they knew I was going to send them emails to respond to. Usually no more than once a week. And they let me know they get a lot of email so if there was something that I had to send by email,

I needed to …

D) Use the subject lines smartly. When sending an email that needed a response, I am specific in the subject line. If I need an immediate response, I’ll put [Immediate Response Need]. If it’s a mission critical missive that doesn’t need a response, I’ll put in the subject line [Read NOW, no response needed].

Another tweak to my system that helps my emails get through is I …

E) Set a time. We often have practice time changes due to weather. Our team knows that by 3:30 pm each day I’ll send out an email with any changes. So they know to check their email by then.

I also …

F) Set a date. Every Sunday night I send an email to the team that outlines the schedule for the upcoming week. Here’s a sample:

02-28-16 - this week example

It’s not live-rocket-surgery, or original (I borrowed it from a neighbor-coach), but it works.

Another tweak I’ve done is …

G) I try to be the example. There are times when the athletes send me an email. For instance, a recommendation request to be a peer mentor. As soon as that arrives I do my best to be the example of how I want them to act.

I’ll send a brief email to the athlete along the lines of, “I just got your request, and will get to it as soon as my schedule allows.” After I’ve completed the form, I let the athlete know, by email, it’s completed. All the while acting like I want them to act.

I also let the team know that I …

H) Learn and try new tools. This is an important step. Hotter & Grant reported, “Millennials are comfortable in a digital world where improvement is continuous and learning happens all the time. In fact, they are a little puzzled that [others] do not have the same emphasis on learning and development.” This was in their book, When Millennials Take Over.

By trying to learn a new method of communicating, I’m showing the athletes that I’m trying to meet them where they are. And for this generation, that’s important.

Try This For YOU!

Try just one of those actions and see if after a week or two, you don’t get a bit more responses. They have helped my emails get through and improved my response rate. But I know if I need a quick responses I don’t count on email.

— — —

Is this something you struggle with? Do you have other suggestions you could share? I’d love to know what works and what doesn’t. It’s how we all get better.

There’s a great week ahead for you. Enjoy it!

⁃ Mike
PS: Speaking of helping us get better, I’m working on my next book, Coaching Sports In A Digital World (working title). Here’s the thing, I’m looking for coaches who have a story or tweak they’d like to share. If you’re interested, you can drop me an email by clicking right here. (I’ll respond, promise). Who knows, you might just end up in a book ; )

And my recent book, Build Your Team, will be back from the editors shortly. It will be sold through Amazon but you can get a copy for no cost by clicking right here. (And if you’ve completed the survey, your copy will be coming PDQ)

Either or both steps could help us all get better. Thanks.

Are There Enough Nouns in YOUR Recruiting Message?Monday, December 7th, 2015

VotersMany college coaches don’t appreciate the need for using the right language in their recruiting messages to their teenage prospects, but politicians sure do.

There may be no other endeavor in the world more centered on the right language, used at the right time, in order to elicit a specific action. Regardless of party, politicians make word study a hallmark of a successful campaign.

For college coaches who are serious about being successful recruiters, the lessons in language should be a priority.

At the heart of that language focus is which type of word elicits the most positive reaction from voters in the world of politics. Recent studies highlight the need for a noun-based, versus a verb-based language approach, to reach the best results:

The study shows that people’s desire to shape their own identities can be harnessed to motivate behavior. That is, using noun-based wording to frame socially valued future behavior allows individuals, by performing the behavior, to assume the identity of a worthy person.

That should be a strong warning to college coaches, and force some serious reflection on how their individual letters, emails and social media posts, and even the questions they ask their recruits on the phone are constructed.

Think about it: Do you, as a recruiter, want your prospect to think about their self-identity? Or, do you want them to think about their behavior. As the voter study proves, savvy political candidates will focus on nouns and get their targeted audience motivated to take action. As a college recruiter, you should take the same approach.

Nouns beat verbs.  But, as we’ve outlined before, verbs beat adjectives.

Why?

Nouns paint a picture of who the person is. Action is important, and verbs are all about action. But for your recruits, simply prompting action isn’t enough to gain a long term commitment. As we outline in our popular recruiting guides for college coaches, your job as a top-tier recruiter is to get them to understand who you are, and what your program is all about, thereby creating the attraction to your program. In other words, the nouns identify who you are as a coach, thereby prompting a recruit’s actions.

Verbs are about doing, nouns are descriptive. There are certainly times to use verbs in your recruiting message. Absolutely. Especially when your goal is to elicit a specific response or action. But you can’t do that too soon, or too often. If you’re describing your program as one that’s “going places”, “on the rise”, or that you want to “build your program around them”, it may seem too fast, too soon. When you focus on verbs, you’d better be darn sure that your recruit is ready to ‘move’ in that same direction with you – or else you risk leaving them behind in the dust.

Your recruits want to know who you are. That requires nouns. Many coaches, when we begin working with them as new clients, are so focused on getting a recruit to campus, or getting them to apply, or just getting them to return a phone call, that everything is focused on action. What we have found in our research is that most prospects take time to ramp-up to that point where they are interested in taking any kind of action. What gets them to that point? Understand who you are, and that they want to associate themselves with you. To achieve that, you’re probably going to need to use nouns.

In a sense, this language strategy focus on appealing to the insecurities of your prospect. Use nouns instead of verbs to get your recruits to change their behavior, eventually prompting the action you’re seeking. People, like your recruits and their parents, think about their self-identities when they hear nouns. When they hear verbs, they think of behavior.

Nouns win, Coach.

It’s well worth your time to review what kind of language your messages contain, and what needs to be changed right away in order to get more desirable results from your recruits

Does the idea of using more scientific, results-oriented language as a part of a consistent, comprehensive recruiting plan sound like something you would like to do (but you really don’t want to take the time to figure out how to do it so it works for your program)? Let’s talk. We can explain why our decade of experience has lead us to uncover specific language that can elicit the right response from your recruits, and tell you how we can create a customized plan specifically for your prospects. Email dan@dantudor.com and we’ll get you information and set up a time to talk one-on-one about your specific situation and challenges. It’s worked for programs around the country, and it can work for you, too.

Fast Food Menu Mayhem and Your Recruiting MessageMonday, December 22nd, 2014

It hurts your eyes, doesn’t it?

It’s a visual overload.  This fast food restaurant near my home town doesn’t know when to say when, when it comes to their menu.

They’ve used every available square inch of their available frontage to show nearly everything on their menu.  From Philly Cheesesteak, to the Shrimp Basket Dinner, to Drinks with Crushed Ice, to Cones, to Burgers…it’s an avalanche of fried food mayhem.

Unfortunately, it resembles the approach that many college coaches take with their messages out to recruits, especially the messages at the start of the recruiting process.  I’ve reviewed letters that cover everything from the number of majors their school offers, to the acreage of the campus, to the conference they play in (and that’s just in the first two paragraphs).  I’ve reviewed emails from coaches that bounce from subject to subject without any kind of connection.  I’ve listened in on phone calls that cover every topic under the sun on the first conversation.

In short, it looks quite a bit like this fast food message: A frantic, unfocused plea to like something about what’s being offered, even though it’s difficult to understand exactly what the specialty of that particular restaurant might be (other than frying stuff).

We’ve covered this topic before, of course.  But let me give you some added ideas on what your prospects want from your initial messages – and how to make sure it comes across both loudly, and clearly:

  • If possible, tell them where you saw them or how you found out about them.  This seemingly obvious idea is mostly ignored by college coaches when they first reach out to a recruit.  And yet, recruits tell us it’s one of the easiest ways for them to determine that you are serious about them initially.  It gives them context for why you are reaching out to them, and – most importantly – why they should take the time to reply back to you.
  • If possible, tell them what you like about them.  I say “if possible” for these top two recommendations because I realize that sometimes you are recruiting from a list, or from a reputable recruiting database, and may not have detailed scouting notes in front of you when you reach out to your new prospect.  However, if you do, use those notes.  Be specific about two or three positives that you saw from their performance and from their information.  It’s another important way to tell them that they are uniquely qualified, in your eyes, to be considered for your program.  When coaches are able to include these first two points in their initial messages, it increases replies by almost a 3-to-1 margin versus a more generic, non-specific message.
  • Less is more.  In your initial message, the worst thing you can do is explain everything about your college, your program, and your team.  If you want a response from your prospect, that is.  That’s because our research clearly shows that recruits are most apt to respond out of curiosity instead of information.  Be short, to the point, and leave room for their curiosity to take over.
  • Be clear about what you want them to do next.  And, narrow it down to just one thing.  Make it simple (“reply back to my email before Friday”) versus complicated and time-intensive (“fill out our online questionnaire”).  At the beginning of your communication with a prospect, your goal is a conversation, not a conversion.  Aim to get a back-and-forth conversation going, and let the relationship (and their interest) build from there.
  • Pick one main theme, and build your reputation around it.  Do you ever notice that the great restaurants in your area usually focus on one thing that is done very, very well?  The great Italian restaurant…the amazing seafood restaurant…there is always a single focus to their greatness.  There’s a simplicity to it all.  That is what more college coaches need to do: Pick one big idea that can gain the initial interest from a recruit, and build around it as the relationship grows.  It could be your area, your academic prowess, the three straight conference championships that your team has won.  Whatever it is, pick one thing and start there with your story.  As time the conversation grows with your recruit, you’ll have time to get into the rest of what’s great about your college.  But be patient, and don’t overload them with information right at the start.

You’ll notice in the picture of the restaurant above that some people are still going in to eat, despite the signage outside.  It’s on a busy corner, so it’s almost impossible not to get people coming in to eat just by virtue of where it’s located.  And, those people wandering in will probably leave feeling full. (Maybe even a little bloated).

But does the business stand out?  Does the menu get talked about?  Does the restaurant become a destination?  Not likely.

You’re probably always going to be able to fill-out a roster and field a team.  But without a clear message to your recruits, it’s going to be nearly impossible to bring in the difference makers that most college coaches crave.

Looking for help with developing a clearer, more focused messages to your recruits? Dan Tudor and the staff at Tudor Collegiate Strategies works with college coaches and their programs around the country on a personalized basis.  To discuss your situation and how the program would work with you, email Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com. 

Make Sure Recruits Are Getting Your EmailsSunday, June 22nd, 2014

by Sean Devlin, FrontRush

When bulk emailing recruits through your recruiting software, bulk email provider, etc. we always recommend using your school email address. Logically it makes sense because if a recruit gets an email from a yahoo, aol, or gmail, address, it loses its pizazz and impact when compared to the sacred .edu or school address assigned to most coaches. Before this was a recommendation, but now it is a requirement. You see…recently yahoo/aol (and others following suit) decided to change their sending policy. If a 3rd party email provider (like your recruiting software) sends email on your behalf using your yahoo/aol account, those emails are automatically blocked/bounced. They won’t even show up in spam. They just don’t make it. They are flat out rejected.

For some this is a real issue. We see many coaches sending bulk emails for summer camps using their non-school address and many non-full-time coaches using non-school addresses (deliberate attempt to use non many times). But if you do that now, there is an excellent chance of failure. So what do we recommend?

Well, if you use godaddy or a similar service…for a couple bucks a month…you can buy a domain like StateUniversitySoccer.com and get the corresponding email account to go with it (coachsmith@StateUniversitySoccer.com). This way, you can send emails safely AND have the brand to go with it AND not break your budget.

Speaking of time saving tools, Front Rush is the best of the best.  If you’re a serious recruiter, this is one tool you don’t want to be without.  Click here for the low-down on this incredible resource used by thousands of coaches around the country.

 

Create The Ideal Work EnvironmentSaturday, May 31st, 2014

by Mandy Green, Head Women’s Soccer Coach, The University of South Dakota

You know the phrase “being in the zone”?  It is mostly used for athletes to describe the optimal state of consciousness where they feel and preform at their best.  From the research I have done, I found getting into “the zone” isn’t just for athletes and is arguably the most perfect state to work from.

Have you had the experience where one minute you’ve finished lunch, started to work on a project and the next minute it’s 7 pm and you have no idea where the time went? It is the mental state where we are so focused and engaged with what we are doing, we produce our greatest results and peak performance happens.

Unfortunately, most coaches have a hard time getting there because they are so distracted by the emails coming in, social media, and all of the interruptions they get.

I know I can’t just show up and expect it to happen.  It certainly isn’t going to happen if I am jumping from one task to the next every 3 minutes because I am so easily distracted.   Ultimately, there is a way to get a lot of work done in a shorter amount of time, but to do it, I need to be intentional and strategic about creating an environment where I can create total focus, void of distractions.

I’m going to recommend some ways you can get in the work zone to get more quality work done faster and stay there for as long as possible.  As I am going through this, think about your ideal work set up, and if there is maybe something you can change.

When Is My Energy Best?

Emails to my top recruits get done first and are worked on in the morning during a time when I have found my energy and focus are really good. I also get interrupted the least.

Get Up And Move

Before I sit down to write, I get up and move around a little just to get the blood flowing.  I go to the bathroom or run some errands or whatever.  I find that not only does this give me a little jolt of energy, I also have a lot of creative thoughts pop in my head while I am up moving and away from my desk.

Get Everything I Need First

I try and make sure I have all the info I need in one folder. I make sure I have water and my hot chocolate/coffee drink.

Listen To Music

Before I get started, I turn on some music. I have found that for me I get more creative and get into an email flow better when I have music playing in the background versus when it is quiet.

Location

I get my best work done either in my office early in the morning or at home after I have dropped the kids off at daycare.

Eliminate Distractions

I schedule a set hour or hour and a half almost every day to do nothing but recruiting emails.  I shut my door so I don’t get interrupted.  I turn off my auto indicator on Outlook so I am not distracted by new emails coming in. I don’t stop to do other tasks that I remember to do (I write them down on my Master to To-Do list so I get it out of my head but don’t forget to do it), and I turn down the volume on my phone so I don’t hear when a new text message or phone call may come in.  Recruiting emails, that’s it.

I try to eliminate as many distractions as I can so I can concentrate all my attention on exactly one thing and one thing only. To reach the state of flow at work you need to be totally focused at your task and not distracted every 3 minutes.

Getting to the point where I am even doing all of this has taken me a few years’ worth of trial and error.  The set-up doesn’t take me long anymore because I have been gotten into the habit now.  Each step individually helped save some time here and there.  When I do all of these things at once, it is like recruiting email nirvana.   I love it.  I spend a lot less time on my email but I can get so many more emails out.  I am more in control of the recruiting process.  I am not as overwhelmed anymore.  Of course, I still have bad days with it.  But adding more structure to the set-up process of doing recruiting emails has saved a lot of time for me.

Mandy Green has a Coaching Productivity Newsletter that goes out every other Sunday.  This newsletter is for coaches who have an email overload issue.  She shares methods or techniques that she is trying in an effort to process, manage, and keep track of recruiting emails better.  If you are interested in joining in on the conversation or if you have something to share please go to www.mandygreencps.com.  Opt in and she will send you her newsletter every week it goes out and you can get a FREE copy of the chapter in her Green Time Management For Coaches Workbook called Organize Your Recruiting.  

Can Emoticons Improve Your Recruiting?Monday, April 21st, 2014

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Love them or hate them, emoticons (you know the smiley faces like :)) have found their place in common written correspondence and if you choose NOT to use them, you might be at a disadvantage. Experian (CheetahMail) recently did a study showing 56% of brands studied had an improvement in their unique open-rate when using emoticons in their subject line. What?

So when brands send out emails, and put an emoticon in their subject line, they’ve seen more people are opening them. Getting recipients to open emails is a fundamental challenge for marketers, recruiters, coaches, etc. It seems like such an easy task but with the amount of marketing emails the average person gets day to day, finding that niche can be a huge benefit. In the world of college recruiting, no doubt you are running into similar issues. A recruit might get an email from 10 different coaches in a day. So how do you improve the probability that they will open yours? An emoticon might be a potential answer. Fortunately it is simple math. You take whatever subject you were using before and add a 🙂 to the end. Or use any other emoticon that might be fitting. The trick will be testing which work and which don’t.

If you are a purist and have an issue with emoticons, that’s fine. You might argue it dilutes the professionalism of the email and reflects negatively on your institution. That is a fair argument. The balance you have to weigh is whether that matters or not if less people are even reading the email to begin with.

Speaking of time saving tools, Front Rush is the best of the best.  If you’re a serious recruiter, this is one tool you don’t want to be without.  Click here for the low-down on this incredible resource used by thousands of coaches around the country.

6 Big Reasons Why Branded Email Templates Still Matter in RecruitingSaturday, January 4th, 2014

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

So by now, everyone (including your prospects, Coach) has seen, received, or sent a branded email template.

These are the emails that are sent with pictures of the team, links to the school’s websites, images of the coach, and other information we find that recruits like. We wanted to discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of these templates today, and try to give you – as a college coach who may be wondering if those graphic-rich emails are still something smart to send – some insights on how to use them.

Here is the first rule and really the only rule you need to remember:

The content of your email (the stuff that you write) is far more important in obtaining a recruit than whatever pictures, action shots, or links that a branded email template can provide. To clarify…the words that come from your brain and are typed into the email are much more impactful, over time, than the email templates that either you create or that a third party company builds for you.

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. How many recruits have committed to you after the first email that you sent them?  Zero. Recruiting is about relationship building. Its the consistent, ongoing emails, phone calls, and messaging that helps you ‘sell’ the recruit  – not a single email that “wows” them. You should spend more time thinking about the content of the email than thinking about the pictures and action shots of the team that brand it. The action shots of the team provide a specific purpose, but we’ll discuss that in a moment. For now, take a moment and internalize the fact that the content that you write is the most important part of any correspondence with a prospect – and the consistency with which you send it helps establish you firmly in their mind over the long run.

So, what role do branded email templates play in the overall recruiting message?  There are several, and they are important:

(1) It provides your program with a professional appearance especially on an initial email. For a low cost, you can make an impact on a recruit with hand picked action shots and customized branding that is consistent with the visual message that your school/program is attempting to portray.

(2) It allows you to begin the branding process of your school with the recruit. Logos, school colors, imagery, and more will now have an association from the recruit’s perspective (in other words, they know who you are by associating you with those visuals I just mentioned).

(3) It provides a visual call to action or ‘button’ that you want them to click directly from the email and do something for you. This could be to fill out an online questionnaire or visit your athletic page, or another type of call to action you deem appropriate.  Having something to click easily is far easier for a prospect to take action on than text that they will have to decipher.

(4) You can track who is opening your emails.  You can judge their interest level, what links they are clicking, how many times, if they forward it to someone else…and more.  It gives you the ability to gauge the interest of a prospect at various times throughout the process.

(5) They can (and should) compliment the stuff that you wrote in the body of the email. The images (like a picture book) can help to tell a story of your program.

(6) Branded, graphic emails are now considered the norm among recruits.  Most high-level, Division I programs use them.  If you want to be viewed as on the same level as those programs, we have seen it smart to use graphic-rich emails.

There are more advantages than disadvantages in using those branded email templates, Coach.  They are still a big part of the overall recruiting story you should want to tell, and helps you keep track of their interest in you and your program.  Both of those reasons should be important to serious college recruiters.

Sean Devlin is the lead technical architect of the popular contact management database, Front Rush.  Yes, they can help you produce branded, graphic-rich email templates to use with your prospects.  But that’s just the tip of the giant Front Rush iceberg!  Visit Front Rush online for a complete rundown of their awesomeness, and find out why they are the #1 choice of college coaches around the country.

The Incredible Value of Repetition in Your Recruiting MessageMonday, November 25th, 2013

Somewhere on the bottle of shampoo you have in your shower, there is a tried and true line of instruction that was developed decades ago as a way to get consumers to run out of the product sooner, thereby raising profits through the corresponding increased shampoo sales.

“Lather, rinse, repeat.”

When advertising agencies figured out that adding the word “repeat” to the instructions on a shampoo bottle resulted in increased sales, it established a truth that has yet to be proven wrong when it comes to consumer (that’s us) buying habits: There is an ongoing need to repeat actions in order to get results.

The same holds true for things like radio advertising.  If your athletic department buys radio advertising to promote upcoming games or fundraising events, the advertising representatives probably made the case that the ad would need to be aired five to seven times per day. Why?  Because the average radio listener would need to hear that ad at least four or five times before they decided to take action on attending the event.

Think about your own buying habits, Coach.  How many ads or references from friends before you decided on what car to buy?  Or what brand smart phone to use?  Or what shampoo to buy?  I’m guessing it took more than one interaction with an advertising message for you to decide to buy that particular brand.

The moral of the story is pretty simple: Repetition in advertising works.

Which brings us to your recruiting message…

The trend we see most often when it comes to how college coaches tend to communicate with their recruits involves cramming as much information about the college and their program into one email or letter as possible.  That’s the wrong way to do it – and most coaches, deep down, know it.  They just don’t know how to do it differently.

We’ll change that today.

There are several rules we follow when we work with coaches one-on-one as clients in helping them create a consistent, interesting recruiting campaign for their recruits.  Use them to develop your own brand of repetition and consistent messaging for this next recruiting class:

  • Make sure you are communicating foundational, logical facts to your prospect every six to nine days.  Without this first point in place, a coach risks inconsistent recruiting results.  Our research, outlined in our two recruiting guides for college coaches, solidly indicates that when a prospect sees ongoing, regular contact from a coach, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also make the judgement that the coach is interested in them, and values them.  Those feelings are what every coach should want their recruits to feel.
  • If you have negatives associated with your program, or big objections that many prospects bring up in the recruiting process, address it early and often.  Don’t run from it, and don’t wait for them to bring it up (or sit back and hope they don’t bring it up).  Consistent, early discussion about it gives you the chance to re-define that objection.  And, it gives you a greater chance to turn their opinion of you around.  Lather, rinse and definitely repeat, Coach.
  • Short, logical, fact-based repetitive messages.  That’s what your prospect needs in order to get to the point of being able to choose you over your competitors.  Remember that initial recruiting letter I described many coaches sending out?  The one where every little fact about your college and program is crammed into one message?  Don’t do that!  Instead, take one concept and address it from many different angles.  Spend a few weeks talking about one topic, and take your time in repetitively making your point to your recruit.  It works, Coach.
  • Repeat your name and your college name often.  Advertisers have followed this psychological principle for decades.  Why?  Repetition of who you are, and associating that with positive connotations, produces results.  A good example of this principle at work are the commercials for online computer repair giant pcmatic.com – they manage to say their brand name a whopping 16 times in their one minute television commercial, not including the visual references to their name.  Why?  They need people to remember their brand, and associate trust with it.
  • Mix it up.  Your recruiting campaign needs to feature a regular flow of mail, email, phone contact, personal contact (like a home visit and/or campus visit) and social media.  This generation reacts to a good 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.  Our studies show that this generation of athletic recruit wants – and needs – a variety of communication types.
  • Social media is personal. Be careful how you use repeatedly use it.  The shiny new toy for college recruiters that is social media is ripe with possibilities – and pitfalls.  Communicating with them the right way on a consistent basis is one of the best ways to form a personal connection with that recruit.  Social media is very personal for most kids, so doing it the right way means a faster way to connect with those recruits.  On the other hand, a coach who feeds a steady stream of game results and player-0f-the-week press releases will lose the attention of a prospect quickly.  Show the personal, behind-the-scenes personality of you and your program – that’s what recruits are looking for (we’ve designed a free research study on how high school prospects use social media in recruiting, Coach…download it here).

Repetition is one of the least used – and most effective – strategies that a coach can utilize in their recruiting message.  Follow these rules in creating a consistent, ongoing conversation with your recruits and watch what happens when it comes to your results.

Dan and his experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you develop a consistent, research-based message for your recruits. Click here for a detailed explanation of how we do that, or email Dan directly at dan@dantudor.com.

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