There may be no other endeavor in the world more centered on the right language, used at the right time, in order to elicit a specific action. Regardless of party, politicians make word study a hallmark of a successful campaign.
For college coaches who are serious about being successful recruiters, the lessons in language should be a priority.
At the heart of that language focus is which type of word elicits the most positive reaction from voters in the world of politics. Recent studies highlight the need for a noun-based, versus a verb-based language approach, to reach the best results:
The study shows that people’s desire to shape their own identities can be harnessed to motivate behavior. That is, using noun-based wording to frame socially valued future behavior allows individuals, by performing the behavior, to assume the identity of a worthy person.
That should be a strong warning to college coaches, and force some serious reflection on how their individual letters, emails and social media posts, and even the questions they ask their recruits on the phone are constructed.
Think about it: Do you, as a recruiter, want your prospect to think about their self-identity? Or, do you want them to think about their behavior. As the voter study proves, savvy political candidates will focus on nouns and get their targeted audience motivated to take action. As a college recruiter, you should take the same approach.
Nouns beat verbs. But, as we’ve outlined before, verbs beat adjectives.
Nouns paint a picture of who the person is. Action is important, and verbs are all about action. But for your recruits, simply prompting action isn’t enough to gain a long term commitment. As we outline in our popular recruiting guides for college coaches, your job as a top-tier recruiter is to get them to understand who you are, and what your program is all about, thereby creating the attraction to your program. In other words, the nouns identify who you are as a coach, thereby prompting a recruit’s actions.
Verbs are about doing, nouns are descriptive. There are certainly times to use verbs in your recruiting message. Absolutely. Especially when your goal is to elicit a specific response or action. But you can’t do that too soon, or too often. If you’re describing your program as one that’s “going places”, “on the rise”, or that you want to “build your program around them”, it may seem too fast, too soon. When you focus on verbs, you’d better be darn sure that your recruit is ready to ‘move’ in that same direction with you – or else you risk leaving them behind in the dust.
Your recruits want to know who you are. That requires nouns. Many coaches, when we begin working with them as new clients, are so focused on getting a recruit to campus, or getting them to apply, or just getting them to return a phone call, that everything is focused on action. What we have found in our research is that most prospects take time to ramp-up to that point where they are interested in taking any kind of action. What gets them to that point? Understand who you are, and that they want to associate themselves with you. To achieve that, you’re probably going to need to use nouns.
In a sense, this language strategy focus on appealing to the insecurities of your prospect. Use nouns instead of verbs to get your recruits to change their behavior, eventually prompting the action you’re seeking. People, like your recruits and their parents, think about their self-identities when they hear nouns. When they hear verbs, they think of behavior.
Nouns win, Coach.
It’s well worth your time to review what kind of language your messages contain, and what needs to be changed right away in order to get more desirable results from your recruits
Does the idea of using more scientific, results-oriented language as a part of a consistent, comprehensive recruiting plan sound like something you would like to do (but you really don’t want to take the time to figure out how to do it so it works for your program)? Let’s talk. We can explain why our decade of experience has lead us to uncover specific language that can elicit the right response from your recruits, and tell you how we can create a customized plan specifically for your prospects. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you information and set up a time to talk one-on-one about your specific situation and challenges. It’s worked for programs around the country, and it can work for you, too.