by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Two of the ongoing challenges for many admissions and enrollment teams across the country are:
- Getting a prospective student to open the communications that come after your first letter or email
- Getting the student to actually read those subsequent letters and emails
I didn’t even mention whether or not the words and tone of your emails and letters actually make an impact in the mind of the student reading it.
I think we can all agree that we live in a “buyer’s market” for students when it comes to selecting a college. Today’s student has options and approaches the process from a different angle.
That means your recruiting communication plan shouldn’t have the same look and feel as it did even five years ago. It’s an important piece of a winning recruiting strategy and needs to constantly be scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb.
Today I want to focus on your recruiting letters and emails and how to get your prospects to pay more attention to them. The more effective you are in your writing, the better you’ll be able to tell your school’s unique story to your recruits.
Here’s something else that you need to know! Our research shows that a prospective student will most often draw their initial picture of your school through the letters and email messages that they receive.
See if you can apply these four proven tips to your recruiting messages to get a more meaningful response from your prospects:
- Make it look more like a website. According to studies, most of us today ‘scan’ websites for information. Do your letters and emails have the same look and feel of a website? If not, you’re not taking advantage of our society’s preferred method of looking for (and finding) information. The days of trying to cram all the facts you can about your school in small font are over. Short, logical, fact-based messages is the strategy I want you to employ. Your recruiting letters need to look, sound and “feel” different than they probably do now.
- Questions, questions, questions. Our research also finds that today’s generation of students wants and needs you to ask them questions. Some prospects don’t know what to ask you, while others are just too scared to do so. Even if they don’t answer every question you ask in a letter or an email, they will actively engage with you in their mind. Eventually, they stand a better chance of replying to you and taking the next step in the recruiting process. Generating that back and forth communication doesn’t happen by accident. Make sure you ask them the right questions at the right time in the right way.
- Be bold and use bold. Bold type is another way to set your ideas in motion with your prospects. We see a lot of letters that admissions or marketing write with bold type in a traditional place…usually at the beginning of a sentence or main idea. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you really want to interrupt your prospect’s train of thought, try bold face type at the end of a main idea. That way, they’ll have to re-read what you were talking about before the boldface type, which further engages your reader.
- Forget the rules. The writing rules that is. We’ve all learned way too many letter-writing rules. And, honestly, they’re getting in the way of your messages being read by a large group of your prospects. As I’ve explained before, your letters and emails shouldn’t look and sound like the NFL rulebook. Instead, think, “If I were in a room with my one of my prospects and I needed to get his/her attention, engage him/her, and present reasons why they should want to be a part of our student body, what would I say to him/her?” Then, let the conversation flow naturally. What I think you’ll find is what our clients already know – less formal and more conversational not only works but also does not make you sound any less professional.
Those are four very easy, very effective ways to re-capture the attention of your recruits when they get one of your envelopes or open one of your emails.
If you want to take your recruiting to the next level and truly deliver outstanding customer service, re-read some of the letters and emails that went out this past year with your name on it. Ask yourself if they look and sound like something that one of your prospects might want to read and (more importantly) respond to.
Would you like even more help? I’m happy to look over one of your messages and offer honest feedback free of charge. All you have to do is ask…which you can do by clicking this link and emailing me.