by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
I used to hear about it all the time from friends who have kids, and now I understand. Last week the Tiers taxi was busy. My daughter began playing youth soccer. Practices were Tuesday and Thursday, with a game on Saturday morning. Sandwiched in-between those practices was a gymnastics practice, Kindergarten registration and our latest shopping trip to the mall because she continues to “grow like a weed.”
One of the drills that my daughter’s soccer coach introduced at practice on Thursday was “snake.” Some of you may be familiar with it. At one end of the field two children link arms. At the other end the rest of the team members each have a soccer ball. Their goal is to kick the ball to the other end without getting tagged by the two children who are linked together. Each time someone is tagged they join the snake until everyone is out. Seems simple enough, right? Not when you’re dealing with 5-year olds and the rule is the snake must be one connected group for the tag to count. Needless to say it turned into organized chaos…albeit fun, organized chaos.
As I watched from the sidelines I was reminded of an important recruiting lesson that all admissions professionals should be applying. By the end of practice that night, one lesson had grown to five.
Here then are those five real life lessons. Applying them, if you’re not already doing so, will help you become a more effective recruiter:
- Consistent communication is a must. Early on during the “snake” game the first two kids were tagged with relative ease. After that confusion ensued. Some of the snakes including my daughter wanted to run in one direction, while another wanted to go the opposite way and decided to let go, as you can see in the above photo. Instead of communicating with one another the kids who were the snake spent most of their time running and pulling each other in circles. After about five minutes the coach had them stop, link back up, and talk to each other. This eventually yielded a new addition to the snake chain.
The inconsistent contact hardly ever worked for snake, and it will rarely yield prospects for your school. Instead make a plan that involves a consistent track of messaging every 6 to 9 days. That’s what today’s recruit has told us they want from you. Mix it up and make sure your content demands interaction and clearly states why they should choose your college. Infrequent communication will lead your prospect to question just how serious your school is about them and will likely create a feeling of pressure when you ask them if they’re closing in on a decision.
- Keep it simple. How you communicate your message, and the degree of simplicity in which it is delivered, is key to making sure it sticks with your next class of prospects. Each time my daughter’s coach had a teaching point during a drill he got straight to it and broke it down to a single thing for the kids to remember. Simple gets remembered.
- Being different is good. We consistently stress to our clients the importance of taking a creative approach and standing out when it comes to recruiting. It’s a proven fact – people are programmed to notice what’s different. That means you need to differentiate your messaging, your campus visit, and your phone conversations, among other things. During your campus tour get rid of the non-impactful meetings and instead have a discussion about something that matters in the eyes of your recruits like ROI. Separating yourself from the competition and the traditional way of doing something may sound risky. When schools are willing to do that however, we’ve seen it produce big recruiting wins.
- Demonstrate passion. My daughter’s coach is “all in” with the soccer team. He wasn’t just at practice going through the motions and checking his watch every five minutes to see if it was almost time to go home. He got there early. He offered to stay afterwards and answer any questions that parents had. And he even followed up with an email congratulating the team on their progress after the first week. Can you say the same thing when it comes to recruiting your prospective students? Do you tell them why you think they’re the “right fit” for your school and how those on campus will help them achieve their long term goals? Do you smile and speak with enthusiasm and listen closely when they reveal an objection? Those who have passion are able to create meaningful long-term relationships with their recruits.
- Be okay with losing more than you win. Towards the end of practice the team had its first scrimmage. It became clear rather quickly that one of the boys (the league is co-ed at this age group) liked to dominate the ball and was a very good player. Whatever team he was on won, primarily because he scored just about every goal. None of the other kids complained. They were just happy to be playing the game as best as they could. The point I’m trying to make is you will lose recruits to other institutions – sometimes for reasons that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Be okay with that. It’s a fact of recruiting life. Don’t let it discourage you.
Follow these five rules that I’ve laid out as you develop your new recruiting plan for this next class of prospects, and watch what happens.
Our team of recruiting and marketing experts work with schools around the country helping them craft and deliver the right messages for their recruits. Want to see what we can do for you? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll show you how we do it and pleasantly surprise you with how affordable it is.