This is an opportunity for readers of this newsletter to anonymously ask me a question about any aspect of student recruitment, leadership, and professional or personal development. Each week I’ll post my answer for everyone to read.
Q. An Admissions Counselor asks:
“More schools around us are going negative against us. I don’t want to be negative but what do you think and what can I do to combat what they say?”
A. Thank you for your question! I’ll start by telling you that I continue to see and hear evidence that negative recruiting techniques still work, mainly because viewers or listeners will have at least some emotional response to negatively phrased information.
Having said that, I don’t think it’s ethical or professional to use negative recruiting. I would however add that there’s a difference in my mind between talking negatively about a person/school and stating facts, particularly when you’re doing it in a way that has the best interests of your prospect at heart.
Here are two ideas we’ve seen work over the past few years when it comes to maintaining a professional approach as an admissions counselor against others who are negative:
- Warn your prospect that other colleges might try to negatively recruit them. Tell them that other colleges might try to scare them away from your school, and explain why this is a sign of weakness on their part. One of the best things you can do is to frame the discussion in your favor. Make your prospect focus on recognizing the act of negative recruiting itself rather than the content of the negative recruiting message as it relates to your school.
- Address a potential negative about your school, and tell your prospect what to think about it. A lot of young college admission counselors want to hide potential negatives – Older dorms, their remote location, lower rankings, etc. I want you to take the opposite approach. Bring up a negative and let your prospect know how to think about it. For example, older dorms. Explain why that shouldn’t matter…it’s all about the great relationships that you’re going to build with the people that live there. Frame how your prospect should think of a potential negative as soon as possible, versus waiting until your competitor frames it for you and now you have to play defense.