by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
As your admissions team navigates through fall travel season, I’m sure you’ve been adding a plethora of new names to the admissions funnel.
The most popular question I’m asked this time of year by both counselors and directors goes something like, “How do I/we make an incredible impression that results in the student submitting an application?”
That early impression, specifically the first one, is something you don’t get a second chance to make. Selecting a college or university is the first big decision that students will have to make. How are you going to begin creating those feelings that convince the student, his or her parents, family and other influencers that your institution is the “right fit?”
Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin communications with those new prospects and inquiries. To be clear, I’m not just talking about the letters and emails that you’ll be sending out. Your follow-up, ongoing communication over these next few weeks will be almost equally, if not more, important. Why? Your new recruits are looking to see who contacts them consistently early on…in their minds this is a strong indicator of just how serious you and your school are about them.
So, how can you make new prospects and inquiries count? Start by implementing these seven tips as a part of your recruiting communications plan:
- Deliver that first communication right away. Don’t start your relationship on the wrong foot. Sending a new prospect their first email or letter in a timely fashion is of extreme importance. If there’s a delay in that communication, what do you think the teenager on the other end is going to think? (I can tell you that it’s not good and will make your job a lot harder).
- Limit the selling. This isn’t new advice, but rather a reminder, if you want to experience early reach-out success. Take it easy on all of the statistics about your school. Our research shows that prospects aren’t interested in being “sold” on your school right away. In fact, you can’t realistically do that in a first email, letter or phone call. Don’t try. So, what should you focus on?
- Tell them what you like about them (and be specific). That’s the top thing young people want to know right away. It’s also something that your competition probably isn’t doing, so you’ll stand out. Why do you think they’ll have no problem fitting in at your school? How can your school help them achieve their goals? Those are the questions that you need to answer for your prospect early on.
- Ask them a question as early as possible. In your contact with them, whether it’s written or spoken, you should include a question about their process for making a decision. Forget the old, “What do you want in a college?” That’s a question that gets a vanilla, untrue answer much of the time. Instead, ask them what they want to see you talk about or do next. How about asking who is helping them make their decision or what things they know they don’t want in a college or university.
- If your contact is coming after they’ve visited or applied to other schools, ask this important question: “So, what have you heard so far from admissions counselors that you’ve just kind of rolled your eyes at?” This is an extremely effective question that will yield valuable information and also define all previous calls and contacts as boring and hard selling.
- Create curiosity. We frequently remind our clients about the importance of crafting a message or ending a phone call with unanswered questions, especially early in the process. You want to create curiosity and prompt them to want more interaction from you…something that makes them want to go to the next step in their communication with you. Ask yourself, “Are we creating curiosity in the way we talk to our new recruits?” (Hint: Creating curiosity is done by giving less information, not more).
- Have a call to action. If you remember only one thing from today’s article it should be this bullet point. A call to action is what gets them to respond to you! You need to tell them what to do and how to do it. Want them to call or email you? Tell them that very clearly. Tell them when to call, and let them know what you want to talk about. Want them to reply to your email? Be crystal clear, and instruct them on what you want back from them. Not consistently having a clear call to action is the number one reason most communication flow plans fail.
Communication with new prospects and inquiries should result in one thing, especially at the start of the recruiting process: A response from your prospect! Your specific goal when a new student enters the funnel over the first few weeks should be getting them to talk with you via email or phone.
The seven tips I’ve provided you with will help you do that more effectively.
Feel like you’re off to a slow start with this recruiting class? We can help. We offer multiple plan options that will best fit your needs and your department’s budget. You will start to see a difference immediately! Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.