Dan Tudor

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December 19th, 2011

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Should You Use Assimilation or Differentiation with Your Next Prospect?

All of us have the need to be included in a group.

Your prospects are no different.

It all goes back to our primary need for two basic psychological drives: Assimilation and differentiation.

Assimilation is our basic longing to be included in a group, while differentiation is the pleasure we derive from being “set apart” as special.  Both are important for coaches to keep in mind as they are recruiting.

So, let me ask you a question:

How are you incorporating those two basic psychological principles in your recruiting strategy?

Most coaches aren’t.  And those that are usually do so by mistake…getting great results, but not quite sure why.

So, I wanted to share some of the reasons incorporating answers to your recruit’s basic psychological need to be included, or set apart, are so effective in getting them to take a serious look at you and your program.

Here are three fairly common recruiting scenarios, and how this strategy can work to help overcome an obstacle you might be facing with a future prospect:

  • Designate their uniqueness by location. This works especially well if you’re dealing with prospects from out of state.  You can try to make them feel special by telling them that they are “one of only x number of players” you’re recruiting from that area, and that you are specifically wanting to take a serious look at them since they are from an area that you’ve targeted.  Sometimes, making them part of a special group you are targeting sets you apart from other programs that are just recruiting them as a regular prospect.
  • Use assimilation as a method to attract wishy-washy prospects to your campus. As you may have noticed, today’s teenage prospect (and their parents) are sometimes hesitant to commit to a campus visit if you and your program aren’t at the very top of your list.  An effective strategy we’ve seen work is to tell your recruit and their family that you need (not want, need) them to visit campus as soon as possible so that you can go over your plan for them, and – assuming it’s an athlete that you’ve decided you want in your program – talk about the offer you’re going to be making them.  Including them in a select group, and giving them a specific reason for needing to come to campus, is turning out to be a compelling draw for many recruits.  Consider it when you find yourself in the scenario I just described.
  • Ask for an early commitment so that your recruit becomes part of an exclusive group. We find that a lot of recruits are wary of committing early, especially to a program that hasn’t done well in the past, need an extra push at the end of the recruiting process.  Again, turning to those two proven psychological needs might provide you with the answer you’re looking for:  Try suggesting that you want them to be one of your recruits that gives you an early commitment so that they can be a part of a select group of your new athletes that you can start preparing early for their upcoming college career.  In other words, use the early commitment to place your prospect in an exclusive group that leads them to make a commitment, or explain why they aren’t ready.

You can expand this concept into other areas of your recruiting, as well.  The main point here is that more coaches need to try to formulate a strategy to find a way to get your recruit into a group that they want to be in.  They have a need to be included, and feel like they belong.

If you can find a way to do that, you’ll find that it’ll make a difference to the recruits you really want.

Want more ideas on how to use the latest research and recruiting strategies to your advantage?  We’ve got lots of great resources for serious college coaches.  Click here to take a look at what we can do for you, Coach!

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