Dan Tudor

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Getting Prospects to Reply to Your First Recruiting MessageMonday, February 12th, 2018

What gets you to respond to a text message from someone you don’t know?

What gets you to take a chance on a new restaurant you’ve heard about near campus?

Why do you engage with a stranger who comes up to you and asks for directions?

And, why do those cheesy informercials offer you two of their product at the end of their pitch, instead of just one?

All of the answers to those questions relate directly to the simple things any coach can do if they want to increase their response rates with their initial recruiting messages that they send to their recruits.

In each of the every day examples I just outlined, there are two critical elements: An interaction, and a response. Those same to critical elements exist with every first recruiting message that a coach send out to a new recruit. And yet, a coach usually breaks the rules that his or her marketing counterparts follows almost religiously. If you want to get more responses from your initial batch of new recruits, do the same things that each one of the people in those examples do.

Here’s how:

  • When you get a text message from someone – or an email, or a voicemail, or any other incoming message – what prompts you to respond? Studies suggest that we are more apt to reply to something that doesn’t sound like an advertising message. Many, many initial messages that coaches construct jump right in to ‘selling’ their school. What I’m going to suggest is that you be patient and take a long-term approach to selling your school to a prospect. Most aren’t ready to take in sales-related messaging from a coach right away.
  • We all like a little mystery. When things are too well defined right away, we get the feeling that there’s nothing else we need to engage with the sender. Our immediate questions have been answered, so there’s no reason to pay attention any longer. Of course, I’m being a little dramatic…I’m not suggesting that applies to every one of your prospects. However, it does apply to enough. So, how do you include a little mystery in your messaging? Hold back. Don’t tell them everything about you, your program, or your school. You can also hint at things to come in the future that you want to talk with them about, which will stand a good chance of keeping them engaged with you as things move forward.
  • Do a quick one-two punch to disrupt their expectations. Most coaches your prospect will hear from are going to get an email, letter or phone call that states all the basics about their program, and then they back off. I’d suggest sending two back-to-back messages to your prospects initially, each one of them different than the other. So if you send out a letter first, send a follow up email that quickly continues the narrative that you had in the first message. The key is to link the first two messages so that your recruit understands you’re actually talking with them, not just at them. It makes a difference, Coach.
  • Pay attention to the way you construct your messages. That includes your letters, emails – even your phone calls. They all have a structure to them…an “architecture”. And there’s a right way to construct that message if the goal is to get a response from a new prospect that you want to communicate with after the initial contact.  To learn about the four primary ways you should structure your messages in order to get immediate responses, listen to our special podcast message right now that outlines the strategy that we see work for coaches all over the country.

Getting more responses from your new prospects isn’t rocket science. But it is recruiting science. And if you want to have that science works for you as much as possible, start by implementing these simple yet effective strategies right away.

Want to learn more insider strategies that are working for college coaches all over the country? Make plans to be a part of our upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer. It’s for serious college recruiters only, and will change the way you approach recruiting. Register to save your seat, or bring your whole staff!

40 Ways to Craft Better Recruiting Stories for Your ProspectsMonday, August 21st, 2017

Not all will apply to you, but most of them will.

  1. Decide what your brand is all about. Define it.
  2. List three things you know your recruits don’t care about.
  3. Stop talking about those things. Immediately.
  4. Every year, read two books about marketing, sales, communication or branding. Start later today.
  5. One of those books should be this one. Its an easy read, but it will change the way you recruit.
  6. When you have an extra 17 minutes, watch the author teach you how to get your idea – and recruiting message – to spread.
  7. Tell your story in a variety of ways.
  8. That includes social media, but don’t make the mistake in thinking that’s all kids want or need. Far from it.
  9. Use Facebook if you want to tell your social media story to parents.
  10. Use Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter to tell your social media story to your recruits.
  11. If you aren’t sending old fashioned mail to recruits, your competition is sending it thanks you.
  12. In any story you tell, how you construct it matters.
  13. Listen to our special podcast episode on constructing a smarter, more cohesive, story for your recruits.
  14. Tell them very little about your school and your program when you first reach out to them.
  15. Remember: They don’t care about you (yet), and are usually hoping someone else recruits them eventually.
  16. (Assuming you believe #15, how does that change the tone and focus of your first few messages?)
  17. They’ll believe what the Freshmen on your team tell them way more than what you tell them.
  18. Consistency > Volume.
  19. What would your current team send out to their friends back in high school to get them to come play for you? That might be a worthwhile thing to ask them.
  20. Ask questions in when you tell your story. But make sure their answers aren’t the “right” ones. (Let me explain).
  21. Don’t be afraid to talk about the scholarship you want to give, or the cost of your school, early on with parents.
  22. Outline what’s in it for them if after they verbally commit to you. What would they get to do next with you?
  23. Don’t give up on kids who don’t seem to be engaged with your story. Many are still listening, just not responding yet.
  24. Don’t worry if they don’t seem to “love” you yet as you’re telling them your story.
  25. The campus visit is the most vital aspect of your story. How is it a different feel than your competition’s?
  26. Your story needs to talk about a deadline. Fair, but firm. Don’t be afraid of establishing one.
  27. At this point, are you still remembering to center everything around #1? It matters to your recruits!
  28. Stop making recruiting the last thing you do every day. It should be a priority for you. Schedule time for it.
  29. Look for objections, and happily and enthusiastically address them with your recruit.
  30. As it gets later in the recruiting process, continue to tell your story.
  31. What we said earlier about consistency holds true late in the process: They need you to tell them why to pick you.
  32. Your goal in telling a great recruiting story is to get them to campus. That’s where the decision is made.
  33. The later it gets in the process, the more they need you to ask them about their process for making a decision.
  34. Their decision is the central part of THEIR story. And they need you to play the role of asking them to commit.
  35. As the recruiting process moves forward, the story should get more and more narrow, focused on them specifically.
  36. Most parents will vote to have them stay close to home, or go to the school that costs less. UNLESS you tell them why your school is the better, smarter choice.
  37. Ask for the sale. Ask for the sale. Are you ready to hear them say yes? ASK FOR THE SALE.
  38. If they say “no”, it most likely just means “not yet”. Now ask them “why not?” That moves the story along.
  39. If they verbally commit with a “yes”, after the celebration, tell them it becomes official with you when they announce it publicly on social media. (I’ve heard the arguments against having them do that, but I’ve seen exponentially better results by following that course of action).
  40. Get an answer to this question from your prospect: “What were the three biggest reasons you said yes/no?”

Recruiting, like story telling, is a process. Respect that process, and manage it.

Watch what happens when you do.

 

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.

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

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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 I drove past recently 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. 

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.

Six Strategies for Constructing Winning Recruiting MessagesMonday, October 21st, 2013

I’ve made the case for years that coaches are actually professional sales people – who also happen to get to coach.

I’m going to add another job responsibility to your title:  Expert recruiting message writer.

It’s not an option any longer.  If you don’t create great messages, you risk not only losing the attention of your recruit…you risk not having the opportunity to start a relationship with them at all.

To help with that, I wanted to outline a couple of the strategies that we use when we’re helping our clients create their campaigns.  Here are six winning message construction strategies that you and your staff can (and should) try the next time you’re struggling to come up with a great recruiting message.  They work for us, and I’m confident they’ll work for you:

 

STRATEGY #1:  Compartmentalization

Writing a fantastic recruiting letter, email – or even a social media message – is a process that consists of many steps, hundreds of actions, and thousands of tiny decisions:

Thinking about who your prospect is and why he needs your product…

Coming up with your attention-getting strategy – your theme, headline, and lead idea…

Researching what your school offers, what your competitors’ strengths are, and their recruiting strategies…

Organizing your attack – determining the order in which you’ll guide your prospect through your reasons why he or she should commit to your program…

Pouring the appropriate research, notes, and ideas into each section of your recruiting plan outline…

Writing your first draft…

Buffing and meticulously detailing each succeeding draft until you know that you couldn’t improve it even if someone held a gun to your head – and that any change you consider at this point will actually weaken the copy…

And, finally, sticking a fork in it, because it’s done.

Now, if you have any shred of common sense, you’re going to feel overwhelmed when you contemplate all the steps you have to complete in order to perfect the project at hand. And that’s okay. It just means you’re in touch with reality.

But you’re going to have to get past “overwhelmed” and on to work. And the only way I know to do that is to mentally chop the job into little, tiny, manageable pieces. So you tell yourself something like this: “I do NOT have to write a recruiting campaign today. All I have to do is the research. Or part of the research.”

Thinking about the work this way does more than just relieve your anxiety about producing recruiting letters and emails. It blows all that procrastination you’re usually guilty of at the beginning of a recruiting project right out of the water, and gets you moving forward towards creating a good recruiting message.

STRATEGY #2:  Getting into a good flow

Ever have a day when you sit down to work and the next thing you know it’s time for dinner… you have to force yourself to stop… and when you reflect on your day as a college coach, you’re amazed by the quantity – and, more important, the quality – of what you accomplished?

That is the “good flow” that I’m talking about.

The fact is, good flow equals better recruits. Because the more flow you experience during planning and writing your recruiting campaign, the faster the project goes and the better your end product is.

But good flow doesn’t “just happen.” Flow is kind of like hummingbirds: They show up naturally if you just create an environment that attracts them. For me, that means a quiet work area and a good night’s sleep. The right background music. No interruptions. No distractions. A trenta Starbucks unsweetened iced tea.  And every tool I need to do that day’s job readily at hand.

That’s just me. You’ll have to figure out what works for you.

STRATEGY #3: Constantly visualizing success

Yes, I know. What could possibly be more cheesy than dusting off the decades-old concept of “positive thinking”?

Thing is, like all laws that survive the test of time, positive thinking works.  Good coaches know this, deep down.

What personally drives me is the phone call I’ll get from a wowed coach client when he sees our recruiting plan we’ve created for them for the first time… the call telling us he had too many recruits reply back to their recruiting email campaign…and, of course, the high fives we do here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies when a coach gets the athlete they really, really want.

Whatever your motivation, try keeping it in mind as you write.  Make that the thing that drives you and commits you to doing your best.

STRATEGY #4:  “Know thyself”

Feelings are more intense than thoughts.

So, they can have a way of blanking your mind and freezing you like a biker who just spotted a grizzly in his headlights. That’s why you have to understand how negative emotions affect your work as a college recruiter.

For example, you may feel overwhelmed at the beginning of a project to come up with new recruiting messages. Discouraged when a solution doesn’t come fast enough. And then your inferiority complex kicks into overdrive when you see how you think your competition is doing it a lot better than you and your coaching staff is.

It helped me when I realized that 99.9 percent of all negative emotions are probably not caused by objective truth. And, therefore, the vast majority of all bad feelings don’t deserve my attention.

So when I experience a negative emotion while I’m working, I pause for a moment and ask myself, “What thought zipped through my mind just before I got bummed out?” After recognizing how ridiculously wrong that thought was, I can almost instantly dismiss the negative emotion and dive back into the work.

Try it. It works, Coach.

STRATEGY #5:  Forget about the rules!

Not the NCAA’s rules.  Writing rules.

You’ve learned too many letter-writing rules. And, frankly, they’re getting in the way. If you’ve had us to your college for one of our On-Campus Workshops, you know what I think of many of the letters that go out to your recruits (they need major re-working, in many cases).

So instead of worrying about the rules you learned in high school and college, focus on your prospect and be a sales professional in print. Think, “If I were in a room with my best prospect and needed to get his attention, engage him, present the reasons why he should come to play for me and my program – what would I say to him?” Then let the conversation flow naturally out of your fingers to the keyboard and into your document, as if you were talking to them one-on-one.  Less formal, more conversational.  That’s the key.

There’ll be plenty of time in later drafts to think about which rules you broke or didn’t follow. The first draft is about speed.

STRATEGY #6:  Do some bedtime reading

Let your last action each day at the office – or even literally before you fall asleep – be to read what you wrote to a recruit that day. File it away in your subconscious mind. And go to work the minute you wake up in the morning so the connections your brain made overnight find their way onto the page.  Try it once…you’ll see how well it works.

One, or all, of these strategies will help you spark a creative approach.  It’s absolutely necessary with this generation of prospects…and for the success of your next recruiting campaign.

Building Anticipation Instead of Anxiety When You’re RecruitingMonday, April 1st, 2013

Think about it:

If we can define anxiety as “experiencing failure in advance of it happening”, then the opposite definition must be true also, right?

I’m talking about anticipation.  When you’re anticipating something, it’s usually because you just can’t wait for it to happen.  Buying your first new home, moving in, re-decorating and having your first family gathering there all involves anticipation.  You’re excited about seeing those things come to fruition.

On the other hand, for families that are experiencing financial difficulties and are in risk of losing their home to foreclosure, they are experiencing anxiety. Lots of anxiety.  Why?  Because they are experiencing that failure in advance of it happening.

So, how does this all apply to recruiting?  More than you probably think it does, actually.

When you recruit with anticipation, you will highlight the highs. Chances are, you will automatically focus on the things that will excite your prospects and push you and your staff even harder in your pursuit of that next level recruit.  And, you’ll probably put a lot of time and attention into how you do that.

If you recruit with anxiety, on the other hand, chances are you will hesitate.  You’ll second guess yourself.  You’ll talk yourself out of that recruit that (on paper, anyway) you don’t seem to have a chance at landing.  If things are really desperate, you’ll be insuring yourself and your program against disaster and most of all, building deniability into everything that you’re doing on the recruiting front. When you work under the cloud of anxiety – whether it’s in recruiting or the general operation of your coaching staff – the best strategy is to probably play it safe, because if (when?) it fails, you’ll be blameless (or so you think).

Not only is it more upbeat to work with anticipation, it’s often a more self-fulfilling point of view, too.  Especially when it comes to recruiting, Coach.

And by the way, your prospects notice when you recruit with anticipation compared to recruiting with an attitude of anxiety.  True, sometimes introducing a small amount of anxiety at the right times is a smart strategy during certain stages of the recruiting process, building ongoing positive anticipation in your consistent recruiting message should be a priority for any savvy college recruiter.

Here are three easy concepts I feel you should make sure are a part of your recruiting strategy moving forward:

  1. Look at the tone of your messaging. There are two different tones that we see being used all the time which are not usually effective, according to our research:  First, when you are too “sanitized” in the way you sell your program, you’re going to fall short of building anticipation.  By “sanitized” I mean rattling-off statistics about your college, listing facts about your campus, outlining the recent history of your program…all of that is too detached, and too unemotional to make a connection with most prospects.  Secondly, you don’t want a constant tone of pressure, negativity or anxiety.  You don’t want to present a tone of pressure on an ongoing basis, for all the reasons we’ve just outlined.  So as you review your recruiting materials, define how it builds anticipation (and if it doesn’t, work on changing it).
  2. Ask yourself, “What can I get them to anticipate next?” If you’re a client of ours, you know how important it is to have the flow of the recruiting process move as quickly and as efficiently as possible toward securing a campus visit.  In that scenario, how would we want to have the prospect anticipate the campus visit?  If possible, we’d want to focus on selling the idea of meeting the guys on the team…or sitting down face to face with the biology professor if the recruit was a strong pre-med candidate…or the opportunity to hear what kind of scholarship offer you’ll be outlining for she and her parents.  It could be anything that is the logical next step in the process.  The key question is, “what are you getting them to anticipate next?”
  3. Define what they should anticipate. Don’t wait for prospects and their parents to assign value to the next phase in the recruiting process, do it for them.  That’s not manipulative, by the way…it’s intelligent.  You know how important it is to get to campus for that early unofficial visit, but does the athlete?  Do her parents?  Does his coach?  Smart coaches will focus on defining the importance on building anticipation for the next phase of the recruiting cycle.  So, are you defining exactly what your prospect should anticipate next from you?

Setting the tone, outlining the tone, and defining the tone.  Those three aspects of your recruiting message can result in exciting positive changes for your recruiting efforts moving forward!

There’s a live event coming up this Summer that will help you gain cutting edge recruiting skills from a gathering of the best experts, authors, coaches and communication gurus: The National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  Make sure your staff is represented at this one-of-a-kind event!  CLICK HERE for the details.

 

What Your Prospects Want to Hear From You on September 1stFriday, August 24th, 2012

Every September 1st, college coaches begin the annual ritual of contacting a new class of prospects.

Of course, depending upon your sport and division level, you may have had “contact” prior to September 1st of a prospect’s Junior year, but most coaches look at that date as significant since it marks the date when outbound written communication can start.

And the question on every college recruiter’s mind is the same:

“How do I make an incredible impression on the recruits that I really want to be a part of my program?”

Making that first impression is something you don’t get a second chance at, so here are some things to keep in mind as you begin communications with your Junior recruits.  And I’m not just talking about letters and emails that you’ll be sending out soon.  Your follow-up ongoing communication over these next few weeks will be almost equally – if not more – important.  Why?  Because they’re looking for who contacts them consistently early on…it’s an indicator of who seems to be serious.

So hear you go, Coach…here are the six things your prospects want to hear from you on September 1st (and every week on a regular basis) when you are communicating with them:

 

  • Be specific in what you tell them. Our study on how today’s prospects make their final decision tells coaches that today’s prospects value specific information about them, or about your program.  What did you like about them specifically? What do you see as the fit for them in your program specifically? What are you looking for specifically? Those are the questions that you need to answer for your prospect early on.
  • Don’t oversell yourself. Kids today can sniff out a fake more quickly than they can bang-out a text message to their BFF.  Be straight-forward and genuine.  One other thing: Take it easy on the statistics about your college, details about your conference, and what the geography around the school is like.  Those are some of the “boring” topics that they are most likely to gloss over as they read your initial recruiting messages.
  • Keep it brief. Long messages right out of the gate are most likely to be ignored, and that’s not what you want on the first day that you make contact with them.  Keep it short, sweet and to the point.  Tell them how you found them, why you like them, and what their next step should be in the process (in other words, how they should respond to you).
  • Have a call to action. That’s what gets them to respond to you!  You need to tell them what to do, and how to do it.  Open the door in the language of your communication to guide them towards what they should do next as a “next step” in the process.
  • Create curiosity. In our recruiting workbooks for college recruiters, we talk about the importance of making your prospect leave your message with unanswered questions, especially early in the process.  You want to create curiosity and prompt them to want more interaction from you…something that makes them want to go to the next step in their communication with you.  Ask yourself, “Are we creating curiosity in the way we talk to our new recruits?”  (Hint: Curiosity is not built by more information about you and your college, it’s done by giving them less information).
  • Tell them what to do next. This goes back to the “call to action” concept I mentioned a moment ago, Coach.  Want them to call or email you?  Tell them that, very clearly.  Tell them when to call, and let them know what you want to talk about.  Want them to reply to your email?  Be crystal clear and instruct them on what you want back from them.

Communication with your prospect should result in one thing, especially at the start of the recruiting process at the beginning of a new recruiting cycle: A response from your prospect!  Your specific goal over the next few weeks should be getting them to talk with you via email or phone.

To do that, the six things we just outlined are a good start to creating effective communication with your recruits, whether its the 1st time they are hearing from you or the 21st time.  Simply changing the tone of your messages can change the number of prospects you end up hearing back from this year, and get you off to your best start ever with a new recruiting class.

Note:  If you are a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies, and you need help creating or updating your first contact messages, contact us immediately so we can do that for you in plenty of time for your first contact messages to be sent to this next class of recruits.

Want to know why our clients win more recruits and have stronger recruiting classes?  Click here.

 

Why Your Recruiting Message Needs More Verbs, Less AdjectivesMonday, March 12th, 2012

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