I’m not an expert tree house builder.
In fact, this is my first attempt at building a tree house a few years ago. You do these kinds of things when you have a ten year old son.
Don’t get me wrong: If you stand back, tilt your head just right, and squint to kind of make it all blurry, it looks perfect. It supports the weight of a 200 pound man (that’s me in the first picture…easily identified by my K-Swiss tennis shoes). It’ll get the job done.
But it’s far from perfect.
So, what went wrong? One of the corners of the platform didn’t have a perfect 90-degree angle. Which means all the other corners don’t have perfect 90-degree angles, which some (most?) contractors and construction pros would argue is a recipe for disaster when it comes to how your project is going to end up looking.
And as you can tell, my project is going to end up looking like…well, like it was built by someone who was not an expert tree house builder. It’ll get the job done, but it’s not going to win any award.
Which brings me to you, Coach:
For most of the programs we begin work with as clients, there are a few less than perfect 90-degree angles in their recruiting strategy. They’re getting the job done, and recruits are coming to their program, but maybe not in the numbers that they really need. And maybe not the quality they were hoping for. And maybe it was a little more stressful than they feel that it should be.
That’s the result of a poor foundation. It looks ugly when you’re building a tree house, and it can be even uglier when you apply that idea to recruiting strategies.
Now, if you’ve been reading our blog for a while, this is where you might expect me to start talking about consistent messaging, engaging the parents the right way, or asking for the sale. But instead, I want to focus on a few overlooked aspects of building a solid recruiting foundation for your program:
Ask them how often they want to talk to you
A lot of coaches assume that just because they are ‘allowed’ to talk to a recruit more frequently, they should.
But that’s not the case. In fact, in one of our recent focus group research studies, only 27% said that they wanted to be talking to coaches who are recruiting them once every week. That means that 73% of the prospects you are probably recruiting right now chose some other time range that was different than once per week.
Doesn’t it make sense to ask your recruit how often they want to talk back and forth with you?
Focus on your fourth message
Most coaches around the country put a lot of time and attention into their first message out to recruits. And, the second and third messages get a lot of attention, too.
But when you get to the fourth message, we find that things start to go down hill. Quickly.
IF there is a fourth message, it starts to bore a recruit. Or it sounds the same as all the others. Or, it starts sounding like the coach who sent it doesn’t really know what to talk about.
What if you and your coaching staff put the same energy and creative effort into messages 4, 5, 6 and beyond? The results might surprise you. You’ll find that today’s generation of recruits will actually continue to talk and engage with you over the long haul if your message is creating curiosity and talking about aspects of your program that you haven’t reviewed before.
Establish when they’ll make their decision
One of the things we’re really starting to spend a lot of time on when we conduct our multi-day recruiting workshop on a college campus is the idea of establishing a fair but firm deadline, and then leading a prospect through the process in order to make a decision before that deadline.
Most coaches are a little apprehensive about establishing a fairly firm deadline, mainly because it takes away a coaches’ flexibility and options. That might be true, but not doing it can give your prospect license to procrastinate, put off a visit to your campus, or suddenly add another school to visit around the time you thought they were going to give you their decision.
Agree on a time when they will make their decision – especially if it can be months in advance, to give them plenty of time to go through the process. You’ll be viewed as fair, and you’ll be able to get a much better idea of how serious your prospect actually is about your program.
As you begin a new recruiting campaign, take some time to search for areas that you might be overlooking, or haven’t revised in a while.
They are your 90-degree angles that need to be as close to perfect as possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a recruiting plan that looks like the tree house I’m in the process of trying to put together. And trust me, there are better ways to do it.