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Consistency, Pace and Momentum: An Unbeatable Recruiting Combination
It's not just about what you say to recruits. It's about how you say it.
This topic came up at one of recruiting workshops we lead for athletic departments - we were talking about messaging, what today’s recruit respond to best, and the changes that have occurred in effective messaging we’ve been tracking.
It got me thinking:
It’s not just what’s written in the message you send to prospects. It’s how it’s delivered, and - even more importantly - what you avoid doing in the process of your ongoing communication. As you get started with a new recruiting class, I want you to make sure you understand some of the non-verbal ‘measurements’ that your prospects are very likely using in assessing you through the recruiting process. It’s like running a race: Your mechanics matter, yes…but the way you execute the mechanics over the long haul is what separates great runners from good runners.
Like I said, so often, you’re being judged by the athletes you recruit on the ‘feel’ of the way you communicate. If you’re one of our clients, it’s why we construct the messaging we help you create and execute with certain spacing and regularity, as well as with the variety of mediums we recommend to you. It all has a purpose, and the non-written aspects of the approach center on three things: Consistency, pace and momentum.
Take a minute to hear me out:
Specifically, how well you maintain your communication with your recruits over the long haul.
Like a runner. A real one, not someone like me…run a little, then walk. Then try to run faster, only to give up and walk again. On and off, fast and slow…the same reason that won’t win me any races is the same reason it often makes it much, much harder for a recruit to feel like you’re truly interested in them…which leads to them matching the same up and down, on again off again conversation with you over the long haul. You know how that’s really frustrating for you? It’s the same for your recruits.
Sending them an outbound message that tells the story of you, your program and your college, every six to nine days is the formula that works. There, I said it. The secret is out (except it’s not a secret…we’ve been sharing it for close to two decades now, and the coaches who have chosen to follow it have seen amazing results).
Whether you do or you don’t, this generation of prospect you’re talking to is measuring you by how often you contact them, and the regularity with which you do it over a long period of time. Consistency matters. Even if you repeat topics, it’s o.k…just like talking about non-sports topics on an ongoing basis, Coach. They need reminding, just like they need regularity.
Regular beats sporadic every dang time.
Let me share an example we see a lot every time there’s a new football recruiting class. Football coaches (especially Division I, but coaches at other levels do it on occasion, too) have a tradition of bombarding new recruits with dozens - and sometimes hundreds - of messages all at once, or over a very short period of time. The intent, if you ask those coaches, is to show new recruits how much they’re wanted right away. And for sure, they do feel that. Temporarily. But quickly, they tune out…they don’t read the messages. And when they see the same thing from other programs that do the same thing, it tends to become white noise. And when it slows down to a trickle, or turns into the same barrage of text messages, it doesn’t feel like the right pace.
The timeline I noted in talking about consistency goes hand in hand with the pace you have. What’s your pace like? Are you regular over a long period of time, or sporadic? Do you use a variety of medium (text, email, hard copy letters, phone calls, social media) or are you fixated on just one or two? Pace matters with this generation. Just like how your message looks gets them to read what you’re sending them, or ignoring it.
The goal of the first two segments of communication is to have them result in ongoing, slowly increasing momentum.
Think about it - haven’t you felt recruiting momentum swing in your favor, and then out again? The needle on their Recruit-o-Meter (trademark Dan Tudor, 2023. All rights reserved) never sits at neutral. That needle is either trending towards you, or away from you. Your job, as a college recruiter, is to keep that needle going in the right direction; or, note when it is going in the opposite direction, and do something about it.
There should be evidence they are moving forward with you, especially if you’re doing the first two segments. If they aren’t, you’re probably going to be on the losing end of that particular recruit…not because of what we’re talking about here, but something totally separate: They don’t want to go to school in your area, they didn’t connect with your team, you don’t have their major, their dad doesn’t want them to go that far away from home. All normal reasons to say no. Your job is to recognize it, and this whole process gives you the feedback to help do that.
And by the way, when all three of these things come together, it can lead to amazing results. Like recruits feeling like they want to commit even before you ask. Pretty cool. And, good for your college coaching career.
I’ve always said that recruiting is part art, part science. This approach encompasses both of those aspects of the process, and it’s proven to be a game-changer for lots of coaches around the country.
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