By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
There are a number of different ways that you can create better recruiting stories. While I was doing some fall cleaning, I came across a bunch of them in various documents and notes on my MacBook.
My first thought was to pass along these tips and recruitment strategies to you in this week’s article. Not all of these will apply to you, but a lot of them will.
And whether you’re a long time reader or one of the many new people that have been added to my newsletter community over the past few weeks, reply back and let me know what you think about this article…or about the newsletter…or both. My goal continues to be to help admissions professionals grow, lead, and win. Thank you for your continued support!
- Write down three things you know prospective students don’t care about. Stop talking about those things immediately.
- You have to decide to tell your story. It starts there. Too often colleges revert to a list of statistics, facts and data that they relay to prospective students. Worse yet, most colleges stop telling their story way too early in the process, thinking (mistakenly) that once they actually begin speaking one-on-one with a student, they don’t need to continue telling their story.
- Eliminate the myth that direct mail isn’t effective as a communication tool. I know postage costs a lot, and yes eliminating or minimizing it would also save a lot of time. Too many colleges have decided that this generation doesn’t read mail and/or doesn’t want it. Our ongoing survey research continues to show the exact opposite. Students understand letters take more time to craft, and they use that as tangible proof that a college is “serious about them.” And if you want data to support this point, 58.4% of students in our surveys said they wanted a letter from a college once a month during their college search. Another 25.4% said once per week.
- Go through your upcoming emails and letters and take out all of the “big words.”
- Be okay with starting an occasional sentence with the word “and” or “but.” This generation of students could care less whether it’s grammatically correct or not.
- And use a more conversational tone. That won’t make you less professional, it will actually make you more relatable.
- Have one consistent voice in your recruiting communications (emails, letters, phone calls, text messages). That person, who I recommend should be the admissions counselor, should be doing the bulk of the communicating with a student/family from start to finish.
- Start a conversation about fear. A Director (and reader of this newsletter) did exactly that as part of her open house welcome remarks this past weekend. Multiple parents expressed their appreciation to her.
- Use Facebook if you want to tell your stories to parents on social media.
- Use Instagram and YouTube to tell your social media story to prospective students.
- Most colleges do not produce social media content native to each platform.
- Facebook ads and Instagram influencers. Google them both right now, and educate yourself if you haven’t already.
- Consider having one or more of your current students Vlog their journey during the school year. I’ve been recommending this to colleges for the last two years and the handful that have listened have seen amazing results. This is the next BIG thing. Be an early adopter.
- If you want to increase engagement, change your call to action to a question that asks for the reader’s feedback or opinion on something.
- Consistency over volume.
- The best idea won’t work without the right execution.
- If your current students were tasked with convincing their friends from high school (or community college) to choose your school, how would they do that? You should ask them and then discuss their feedback within your office.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about cost, value, and financial aid early on with parents (as well as their son or daughter).
- Don’t give up on students who don’t seem to be engaged with your story. Many are still listening and just not responding yet.
- As the recruiting process moves forward, the story should get more and more narrow, focused on them specifically.
- In many conversations, context matters more than you think.
- As you tell different stories, your goal right now in October should be to get them to campus…not to apply. Don’t skip this important step, because the campus visit continues to be where feelings occur and where the decision is made for many.
- The campus visit is the most important aspect of your story. Does everyone involved in your visits (namely your tour guides/student ambassadors) understand and believe that? What stories can they tell? And how is your campus visit a different feel from your competitors?
- Most parents will vote to have their son or daughter stay close to home, or go to the school that costs less, unless you tell them why your school is the better, smarter choice.
- It’s hard to continue to tell your story effectively later in the process if you don’t keep track of previous conversations with students and their parents in your CRM.
- Look for objections and enthusiastically address them with prospective students.
- A large majority of your admitted students need you to tell them why to pick your school over the others on their list.
- Recent student outcomes (by major) are becoming more and more important to this generation of students.
- Phone calls will continue to offer massive ROI to those who can execute them correctly. “Voice” leads to deeper relationships.
Recruiting, like story telling, is a process. Respect that process, manage it, and remember, it should always be about them.