Best selling author Seth Godin put forward an interesting point that I think has application for college coaches and recruiters:
“Cat food is for people.
So is this bag of gluten-free, kale, peanutty dog treats.
And the first birthday party for the kid down the street is for her parents, not her. And the same is true for most gifts we give people (they’re for us, and how we feel giving them, not for the recipient, not really). And many benefits the company offers to its employees…
It’s easy to imagine that the giver is focused on the recipient at all times. But, more often than not, the way the gift makes us feel to give is at least as important as how it makes the other person (or pet, or infant) feel to receive it.
P.S. If you think cat food is for cats, how come it doesn’t come in mouse flavor?”
So, how does all of this translate into relevance for serious college coaches in the midst of selling their programs and telling their stories to a much more complicated group of potential prospects? No, it has nothing to do with cat food (or a birthday party for the kid down the street).
I think it has everything to do with the parents of many of your recruits.
The school that their son or daughter chooses, the program that they will compete for, and what you’re going to be offering them: All of that, according to our research, is vitally important to a majority of the parents of the recruits that you are focusing on.
- About 6 out of 10 parents have strong feelings about the level of the program that their son or daughter competes in.
- Just over 7 out of 10 parents tell us that they felt it was personally important to make sure that the “brand” of the college or university their son or daughter chose was an important factor in their final decision.
- 8.5 out of 10 parents said they felt “justified” with their son or daughter’s choice of school and sports program in regards to their investment of time and money into their child’s sports career leading up to competing at the college level.
Let me give you another scenario that I know plays out time and time again all over the country: The parents of your recruit is sitting in the stands at their local Friday night football game back in their community. They’re wearing the college gear of the school that their son or daughter competes for. Inevitably, their friends ask them about their child’s college experience, and why they decided to go there. In their answer, they’ll most certainly lean on the facts about how prestigious the school is, why it is the perfect fit when it comes to their child’s major, and probably jump at the chance to talk about how much money the college is giving them to play their sport at the school (yes, even the parents of Division III kids that are getting no athletic money).
In reading those three key statistics, and accepting that the scenario I described above is true (it’s based on hundreds of stories that we hear every year when we conduct our popular On-Campus Workshops for athletic departments), let’s all agree on one key conclusion:
Just like cat food is for people, and the big birthday party down the street is for the parents of the kid blowing out the candles, where their son or daughter chooses to compete in college is really important for how the parents end up feeling about themselves as, well…parents.
(This is where you come in, Coach).
What are you going to do about it? You have an overwhelming number of parents who feel and act this way during the recruiting process, and it no doubt changes the way they look at your school, you as a coach, your program, and what you’re able to give them (I mean, give their son or daughter)
You can scan our blog library for specific strategies and ideas that you think might fit you and your program, but here are four key questions I think every staff needs to answer as you head into your next recruiting year:
- How soon are you incorporating a conversation with the parents of your recruit into your recruiting plan?
- What percentage of messaging are you dedicating to recruiting the parents of your prospects?
- What kind of questions are you asking parents to get them to reveal what’s important to them as they help their son or daughter make their final decision?
- Even if you feel you can’t beat a competitor with what you’re offering a recruit, how are you presenting it to make them feel justified in choosing you?
That last one is a biggie. Do dogs really love kale peanutty flavored dog treats? Who knows. But a significant enough of buyers of dog treats obviously do, and isn’t that the most important fact if you’re a marketer?
I firmly believe that how you as a coach define your program, tell your story, and explain to the influential decision-driving parents of your best prospects what they should think about different aspects of your college, program and offer will completely drive the decision making process.
The problem is, most college coaches aren’t doing it. Which is why most college coaches experience completely random recruiting results, don’t know what the parents of their recruits are really thinking, and get increasing frustrated at the power they have over the final decision of their sons and daughters.
Go back to those four questions, Coach. How would you answer them?
Once you have the answers, and you feel you might want some expert help, email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about the Total Recruiting Solution plan we construct for coaching staffs. The unique plans we develop can help tell the right story to your recruits and their parents, and make recruiting a lot more predictable.