by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Have you ever asked yourself, “What are my recruits thinking after they read that latest recruiting letter or email from us?” It’s an important question, and quite frankly in today’s recruiting environment, you can’t afford not to ask it.
During our ongoing research with students, we ask them to offer feedback about the communications they receive from colleges. I’m guessing you want to know what their answers are, right? Here are two recent responses:
- “Create an outreach that is personal. Not just generic messages that are sent to 1,000s of students.”
- “We get hundreds of emails during senior year. Make it shorter and actually interesting because everything sounds the same and we get distracted easily.”
Both of these responses echoed sentiments that we hear quite frequently. So today I’m going to add another job responsibility to your title: expert recruiting message writer.
It’s not an option any longer. If you don’t create great letters and emails, you risk not only losing the attention of your prospect but also not having the opportunity to start a relationship with them at all.
So, how can you craft messaging that is personal yet distributed to the masses and still generates a high level of responses from your prospects? Hint: Putting your recruit’s name at the top of the letter or email isn’t the answer. That kind of personalization will get your prospect’s attention at first, but when they see the same letter with a different name on it at their friend’s house or on a classmate’s social media page, the novelty will wear off.
Over the years, our team of experts has developed some tricks and techniques that help us to break through that occasional writer’s block hurdle. There’s one secret in particular that I want to share with you today: Forget the rules.
You heard me correctly. I want you to forget the rules – the writing rules that is. Believe it or not, all of those letter-writing rules you’ve learned over the years are preventing many of you from truly connecting with this current class of recruits.
Instead of worrying about the rules you learned in high school and college, I want you to focus on your prospect while also recalling how a typical conversation plays out when you’re in the company of friends. Think, “If I were in a room with (insert your recruit’s name) and needed to get his/her attention, engage him/her, and present reasons why he/she should attend (insert your school’s name), what would I say?” Then let the conversation flow naturally out of your fingers to the keyboard or to your pen as if you were talking to them one-on-one. Less formal and more conversational. That’s the key.
For some of you reading this article, the strategy of forgetting the writing rules will be hard. I mean really hard…to the point where it might even be a non-starter because you’re afraid the end result will look “funny,” or not sound academic/professional enough.
Every now and then we have new clients who express those same concerns after they receive their first set of custom recruiting messages from us. The tone of the message is different than they’re used to, and seeing a sentence begin with the word “and” or “but” causes them to worry. About a week or two later I’ll get an email from the school’s director telling me everything worked out just fine. The counselors are getting a lot of responses and in many cases having conversations where prospects tell them exactly what their top priorities are.
Every admissions team wants a competitive edge when it comes to building relationships with their prospects. Changing the language and tone of your letters and emails can yield the results you’re looking for.
Do you want another effective selling technique that you can use right now in your recruiting communications? Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “I want more.”