Drone Shots & Glitter

by Matt Mattson

For the past 2 years I've been presenting a program titled, "Drone Shots & Glitter: The best and worst sorority recruitment videos and what we can learn from them" on campuses and at conferences around North America (want me to present to your community? E-mail Matt@InnovaGreek.com)

This program has become one of my favorite things to present. And as summer 2017 is turning into fall 2017, a whole new batch of sorority recruitment videos is ready for review and reflection.

Let's start with a new video from Alpha Phi at Ohio State released earlier this year... Watch and enjoy. As you're watching, consider the two questions I ask all my audiences to consider as they're watching these videos...

  1. In what ways does this meet the needs of a results-focused MARKETER? Will it help the chapter succeed at recruiting (based on their audience and chapter values)?
  2. In what ways does this meet the needs of a values-focused PANHELLENIC LEADER? If you watched this right after a sisterhood retreat or ritual ceremony, would you feel proud?

Before I move on, let me say this clearly... I LOVE ALL OF THESE VIDEOS. As a marketer and as a values-based fraternity/sorority professional, I think these videos are truly amazing. There are three big reasons why I love these videos.

  1. IT TAKES GUTS TO MAKE THEM. Each of these videos was created by a college sorority woman. Each of these videos was shared publicly on the internet. Each of these videos will almost certainly be ridiculed by someone -- internet trolls, other chapters, and probably some shallow sisters who don't appreciate the guts it took to lead this project and bring these videos to life. So, to you women who created these... YOU ARE AMAZING! I admire your courage and your art. 
  2. SORORITY (AND SORORITY RECRUITMENT) IS COMPLEX. It is incredibly difficult to balance the voices of your Greek Advisor, senior members, recruitment advisor, and the group of members who want there to be more bikini shots. It is incredibly difficult to tell a story about the integrity, heart, kindness, honor, and beauty of sorority and sorority women, while competing with the chapter down the street who has a hot air balloon and the captain of the football team in their video. It is incredibly difficult to make a high quality 2-minute video that gets lots of views while also showing the depth and nuance of your members.
  3. THESE ARE TRUE EXPRESSIONS OF VALUES & WINDOWS INTO INSECURITIES. The idea of sorority is recreated everyday in the real lives of its members. Today's undergraduate women are different from those who have come before them. They care about different things, they live in a different world, and they have new ways of living out their values. These videos are real, they are today, they are now. These videos are also excellent windows into the insecurities and struggles of modern women -- and there's nothing wrong with that. As college-aged women struggle with body-image concerns, mysogynistic cultural norms, a desire to fit-in and be liked juxtaposed against a desire to be authentic and true to themselves, and all sorts of other incredible challenges in today's world, they're trying there best to demonstrate confidence, pride, and passion for their organization. These videos truly are amazing works of art if you know and understand sororities like we do.

With all that said, check out a handful of our other past and present favorite sorority recruitment videos. Ask yourself the two questions we listed at the beginning of the blog as you enjoy each of these videos. We'll even include a couple non-Panhellenic videos in here too just for fun.

After you've watched these, scroll down for our top 5 tips to make your sorority recruitment video great!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Top 5 Tips To Make Your Perfect Sorority Recruitment Video

  1. MAKE IT ABOUT THEM, MORE THAN IT IS ABOUT YOU. Great marketing is about the audience. Viewers (especially the ones you care about most) should see themselves in the video. This isn't a video to make you feel good about yourself and your chapter, it is a video to inspire PNMs to be curious about your chapter and your members. The viewer should feel right in the middle of the video -- not like they're watching a show about you, but like they're immersed in their future reality.
  2. SAY WHAT YOU'RE ABOUT, NOT WHAT YOU'RE NOT. You know all those videos with sorority women writing "I am not a stereotype" on their hands, and then showing it to the camera? Don't do that. It just reinforces the stereotype. Instead, be about something. Make the video clearly communicate who you are, not who you're not.
  3. EMOTIONS MATTER MORE THAN LOGIC. Do not try to bullet-point your way through the video with stats about how great your chapter is, how many philanthropy dollars you've raised, and how many service hours you've given. Joining a sorority is not a logical decision, it is an emotional one. PNMs decide to join a sorority because the women in it make them feel safe, loved, and like they matter. 
  4. DON'T BE A REAL ESTATE AGENT OR EVENT PROMOTER. Cool house. Neat party. Move on. Seriously. You have more to offer than nice real estate or a great event. 
  5. BE REAL. SERIOUSLY. STOP FAKING IT. We can see right through our in-authenticity. If you're not the coolest, hottest, richest, flashiest chapter on campus (and you're probably not), don't try to sell that. Show you. People join people. People don't join perfection (they're intimidated by it), they join real people. Just like you did. Just like you hope every PNM will. Make your video overflow with authenticity.

What is a PR Chair Supposed To Do?

by Matt Mattson

We recently published a report that showed one painfully glaring reality. There are 12,000 fraternity/sorority PR chairs around North America serving chapters and councils this year, and most of them have never been trained how to do their job!

We’re hoping to fix that.

Let’s start with a job description.

Tell a story.  
Build Relationships. 
Earn Trust.
Drive Leads.

That’s it. Oh, and one more thing.

When something bad happens, say you’re sorry commit to fixing the problem and call for help.

Let’s dive in a little more deeply.

Tell a story. Your organization (council or chapter) should have a single compelling story it is trying to communicate. Every marketing tactic, every tweet, every post, every print item, every table, every conversation… should all reflect the essence of that single core marketing story. Do you know what story you’re trying to tell?

Build Relationships. Fraternity and sorority is in the relationship business. The only way we change people’s minds about us is through real life relationships. All our marketing, advertising, and public relations work should be focused on creating positive opportunities for face-to-face relationship building, or reinforcing the positive emotional experience/story that someone gets when they do have a personal interaction with your members. Everything should lead to more meaningful personal interactions. Make your list of the Top 10 lunches you should have with people in your community that can influence your organization’s reputation.

Earn Trust. The PR Chair deals in social currency, and the currency of fraternity/sorority is TRUST. Nobody will join your organization without trust. Nobody will advocate for your organization without trust. Nobody will support your organization or partner with your organization or even like your organization without trust. And the bad news is that fraternity/sorority starts with a deficit in the trust department. Our reputation precedes us, and we have to do everything we can to fill our bucket with the social currency of other people trusting us if we want to be good at our job. Who do you need to trust you? How can you demonstrate that you deserve their trust?

Drive Leads. Now, I know this sounds like it is the “recruitment” team’s job. It is. But here’s where you can work together. Great marketing and advertising by fraternities and sororities is aimed at the right audience of prospective members (and the people who influence them), and tries to get one thing to happen — it tries to get high quality prospects to share their name, contact information, and ideally a time to meet up in person. Marketing done by the PR team can be the red carpet that is rolled out onto campus (or into high schools) that invites prospective members to connect with members.

And finally, when something bad happens say you’re sorry commit to fixing the problem and call for help. We’ve been historically TERRIBLE at this as an industry. We mostly try to cover our ass. Don’t. Just say you’re sorry. Admit you screwed up. Find a way to fix it. Seriously. Call your HQ, Greek Advisor, or your council support system (i.e. NIC, NPC, NPHC, NAPA, MGC, etc.) — they are there to help you.

Marketing Strategy & Education Visit

Bring Innova's marketing experts to your campus for a KEYNOTE PRESENTATION, market RESEARCH, and most importantly a 20+ page long-term growth marketing strategy for your entire fraternity/sorority community.

DOWNLOAD THIS FOR MORE INFORMATION

Innova's team of marketing experts travel all over North America to work with fraternity/sorority communities and individual councils to teach your members how to improve Greek Life's reputation and build a plan to tell the story you want told about Greeks on your campus. 

We've worked with communities as far ranging as Florida State, University of California-Irvine, University of Michigan-Flint, Texas State University, University of Vermont, Christopher Newport University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Tampa, and many more. 

For the same price as you would invest in a 1-hour "speaker," bring Innova's team of experienced professionals to work directly with your community entire on building its brand, improving its reputation, telling a positive Fraternity/Sorority story, and attracting a higher quantity of high quality new members.

Want more information? Download this, and then E-mail Matt@InnovaGreek.com today.

A Look at Fraternity/Sorority Marketing From Above

Let’s look at marketing for fraternities and sororities from above.

Try not to think about your individual campus or organization, but instead think about the entire industry’s brand reputation. Now more than ever the reputation of one chapter on a campus far away from your home chapter absolutely impacts your own group’s potential for success.

It’s time for us to engage in collaborative conversations around taking control of our collective story. We want to help lead those conversations.

Smart, forward-looking fraternal organizations have a big opportunity ahead of them. The demographic and psychographic makeup of future college students is experiencing a dramatic shift. The fraternity/sorority industry has a chance to get ahead of this wave of new students and serve them with forethought and excellence. Innova is proud to provide marketing services that are informed by the research about this new wave of students.

Millenials are a generation of the past. As most readers already know, students entering college today are part of a very different mindset, influenced by very different world events. They’re called “Generation Z” and Innova has been intensely studying all the research about this new generation of college students – their interests, priorities, and worldview. The early research on Gen Z suggests they see the world in a blended way – their relationship to racial and gender identity is far different than previous generations. Gen Z is financially conservative – the skyrocketing cost of higher education combined with a major recession experienced during their formative years have influenced their relationship with money. Gen Z students are seeking a stable family and practical career development – their experience with post-9/11 world instability make them crave stability and pragmatic opportunities for career advancement. Gen Z students are creators – nearly ½ expect to be their own boss, and nearly 40% plan to invent something that will change the world. These are just a few of the insights that should inform a collegiate student organization’s brand promises.

These are just a few of the insights that should inform a collegiate student organization’s brand promises.

Meanwhile the landscape of U.S. college student enrollment is getting murkier, which means the future growth potential of fraternities and sororities is unclear. On one hand, the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) projected last year that the college freshman class of 2025 would be the largest and most ethnically diverse in history based on overall birth rates. On the other hand, traditional-aged, 4-year, residential college students seem to be an outgoing phenomenon – only making up 20-30% of all college enrollees (depending on the source). With out-of-control college costs and a highly questionable political landscape around the topic, the traditional 18 to 22-yearold on-campus college experience might be a dinosaur-like experience.

The bottom line is that effectively marketing the history and tradition of fraternities and sororities to today’s and tomorrow’s college student will require a more creative approach than our history and tradition has demonstrated. Innova has a deep respect for our fraternal history, but we are motivated to catch our industry’s marketing efforts up to the students of tomorrow.

Here are six important insights that guide our work at Innova.

  • Taking back the story of fraternity/sorority won’t be done through mass media buys, press releases, talking about what we’re not, crisis communications, or campaigns that are really just aimed at making us feel better about ourselves. We have to decide on an audience (high quality future members) and enchant them with a story about themselves with fervor, patience, and discipline.
  • All news is local. We have to mobilize our undergraduate leaders in the telling of the Greek Life story. It has to be their story.
  • The best defense is a good offense. We simply can not keep sitting back and hoping nothing bad happens — only to clumsily try to defend ourselves when it inevitably does. We must be assertive and persistent in the shaping of our industry’s story.
  • Our fraternal reputation hasn’t hurt our numbers (due to a number of contributing factors), but it has hurt our potential to attract high quality, low-risk members. We can aim a better story at better students and make better (and safer) organizations.
  • Fraternity/sorority marketing must be relationship-centered. We’re in a people business. Smart communications about Greek Life will not only reinforce a core narrative, but more importantly they will create real opportunities for human interaction with our best members.
  • The message that strikes first wins. The industry will win the communications game over time if it is positioned to tell the story to incoming students (and H.S. students) before anyone else can.

We’d love to work with your campus community or inter/national organization to help you build smart marketing strategies.

Useful is More Important Than Pretty

by Matt Mattson

There is NOTHING WRONG WITH PRETTY. Let’s start there. I believe in the power of aesthetics to inspire, seduce, and allure the human mind into feeling connected with an idea.

But I care about results. If pretty gets results, do pretty. If ugly gets results, I’d rather have results.

To be clear, I’m talking about marketing here. Design to be precise. Our head designer (Brendan) is a genius. I’m amazed by his abilities to design. But I heard him remark the other day, “I’m proud of this piece, but I wonder if it’s working.” In other words, “It’s pretty, but does that matter?” He’s a genius, I told you.

I saw a rush T-shirt design recently that was like a mashup of “things frat guys seem to like.” Like all of them in one design. There were stars, a dog, Bean boots, a bowtie… I think there was a cigar and a slip and slide too. I don’t remember exactly. It was ridiculous. And I started to wonder, “Who is that shirt for?” Is it for guys looking for “frat stuff all in one place kind of like WalMart has everything in one place?” I don’t know. It didn’t seem to exude any real purpose. It was just “cool stuff mashed together.” I see this in sorority land too. “If we put chevrons/flowers/whatever’s-hot-on-pinterest in the background, it’ll be perfect.” Forget the fact that it’s stuffed with way too many words, most of which are irrelevant, and it does more to confuse than help — but it’s pretty.

All I’m trying to say is this. Pretty is good. But useful AND pretty is what you should be shooting for. In that order. Let us help you strategically design your marketing initiatives to be USEFUL, beautiful, and results-producing.

Make It Really Easy For Those Seeking Membership

by Matt Mattson

If someone is interested in Greek Life, it should be RIDICULOUSLY SIMPLE for them to a) learn more and b) indicate their interest by signing up somewhere.

However, most campus fraternity/sorority community websites, most inter/national headquarters websites, most chapter websites, and most Greek Life social media feeds make it virtually impossible to effectively do either of these things.

We’re not really in the “website design” business, but Innova often finds itself helping communities simplify user experience for prospective members hoping to learn more. Marketing, after all, isn’t just designing flashy stuff — sometimes it’s about SIMPLIFYING. In fact, often it is about simplifying.

Is it simple for someone on your campus (or who might be interested in learning about your organization) to a) learn exactly what steps they should take next, and b) actually give you their name, contact information, and a little info about themselves?

In our free E-book on fraternity/sorority marketing (download here), our #1 essential marketing tactic is to have an effective online leads generator.

We have some favorite examples of groups doing this right.

  1. Let’s start with ourselves. This was one of the main points of www.ReThinkGreek.com. We’re pretty proud of it.
  2. ATO is doing something awesome (we’re proud to be helping them). Check out www.TrueMerit.org. They’re not leading with “fraternity lingo,” but it’s clear what someone should do to share their contact info with them.
  3. We’re working with the University of California-Irvine Greek Life office to do some innovative marketing stuff (direct E-mails, social media advertising, community narrative, etc.) They’ve created a “recruitment micro-site” with key information for PNMs, AND they’re using a smart ChapterBuilder form. Check it out: http://greeklife.uci.edu/recruitment/.
  4. A long-time favorite of ours is from Phi Delta Theta — http://futurephidelt.org/.

Along with our partners at TechniPhi, we can help campuses, HQ’s, and chapters streamline the process for potential members to learn more and sign up.

Now, making it easy for people who are already interested in joining is not the primary focus of our marketing strategy. We want to help campuses and organizations find more high quality people than the ones they’re already attracting. But, shouldn’t it be as easy as possible for great people who are already interested to raise their hand and say, “Hi, I’d like to learn more.” We think so.

One Way To Fix Big Greek Problems

by Matt Mattson

I’m not going to suggest this is the only way, or maybe even the best way to solve these BIG Greek problems… But it’s a real, tangible, actionable, affordable, realistic approach to addressing them. Read on.

We Got Problems.

Hazing, Alcohol Abuse, Sexual Assault, Racism, Drug Use, Ensconsed and Unjust Exclusivity… you get the idea. Greek Life has problems.

Can marketing help?

The answer to that question depends on your definition of marketing for Greek Life. If you think that’s about better brochures, a prettier website, louder social media presence, or flashier videos… the answer is NO.

If, on the other hand, when you think about marketing for Greek Life you think about strategic storytelling to very specific audiences, data-driven leads generation and leads qualification, slowly cultivating a deep value proposition in high school students’ (and parents’) minds, etc…. the answer is a resounding YES.

How?

Fraternities and sororities are made of members. The existing and predictable pool from which these members are “chosen” is often where many fraternity/sorority marketing and recruitment efforts are focused. But if that pool was improved (with your definition of “higher quality”/”lower risk” prospects), that’s where we can start to make an impact on the make-up of our organizations. Sure there are a lot of entrenched cultural barriers within fraternity/sorority-land that need to be disassembled and re-imagined, but something within our power right now – as caring Greek leaders and professionals – is to make sure we’re helping by improving the quality of the pool.

  • Let’s do direct marketing to students with a statistically lower probability of alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Let’s build a long-term pipeline of prospects from youth/high school groups that are more likely to produce the members we desire.
  • Let’s blatantly say who we DON’T want in our marketing.
  • Let’s warn people who want the stuff we don’t want that we don’t want them.
  • Let’s stop spending our money and energy talking to the people who are already going to show up and join, and reinvest in aiming at a much different/better/more desirable audience.

 

There’s a lot of reasons to get frustrated as a fraternity/sorority life leader and/or professional. Our problems often seem insurmountable. But there are ways to make an impact that are within our control – marketing is a great example.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

by Matt Mattson

Who is your fraternity/sorority experience NOT currently attracting?
Who are the people who need Greek Life on your campus, but aren’t finding their way there?
Who would make your organizations better?
Who do you want, but can’t get?
Who do you never even interact with, and therefore don’t know if they’d be good members?

Most of our fraternity/sorority marketing (and recruitment) is aimed at the people we’re probably already going to get anyway. We waste money, time, and lots of energy trying to convince the 10% of people who already like us to like us. We are preaching to the choir, and it’s costing us money.

What if we picked a segment of our campus population that doesn’t ever hear our “Go Greek” hollers, and spoke to them in ways that they’d like to be spoken to?

What if we decided that this upcoming semester we were going to intentionally try to diversify our pool of prospects by aiming a concerted effort an obviously underrepresented population in our organizations?

If we did those things, would the people who were already going to show up stop showing up? Probably not.

To build the Greek community/organization you imagine, you must seek the people who you require.

Who will you seek this semester?