When it comes to revising the way your current batch of recruiting letters and emails sound, there’s an easy formula that you should follow to ensure they get read by your prospects.
It’s all about what word choices you use to drive the conversation in those messages. And while many coaches might immediately run to more descriptive adjectives to add to their letter and email copy (“we’ve got a really beautiful new facility!”), I’m going to recommend a different approach:
Verbs are action, while adjectives are descriptive. Action beats descriptions every time in the mind of your prospects.
You can even look to the hallowed halls of Harvard, where business school applications that contain verbs stand-out compared to those that try to use adjectives to describe the accomplishments of those applying (Dee Leopold is one of the people who judge the incoming essays and applications to the business school at Harvard, and says the best recommendations have lots of verbs, pointing out that reference letters that state “She did this” beat those that try to use adjectives to describe applicants).
Roger Dooley, a marketing expert that specializes in how the brain receives sales messages, explains why verbs are so effective this way:
“There are multiple reasons to choose verbs over adjectives. First, adjectives on their own don’t say all that much and are easy to throw in without real justification. Describing someone as “dedicated, focused, and creative” is a quick way to satisfy the need for a favorable comment and get the recommendation on its way.
Similarly, a product could be, “economical, long-lasting, and easy to use.” In both cases, though, the reader has nothing to go on other than the word of the writer, who is almost certainly biased in favor of creating a good impression. Vague positive characteristics will get filtered out as puffery.
Action verbs force the writer to get specific – “created a series of ads,” “led a team of engineers,” “worked through a holiday,” and so on require actual examples of the behaviors or characteristics in question. A product might “outlast other brands by 10,000 hours,” or “cut maintenance costs by 25%.” These specifics will increase the credibility of the copy, in addition to providing more information that when the adjective-driven shortcut is taken.
The take-away from all of this is pretty straight forward when it comes to crafting better recruiting messages for your prospects:
- Focus on present day action within your program.
- Create a feeling of present-tense action in your letters and emails, and try to include the idea that your prospect can (and should) be a part of that action that is happening.
- If you use adjectives, use them sparingly.
- Dooley points out the verbs force you, the writer, to get specific. What should you be specific about? I’d suggest focusing on the personality of your team, the vision for your program, why they’ll love your team once they get to know them, and – most importantly – your plan for the prospect if they choose your program.
The best place to start? Well, you can have us help create that message, of course. But if you want to tackle that project yourself, I’d recommend taking your current letters and emails and looking to eliminate most of the adjectives, while adding action-oriented verbs to your copy. Convert the context of whatever you happen to be talking about in those messages to present-tense verbs that denote energy, movement and momentum.
Verbs give your prospects the feeling of positive energy within your program, and do a much better job of selling your program to your recruits while giving them clear ideas as to why they should want to be a part of your program.
Getting ready to revamp your recruiting attack for this new class? Let the experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies help! We work with programs at all levels around the country, giving them research-based strategies and custom designed recruiting communication that gets results. Click here for more information to see if our one-on-one help would make a difference for your program.