by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Whenever we go to lead one of our On-Campus Workshops for a college admissions department, a big part of our job is helping them to develop their “story”.
I think stories are vital to the student recruitment process. And just to be clear, when I say “story” I’m not talking about your marketing materials. Much of that information is dull and uninspiring…your students continue to tell us those exact words.
The stories I’m referring to are a crucial ingredient in your recruiting communication flow. They talk about things like the people on your campus (students, faculty) and your community. They create emotion for your prospects, and they help them visualize themselves on your campus and in your classroom.
So, what’s your “story” that you want this next class to buy into? Have you sat back and considered what kind of picture you’re painting for your prospect in their head through your recruiting materials, phone calls and even on-campus visits?
If you’ve never seriously thought about your “story” before, and need help in creating it so that you can be a more effective recruiter, today I’m going to pass along some critical questions that your admissions team should ask each other. The answers will help you find out what’s unique about your institution and how to present it as a compelling story that any prospective student will want to hear more of:
- What are your prospects demanding? Here’s a hint: It’s not always about the money, so don’t make that the focus. If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter, or you’ve had me on campus to lead a workshop, you know students continue to tell us that personal relationships with you and other students on your campus impact how they will make their final college decision much more than being affordable. They demand attention, and they demand benefits that revolve around them. What can you do to “meet their demand”?
- What do your prospects need? A really good financial aid package? Yes. A degree? Of course. To see themselves “fitting in” on your campus? All the time. Ask yourself what your prospects need, and you will go a long way towards reaching them with a message – a story – that they will identify with. Remember: “Needs” are different than “demands”. Their needs revolve around the realities that they are facing and are necessary for them to overcome those hurdles. And in most cases different prospects have different needs. Figure out a way to meet their needs (that’s what they care about, anyway…their needs, not yours).
- What are they willing to pay for? This is a challenging and in-depth question. What is it that your prospects view as being a “premium” feature of your school that if they had to pay for it, they would be happy to do so? For example, it might be the brand new dorms or the ability to be a part of the sports culture or the Greek system on your campus (if you have it). Each of those things is a tangible “premium” item that your prospects might be willing to pay for if they had to. Understanding what the most valuable parts that your college offers them in their eyes is a big key in developing a great recruiting story.
- What niche(s) can your school offer that others don’t? Earlier this month I worked with a university that is developing a specialized niche in the way they prepare their freshmen students to successfully transition to college life. Take a look at what kind of “specialty” niche you can put together for your prospects. What can you offer them on your campus that most of your competitors don’t? Find an area that other colleges are failing to focus on, and build out that unique brand for your prospect.
- Who are the people behind your institution? I don’t mean just your school’s President. I mean who else on your campus can your prospects connect with on a personal level? A big key as you tell those people’s “story” is to be genuine. Don’t embellish so much that down the line it becomes clear to your prospects or their parents that this person isn’t really who you’ve painted them as. And also don’t forget your audience either because you don’t want to necessarily tell the same “story” to everyone. The goal is for your “story” to be personal and have emotion built into it.
Asking these five questions can help your admissions team develop the beginnings of a great recruiting strategy.
If you want to achieve emotional engagement, which is a critical part in today’s student decision-making process, effective storytelling is a must.
Ready to take the next step? Become a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. Let us help you develop and execute your story saving you time and increasing your yield results. Click here for more details. Our system works, and we’d love to tell you why.