Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Using Branding to Your Advantage

The concept of "Branding" should be nothing new for those students who are interested in Marketing/Advertising.  As an undergraduate (man I sound old) this concept was just entering the fraternity lexicon.  I distinctly remember one of my chapter brothers returning from a conference and uttering the following phrase:

"We need to create a brand... from here on out we're putting 'Michigan Alpha' on the back of all of our T-shirts"

I think we can safely say he missed the boat on this one.  Branding is about more than simply something you put on T-Shirts.

Entrepreneur.com defines branding as "The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products"

Think about that in terms of corporations you're familiar with.  If you see a red background with white script letters - that's Coke.  A mermaid in a green and white circle is Starbucks.  A swoosh is Nike.  These brands are consistant and work tirelessly to make sure individuals recognize their presence in a given environment.

Now the real challenge lies in how can your chapter create a brand, and use it to your advantage in recruitment.  In my time at California State, Northridge I witnessed chapters exemplifying this perfectly and I'll use Sigma Alpha Epsilon as an example: 

Take note of certain aspects of this: colors, symbols, themes, simplicity, cleanliness, and the lack of drug, alcohol and sex references.  If you're lost on where to start look towards your international organization who probably has symbols, colors and tag-lines for you to use.  Many campuses also have groups of graphic design students who are looking for opportunities to boost their portfolio (often times free of charge).

The next step is to use the brand in all outgoing messaging by the chapter which includes:

- Facebook Fan Page (Profile Picture and Cover Photo)
- Chapter Website
- Flyers
- Bulletin Boards
- Posters 
- Recruitment Packets
- T-Shirts/Apparel (for males and females)
- Table Skirt
- Banners 
- Stationary

Facebook Cover Photo

The key to any branding campaign is consistency.  It got to the point where I could tell something was an SAE advertisement based on the colors alone.  That should be your goal.  A strong branding campaign can set a chapter apart, especially when competing with 10, 20 or 30+ other organizations on a campus.

Has anyone else seen examples of good (or bad) chapter branding campaigns?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Summer Recruitment Part 4

Hopefully at this point you have executed a successful Summer Recruitment program and have numerous guys signed before they step on campus (assuming that it's within the rules). The real magic happens once those men you recruited turn around and start recruiting for you.

Think about it, you now have 5, 10, 15, 20+ New Members who attended high schools, live in residence halls and are taking freshmen classes. Your newest members are generally your most excited so use them! Here are some strategies to utilize them to their full potential:

Mind Joggers - Sit your new members down and have them do Mind Joggers to add many more names to your Names List. Then turn around and invite those people to your small recruitment events.

3x7 Challenge - This activity will get your New Members actively recruiting in their classes.

5x5 Challenge - Another activity to drive up the number of names on the Names List

Move In - Does your campus offer some form of a move-in program to assist other students into their residence halls? If so encourage both your older and new members to volunteer as this is a great way meet new people.

Answer Booth - Every incoming freshmen is going to have questions: Where's the book store? Where should I eat? What classes should I take? Where's the bus stop? How do I get football tickets? This is an opportunity for both new and old members to come together and help answer these questions. Set up a table in a main area or in a residence hall. Make sure you're not only answering questions but also collecting their contact information for the Names List.

Sports - Have your new members go through their residence halls and invite their floormates out to play the sport of your choosing. Most former high school athletes will be jumping at the chance to play as well as to meet new people on campus.

By doing some of these activities in the first 1-3 weeks of school your chapter can double or triple the size of your new member class. Hopefully these posts will serve as a guide to starting/improving your chapter's Summer Recruitment program. There is an enormous opportunity to grow your chapter exponentially by following some of the basic strategies outlined in these posts. It may not be perfect act first, but you have to start somewhere.

I'd love to hear success stories come September.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Summer Recruitment Part 3

After creating a flawless Summer Recruitment foundation there's only one question left: where do you find people?

Here's a couple strategies:

High School Lists - Have each member reach out to the college counselor from their high school to get a list of students coming to your university. Now have them expand their reach to other high schools in the district/region.

Sorority Referrals - Do you have friends in sororities? Of course you do. The premise is simple; ask them who they know coming to your university. There are two ways this can be done. You could do a formal presentation . This involves dressing up, going to their meeting, making them laugh and finally asking them for referrals. Informally, you could simply reach out to sorority women and ask them who they know coming to your university.

Alumni Referrals - What a great way to engage alumni! Ask them to help you recruit. Does your chapter have an alumni newsletter? The answer better be "yes". Add a small box in your next newsletter that outlines how your chapter is looking for high caliber men like themselves and what a huge help it would be to the chapter.

Organization Referrals - There are hundreds of state and regional organizations that you can contact for referrals. A short list would be: Student Council, National Honors Society, Future Business Leaders of America, Future Farmers of America, DECA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Eagle Scouts... the possibilities are endless.

Lists - I was recently talking to a Greek Adviser who told me "I have a list of all incoming freshmen males with names, phone numbers and emails. All they have to do is ask for it". I recommend asking the Greek Adviser, Director of Admissions, New Student Orientation and anyone else with access to freshmen for a list. The worst that can happen is they say no, at which point you thank them for their time and find the next person to ask.

Tabling - If your university offers some kind of "preview day" where incoming students come to learn about the school and take tours use this opportunity to table somewhere on the tour path. Offer information on classes, general advice or just water on a hot day. Make sure you're also collecting their contact info and putting transferring it to the Names List.

Member Positioning - Let's take the previous suggestion a step further. Instead of tabling during the tours, why not have your members be the tour guides? This automatically puts them in a position of power and the ability to collect their contact information. As a recruitment chair you should explore the different opportunities to put your members in these types of positions.

Freshmen Scholarship - I've written extensively on the topic HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

Other Chapters in Your Area - Contact the other chapters of your organization in the area and set up a referral exchange. Ask them to compile a list of people they know coming to your university in exchange for a list of everyone your chapter knows going to there's.

That should be enough to keep your Summer Recruitment teams busy. If not, remember that any activity or interaction that adds names to your Names List will drive results. Check back tomorrow for how to double the size of your new member class in the first two weeks of school.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Summer Recruitment Part 2

After covering the basics, the next step is to set up the structure that will propel your chapter to success in summer recruitment. Remember that the key to recruitment is making friends. Therefore the foundation for your summer recruitment plan should be to create opportunities to build relationships. Crazy right?

Regional Teams
Split up your chapter into teams based on where they will be during the summer. For some groups, this may be regions within their state. For others, you may have teams all over the country. For those members who do not live in an area that sends a lot of people to your campus, there are vast opportunities that they can assist with online.

Team Captains
Each of your regional recruitment teams needs to have a captain. This will be your main point of contact for the team as well as the person that is responsible for holding the rest of the team accountable.

These can vary depending on various factors such as team size, distance, ext - however I would recommend that each team is responsible for one in-person recruitment activity each week. It doesn't have to be a big event, it doesn't have to include every team member and it doesn't need to be advertised on Facebook. Get together for a small event and invite Potential New Members. Additionally, each group should add a set number of names to the Names List each week.

Alumni Engagement
Instead of telling Potential New Members about how strong your alumni network is, here's a chance to show them. Invite alumni in the area out to some of these events, and see what doors they can open for you (think: sports tickets, rounds of golf, ext). This is not only a way to impress PNM's but also to build strong relationships with your alumni.

With a vast majority college students, finances are an issue. The thought of having to pay for weekly events out of pocket is enough to turn people off from the idea of Summer Recruitment. Set aside part of your Spring recruitment budget for the summer teams that can cover some/all of the expenses incurred by the teams as they do their weekly events. I'll go as far as to say your Return on Investment for Summer Recruitment will be far better than that of formal recruitment (think of all the money you're saving by not buying wings and t-shirts for 50 members and their girlfriends?).

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out how to find people to invite to your small events.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Summer Recruitment Part 1

Ah it's almost summer - which means no more classes, fun in the sun, eagerly awaiting college football season and a huge wasted opportunity. That wasted opportunity is summer recruitment.

Think about it. Summer is the perfect time to get a head start before the thought of recruitment crosses other chapter's collective minds. If you have never done summer recruitment it may feel a little bit strange. The goal of this series of blog posts is to take out the guess work and give you a path to follow.

On to the basics:

Acquire a copy of your IFC Bylaws or set up a meeting with your Greek Adviser to learn what you can/cannot do for summer recruitment. Sometimes there are restrictions on contact, bid distribution or eligibility. Make sure any and all plans abide by the appropriate policies.

Names List
The Names List is probably the single most important tool available to you for Summer recruitment. It allows you to keep track of the potentially hundreds of Potential New Members that you will be interacting with. It also serves as an additionally layer of accountability if used correctly in the sense that you will be able to keep track of which members are recruiting.

It's going to be hard to convince every member of your chapter to recruit over the summer. My advice: take baby steps. Rally your horses and create a committee of members who are dedicated to the cause. As the saying goes "the first step is the hardest". After one successful summer recruitment period (which you'll have if you keep reading these posts) it will become a habit.

Your summer recruitment plan should be completed before members start their exams. It should clearly lay out member expectations, a rough calendar and a budget. All these aspects should be distributed and understood by your horses, if not your entire membership. Chances are your Leadership Consultant, Alumni Adviser and/or Greek Adviser can look over your plan and give feed back.

Coming up later in the week I'll cover structure, expectations, strategy and how summer recruitment can make fall recruitment that much easier.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


On the long drive from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City (13 straight hours) I had the pleasure of listening to Tina Fey's Bossypants on audio book. My interest was solely on the entertainment factor. However something caught my attention that tied in perfectly to recruitment and Social Excellence. Now I have a reason to combine my professional life and my celebrity crush on Tina Fey.

For those of you who don't know, Tina Fey studied improv before hosting Weekend Update and impersonating Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. After detailing her lessons at Second City in Chicago, she lays out for the readers the simple rules of improv comedy:

1. Say "Yes"
When it comes to improv, this shows respect for a co-worker who sets a scene. However, in the recruitment world the word "yes" opens up a lot more doors than "no".

2. Not Only Say "Yes", But "Yes And"
This shows genuine interest in what the other person is saying and provides an avenue for additional diologue. To only agree with the other person is just another conversational road block, offer something in exchange to keep things fluid.

3. Make Statements
Unless you're in the middle of a formal interview or police interrogation, its probably common courtesy to allow the other person to ask questions. This is accomplished by simply making a statement and allowing the other person an opportunity to flip roles.

4. There Are No Mistakes
Tina continues with "There are no mistakes, just opportunities". Every conversation, every question and every answer is a new opportunity to open up or learn something new about the other person. Don't regret anything and just go with the flow. Some of the best innovations in recent memory have been accidents....ask Pfizer.

Unlike the improv show Who's Line is it Anyway?, the points do matter when it comes to recruitment. Remember these simple rules to improve both your conversation and your improv skills. If you haven't experienced it yet, I highly recommend Bossypants. Just be warned it has some crude language - and if I'm saying that you should know what you're getting into.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Creating a Chapter Scholarship: Part 5

Its a little later than I would have hoped, but here is the 5th installment of "Creating a Chapter Scholarship". Hopefully by this point you have done the following:

Agree to Start a Scholarship
Create an ApplicationDistribute that Application
Follow-Up with Applicants

This final post is where all it all comes together. This is how to take a scholarship applicant and bridge the gap to get them to accept a bid. It may be vastly overplayed, but its based on the movie Inception.

For those unfamiliar, Inception is a tactic used to influence people's thoughts and decisions based on small, sometimes inconsequential, events. Another metaphor would be to "plant a seed".

The concept is very simple. Throughout some form of follow-up meeting, seek to find out what an individual can gain from joining a fraternity. In my scholarship interviews I use the following set questions to to get my answers:

"What do you hope to do professionally after you graduate?""What types of things do you need to improve on or accomplish to get to that point?"

There are a wide variety of answers to the second question that are applicable: leadership, community service, networking, getting involved... Hopefully these ring a bell as advantages of joining a fraternity. Take note, but don't make your pitch yet. I actually write these answers in the margin of my page so I can reference them later. Continue through the interview as normal.

This is where the magic happens...

At the end of the interview act like you're required to give an elevator pitch. Nonchalantly weave their answers to the above questions into your pitch. Then, you should have some form of professional-looking handout that gives information about your organization and your chapter.... again, something you "have to give them". Shake their hand and say it was great to meet them, and if they have any questions about the scholarship or the organization they can contact you.

The key is in the follow up. If the applicant contacts you, great. If not, in a day or two follow up with them via text with:
"Hey its Alex from XYZ, I was wondering if you got a chance to check out that folder?"

Chances are they respond something to the affect of: "yes, it looks interesting"
You respond with "Do you have some time to meet up this week to learn more about it?"

... and there you have it, you've just booked a 1-on-1 recruitment meeting through a scholarship. The rest is up to you to communicate the value of joining your organization and make sure to sure their answers from above. If you went through something close to the event discussed in Part 4, you should have an even bigger advantage in having a larger amount of personal connections with each applicant.