by Dan Christensen, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
Standing out in recruiting is essential. If you don’t, recruits won’t come.
But, being able to stand out isn’t easy. By definition, it takes an extraordinary effort to not just be any ordinary school. And with so many colleges out there, recruits tend to lump most of them together.
Unless coaches can show the recruit why they are not like the other schools.
Here are two ways you can help your school, your program, and yourself stand out to the recruits you go after:
1) Recruit where you are naturally unique
Where do you go to find recruits?
If the regions you recruit from result in you competing with schools similar to yours, that might not be the most effective use of your time.
Instead, find regions of the country where your school will be different.
Geographically this can be easy. Are you a small D3 school in New England? Start talking to kids from Texas or California. Because New England recruits will have over 50 small D3 schools to choose from within the region.
Are you a D2 school with scholarship money? Instead of trying to only compete with other schools in your area that also offer athletic scholarships, find some areas of the country (like New England) that are heavily D3 so you can use that scholarship to catch a recruit’s attention.
Maybe your school has a unique major that a lot of other schools don’t have, like engineering or nursing. Look for some areas of the country that don’t have a wealth of schools that have those majors. Chances are there are some prospects that want one of those majors but don’t have a good local option.
Now, distance from home is certainly an important factor. A lot of kids just won’t want to go far from home, regardless of how unique your school is. But, if we want to stand out, recruiting in different areas of the country than you usually recruit from can instantly make you the different option. And if you’re struggling the way you recruit now, don’t keep doing it that way.
2) Don’t do what most coaches do
I am going to give you a handful of things that many coaches around the country do that contribute to their schools getting lumped in with others in a recruit’s mind:
- Send long, boring emails with a ton of facts and info that recruits don’t care about (acreage on campus, random rankings, number of majors offered, etc.)
- Don’t intentionally communicate with the parents of a recruit
- Make prospects do the typical, impersonal admissions visit
- Have most of communication be either “check in” messages or messages pushing them to visit or apply
When this is what your recruiting strategy looks like, your school will not stand out. Instead, do this:
- Send short, to the point, emails and letters that create curiosity and use a conversational tone
- Communicate with the parents of your recruits early and often
- Run personalized campus visits that heavily involve your current team
- Send consistent messaging that has a purpose and helps your recruit understand more about who you are and moves them forward in their decision process
These are just a few examples. But, if you want to stand out you need to do what other coaches won’t do.
Be the best communicator. Run the best visits. Be the most personal. That is all in your control and you need to do it to the best of your ability and be willing to step out of the ordinary habits that kill recruiting.
Dan Christensen is part of the staff of recruiting experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies that helps over 500 programs around the country. If you want to make sure you stand out in recruiting, email Dan to set up a strategy call at firstname.lastname@example.org.