Take a listen to the clip below from the 2013 TeensTALK LIVE! Panel discussion and it won’t take you long to re-think the current-student-to-prospective-student interaction your school orchestrates within your recruitment marketing program. While the notion of putting your current students in touch with your prospective students is noble, the devil is in the details. And from the sound of things, the devil is winning.

Student callers need more than an effervescent personality and some basic college-knowledge training; they need a purpose. For every call they make. Purposeless calls fall flat on both ends of the conversation. In fact, they do more harm than good. Listless insincerity is palpable, and unless that quality is one of your school’s brand attributes, it’s best to avoid projecting it toward your prospective students. Give every call a purpose, a call-to-action, anything to advance the conversation. And listen to your student callers like a hawk. If the second sentence is, “Is there anything you have questions about?” or “Do you have anything you want to ask me about?” shut down that caller and acknowledge your failure to train and inspire.

Contemporary recruitment success takes a village. As my Stamats colleague Bob Sevier has been saying for years, “It’s the job of the admission office to get prospective students to campus, but it’s the job of the campus community to convince them to enroll.” The conversation begins with your recruiters, and to one degree or another your recruiters need to keep the conversation going through to matriculation. But given prospective students’ insatiable needs to be (1) wanted and (2) impressed by your schools’ program(s) of interest, faculty, coaches and program directors need to enter the conversation very quickly thereafter.

Then bring on your inspired enrolled student callers (or campus tour guides or admission hosts or Ambassadors), ideally those who share interests in prospects’ program(s) of interest and always reaching out with a specific purpose in mind. Measure their performance not only in terms of the number of calls they complete each week, but based on achieving the “dialogue goal” you set for each calling session. “How many prospective students did we move from Point A to Point B tonight?” That’s what really matters.

Finally, add service office administrators and staff to the conversation (financial aid, student life, housing, campus ministries, etc.), but only if they can share personally relevant information with the prospective student. In relatively short order, you’ve built a team around each prospective student based on her very specific interests. And if you make each conversation in the dialogue personally meaningful and clearly purposeful, she’s going to have a tough time telling you she’s enrolling elsewhere.

Want to add clearer purpose to each of your recruitment contacts? Email me at eric.sickler@stamats.com and we’ll noodle around some ideas together.

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