Dan Tudor

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Dads Cry TooMonday, August 18th, 2014

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I cried for 20 minutes today.

I’m an alpha-type guy. I’m used to compartmentalizing and burying my emotions. But not today. Today was different. It was check-in-day.

I dropped my oldest off at college — to start his freshman year.

I’m not supposed to cry, my wife is. Sure, I get that.

And there’s a lot of misery in the World right now, so depositing my kid at a good college to get a good education is supposed to be a happy event. Fine and dandy.

But here’s the thing, I don’t care. I’ll miss him. Really miss him.

Here’s the bigger thing — the important thing — the thing YOU should know as a college coach — I’m NOT the only Dad who cries. There are others — lots.

We go to the car while mom gets the dorm-room ready. We cry in the parking lot.

“It’s allergy season,” I heard one guy say today. Another, wiping his eyes, broadcasted, “Got stupid sunscreen in my eyes, again.”

Me? I told one guy my eyes were bloodshot from drinking. I haven’t had a drink in 30 years.

So, why should you care?

Because the person who recruited weeping-Dad’s child might be missing an opportunity to shine.

What if a coach wandered around the parking lot with a box of tissues? Dispensing as needed. Patting a few dads on the back. I can think of worse duties.

And if check-in-day has come and gone? Give the recruit 10 postcards, and make sure he mails one each day to his Dad. Jeez, I haven’t gotten a postcard in years, and never one from him. That’d be cool.

Y’know, if the phone rang right now, and one of my son’s new coaches called saying, “Hey Dad, no worries, we’ll take good care of him,” that would be nice.

Better yet, if the coach called and said, “Hey Dad, I know you’re tight with your son. Thanks for trusting me, I will make sure he keeps you updated, emailing/texting/whatever-social-you-like-connecting each day”, that would rock my world.

Or set up a Dad’s section on your team’s website. Dads will like that, even if it is something silly.

If any of those happened I would be blasting all my friends, “Those coaches got it together, your son should go there”.

Some people say college is a time for parents to let go, cut those strings.  Wander around the parking lot on check-in-day and see how well that message goes with the Dads.

And bring tissues, they will get used.

(Oh yeah … This also applies to high school, middle school, and pee wee sports. Trust me, I’ve been there too.  It does.)

If Cat Food is Really for People, is Recruiting Really for…?Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Best selling author Seth Godin put forward an interesting point that I think has application for college coaches and recruiters:

“Cat food is for people.

So is this bag of gluten-free, kale, peanutty dog treats.

And the first birthday party for the kid down the street is for her parents, not her. And the same is true for most gifts we give people (they’re for us, and how we feel giving them, not for the recipient, not really). And many benefits the company offers to its employees…

It’s easy to imagine that the giver is focused on the recipient at all times. But, more often than not, the way the gift makes us feel to give is at least as important as how it makes the other person (or pet, or infant) feel to receive it.

P.S.  If you think cat food is for cats, how come it doesn’t come in mouse flavor?”

So, how does all of this translate into relevance for serious college coaches in the midst of selling their programs and telling their stories to a much more complicated group of potential prospects?  No, it has nothing to do with cat food (or a birthday party for the kid down the street).

I think it has everything to do with the parents of many of your recruits.

The school that their son or daughter chooses, the program that they will compete for, and what you’re going to be offering them:  All of that, according to our research, is vitally important to a majority of the parents of the recruits that you are focusing on.

  • About 6 out of 10 parents have strong feelings about the level of the program that their son or daughter competes in.
  • Just over 7 out of 10 parents tell us that they felt it was personally important to make sure that the “brand” of the college or university their son or daughter chose was an important factor in their final decision.
  • 8.5 out of 10 parents said they felt “justified” with their son or daughter’s choice of school and sports program in regards to their investment of time and money into their child’s sports career leading up to competing at the college level.

Let me give you another scenario that I know plays out time and time again all over the country:  The parents of your recruit is sitting in the stands at their local Friday night football game back in their community.  They’re wearing the college gear of the school that their son or daughter competes for.  Inevitably, their friends ask them about their child’s college experience, and why they decided to go there.  In their answer, they’ll most certainly lean on the facts about how prestigious the school is, why it is the perfect fit when it comes to their child’s major, and probably jump at the chance to talk about how much money the college is giving them to play their sport at the school (yes, even the parents of Division III kids that are getting no athletic money).

In reading those three key statistics, and accepting that the scenario I described above is true (it’s based on hundreds of stories that we hear every year when we conduct our popular On-Campus Workshops for athletic departments), let’s all agree on one key conclusion:

Just like cat food is for people, and the big birthday party down the street is for the parents of the kid blowing out the candles, where their son or daughter chooses to compete in college is really important for how the parents end up feeling about themselves as, well…parents.

(This is where you come in, Coach).

What are you going to do about it?  You have an overwhelming number of parents who feel and act this way during the recruiting process, and it no doubt changes the way they look at your school, you as a coach, your program, and what you’re able to give them (I mean, give their son or daughter)

You can scan our blog library for specific strategies and ideas that you think might fit you and your program, but here are four key questions I think every staff needs to answer as you head into your next recruiting year:

  • How soon are you incorporating a conversation with the parents of your recruit into your recruiting plan?
  • What percentage of messaging are you dedicating to recruiting the parents of your prospects?
  • What kind of questions are you asking parents to get them to reveal what’s important to them as they help their son or daughter make their final decision?
  • Even if you feel you can’t beat a competitor with what you’re offering a recruit, how are you presenting it to make them feel justified in choosing you?

That last one is a biggie.  Do dogs really love kale peanutty flavored dog treats?  Who knows.  But a significant enough of buyers of dog treats obviously do, and isn’t that the most important fact if you’re a marketer?

I firmly believe that how you as a coach define your program, tell your story, and explain to the influential decision-driving parents of your best prospects what they should think about different aspects of your college, program and offer will completely drive the decision making process.

The problem is, most college coaches aren’t doing it.  Which is why most college coaches experience completely random recruiting results, don’t know what the parents of their recruits are really thinking, and get increasing frustrated at the power they have over the final decision of their sons and daughters.

Go back to those four questions, Coach.  How would you answer them?

Once you have the answers, and you feel you might want some expert help, email dan@dantudor.com and ask about the Total Recruiting Solution plan we construct for coaching staffs.  The unique plans we develop can help tell the right story to your recruits and their parents, and make recruiting a lot more predictable.

CEO Or Silent Partner – What Kind Of Parents Are You Dealing With?Monday, March 24th, 2014

by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator

When I was recruiting at the collegiate level I always asked my recruits, “How involved do you think your parents want to be in this process?” The answer to that question was always intriguing but never differed much. The general answer was either “They don’t care where I go they just want me to be happy” or “This is really their decision because they’re paying for it”.

Here is what I came to realize, parents are always involved and usually a big part of the decision making process! Then I looked at a decade of research at Tudor Collegiate Strategies and what I thought – was confirmed.

In our research of college prospects a staggering 91.3% said the opinion of their parents was very important. In other words, more than 90% of the athletes you are talking to, regardless of what they tell you, will be getting direction or decision making information from mom or dad. The big question is, what type of recruiting plan do you have for the parents?

When you come across the CEO parent you will feel like your answer is given to you. They will call you, they will ask for information, they will request a follow-up from you, and you will have a very clear path of communication. You will need to connect with these types of parents because they will be very business like in their participation and need to feel comfortable and confident in recommending that their child go to your college. The flip side is that these types of parents are ALWAYS negotiating on behalf of their child with every other college they can find. As long as you can keep honest and open lines of communication, these types of parents don’t often blind side you.

The Silent Partner parent is a little more tricky. They will stay in the shadows watching the process, they will guide but not lead the direction their child is going, and when asked for input they will often defer in the early stages. As the choices start to get narrowed down the Silent Partner parent starts to get more involved, is out of the shadows and standing in the corner. At this point they have formed opinions on coaches, schools and finances. They have an idea of what’s best for their child and want them to feel like they are making the decision themselves, while in reality it is the parent’s choice.

In a recent conversation with a football coach at a DII University we explained that when all things are equal the parents will generally make the choice based on finances. SO – the goal is to make sure that when the prospect and the parents are reviewing and comparing colleges they don’t feel like everything is equal, they have to feel like you are  different and a better fit.

You need to build relationships with the parents that are just as strong and emotionally connected as you do with your recruits. It is critical that you deliberately develop recruiting plans for parents. You need to schedule calls, send emails and probe the parents regarding their wants and needs for their child, because the parents need to be sold on you, your program and the institution just like the athlete!

Irrational Recruiting Decisions Made by Recruits (and College Coaches)Monday, May 14th, 2012

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The Importance of “Passion” vs. “Pressure” in RecruitingMonday, October 10th, 2011

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The Right Way to Talk About Money with Your Prospects (and Their Parents)Sunday, September 18th, 2011

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Strategies for Combating the Too-Close-To-Home ObjectionMonday, August 15th, 2011

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Do Parent Emotions Trump Your Prospect’s Emotions?Monday, June 27th, 2011

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Why You Should Recruit Junior College Prospects DifferentlyMonday, April 11th, 2011

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Where Should You “Ask for the Sale”?Monday, February 7th, 2011

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