At some point each year, coaching staffs sit down and evaluate the effectiveness of their recruiting campaigns that they are either in the midst of, or have just completed.
At the core of the questions most staffs ending up asking themselves is this: “How can our recruiting campaigns be more effective?”
The Fortune 500 business world asks the very same question when evaluating the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, and gauging what they should do next to grow their respective businesses.
One of the ways to evaluate the way you and your college coaching staff manage the process of recruiting a class of prospects – and the overall “impact” of your message and approach to your prospects – is to use the seven point evaluation method in the graphic to the left, a process outlined by marketing expert Seth Godin. In short, he makes the claim that your “project” (i.e., your recruiting campaign) is not going to be at full effectiveness unless each of these seven points intersect.
So, Coach…are you feeling like your recruiting campaign isn’t quite hitting on all cylinders? Let me take you through these same seven points that we look for when we’re developing a recruiting strategy for our clients. See if any of these points raise a red flag for your program’s recruiting process:
Strategy: Is your strategy outlined in a way that is achievable, and (more importantly) measurable. By “measurable”, I mean it should be able to tell you whether or not you are on track to succeed and meet your recruiting goals. A strategy is more than a list of recruits and a schedule of what games you and your staff are going to go scout. It should be a series of planned steps that allows you (and not your athlete or their parents) to control the recruiting process from start to finish. Can you outline your program’s specific recruiting strategy, and measure the results you are getting?
Persistence: As I see it, this is a two-fold point. First, I believe it means that a recruiting staff doesn’t give-up, and doesn’t waver in their focus and attention to recruiting. Secondly, persistence is reflected in your ongoing messaging with recruits. Far too many staffs are content with a few long-winded letters, weak emails, and randomly planned recruiting visits to secure their recruiting classes. Persistence (and consistency) are essential for attracting the next level recruits that every coach craves. Do they commit to your program by accident? Rarely, Coach. It takes persistence. How does your program do when it comes to persistence in recruiting?
Fear: Coaches don’t talk about this one much. Coaches “afraid” of something? Ridiculous, right? Not at all. Coaches fear changing the way of doing things differently than the way they were recruited as an athlete. There is a fear of deviating from the “normal” way of doing things, even though most coaches also describe a gnawing feeling that the approach they are taking with this generation of athletes just isn’t getting it done. Fear can also manifest itself in the way a staff deals with specific recruits: “We can’t set a deadline because what if we lose her? Not getting her to commit will ruin our recruiting class for this year.” And so, the coach in that situation – fearful of making a mistake or insulting their recruit – does nothing. They take the “middle road” (where things get run over, unfortunately) and pray that they get lucky and land the recruit they need. Fear? We see it in a lot of staffs. Does it manifest itself in your recruiting efforts?
Tactics: This is feet-on-the-street, get-it-done stuff. A prospect throws a coach an objection about the lack of diversity on their campus, and the coach is ready with an answer that not only deflects the question, but turns the answer into a selling point as to why the make-up of their campus’ student body is exactly what that recruit needs to be successful in life. Tactics are not inherited, they are learned. They take practice, and are never something that are perfected in the heat of battle. Are “tactics” something that you and your staff discuss on a regular basis? Moreover, are they something that are talked about in relation to specific top level athletes that are on your list? Those are important questions. Persistence without smart tactics is just a huge waste of time.
Execution: Similar to tactics, but this is where planning and movement end, and results begin. Execution is the end result of a plan. Planning an approach to calling your list of prospects and coming up with some questions you want to ask is a good start. That’s what I would define as your tactical approach to making those calls. “Execution” is the act of actually making the phone call and achieving the results you want as a byproduct of how you made those recruiting phone calls. Like tactics, expert execution is not inherited magically once you put on your school’s polo shirt and get your business cards printed. It’s an art form that is perfected over time, with lots of practice and evaluation along the way. Execution is the end result of all of your philosophies and training, and it’s the aspect of your recruiting that can most accurately be measured and evaluated on an ongoing basis. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, what do you rate your recruiting execution?
Reputation: A lot of coaches will use this aspect of their recruiting strategy as a crutch, and will point to it as the reason why they can’t possibly recruit those next level athletes they need to be successful:
- “Our facilities (reputation) are horrible…who would want to play here?”
- “We haven’t won here in years (reputation)…how am I going to overcome that?”
- “All of our competition always slams us on our location (reputation)…it’s a big reason we can’t the really good athletes to come here.”
There are things that are out of your control like your facility, your location, and the program you inherited when you became the coach. You own those things, Coach. However, you also own the ability to define (or re-define) your reputation. Most of the time, your prospects and their parents are simply looking for some definition about how to think about your program. So, how well are you managing that power that you have, Coach? Are you taking the initiative in radically defining what your program’s vision is, and how you are making sure that vision becomes a reality? Or, if you are the coach of a program that has a long history of success, how well are you defining yourself for your prospects? Your reputation is everything. Use it, Coach (and if it’s not something you’d brag about at this point, start re-telling your recruiting story in a way that makes it something you would be excited to tell)
Desire: Do you really want to recruit? Do you really want to be the best possible recruiter you can be? Do you really want to beat your competition when it comes to recruiting? I hope the answer is yes. Desire comes down to an attitude that accepts nothing less than excellence. Not only on the court, or on the field, or in the pool, but on the recruiting trail. Do you desire to make sure your recruiting strategy more amazing than everyone else’s? That’s the standard you need to meet…amazing. Did I just describe you? (If I didn’t, that should make you think).
All of these factors are vital when it comes to achieving a successful recruiting strategy. It’s not magic, it’s planning.
What you do next is up to you.
Need help in developing your recruiting strategy – as well as flawless execution – as you head into this next recruiting year? Our staff of experts have proven, research-based strategies that can be applied to any program’s individual needs. We’d love to talk to you about how we work with some of your competitors, and what we’re doing to improve their recruiting results year in and year out. We’ll be happy to send you a complete overview of what we do, and how we do it…just email Dan Tudor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, visit www.dantudor.com for all the details.