Words mean things.
It’s a simple mantra, but often overlooked even by experienced recruiters.
Why does it matter? Because the first chance you have to get a recruit’s attention – whether you are a Division I coach who has a program in the national spotlight, or a coach from a small Division III school – is through an email or a letter. Great copywriting is an essential part of a successful recruiting campaign, it’s the life-blood of your entire recruiting message.
Here are some of the recommendations I shared with a Division II coach I’m working with as a new client. We’re helping them develop a series of messages that will go to recruits after they visit their campus, and agreed to share just a few of the things we’re using to develop their campaign. Can any of these tips help you be a more effective communicator?
Send mail in different looking envelopes. I don’t usually open “junk mail” but two years ago I remember receiving a letter and small brochure booklet in a clear, see-through envelope. It looked cool, I got a glimpse of what was inside because of the see-through material it was mailed in, and I opened it. Getting mail opened by your recruits is getting tougher and tougher, even if you’re a coach talking to an athlete about a possible scholarship. Another tip that a college I recently worked with is using: A personalized message on the outside of each envelope. They look great, and they’re getting opened. Each is allowed by the NCAA and the U.S. Postal Service, and is considered regular first class mail. You have lots of options to stand out from your competition. We have a lot more on this specific topic in our two popular recruiting guides for college coaches…click here for information on them.
Ask a question at the beginning of your message. Make it compelling. Make them stop and think. And, most importantly, tie it in to a motivation that your prospect has on their mind as a recruit looking at your school, as well as many others. Getting their attention at the start of the letter or e-mail is crucial.
Use active verbs. At the risk of sounding like your high school English teacher, let me recommend that you use active verbs throughout any communication you have with athletes. How? Be eliminating the verbs “is”, “are”, “was”, “were” and “am”. For instance, if you’re talking about your program’s great graduation rates, don’t say “Our graduation rate for 2005 was 95%”. “Was” is a no-no, remember. Instead, say “Our graduation rates soared to 95% in 2005.” A minor detail? Yes. But, an important one. Using the right verbs keep your reader engaged. Using the wrong verbs runs the risk of driving them away.
Use an active “voice“. Kind of the same theory, except this applies to your overall message. Never write in the past tense. Write in the present, active tense. For example, “Our athletes had the chance to attend the bowl game last year” isn’t that exciting. Instead, how about “Our athletes attended the bowl game last year.” See the difference? It’s subtle, but like using active verbs, it keeps your readers engaged
Writing effective recruiting letters isn’t easy, but it’s vital to your recruiting success.
Ignoring the little things like the way you are speaking to your prospects runs the risk of never fully attracting the attention of the athletes you hope to recruit to your program. Take a look at your current letters and emails and get to work on those changes, coach!
Have questions about your recruiting message? Need help getting a jump-start on transforming your letters? Email Dan Tudor directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and arrange a time for a talk with you and your staff. We’re here to help!