Our team of representatives at Tudor Collegiate Strategies talk to a lot of coaches over the span of a single day. Those numbers increase exponentially over the course of a week.
And each week we talk collectively about what our coaches are sharing, what worries them, what challenges they are facing. Over the past month the most consistent recruiting concern among the coaches we’re talking to is virtual recruiting and how to win recruits to your program when many schools are unable to host visits. And if they can host visits, may not be able to visitors go in buildings, stay overnight, engage in person with team members. And let’s be honest, many are still simply uncomfortable traveling and are justifiably taking precautions, asking themselves “can we wait until it’s safe to visit your campus.”
I know the answer to that question! “No, we want you to visit campus now! We want you here today!” Because aside from consistent, effective messaging (click here for how we help coaches do that through our Total Recruiting Solution client program) the campus visit is the key that opens the door to the commitment.
There’s no need to restate the challenges coaches are facing, particularly knowing that our research is telling us two things:
- They are making their decisions sooner than in the past. There are a ton of reasons for that generally driven by the realization that the traditional recruiting experience isn’t likely to happen this year.
- They are more willing to choose a school without ever visiting campus.
These two facts present both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is that you can potentially wrap up your class early if you’re moving forward strategically with a consistent messaging plan for both recruit and recruit’s parents. The challenge is doing so amid all the challenges posed by Covid recruiting.
A good starting point right away is directing you to a webinar Dan Tudor did, Zoom Recruiting For Coaches:
This is filled with a ton of best practices that will make your Zoom sessions more successful.
Aside from Zoom there are a lot of things we are encouraging our clients to do in effort to take the campus to your recruits, even if you are fortunate enough to offer a traditional visit. Success moving forward will, however, require a willingness to try new things, think creatively, and definitely step outside of your comfort zone.
- Unless your last name is “Kardashian” you’re probably uncomfortable being in front of a camera. But your recruits need to see you. Not only do they need to see you they need to see you talking on your campus, showing them your campus, introducing them to your team, your locker room, your weight room, etc.. Simple raw video from your phone with you walking around campus, talking live to a recruit and/or parent is real, unfiltered and works great. It’s ok if there are background noises or interruptions. Try it out with a co-worker to see how it feels. Having done that I can tell you there is an authenticity that goes with raw video which far exceeds simply sending a link to something you have pre-recorded. Just send your recruits a note about when you will be live via Instagram or some other social media platform. Draw other campus offices into your “Instagram” conversations and build interest in them. For example, if you’re going to showcase dorm life, invite recruits to meet a team member who is an RA to be your guest. He/She can not only talk about dorm life but also the culture of your program.
- Some of the conversations I’ve had with client coaches have reflected a willingness to rely on the professional campus videos of your library, the new science wing, the interview with the president. While they are great to include as a link in an email they are sterilized and don’t reflect the personal connection you need to connect with recruits and parents.
- Do you have access to the parent of one of your team members who may live locally? They’re awesome guests for a “parent only” Instagram session because they lend a credibility you’re not in the position to offer as they talk about life on campus and their experiences as a tuition paying, card carrying, bumper sticker parent. These are enormously effective.
- Ask your recruits and their parents what THEY want to see and then give it to them. You can also ask your current athletes and maybe a parent you know well what kinds of things you should cover.
- Your Team – We know that during a traditional campus visit, your recruits want to spend at least half their visit interacting with the younger (frosh/sophs) members of your team. If you can have day visits you need to be certain you’re getting the recruit connected with your athletes even if it means foregoing other experiences. They can accomplish all the other stuff through phone calls or website trolling. They can’t build the kind of relationships you want with your athletes other than spending time with them. If you cannot have recruits on campus you will need to rely on social media, Zooming with your team, using existing relationships with current players, taking advantage of geographic opportunities (recruits from same or nearby schools of current players) for players to meet recruits. Rest assured, the coaches that do the best here will have the class they’re hoping for in 2021.
- In past articles and on previous webinars I have talked about the importance of customer service. It’s never been more important to your recruiting success. Recruiting through this year is going to be hard. The coaching staff that is willing to work the hardest, be the most creative, and stresses customer service and meeting the needs of families will have the most success.
Greg Carroll is a former college athletic director who now works on staff at Tudor Collegiate Strategies helping coaches execute more effective recruiting plans. To contact Greg with questions, email him at email@example.com.