Archive for the ‘Worthwhile Reading’ category

College-bound Students Define the Winning College Visit Experience

December 13th, 2017

The campus visit is the golden opportunity to cement the emotional commitments of prospective students and their parents. Visits offer your greatest opportunity to capture the magic that is unique to your college.  College and universities know this. They recognize the importance of creating and implementing a successful campus visit program. They know that visits that excite the students they are recruiting are very likely to lead to enrollment. And, they are well aware that a single bad experience during a campus tour or visit can completely derail a student’s plan to enroll.

These are well-known facts in our industry, yet college-bound students say that colleges do not differentiate themselves through their tour and visit programs. In our national co-sponsored studies, and through focus group research we conduct, 60% of students say that campus tours are “all the same,” and they don’t consider that a good thing. Students tell us that most don’t generate any more or less excitement than all of the others they experienced.

Over 65% of college-bound students participating in our most recent national co-sponsored study, Emotional Motivators, visited four or more colleges during their college search. You might call them “experts” in the college visit experience. And they have very strong opinions about what colleges are getting right, and wrong, with their college visits programs.

What do students say makes for a winning campus visit?

Customization and personalization

Prospective students tell us that tours that focus primarily on the attributes of the college without consideration of their specific interests are “boring” andredundant.” The best tours, they say, are those that feel customized.  Students who receive one-on-one tours where the focus is completely on them and what they want, tend to see the campus visit experience as a demonstration of the college’s personal interest in them

However, some colleges are finding ways to personalize group tours. “The college I chose gave this great tour. Everyone in the group had a lot in common and we saw places we all cared about. I even made friends with some of the other students on the tour,” said one recently enrolled student.

Grouping like-minded students on tours is an effective strategy and can be implemented in a number of ways. Simply asking prospective students a few questions prior to their scheduled visit can determine which group would be most effective.

Interaction with current and other prospective students

Who is the most important member of your team when it comes to having a winning campus visit program? Your current students! Tour guides, student ambassadors, student employees, and, yes, the students hanging out on the quad (or wherever your students tend to congregate) are your greatest assets.

College-bound students tell us that interaction with current students on a campus plays a critical role in their college selection decision. It gives them a feel for what their life will be like if they enroll. Prospective students respond very favorably to current students who are friendly, enthusiastic, happy and welcoming. Some of our clients have found creative ways to encourage such interactions. One college hosts extracurricular fairs on the same days tours are held. The college walkways are lined with student-manned tables and booths representing the various organizations and opportunities for new students to get involved in campus life. “All these students were talking to me and encouraging me to join their club. I felt like they really wanted to get to know me.  That’s when I knew this was the place for me,” described one student.

Another college uses social media and on-campus marketing efforts to encourage student interaction with visiting newcomers. According the Director of Admission the strategy has been very effective. “We remind the students of how they felt when they first visited our campus and ask them to go out of their way to be friendly. It is great to see so many of our students proudly talking about our college to our visitors. The unexpected bonus is that it has served as a subtle reminder to the staff and faculty that their interactions are important, too,” she said.

The #1 MUST DO on your list!

During a campus visit about one-half of prospective students see and experience things about the college that they find unappealing. This finding may be expected since all students are not going to like everything they see at all of the campuses they visit. What is more concerning is that only 13% of students say that an admission counselor ever inquired if they had seen or experienced anything the student found unappealing or concerning about their campus.

You are missing a key opportunity to address misconceptions and overcome objections if you, like many colleges, aren’t asking what students liked and didn’t like, about what they experienced during their visit. Simply asking, “How was your tour?” isn’t enough. Probe for the specifics of what they did and did not like. If you don’t ask, they won’t tell and you will never know the real reason they didn’t enroll.

Taking a turn and shifting gears now …

We have kicked off our series of one-day intensive Yield Season Counselor Training Workshops on host college campuses across the country.

We just completed a workshop at Drew University in New Jersey (thanks Bob, Kay and Heather for being the gracious hosts to the counselors from surrounding colleges who attended). And we have workshops scheduled in Kansas City (at Rockhurst University on January 16th),  Atlanta (at Oglethorpe University on January 18th), Greeneville, TN (Tusculum College on January 23rd).

There will be more. We are talking to colleges around the country about being a host site (there are incentives that make being a host site very attractive so contact us if you have an interest hosting a workshop).

College admission directors and enrollment managers often tell us that they wish they had the budget to hire professionals to train their admission teams. They tell us they know they need training; that their counselors would greatly benefit from learning new skills; and the right program would energize the entire staff. “But,” they say regretfully, “we just don’t have the budget to support the expenditure this kind of professional development often costs.”

Whether you are a host college or not this is a very affordable workshop designed to benefit seasoned counselors just as much as counselors who are going through their first full recruiting cycle. Counselors you send will return home with skills and techniques that can be shared with the whole admission team.

Your admission counselors will learn new methods to:

  • Adopt a student-centric approach to recruiting.
  • Reveal the needs, preferences, motivations, and perceptions of prospective students.
  • More effectively present the value of their college based on what the student (and parent) perceives as being most valuable.
  • Manage the perceptions and opinions that prospective students form about their college.
  • Uncover hidden influences that will impact a student’s enrollment decision.
  • Learn how to differentiate your college.
  • Create and foster relationships with students that will lead to enrollment.
  • Discover the true influence of cost and isolate factors that will outweigh cost.
  • Enlist the support and influence of parents.
  • Share their new skills and techniques with the entire admission team.

The Bottom Line: You can up your game this yield season for a minimal investment in time and money and a maximum return in your enrollment. If you are interested in attending a workshop, suggesting a location, or even hosting a workshop, ask for details here.

If I can help you with your recruiting efforts in any way, please feel free to call or email me. I would love to talk to you about our powerful and effective Yield Enhancement System (YES). Admission offices use this system to improve their mass communications efforts,  have more effective one-on-one interactions, and ultimately, boost their yield. My contact information is at the bottom of this post.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here.  Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at

Top 3 Social Media/Marketing Channels College-Bound Students Say Build the College Bond

December 6th, 2017

Relationships Aren’t Just Important, They are Crucial

Successful admission professionals understand that developing a connection with a student can greatly increase his or her commitment to the college and improve the likelihood of enrollment.  In fact, our studies have demonstrated that 8 in 10 students say the relationship they formed with their chosen college was influential in their decision to enroll.

If there is any doubt in your mind about the influence of relationship building in the enrollment process, consider this additional data: The separation between the chosen college and the second choice is wide with regard to the key factors that influence relationship building.

For example, 61% of students participating in the national study, The Relationship Dynamic,” indicated that the statement,“Admission reps were sincere and cared” applied to their chosen college but only 25% said it applied to their second choice college. With reference to the statement, “The college understood me,” 59% said it applied to their first choice school vs. 22% to their second choice.

Forming a connection to any brand, including a college, is a nuanced, and often confusing, process with many components. And, one of the most mystifying of those components today is the influence of social media and mass communications. With our most recent national co-sponsored study, Emotional Motivators, we set out to bring some clarity to one of the top questions facing admission offices and college marketing departments today: Which communication channels are most effective in winning the hearts and minds of prospective students?

10,000+ College-bound Students Evaluated 16 Channels of Social Media and Mass Communications

In “Emotional Motivators” we asked students directly, “Through which of the following communication channels did you form or strengthen your emotional connection to your chosen colleges prior to enrolling?”

We presented students with 16 channels to choose from (they could select any or all).

Included in the list were: Facebook, Texting, Twitter, Snapchat, Email, Phone calls, YouTube, Instagram, Brochures, Letters/Postcards, Pinterest, Linkedin, College website, Mobile app, Live chat, and Personalized website.

So, which are the top three? 

Topping the List at #1: The College Website

Your website is the strongest mass communications tool in your arsenal for creating a bond with prospective students. There are many experts in website development that can guide you in evaluating your website. We advise our clients to continually evaluate their college’s website from the point of view of the students they are recruiting.  You may not be surprised that it’s #1. But ask yourself these key questions:

  • Does it truly enable students to see and feel what their life will be like at your school? Does it do this for differing groups of people?
  • Does it connect them (emotionally) with current students on your campus?
  • Is our website engaging? Does it create excitement? Do the visuals tell stories that will resonate with the students you are recruiting?
  • Can prospective students and their parents find the answers to their questions easily? 
  • Is there a quick and easy way to make contact with an admission counselor?  (You would be surprised how many college websites don’t provide admission counselor information.) Is there a photo and bio info for each counselor to make them more approachable for students?

#2:  E-mail Communications

This is likely to astonish many who have questions about the continuing effectiveness of email as a communication tool. However, “Emotional Motivators,” confirms what we have seen in our other studies. You can create an emotional bond with a student and you can build on that bond over time with effective use of email. You’ll know if the bond was never created in the first place when students start unsubscribing and yell at you to “STOP SENDING ME EMAILS!”

However, well-crafted, personalized emails can be very meaningful and can contribute in a very big way to building a bond between the student and college.

#3:  Letters and Postcards

Good news for the USPS, letters and postcards continue to be a compelling means to connect with prospective students. Like email, students respond best to personalized letters and cards. Many students said that humorous postcards actually help relieve stress during the college selection process.

Today we are revealing the top three channels but we will share the complete list with you soon including some of the intriguing findings we have uncovered within each category. For instance, would you be surprised to learn that Instagram tested stronger than Facebook? With 800 million users engaging with the service on at least a monthly basis, and 500 million users daily, Instagram has quickly become a force in social media and prospective students tell us that it is more effective in building a bond with colleges than Facebook.

If you can’t wait to see the entire list, click here and we will email the complete list to you.

Our national studies explore many data points; variations between students in the deep funnel phase of recruitment, private/public college students, and males/females, just to name a few. Co-sponsoring institutions receive an even deeper view of their own pool of students. If you would like this information for your college, give me a call or shoot me an email.

 [Full disclosure: The study is underway and I am sharing a few preliminary findings. However, at the current sample size, the margin of error at the 95% level is +/- 1%.]

If I can help you with your recruiting efforts in any way, please feel free to call or email me. I would love to talk to you about our powerful and effective Yield Enhancement System (YES). Admission offices use this system to improve their mass communications efforts,  have more effective one-on-one interactions, and ultimately, boost their yield. My contact information is at the bottom of this post.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here.  Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at

Yes! You Can Accurately Predict What Prospective Students Will Think and Feel

November 30th, 2017

Consider the facts:

  • A student’s excitement about attending a college is more strongly correlated to enrollment – by a factor of two – than either cost or perceived quality of the college.
  • Almost all college-bound students (over 90%) believe it is important for colleges to attempt to understand their feelings and emotions. Yet, only 24% of them say that colleges are making the effort.
  • More than 80% of college-bound students say that the relationship they built with a college significantly impacted their decision to enroll.

Today’s college-bound students want to be excited about the college they choose; they want the college show a real interest in them; and they want a personal relationship with the college. 

You may ask, “Is it possible to develop the type of personal relationships the students we are recruiting crave when each of our counselors iks working with a have a pool of hundreds?” Or perhaps, “Our marketing efforts are focused on social media and mass marketing. How can that be personalized?”

Yes, it is possible.  And, it may well transform both your short and long term recruiting efforts. It involves segmenting your pool of prospective students psychographically. It’s about finding out what’s going on in the student’s head and how it will influence their college selection decision. And you can do that on a mass scale.

Psychographic segmentation is an effective strategy that can be indispensable in higher education and can impact every stage of your funnel. By definition, segmentation simply involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers (in our case prospective students) who have, or are perceived to have, common needs, interests, and priorities, and then designing and implementing strategies to make your personal and mass communications more effective to the various segments you have identified.

You may already group your prospective student pool into geographic and socioeconomic segments. And you might overlay additional data sets for the purposes of predicting outcomes (such as enrollment). Predictive analytics is fantastic. As a marketer, I love it. But my sales background makes me want more. I want to understand each person I’m talking to. I want to know what they want and why. I want to know how they make decisions. I want know how I can frame a value proposition that will most resonate with them. I want to know how they can be best served.

Capture the information:

You CAN get this information from prospective students and it will dramatically improve the quality and richness of your communication with them. You just have to ask them for it.

We have. Over 50,000 college-bound students have participated in three of our most recent national co-sponsored studies, “Emotional Motivators, Hidden Influences,” andThe Relationship Dynamic. In those studies, we uncovered what is going on in their heads and hearts as they search for the kind of college they want. We gained insight into how they make decisions. Multiple psychographic segments emerged.

By asking students to describe their personality traits from a set of variables, and after statistical analysis, we uncovered four distinct personality types which make up our Psychographic Dimensions. We labeled them this way (in bold) based how students described themselves (in italics):

  • Warm and trusting: Easygoing, warm, caring and trusting
  • Assertive extrovert: Spontaneous, risk-taker, assertive, social and extroverted
  • Skeptical introvert: Private, introverted and skeptical
  • Analytical perfectionist: Analytical, ordered and perfectionist

In a following set of variables, we asked them to describe what they most want in a college. We then explored the associations between their psychographic dimensions and the attributes they most want. Here are the connections between personality traits and desired attributes.

  • Warm and trusting: Career-oriented, friendly, values, safe, personal and affordable, social, career-oriented, fun, exciting, friendly, safe, personal and values.
  • Spontaneous extrovert: Party school and sports.
  • Skeptical introvert: Diverse and liberal.
  • Analytical perfectionist: Prestigious, challenging and well-known.

This isn’t all we uncovered. As part of the Emotional Motivators study we presented students with a third set of variables that described the feelings and emotions they experienced as part of the college selection process. It’s fascinating to see the connection between their personality type, what they want in a college and the feelings and emotions they experienced leading up to college selection. When you layer these three dimensions you see people you know. You’ll recall someone who fit a specific personality type, who wanted certain things in a college, who exhibited specific feelings and emotions.

Leverage the data:

Imagine the power of reducing these three dimensions into a single code or variable at the end of a record in a table in a CRM. That single code could trigger different appeals, through different channels, with different information and calls to action.

At a personal communications level, admission counselors could have a fuller understanding of each student they talk to so they can serve them best. They can predict what they want and why. They can know how an individual student makes decisions and how to frame a value proposition that will most resonate with that person. A college that gathers this information at one or more points in the recruiting cycle can tailor every communication with a prospective student in a highly-personalized way that will dramatically improve the quality and richness of their communication with them.

For years, we’ve been capturing psychographic and “what you most want in a college” data in our Yield Enhancement System (YES) projects for colleges to assist counselors in crafting a more personalized approach to individual prospective students. Admission offices use this information to have more effective one-on-one interactions and, ultimately, boost their yield.

But now, the capture of this data on a wide scale could offer dramatic efficiency and effectiveness in communications and service to prospective students.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here.  Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

Bob Longmire is President of Longmire and Company, Inc. He is a recognized expert on the topic of how prospective students and parents form their college selection decisions – and how colleges can use that knowledge to grow and control their enrollment. He can be reached at (913) 492-1265, ext 709 or at Connect with Bob at Linkedin/in/boblongmire.

Yes! You Can Differentiate Your College Without a Big Investment in Time or Money

June 20th, 2017

You have probably heard this question hundreds, maybe thousands, of times from prospective students or their parents: “Tell me about your school.If you’re like most in the world of in admissions, you’re going to start ticking through a list of the benefits that make your college special.

You might say, “We’re a small school and, because of that, we’re able to give you a high level of personal attention.


We’re a large school and, because of that, you’ll enjoy a diverse student population and a wide choice of academic programs.


You might talk about your highly respected faculty, or your winning sports teams, or outstanding student spirit, or your stellar internship opportunities, or a myriad of other fine attributes.

You could list many things. And they would all be perfectly good reasons for a student to enroll at your school.

But, here’s the problem:  The students and parents you’re talking to are hearing the exact same thing from every other college they are considering.

Ouch!  That hurts, doesn’t it?

The data is very clear on this issue, however. For example, in a recent co-sponsored national study 64% of college-bound students said that campus tours look and feel the same. That’s just one of the many times that college bound students and their parents have told us that it is becoming increasingly difficult  to differentiate one college from another because colleges aren’t demonstrating their unique qualities in a way that is meaningful to the students they are recruiting.

Often, when the topic of “college differentiation” is discussed it is in the context of a campus-wide image re-branding; generally a lengthy and expensive undertaking.  However, we believe you can take a simple step today and begin immediately differentiating your college in a highly-effective way.

Kick-start the  process that will make your college stand-out in the crowd.

Think about all of the things you say about your college and all of the reasons you know that a student might select your school. Write every one of them down. Now, consider each item on your list and ask the team: “Are our prospective students hearing the same thing from any other college?” Be brutally honest.

If you think other colleges are likely to be saying the same thing that you’re saying about yourself, cross it off your list. At the end of the exercise, count how many items you have left.

We frequently do this exercise in our Interactive Counselor Training Workshops at college campuses all over the country. And, I can tell you that, in most cases, the big list of “reasons why to attend” gets whittled down to nothing. Then, we challenge the counselors to identify those characteristics that are genuinely special about their school.

This exercise serves two purposes:

  • First, it forces you to realize the attributes that you profess are not really distinguishing you at all.
  • Secondly, it forces you to be introspective and discover what truly makes you exceptional among the many choices available to prospective students and parents.

I guarantee that in many ways your college is truly distinctive. You just have to recognize those attributes and effectively articulate them so that students and parents will see you as being unique and desirable.

I highly recommend watching Simon Sinek’s September 2009 TEDTalk. It’s become a classic because it forces leaders, organizations, and people within organizations to “start with why.” It’s based on Sinek’s belief that people don’t buy “what you do.” They buy “why you do it.” You can watch his TEDTalk by clicking HERE.

The answer to increasing enrollment in the face of the many challenges in higher education today lies in taking an entirely student-centric approach to recruiting where the admission office and counselors realize that “it’s not about the institution – it’s about the student.”  This is powerful when put into practice. Through our Interactive Counselor Training Workshops, we spend a great deal of time changing the focus of admission counselors. We see their transformation and improvements in productivity. Most importantly, we see changes in the recruiting process that exposes students to the information and experiences that truly interest and excite them.

Summer is the ideal time to train and motivate your staff. Email or call me if you are interested in how we can help you have a powerhouse admissions team. And, if you want to join a prestigious group of colleges and universities that are exploring how to best harness the emotional connection that drives students to enrollment, click here for information about of our new co-sponsored study, Emotional Motivators. This study is based on the adage: “Facts tell. Emotions sell.” Students want and need facts and information about the colleges they consider. But their college selection decision will hinge on how they FEEL about the school they’ll ultimately enroll in. This study will tell you how they feel about you relative to the other colleges they considered (or chose to attend).

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo.  We hope you will subscribe to Versions of Conversion for regular tips and techniques. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here.

Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at