The coach I was visiting appeared to be slightly insane. At first glance, anyway.
She was walking as we were discussing what she told visiting prospects in her new locker room. As she walked, she held up what looked like a perfume bottle and gave one little squirt every two or three steps.
After seeing her continue this ritual into the hallway, I had to ask her why she was doing what she was doing.
Her answer was borderline brilliant: She was using scent to add to the overall “experience” that their recruits would encounter later that morning.
Think it’s a minor detail that is recruiting overkill? Maybe you should think again…
Most recruiters focus on written messages and phone calls to get their message across and create a “feeling” that their program is going to be the right fit. That means that two primary senses, sight and sound, are used to make that connection.
However, studies show that most “buyers” going through a decision making process (your recruit and his or her family) use other senses to make decisions, as well. Dan Hill, a marketing researcher and author, has some surprising data that shows we use multiple senses at one time to judge whether or not we feel connected and comfortable with a product or service (or college program):
• One study showed a 40% improvement in one’s mood when exposed to pleasant fragrances during a buying experience.
• Shoe buyers, for example, spent $10 more on purchases in areas that had a pleasant scent.
• Touch (handshakes, putting your hand on a prospect’s arm or shoulder, etc.) matters. We all respond to touch, even in a professional setting like a recruiting visit. For example, massaged babies gained 50% more weight than babies who were not massaged.
• One of the highest positive responses that a prospect can experience is taste. For all of us, that experience is remembered and valued the longest (so make sure that prospect dinner is extraordinary!)
One of the most important aspects of the study outlined by Hill should make a big impact with creative college coaches and recruiters: Marketers who added smell, taste and touch to a product advertising or display experience had three to four times more positive experiences than those that relied only on sight and sound.
The coach I just mentioned added a very specific scent to her environment to make sure that her prospects’ senses were firing on all cylinders. You’re welcome to steal that idea and use it yourself. Here are five more ways I think you can focus on some of your prospect’s senses to enhance their experience with you on your campus:
1. Kids love to eat. Make sure the food is really, really good. Taste is one of those senses that we remember the most. It adds to an experience, and helps us associate the experience with something memorable like a great meal. It works in the opposite way, too: Remember a horrible meal at a restaurant or someone’s home? Let me ask you…do you remember anything else about that experience? The conversation, who was there…anything? If you’re like most people, all you remember is the really bad food you tried to choke down. Your prospect’s visit can be largely defined by the food they eat on their trip to your campus.
2. Scent matters. I don’t need to go into too much detail on this point, do I? If you smell good, it gets noticed. If you smell bad, it really gets noticed. Enough said.
3. The right kind of touch can create a connection. A professional handshake is a nice start, but I don’t find it to be enough to create a really memorable connection with today’s prospects. Some simple ideas to take it further? One of my favorites is to lightly touch the back part of your prospect’s shoulder if you are walking and talking with them…not constantly, but every so often to make a point or to gently guide them where the two of you are going. If you’re comfortable with the idea, you can also have your athletes welcome them with a polite (but heartfelt) hug when they first meet. One of the most vital things you need to prove to your prospect is that they are wanted and accepted by you and your team. This goes a long way towards doing that.
4. Smile a lot. Your prospect will read your face as they try to quickly figure out if they like being around you or not. Be upbeat and show energy and a positive spirit through your facial expression. Studies consistently show that when we meet someone new, we refer to their face as we try and figure out if we like them, if they are telling us the truth, and if they can be trusted. We can even sense whether someone is smiling or not when we’re talking to them over the phone. What is your face telling them?
5. Paper is important. I say this because emailing prospects is becoming the exclusive way many coaches will recruit them these days. However, you need to send them at least a few letters written on paper. Why? Paper seems more “real” to the prospects we talk to. It’s “official”. It’s something they can hold, it has your signature on it, and it tends to verify the idea that you’re important. Make sure you include some good old fashioned letters on a regular basis to reinforce the idea that you are serious about them, and to let them touch and feel something tangible from your program.
Are these minor details? Sure they are.
But I find that most prospects make their decisions using little details and observations during their visits on campus and their conversations with coaches on the phone. Sight, sounds, smell, taste, touch…all of those senses are ways we as humans use to process information. “The devil is in the details”, as the saying goes; I see a recruit’s final decision being found there, too. Reprinted from Dan Tudor.