by Matt Mattson & Alex Taylor
Hey recruitment professional. What’s your marketing plan for this year?
“Marketing? Is marketing even my job? I don’t think so. Doesn’t someone else do that? What about the guy who makes our magazine, I think he makes pictures and stuff for us. Do you mean like social media marketing? Oh, we post happy founders day messages to all the sororities on campus when we do expansion, so we’re good.”
I know you fraternity/sorority recruitment pros don’t really think that, and that conversation would never really take place. You’re smart, driven, hard-working professionals who understand the nuanced interplay between design, messaging, on-the-ground recruitment, brand awareness, personal relationships, and leads generation.
But, you’re reading this blog post because you want to maximize marketing to help you recruit the highest quantity of high quality members when you do expansions, extensions, and chapter support. So, here are our 5 Best Marketing Tips for HQ Recruitment Pros.
1. Organize Your Marketing Team
You’re going to need help. Your organization is old, important, influential, and full of high expectations. You have franchises all over the continent. And you’re charged with opening a new one. Your B.A. in Exercise Science might not have prepared you to lead a major marketing new- franchise-launch marketing initiative. That’s o.k. There are people who can help you. They might not all know they’re supposed to help you though, so you’re going to have to build some relationships and ask for support.
HQ Communications Staff: Depending on your organization, you might have a really sophisticated communications department, or you might have literally nobody. Most orgs are somewhere in between and have a brilliant communications team that spends most of its time on magazines and fundraising publications. You’re going to need to become their best friends and flat out beg them for help with design, copywriting, strategy, social media optimization, and other things they’d probably love to help with but nobody from the chapter support/expansion/extension team has ever talked to them.
Your Boss: You’ll probably need a bigger marketing budget than you currently have. Paid advertising, professionally designed and printed materials, gifts for key relationships on campus, recruitment scholarships, and marketing collateral are all things you should have and you might need to buy.
Technology Department: Most good recruitment marketing work is inbound marketing, which means you might need a separate landing page for this recruitment project, or at least make some modifications to your website so it tells your story and collects leads effectively.
Professional Marketers: We have very little shame. We’ll plug ourselves here. After all, Innova is the only company in the world that actually does Greek Life recruitment marketing strategy and implementation. Yep. The only company in the world. O.K., the plug is over now.
2. Tell a Story Over and Over
What is your organization’s compelling story? Not your core values. Not your list of leadership education programs. Your marketing narrative. Your unique value proposition. If I have to use Sinek here, I will… Your WHY. Why should someone join your organization over another (or even over the other chapter that was started last semester)? No, it doesn’t count to say “we’re redefining fraternity,” or “become a founding father to leave a legacy.” You need something sexy, something emotional, and something core to what makes your organization special.
Is it in a singular transformational moment in the past? An aggressive goal for the future?
The secret to your success probably won’t be in optimizing Instagram, in an awesome Facebook ad, or in the coolest designed flier. Those things serve a purpose of presenting the best aspects of the fraternity in a professional manner, but they’re not the heart of the issue.
The real influencer is you. It lies in your ability to fearlessly embrace your organization’s identity and champion that each day. With every interaction, with every meeting, with every social media post, with every moment of communication you have to own and love your organization.
We’re not calling for everyone to put on ‘rose-colored’ glasses, but to know the deep truest sense of what makes your organization unique. Then, a unique compelling story, coupled with professional materials, can engage and spread across a campus with ease.
3. Attack from All Angles
Great marketing tells that single compelling story (see #2) over and over in as many creative ways as you can. Building an actual marketing strategy — both a core strategy that you repeat for every project, and individual strategies unique to each campus — is an absolute must. Considering all the options, and then choosing the best marketing tactics that fit your organization’s priorities, the needs of the target audience, and your budget and capabilities. This will likely include social media, unique websites or landing pages, print collateral, tabling/exhibit displays, budgets and strategies for key influencer relationship building, gifts, video production and distribution and more.
Here is a big list of marketing tactics that you might not have considered.
– social media ads
– social media content
– social media interaction coaching
– mailer to incoming men’s parents
– presence at orientation activities
– faculty/admin communication and leads generation tools
– creative branded presence on campus
– creative alliances with sororities and key student lead orgs
– scholarship program (or peer recognition program)
– referrals from PNMs when they register
– automated communication with leads
– welcome messaging (e.g. door hangers, table tents in cafeteria, posters, etc.)
– strategic sponsorships
– student org mailbox announcement
– email campaigns
– materials or messaging at large class freshmen seminars (flier on chairs, sign at front, video, announcement script, pens, peel-able desk stickers)
– transfer student and special population messaging
– high school marketing
– leads generation, referrals, and marketing at college fairs (or anywhere graduating HS seniors go during the summer)
– local advertising and business partnerships
– direct marketing techniques (e.g. magnets co-promoting fraternity and sports team calendar, or food coupon)
– campus radio ads/mention
– outdoor and sports arena advertising
– messaging on trendy websites/apps promoting Fraternity
– TV ads
– TV monitors on campus promoting new fraternity
– custom local video production
4. Measure Your Success in Leads and Relationships
Your success as a marketing will be measured in two key categories. 1) How many qualified names are on your names list (ChapterBuilder)? and 2) How many trust-filled relationships have you built with key influencers on campus?
Trust is the currency of recruitment. And Greek organizations start off with a deficit of trust. So your work in building trust-filled relationships across campus will be key to your overall marketing and recruitment success. Relationships with other Greek organizations, student clubs and groups, university administrators, alumni, council officers, athletic departments, honors faculty, the people who serve food in the student union, and more — these relationships will greatly determine your success. And the building of these relationships, while it might not seem like marketing, might be the most important brand establishment work you’ll do. Build them early, build them deeply, and build a lot of them.
Quantity drives quality. The bigger your names list, the higher your probability of recruiting the best members for your project. This is obviously the most important measurable of your marketing efforts. Because of this truth, all your marketing work should be aimed at driving names onto your list. We’ve written about Inbound Marketing before, and our friends at Phired Up teach the power of “Marketing for Names” (don’t do marketing to “get your name out there,” do marketing to “get names on your list”). Quantity drives quality. Every marketing effort should increase your chances of having a big names list.
5. Elongate Your Recruitment Timeline with Marketing
We want to take a moment to celebrate one of our partners. Delta Tau Delta is shifting from a 4-week expansion model to a 17-week model. Those extra weeks are almost all about marketing. Their staff termed the phrase, “softening the ground” before their expansion consultants set foot on campus. They’re working to build personal relationships and make good plans for effective recruitment work, but they’re putting a ton of effort and resources into doing smart marketing work prior to their heaviest on-the-ground recruitment time.
Marketing should be like rolling out a red carpet to make it easy for your professional recruitment team to hit the ground running. By the time your team is on the ground, the brand of your organization should be deeply imprinted in your target audience’s mind, your names list should be bursting at the seams, your local social media channels should be filled with relationships, connections and content, and demand for membership should be at peak levels. This requires foresight, planning, collaboration, and professionalism.