by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Most of us use logic when we make decisions.
I think I’m a pretty rational guy, except when it comes to my inexplicable love for Starbucks coffee. It’s my drink of choice when I’m on the road working with clients or leading an admissions training workshop. It makes no logical sense for me to drive completely out of the way to pay $2.95 for an Americano or $4.35 for a mocha or a latte…but I do it all the time.
Instead of just drinking the coffee that’s available with the hotel breakfast or finding a local gas station or cheaper competitor, I order my Starbucks drink via the mobile app or sometimes stand in line and fork over my $2.95 or $4.35, fully knowing that I just made a completely illogical, irrational, totally emotional buying decision.
And so do you.
And so do prospective students.
Here’s the important point I’m trying to make: Whatever your recruiting message is, if it’s always focused entirely on the logical argument that your college and/or your academic program are the best choice, you may be making a huge mistake. Not because your prospect doesn’t need that. They do. It just might not be the right time for you to use that approach.
Why? Because, like all of us, this current group of students considering your school trusts their feelings as they make decisions on how to proceed in the college search process.
So, before deciding that you’re going to lay out a logical course of action for your prospect, you should consider whether a logical argument is what’s needed right now.
- Dan (Tudor) and I have found that a lot of prospects have an irrational love of the status quo. They’ve become comfortable, and they don’t like or want change. They don’t want to leave home, and they don’t want to be faced with making a lot of changes, despite what your school can offer them.
- Many of your prospects are emotionally connected to the symbol of a particular college name. It happens a lot. And prospects don’t talk about it with you because they know it’s illogical and doesn’t make sense, but it’s really hard for them to break away from those feelings (it’s hard for mom and/or dad too).
- Our ongoing research on campuses across the country continues to show that fear is driving most of the decisions that prospects make during their college search. How are your recruiting messages helping to alleviate that fear?
Despite being armed with knowledge like this, I continue to see admissions and marketing professionals approach a logical process in very logical ways.
And I would argue that’s not very logical.
Instead, let me suggest that there will be times with most prospective students when you need to make a completely illogical argument as to why they belong at your school. As I said earlier, breaking out of the status quo is hard for this generation. They’re scared of leaving home, scared of what those around them will think if they choose a “lesser-known” college, or scared of picking a school that costs a little more.
I want you to consider making a passionate, mostly emotional case as to why going away to college, not choosing one of the popular or more well-known schools, or possibly paying a little more out of pocket is not only the smart thing to do, but the choice that is going to make them feel good about themselves and benefit them the most in the long run.
If you don’t do it then who’s going to?
Just because it doesn’t make logical sense in your mind doesn’t mean it’s the wrong strategy. You’re not recruiting you you’re recruiting them. And, over the past couple of years I’ve seen more examples of irrational, emotional decisions than ever before in our ongoing work with college admission departments.
Again, understand that at certain points in the college search process (especially early on) you need to feed their emotions and make a personal connection rather than a logical case. What you’ll find when you do that is they’ll listen more intently to your logical case whenever you do choose to make it.
Have a happy Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends!
BY THE WAY, if you find yourself with an extra 10-15 minutes during the break and you’re interested in sharpening your skills as a recruiter or as a leader, click here for access to over 160 FREE articles I’ve written. The articles are broken down into categories on the right hand side.