Dan Tudor

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Build a Brand Message Your Recruits Will Connect WithMonday, September 10th, 2018

You and I, just like the teenage prospects that you are recruiting, love to align themselves with good brands.

Coaches talk to me all the time about the idea of establishing their own unique brand, and telling the story that’s effective in the eyes of their recruiting audience. It’s hard to do, but they know it’s important, and so they make every effort to tell a great brand story, and to develop a unique overall brand message that differentiates their program from their competitors

In the world of Internet travel resources, TripAdvisor is a great brand. I myself use their rating system and reviews for hotels I’m considering, and I often look up fun things to do on family vacations if we’re in an area for the first time. TripAdvisor is one of our go to resources, as it is for many people.

I even have an added reason to align myself with trip advisor: Our favorite local burger place here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Al’s Burger Shack, just got named by TripAdvisor as having the best hamburger in America, according to an average of all the reviews of their hamburgers compared to other restaurants around the country.

And yet, I would never even think for a second of buying this TripAdvisor coffee mug that was advertised prominently inside of a Charlotte International Airport gift shop.

It’s odd, out of place, and probably is being featured just because somebody in the corporate office at TripAdvisor figured it was good to put their brand name on some sort of items that the general public might want take with them on their way to the next flight. Except that’s not what the general public is usually looking for when they are on their way to their next flight. Honestly, I can’t think of any compelling reason anyone would want to buy a TripAdvisor coffee mug.

So, what does and oddly placed Internet travel website coffee mug have to do with recruiting, and your college marketing message efforts?

Glad you asked. It’s largely up to you to define your brand to your recruiting class. When it comes to branding, which every coach these days seems to be concerned about, I want to offer up some advice  to follow when you and your staff are trying to craft your brand message for your next batch of potential recruits:

Decide what you are, and what you aren’t. And when you do that, be specific and as discriminating as possible. By ‘discriminating’ I mean this: Define some things that would potentially turn prospective student athletes off of your program, essentially explaining who isn’t right for you as a coach and for your program. There are things that aren’t right for every prospect on your campus. The more you explain what those things are, along with the aspects of the college or your program that would be right for recruits, you’ll begin to establish the basis for a good, solid brand a message that stands out when compared to other programs who are trying to get the same attention of the same prospect.

Making an outrageous claim, and then work to prove it to your prospect. If you want a good example of  being on the edge when it comes to ideas of brand development that really become successful in the marketplace, grab a copy of the outstanding book, Marketing Outrageously. You’ll know it when you see it, because it’s the one of a with a picture of the sumo wrestler dunking a basketball on the cover. It’s the story Joel Spoelstra, the man in charge of season ticket sales and marketing for the lowly New Jersey Nets of the NBA many years ago. He describes how the used outrageously creative branding and marketing ideas to go from the bottom of the pack in season ticket sales, to the top team that was getting sellouts every night – even when their team was still really bad on the court.  He describes the mandate he gave to his marketing staff when it came to creative ideas they would use to market their brand: It has to be an idea so out rages and on the edge, that eventually they would say to themselves “I’m not sure if the owner will let us do that“. That, he said, was when he knew they were getting close to a great idea that would actually work. For most college coaches, they could use a dose of outrageous, creative, one of a kind marketing and branding ideas that set them selves apart and really define their program in a compelling way to recruits.

How are you different than everyone else they’re looking at? For a detailed explanation on this important point in the branding process, listen to this recent podcast episode we did on the topic. In summary, it’s vital that you explain why you were different then other programs they were also looking at. Because of that short timeline that I just mentioned in the previous point, they are trying to assess differences, and whittle their list down as quickly and as efficiently as possible, the best they know how. Understanding who’s different, and why, is one of the big ways they do that. Like I said, we go into a lot of detail on that topic in the podcast episode. Devote a few minutes of your day listening to it if you have the time. (Listen on iTunesGoogle Play, or Sticher)

Branding with out measurable action is worthless. The one difference between you and the marketers at Ford, Kellogg‘s, or TripAdvisor, is that you don’t have a long time to let your brand image sink in for most recruiting classes. You have a 6 to 18 month window, in most cases, to attract the attention of your retreat through whatever branding message you choose to put forward. That means you are aiming for them to become a buyer in one to two years, tops,  like many companies do. You need action quickly. So, your branding message should consistently be asking for action on the part of your prospect. That interaction, coupled with the introduction of the brand that is justifying why they should take action, because its is the ‘secret sauce’ that a select few coaches have discovered is one of the secrets to attracting good recruits on a consistent basis.

Branding is your responsibility, Coach. The faster you establish you brand, and then go about the daily business of putting that message in front of recruits, the faster you’ll see your prospects being able to define who you are, and what your team is all about.

Why Smart Recruiters Should Stop Combining Their Restaurant FoodMonday, July 2nd, 2018

I like Mexican food.

I also like Italian food.

So why is it, when I see a sign like this one, do I automatically discount it as something ‘less than special’?

Or, maybe it’s just me. Maybe you like businesses that combine two completely separate categories into one convenient location. Perhaps the chef, showing off his or her versatility in the culinary arts, would be a draw. After all, going to eat a Mexican-Italian restaurant would mean an almost endless variety of food options. You could dine there every night for a year, and you may never repeat the same combination twice.

So what’s my problem?

It’s this: We are a culture that is geared towards specialties. Precise definition.

Online dating sites, like eHarmony? Not precise enough. We needed FarmersOnly.com and ChristianMingle.com. Want to buy a mattress? You don’t go to a department store, you go to Casper.com or get a Sleep Number bed (because we need our own personalized “sleep number”, of course).

So, when we run into businesses that have weird combinations, we pump our brakes a little, right?

It works the same way with recruiting. Your recruiting message, specifically. When you, or your college, tries to present itself as all things to all people, it increasingly fails as a marketing strategy. Coaches that send out information to their recruits which presents everything at once, or makes the case that their college is perfect for every student-athlete, are finding that it’s a message which struggles to gain traction.

What I’m suggesting is simple:

Define yourself as specifically as possible.

In fact, define you, your program, and your college so well that you actually are able to verbalize who isn’t right for you. That’s right, explain to your prospect who isn’t a good fit.

If you do this, at the same time you define yourself out of one prospect’s picture of their ‘perfect school’, you define yourself into another prospect’s picture of their perfect school. In contrast, when you try to describe yourself as perfect for every potential student-athlete, you sound like everyone else. You look like everyone else. And, you are compared to everyone else.

When that happens, how is your recruit left to decide between multiple schools that all sound, look and feel like all their other choices? They’ll gravitate towards the least expensive. Or, the closet to home. Or, the farthest from home. Or, the school at the highest division level.

(Note: This concept also applies to your actual messaging that you’re sending to recruits. Coincidentally, in an earlier article, we used a restaurant comparison to make our point, too!)

They’ll break their own tie, somehow, and experience tells me it doesn’t work out well for most schools.

Unfortunately, that’s where my advice stops. It’s impossible to determine what approach, story or definition is the “right” one for you (shameless plug: we can do that if you’re a client). But you can do it on your own, by answering these four key questions – and then using those answers to craft the core part of your story.

  1. What is our one sentence definition for the perfect student-athlete for our program?
  2. How would I describe a student-athlete who would be completely wrong for me, as their coach, and our program?
  3. What are the three biggest distinctions about our college, location, campus or program that is completely different than most of their other choices?
  4. How can we describe these three distinctions in a way that sounds confident, inspiring and positive?

If you choose to continue to present a bland message which sounds like everyone else they’re hearing from, it’s going to become harder and harder to get their attention. Simple as that. This generation needs a reason to reply to you and take you seriously; the mere fact that you offer degrees and have a sports program isn’t enough any longer.

Begin to find ways to separate yourself from your competition way, way before you get your prospect on campus. You’ll notice much more interest sooner, with better yield results in the end.

We focus on unique ways to tell your program’s story every year at the popular National Collegiate Recruiting Conference. The next conference is happening this summer, so if you’re looking for fresh ideas presented by fellow coaches, make sure you attend! All the details are right here.

When Your Prospects Say, “I Knew It!”Monday, April 23rd, 2018

We all do that.

News comes along that either confirms our worst fears, or validates our deeply held beliefs.

And, we are actively looking for that news: With our favorite political candidate, the coach of our favorite NFL team we want to see fired, or the next coaching job we are chomping at the bit to apply for. We are always evaluating news, and seeking see how it confirms our natural personal biases.

What I’m saying is, we all want to be able to say, “I knew it!”

Your prospects are the same way. At the start, in the middle, and towards the end of the recruiting process, we’re looking for evidence that we were right in our initial assumptions. Nobody likes to be proven wrong: I don’t, you don’t, your prospects don’t, and your prospect’s parents REALLY don’t.

How does all of this affect you and your recruiting results? Through one simple concept:

The story you tell your recruit will either reenforce your prospect’s trust, or amplify their skepticism. You, as the coach and chief marketing executive of your program, are ultimately responsible for what that story is.

Want to know what our research shows as what the top three enforcers of each possibility? Here you go, Coach:

  • How you showcase your negatives. It could be your locker room, your field, your recent history, or where you’re located. Whatever your program’s recruiting hurdle appears to be, how you define it – and even showcase it – to your prospects is going to go a long way towards either confirming their negative assumptions, or amplify their feelings that there might be another way of looking at your traditional negative. If you don’t make your case, who will? If you don’t re-define the way they look at your negative, who will? Lead with your negatives. That’ll give you the chance to define it for your prospect, and it will earn more trust with your prospect. Our research shows that this is highly effective, and something your prospects look for as a sign they can trust you.
  • How early you offer. This one is interesting, and kind of complex to take apart. As your prospects decide whether or not you should be one of the programs you visit, they’re looking for evidence you’re serious about them. As we discuss all the time in our famous on-campus recruiting workshops, parents and athletes use two primary criteria when they are telling themselves, “I knew it!” when it comes to if they should visit (or skip) a certain program: They’ll look whether the head coach is in contact with them, and they’ll look for an offer – either athletically, through other funding on campus, or even a roster spot. They need a reason to come to visit, and we find that the earlier that happens, the more ‘obligated’ they feel towards making you one of your visits.
  • How (and when) you ask them to commit. The greatest evidence you’re serious about a prospect? Asking them if they’re ready to commit. There’s a right way, and a wrong way, to do it. But the bottom line is this: When you do it, there are all sorts of good signals it triggers that tells an athlete, “I knew it!” in a good way. It’s proof you want them, and even if they aren’t quite ready to answer ‘yes’ to that question you ask, it verifies that there is good reason to be serious about you. Oh, and by the way: If you don’t do it, it also sends an “I knew it” signal…just not the kind of signal you want.

We are all constantly looking for evidence that our gut feelings are true. Take this approach if you want to send the right signals that move the recruiting process onto the next phase.

Looking for more unique strategies to up your recruiting game? be a part of this Summer’s upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference! It’s a one-of-a-kind event designed around the needs of coaches looking to become next-level college recruiters. Click here for all the information.

5 Creative Ways to Achieve Your Daily PrioritiesMonday, January 29th, 2018

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

I am 100% guilty of not making my priorities a priority at times, especially while we are in season.  I would get into the office and then get busy doing other things and would tell myself that “I will do it later.”  I would fit in a few minutes in here or there on my big things, but at the end of the day, I would leave the office with a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction because I knew that I didn’t make any significant progress on things I felt would make my program better. 

Can you relate?

It is really easy to get lost in all of the details of what we have to do (or get to do depending on how you look at it) day-to-day.  No matter what level you coach or how successful you have been, we all have program changing priorities that need to get worked on and we have maintenance tasks.  As one example, obviously recruiting quality student athletes is vital to the continued or future success of your program. Recruiting is and always should be a priority, so we need to find a way to give it the time it deserves.        

As I have been reading about and applying different time management techniques over the last 8+ years, some methods have worked better than others. 

Here are 5 most effective things that I have done to make time for program changing activities.  Depending on your work hours and situation, maybe some or all of these could help.  I will use how I have made recruiting time for recruiting as an example.

  1. Start my day earlier.  Instead of waiting to do it when I got into the office, I woke up early and got at least 1 hour of pure recruiting work done before I got into the office.  It was quiet and there were no interruptions so I was able to work for a solid chunk of time and cranked out a ton of emails. It felt great walking into the office for the day knowing that I had already gotten a good amount of recruiting done. 
  2. I worked from a different location.  Depending on the week and how much there was to do, I figured out which were my least busy days and times around the office and went and worked from home or in a coffee shop for a solid block of time.  I was having a hard time making any significant progress in my recruiting when I was only doing it for a few minutes here and there in between 4,000 other things that needed to get done. Going somewhere different where I couldn’t be interrupted and was able to work for solid blocks of time was really helpful. 
  3. I made a long list of everything that had to get done with recruiting.  I figured out what I HAD to do, then I delegated the rest.  I’ve hired students through work study to do my database entry.  I have gotten my communication majors do our social media for a class project.  I have had to get creative here because my 1st 3 years here at South Dakota I didn’t have a full-time assistant.  There was a lot of work to do so I had to think outside the box and go find help with the resources I had on campus. 
  4. I created work expectations.  I think you get what you tolerate.  If you always tolerate your co-workers interrupting you, they will always interrupt you.  If you tolerate your co-workers texting you at all hours of the night and morning and you respond immediately, they will keep doing it.  I get there are things that need to get done and if you are an assistant, you are at the whim of your head coach.  BUT, and this is a BIG BUTT,  I think if you are organized and are proactively planning and getting things done in advance, you shouldn’t need to be asking your staff to do things at all hours of the night as you remember them.   
  5. I created systems or checklists for almost everything.  I have checklists for what needs to get done on on-campus visits, recruiting phone calls, game day, preseason, travel, after season meetings, the spring season, etc.  It takes longer, the work doesn’t get done as well, things get forgotten, and it is mentally exhausting when you always trying to remember things because you only have everything up in your head.  Get your standard operating procedures out of your head and down on paper.  When you can get those things running smoother, it will free up a lot more time to do recruiting as well. 

I HAD to do these things above because I was tired of being tired and stressed out about not getting enough of my high priority stuff done. As you may have noticed, doing all of these things above required me to change how I was currently working. 

It was really hard a few years ago to make changes to how I was working because I was used to doing things a certain way.  But now, I don’t think twice about it. 

My program is so much better now because I am working on my program, and not just being busy working in my program. 

How do you make time for your top priorities?  Email me at mandy@busy.coach and let me know.  Love hearing all of the ways that everybody else is staying organized and focused on the right things.

Want to work with me this year to get more organized and productive?  Click here.

The Case for Getting Your Prospect to Talk Negative About YouMonday, January 8th, 2018

From a really young age, we are taught to earn the trust of those around us.

We want them to like us, and say only good things about us to anyone they might meet. We want positive words, positive vibes, and positive results.

Positive, positive, positive.

Here’s why that might not be such a good thing when it comes to your recruits, and the effort to attract them to your program:

If you can’t get them to reveal what they view as negative about you, your program, and the opportunity to come to your campus, they probably aren’t going to tell you the truth about some of the things that they really feel about the idea of coming there.

The reason? According to the research and focus groups we conduct during our campus workshops and work with our clients, today’s prospects talk to us about the hesitancy in telling a coach what they don’t like about the program, or the objections that they are holding quietly against you.

Don’t feel badly, Coach. It’s not just you, it’s virtually every coach they get to know while getting recruited. So, how do you separate yourself in the mind of your prospect so that you don’t endure the same fate awaiting your competitors who aren’t reading this article?

Get them to talk negative about you and your program. It might be tough to hear, but it’s essential if you want to dig down to the truth and get them to reveal his or her real feelings. Here’s how:

  • Ask them what the two or three biggest question marks are in their mind, now that they’ve gotten to know you and your program. Hear what I’m saying: Don’t ask them “if” they have any questions about the idea of committing to you, ask them what the questions and objections are about you and your program.
  • When they tell you, and seem to be done, don’t stop. Ask them, “I’m really glad you opened up and told me about those questions you’re still trying to figure out…what else would you add to the list?” Don’t assume that they’re done. They will often add to the list, and you need to know everything they are thinking and feeling.
  • Once you feel they are done, thank them again for sharing that honest feedback. It’s vital that they feel like there are no penalties for being honest with you, because you want them to keep being honest with you moving forward. Keep the door open for future revelations from your prospect.
  • Finally, let them know that you are going to spend time talking to them about their concerns, and that you feel after you are done, you’re going to be the program that they end up putting at the top of their list. You don’t have to use those words exactly, but you do need to convey that thought in it’s entirety.

Understand, this isn’t a fool-proof solution for winning every prospect. In fact, it may reveal that you are going to lose a prospect much earlier than you would have normally. But that’s part of dealing with the truth in recruiting accurately, and in a timely manner.

Getting your prospect to talk negatively about you is actually the way you get them to tell you the truth. If you feel like there are things going on behind the scenes that aren’t getting revealed to you in a recruiting situation, try this four step strategy we have seen work consistently over the years.

Want to hear more on this strategy, plus three other unique approaches to jump-starting your recruiting efforts that seem to be stalled, listen to this special College Recruiting Weekly podcast episode. CLICK HERE.

Four Sure-Fire Signs Your Recruit Really Is Interested In YouMonday, November 27th, 2017

We’ve always looked for signs of interest.

Growing up, you looked for signs that the special someone you had your eye on at the playground might like you, too. You looked for signs your high school coach was as good as your parents kept telling telling you that you were. You looked for signs that head coach you interviewed with for your first assistant coach position might have liked you the best.

Looking for signs of interest have now extended to your recruiting efforts. And like the three examples I just gave you, most of the time you were trusting your gut feeling in determining the answer. You listen for the tone in your prospect’s voice, you get excited when they return your text message, and you believe them when they tell you that you’re in their top five (spoiler alert: you might be disappointed).

Those little signs of life are indeed reason for hope – in the first half of the recruiting process leading up to a visit to campus. But as you’ve probably noticed, the same communication patterns, over and over again, get a little maddening. You’re looking for new reasons to get excited, and all they keep giving you is, well…more of the same.

So what should you be looking for as you enter what you would define as the final stages of the recruiting process? While recruiting is a combination of art, as well as science (with a little pinch of psychology every now and then), we can really define four clear signs that your prospect will accidentally give you that they are very, very interested in making you their top choice:

  1. The parents reveal what is going on behind the scenes with the process. Specifically, they will share details about who else they are talking to, other last minute visits that they are taking, or anything else related to the process of making the decision as to whether or not your college is right for them. Why is it so important to be hearing from the parents, rather than just hearing the same thing from the recruit themselves? Because we find that in most family recruiting decisions, the parents take an overly-active role at the end of the process with the coaches that they are serious about. (Which is why it’s so important to establish early and consistent contact with the parents of your recruits!)
  2. They ask a lot of questions about money. Or, about details of the scholarship offer you’ve given them. Really, anything that relates to how much they will be paying (or not paying) to attend your college and play for your program. All of this also includes objections or subtle arguments about those topics, too. Why would you want them to ask questions, or argue about, money or your scholarship offer? Because it’s a sign of interest. If they aren’t really taking you seriously, they won’t invest the time and energy into debating you, right? It’s actually the kids and parents who aren’t asking questions or arguing a little about money that you have to be concerned about.
  3. They ask if they can come back to campus one more time. Why? Because they want to make sure they didn’t miss any detail on their original visit(s). It’s an especially strong sign if they ask to see specific things, or talk to specific people, on campus. They probably won’t come right out and tell you that they’re interested, but a return visit late in the game is a really good sign. (Want to dig up more good signs from future prospects? Ask them these questions after they visit).
  4. Their high school or club coach goes out of their way to keep you updated on what the family is thinking. This is actually the weakest of the four signs that I’m giving you, but because so many college recruiters are now dealing with club and high school coaches as a requisite part of the recruiting cycle with an athlete, I wanted to mention it. The skeptical side of me will tell you that most coaches just try to keep all the possible fires burning on as many potential college campuses as possible. They are hoping to keep all the options open for their young athlete. So why should you hold out hope for this sign? Because sometimes, they are doing it in an effort to keep you interested in the athlete, and running interference on behalf of their athlete’s family who he or she knows is going to choose you, but has to wait until they go through the emotional decision making process.

Understand that you don’t necessarily need all – or any – of these to constitute a ‘truly interested prospect’. You may have top level kids that commit without demonstrating any of these at any point in the recruiting process. However, if you’re looking for something more than just a “gut feeling” about the situation down the final stretch, trust these four sure-fire signs that you have an interested prospect on your hands.

Want to learn more about how to guide your prospect through the final stages of the process – including setting and managing a fair but firm deadline? Watch this talk from Dan Tudor at the 2016 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

Dan Tudor – Deadlines & Closing from Tudor Collegiate Strategies on Vimeo.

Giving Your Recruits the Context They Desperately NeedMonday, August 14th, 2017

Too often, coaches fall into a dangerous trap when they try to tell their program’s story.

They don’t give their prospect context.

Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you’re a coach who is talking about the conference you compete in, a conference that – on the surface – isn’t anything important or special in the eyes of most recruits. And, as you talk about your conference, you talk about the other teams that you play, your program’s history and the last time you won a championship. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

But if you dig deeper, context is missing. When I use the term context with coaches we work with, or athletic departments we’re conducting workshops for, I explain that their recruits need the why behind what you’re telling them. Sometimes, I will explain that they need to ‘tell their recruit what they should think’ about a certain topic, fact or something they’re showing them on a visit.

Context does several important things for the recruit you’re talking to:

  • Most importantly, it gives them a basis for understand why they should care about what you’re saying. Specifically, why they should be interested in the information as it relates to them personally.
  • It gives them a reason to listen to you.
  • Context accelerates their understanding of your program, and what’s in it for them if they end up committing to you.
  • If done regularly, it helps them build a type of architecture of understanding and definition about you and your program.

What we try to get coaches to understand is that somebody has to supply context to a young student-athlete going through the recruiting process: The recruit, their parents, their extended family, their coach…or you. When coaches choose, unintentionally or otherwise, to defer definition of what their program is all about to individuals outside of their program, they make the active choice to relinquish control of a big part of their program’s story.

Don’t do it, Coach.

Instead, as you create your story for the next recruiting class, focus on these core strategies we’ve seen work:

Start each big conversation with an explanation. Something simple like, “Here’s why I want to talk to you about this…” sets up a reason that they should listen to what you’re about to say. And when you give them that explanation, make it about them as much as possible.

Or, end a big conversation with definition. After you show your prospect something, or talk to them about a topic that is important, define it for them by saying something simple like, “Here’s what all that should matter to you…”  Tell them why what you just talked about is important, and how they should define what they just heard you say to them, or what you’ve just shown them.

Preempt potential negative recruiting from your competition. If you know your competitors will criticize you about something, or point out a weakness in your program, facilities or school, warn your prospect ahead of time. In effect, give them context about what they’re about to hear, and do it in a way that combats and eliminates their intentions. For example, if you know your competitors are going to paint a bad picture of your older facilities with your recruit, give your recruiting context. Not about the facilities, but about your competitor’s intentions. For example, “So now that you’ve seen our facilities, let me warn you about something that might happen: There are some unethical coaches who are going to try to negative recruit us and try to scare you off because of our facilities. Here’s why that should be a huge red flag for you if a coach tries that…”  Again, it’s up to you to define what your prospects hear.

Context is one of the hidden secrets of effective recruiting. Do it correctly, and you’ll notice an almost immediate impact with your recruits, and the conversations you have with them.

This is just one of the advanced recruiting strategies that we implement for our clients. Working with us on a direct basis is the best way to insert effective recruiting language into the messages you send prospects. For more information on what that looks like specifically for your program, email Dan Tudor directly by email at dan@dantudor.com

Episode 26: Coach Matt Derosiers on Building a Championship Program Against the OddsTuesday, May 23rd, 2017

He coaches at a small Division III school that has to play Division I opponents. His university is a frozen tundra five months out of the year. And, he plays in a facility approaching three decades old. And he just won his second NCAA national championship in four years.

His name is Matt Derosiers, and he’s the head women’s hockey coach at Clarkson University. What he’s accomplished in building his program is pretty amazing, when you really look under the hood and realize that he has had to overcome many of the things that most coaches swear keep them from succeeding.

In this episode, you get to learn from him. He brings a creative, positive attitude to his job, and the results show. If you are looking for a winning formula for building a champion through recruiting and taking a creative approach based on building relationships, you’re going to love this edition of the College Recruit.



Every Single Recruiting Situation Boils Down To ThisMonday, November 21st, 2016

No matter what division level you coach, no matter what sport you recruit for, and no matter how experienced you are at recruiting this generation of student-athlete, every single recruiting situation boils down to this:

Who is it that you’re trying to reach? The answer to that question can’t be “everyone”. So what’s your answer, Coach?

Do you have your prototype recruit defined? Do you know who is right and who is wrong for you and your program? If you don’t, how in the world can you target the right message to that group?

How are you going to tell them your story?  Have you decided how you’re going to make them aware of who you are and what you can offer them? And more importantly, what form does that message take? Social media, letters, emails, phone calls…the mix you provide is critical.

Understand what I’m saying. Our research tells us very clearly that each method holds different meanings for recruits: Social media, for example, is perfect for showcasing your team’s personality to your prospects. Letters, on the other hand, really underscore the level of seriousness that you have towards that recruit, in their eyes. Use a good mix of messaging when you plan out your recruiting story.

What story are you telling that is worth repeating? One thing that we can tell you with a great degree of certainty about this generation of prospect is that they are attracted to a good story. They respond to marketing, if done correctly.

Average stories, with vanilla story lines, told in a mildly interesting way doesn’t go viral. It doesn’t get shared, nor does it get talked about. The bar is high for you, Coach. But if you can give them something different than the other coaches are, you’re going to win more prospects than you lose.

Is that story fitting their worldview? Understand that your prospect has specific fears, biases, and desires as they head through the recruiting process. And if you don’t adapt your message along with way to that specific recruit’s worldview, you’ll start losing them.

This part is important: In order to keep them engaged the deeper you go into the process, you need to find out what their dreams and fears are, and then develop a more customized message specific to their set of beliefs. The best recruiters do that regularly (which is why they get the best recruits).

Speaking of fear: What are you doing to alleviate it?  Every single one of your prospects that you lost in last year’s recruiting class said no to you and your program because their was a fear that was unresolved, and an objection that went unanswered.

Do you know what your prospects’ fears are? If you don’t, how can you answer his or her fears?

When do you want them to move forward? In other words, when you want them to take action, do they know it? And if they do, what’s holding them back?

One of the concepts that we teach in the recruiting workshops on campuses around the country is the idea that your recruit is either moving towards you, or away from you. They never stay neutral…they are always moving. Are they moving in your direction? And, are you controlling that action or is it a random result?

Why should they say yes? What is dad going to say to his friends when they ask him why his daughter or son chose your school, and your team? What is the prospect going to say when they go to high school with your college’s t-shirt on? Are people going to be impressed, or is he going to get funny looks and get asked “why them”?

If you don’t think this plays a major roll in how a final decision gets made, you’re fooling yourself.

How well you do with the first six points we’ve made is going to determine whether or not they’re able to answer this last critical question.

You can get one-on-one help in developing your story, and determining what the right approach should be for your program. We help coaching staffs around the country, and we can work with you and your program, too. Click here to get more details and take the first step towards defining what your story should be through our special client Total Recruiting Solution plan.

Hillary, Trump, and What Smart Recruiters Should Learn From Presidential ElectionsMonday, November 7th, 2016

Although this post is technically about politics, I’m not going to get political.

Even though all of our attitudes towards politics, and the candidates we’re voting for, and the party we align with, is central to what you need to learn today.

Here’s what I’m getting at…

Think about who you’re voting for in this election. Take a second and list the reasons, be they logical or emotional,  why you are voting for who you’re voting for. And think about the party you align yourself with – or, why you’ve chosen to remain independent.

Now, let me ask you a serious question: What would it take for someone to change your mind? I mean completely flip your way of thinking, and vote for the other side. (That’s right, the side you think is completely insane).

How hard would it be to do that? Is there any chance of that happening?

Yeah, I thought so.

Here’s the thing: That’s the same perspective your recruit will develop if you give them the chance.

In other words, once their mind is made up about who you are, what your program stands for, and how they feel about your campus, it’s going to be tough to change their mind.

  • If your competitor suggests that you might be fired after this next season, or that you don’t take a personal interest in your players, before you get the chance to define yourself to your prospect first, it’s going to be tough to change his or her mind.
  • If your competitor convinces your mutual recruit that you aren’t serious about winning, and that the department doesn’t invest as much in your program as their athletic department does, it’s going to be tough to change his or her mind.
  • If your competitor spends time showing a prospect around their mediocre locker room, and you choose to avoid showing your prospect your own mediocre locker room, expect that competing coach to question aloud why you’re hiding something – and expect that it’s going to be tough after that to change his or her mind.

So obviously, it would make sense to 1) establish what is “true” before your competitor does, and then 2) continue to emphasize that so that any alternative message never gets a chance to overtake what you’ve established as true.

Sound subversive? Not really, actually. What we’ve learned in over the last decade of working with our clients around college sports is that your recruits are desperately searching for a story to believe in. They need to buy into an idea of what makes one college better than the other, just like we need to believe that we are voting for the candidate that is going to match-up the closest to our beliefs. If you aren’t actively “campaigning” with a specific story for your recruits, you leave open the possibility that your competitor will take advantage of that with a competing message.

This simple idea explains the majority of recruiting decisions that are made around the country, in every sport, every single year. And yet it also remains one of the most ignored facets of successful, consistent recruiting. Developing an ongoing message that achieves the goal of establishing a foundation for communication that sets the standard for what’s true, and what isn’t, should be one of the primary focuses for any organized recruiting coordinator and coach.

In a Presidential election, we’re a nation that’s split down the middle, with the winner hoping to garner just enough of the vote to eek out a win. In recruiting, it’s a landslide: The coach who establishes the truth first through an effective story will usually win handily.

Want more free instruction on how to become a more consistent, effective recruiter? Subscribe to our podcast that goes in-depth with college coaches and guest experts.

For even more training, consider enrolling in Tudor University, our online training class that offers coaches certification in recruiting. It’s like a Master’s degree for your college recruiting career.

Or, take your recruiting strategy and messaging to the next level by letting us work one-on-one with you as a client. We’ll design a message plan and communication strategy that will increase responses, and get better players on campus sooner. Click here for more information, or contact Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.

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