A dilemma that many coaches face: how to send first contact messages to a lot of recruits at once while still making them sounds personalized.
Personalization is so important! The message not sounding personal is one of the top reasons recruits say they don’t respond to a coach.
But, maybe you are starting a new recruiting class and already have a big pool of athletes you need to reach. Or maybe you went to a tournament or showcase and saw a lot of recruits you liked at a single event.
If you are trying to reach out to a large number of prospects at once and don’t have the time to send individual emails or letters out that are completely customized to each prospect, how do you make sure it still sounds personal?
Here are a couple ways to make your first contact message come across as personal without sending individual messages:
1) Let the recruits know where you found them
When a recruit opens an email, text, DM, or letter, one of the first questions they ask themselves is “why is this person contacting me?” What many coaches do is throw their name and school in the first line of the message, thinking this solves that problem.
But, if you are contacting a good athlete, they are probably getting many messages from college coaches. And so for them, the answer they are looking for isn’t “I am contacting you because I am a college coach.” What they really want to hear is where you saw them compete, where you found their name, or how you got their contact info. Something that gives them an indication that this is not a message that a college coach sent to 100 random athletes on a list, but this is a coach that actually saw me or found me somewhere that makes sense.
So, you are probably thinking, “O.K. Dan, but I don’t find all my recruits in the same place. If I include that I am basically customizing each message which I don’t have time to do.”
Yes, you might not be able to send one single message to your 100 or 500 recruits. But, I am sure there is some overlap. And you can certainly keep some details vague so that it gives the recruit enough proof you are for real while also making sense to many prospects.
Say in your list of 100 recruits, you found them at twelve different tournaments last fall. A great option here would be to create twelve slightly different versions of your message that each have a different place that you say you saw them play. Much quicker than 100 separate emails but still very personalized.
A second option that is not as effective but still much better than not including where you found them is to say, “saw you play at a tournament last fall.” Right away, you’ll peak the recruit’s interest because they know they played in a tournament last fall and so that makes sense. It feels more personal than when you don’t explain why you are reaching out to them specifically.
2) Write in a conversational tone
One of the most common mistakes coaches can make is to think their recruiting messages need to sound extremely professional and be perfectly written.
Why is that a problem? Recruits say when it is written really professionally, it almost sounds fake. And that is when they start to assume this was a mass mail written to a bunch of athletes and wasn’t meant for them specifically.
Coach, you might be a great writer. But, what recruits want in order to actually engage with a message is for it to sound almost exactly like you are having a conversation with them.
How can you adjust to write more conversationally?
- Set a timer for writing your emails and letters. When the timer is up, be done. The conversational tone tends to go out the window the more you proofread, double check, and over-analyze your message
- After you write your message, read it to someone out loud. They can hopefully give you some good feedback as to whether it sounded like you were just talking to them or reading from a script
- Don’t worry about a few run-on or incomplete sentences. I am not telling you to intentionally spell words wrong or write poorly. But if you talk in run-on sentences, it is O.K. to have them in your emails to recruits. Even if you are a very high academic school!
Dan Christensen is a former college coach and sales professional, and a trusted expert with Tudor Collegiate Strategies. He works with coaches throughout the eastern U.S., and helps their communication efforts in reaching the recruits they really want. To contact Dan, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.