by Dan Christensen, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
In order to win a recruit’s commitment, you need to separate yourself from every other program recruiting that athlete.
Simply put, a recruit’s process is to consider several schools and then ultimately pick one. One that they feel is different and better than the others.
You as a recruiter should always be looking to explain and prove that you are better than their other options. If that is not being focused on, it is going to be harder for that recruit to come to that realization.
Coaches often get caught up in trying to do what the best recruiters are doing. They see an idea and want to copy it for their program. That can be a great strategy for trying to neutralize yourself with a program that is having success. But, it isn’t making you different than them, it is only lumping you in with that program.
Do things that are out of your control contribute to how easy it is to stand out? Sure. Your location, the cost of attendance, the academic prestige of the school, facilities, and the history of your program are largely out of your control. But they will be considered in that recruit’s decision.
So, what can you control that will allow you to differentiate yourself, your program, and your school?
1) How well you communicate with your prospect’s parents
Want to know how well most coaches do in this important aspect of recruiting? Not very well. I am just being honest, Coach.
Most coaches either never communicate with the parents or will only do so if the parents just happen to be in the background of a call with the recruit. Some coaches do a decent job communicating with the parents on and after the campus visit. The problem here is that the visit sometimes happens closer to the end of the process and it could be too late to make up ground at that point.
If you want to be different, communicate with the parents early and often. What this will do is set a standard of communication that other coaches are not going to be able to uphold. As you maintain it and your competition doesn’t, you will separate yourself more and more.
The parents need to trust you. In order to send their son or daughter away from home for four years and to sign checks for thousands of dollars to your school, they need to trust you. That happens with consistent and intentional relationship building.
Be the best at communicating with your recruit’s parents. That is totally in your control.
2) How often you write physical letters to your prospects
When is the last time you wrote your recruit a letter? Not an email, text message, or social media direct message. But, a physical letter that has a handwritten touch that gets delivered to your recruit’s house.
If you are like most coaches, your answer is either “never” or “it has been a while.” Messaging through letters provides a huge opportunity to stand out in recruiting.
Your goal should be that at the end of the process, when your recruit is sitting at their desk in their room, debating their college decision, the stack of letters from you is larger than any other coach.
Because, your recruits are keeping those letters. They might not keep the mass mail pamphlets, brochures, or postcards. But, a letter that is either handwritten or at least has a handwritten signature will not be thrown out. They will put it on their fridge or stack it on their desk.
At the end of their decision, whoever has sent them the most letters is not guaranteed to win the recruit. But, they have certainly done the work to help differentiate themselves to help their case!
Looking to create more factors that will differentiate you in the eyes of a recruit? We have two decades of experience helping college coaches at all levels do that. To see how it could work for you, and what we do, click here.