Too often, coaches fall into a dangerous trap when they try to tell their program’s story.
They don’t give their prospect context.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say you’re a coach who is talking about the conference you compete in, a conference that – on the surface – isn’t anything important or special in the eyes of most recruits. And, as you talk about your conference, you talk about the other teams that you play, your program’s history and the last time you won a championship. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
But if you dig deeper, context is missing. When I use the term context with coaches we work with, or athletic departments we’re conducting workshops for, I explain that their recruits need the why behind what you’re telling them. Sometimes, I will explain that they need to ‘tell their recruit what they should think’ about a certain topic, fact or something they’re showing them on a visit.
Context does several important things for the recruit you’re talking to:
- Most importantly, it gives them a basis for understand why they should care about what you’re saying. Specifically, why they should be interested in the information as it relates to them personally.
- It gives them a reason to listen to you.
- Context accelerates their understanding of your program, and what’s in it for them if they end up committing to you.
- If done regularly, it helps them build a type of architecture of understanding and definition about you and your program.
What we try to get coaches to understand is that somebody has to supply context to a young student-athlete going through the recruiting process: The recruit, their parents, their extended family, their coach…or you. When coaches choose, unintentionally or otherwise, to defer definition of what their program is all about to individuals outside of their program, they make the active choice to relinquish control of a big part of their program’s story.
Don’t do it, Coach.
Instead, as you create your story for the next recruiting class, focus on these core strategies we’ve seen work:
Start each big conversation with an explanation. Something simple like, “Here’s why I want to talk to you about this…” sets up a reason that they should listen to what you’re about to say. And when you give them that explanation, make it about them as much as possible.
Or, end a big conversation with definition. After you show your prospect something, or talk to them about a topic that is important, define it for them by saying something simple like, “Here’s what all that should matter to you…” Tell them why what you just talked about is important, and how they should define what they just heard you say to them, or what you’ve just shown them.
Preempt potential negative recruiting from your competition. If you know your competitors will criticize you about something, or point out a weakness in your program, facilities or school, warn your prospect ahead of time. In effect, give them context about what they’re about to hear, and do it in a way that combats and eliminates their intentions. For example, if you know your competitors are going to paint a bad picture of your older facilities with your recruit, give your recruiting context. Not about the facilities, but about your competitor’s intentions. For example, “So now that you’ve seen our facilities, let me warn you about something that might happen: There are some unethical coaches who are going to try to negative recruit us and try to scare you off because of our facilities. Here’s why that should be a huge red flag for you if a coach tries that…” Again, it’s up to you to define what your prospects hear.
Context is one of the hidden secrets of effective recruiting. Do it correctly, and you’ll notice an almost immediate impact with your recruits, and the conversations you have with them.
This is just one of the advanced recruiting strategies that we implement for our clients. Working with us on a direct basis is the best way to insert effective recruiting language into the messages you send prospects. For more information on what that looks like specifically for your program, email Dan Tudor directly by email at email@example.com