Coaches that we work with are often surprised by how often we recommend written letters on paper as one of the primary ways to communicate important messages to they’re recruits.
And I completely understand why.
After all, your recruit can’t hit “reply” and send a message right back to you like they could via email. You can’t share a video, you can’t send them a link to your online questionnaire…there are a lot of limitations to an old-fashioned letter landing in front of your recruit when it comes to a response. No argument there, Coach.
However, all of the research we’ve conducted over the years keeps pointing us back to the impact that a letter has when it arrives to your prospect. And now, there are scientific studies to back-up our reasoning, and explains the psychology behind why all of us – your teenage prospects and their parents included – respond so favorably to the printed word.
The studies come to a somewhat surprising conclusion, given the Facebook-liking, Twitter-obsessed culture we find ourselves in: Mail outranks electronic media when it comes to some really important areas.
- Physical media, such as recruiting letters and other creative materials, caused more emotional processing in the brains of those tested.
- The same physical media left a deeper footprint in the minds of the recipients.
The bottom line of the latest study, which you can read in full here, is that physical mail and media seems more “real” to the reader. That’s an important fact to pay attention to, Coach, because the areas of the brain that are engaged during this process are some of the places that make the deepest impact when it comes to our emotional connection with the sender.
There are some really effective ideas that are NCAA compliant that we recommend you focus on when it comes to making the most out of your physical mail recruiting:
- Pay attention to the stock and quality of the paper you use. The study seems to indicate that the weight, brightness, and other quality factors are noticed by the reader. For example, what if you wrote about wanting to talk to your recruit about an offer, and did so on a heavier card stock? The look and feel of the paper you use helps to underscore the message you’re sending them. In other words, the weight of the paper often will signal the “weight” or quality behind the message that you are sending them.
- Since paper registers deeper with our emotions, save your more emotional messages for the printed page. Things like your vision for your program, an official invitation to campus…those kinds of messages should be written.
- Paper messages are almost always better for parents. Why? First, it’s a more accepted form of communication compared to their kids (who may not even be able to find the mailbox at their home, much less know they can actually open it up every day to receive mail). The other thing we personally like about written letters, and one of the main reasons we recommend them to our clients, is that they have staying power with parents. Very rarely do printed and hand-written letters get thrown away. We can’t say the same about email messages.
- Paper is a great place to emphasize your program’s logo and mission statement. And, recruits are looking for those kinds of ideas from you – especially in the beginning of the recruiting relationship as they attempt to figure out what you’re all about and define you moving forward. Go into as much detail as possible as you lay out a vision for why they need to take a serious look at you, and try to make your emotional appeals to recruits on the printed page.
Does this mean you should ditch electronic recruiting altogether and start licking stamps all day? Of course not, Coach.
Electronic communication with your recruits, when done consistently and correctly, can be a primary way to communicate with them. There are ways that you can interact with a recruit electronically that you just can’t with written letters.
However, what I am suggesting is that you put a stop to the growing trend I see when we consult with coaching staffs…the trend of moving totally away from written mail in favor of all-electronic recruiting campaigns. When you do that, you risk not seeming “real” to your prospect as you lack the seriousness of what a written letter tends to convey.
It’s an easy lesson: Balance your more modern communication with some physical mail, as well. When you do, you’ll find that you give a much more in-depth, personalized feeling to your recruit as you try to separate you from your competition.
And when it comes to your recruiting message plan, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Are you feeling like you’re off to a slow start with this next recruiting class? Do you want to avoid making messaging mistakes that could cost you that great class you need (again)? Bring in Dan Tudor and his team to help you take a research-based, scientific approach to building effective, consistent recruiting messages for your recruits. Click here for more information on how we work with college staffs around the country, and why it’s so effective. You can also email Dan Tudor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask specific questions about your individual situation. You can also request a complete overview of our client program and the ridiculously affordable plan options.