Back to the Basics of Recruiting … With Some New-School Swag

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet, Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach

In this month’s installment of best practices, I am going “back to the basics” of recruitment and marketing, highlighting word of mouth, snail mail, personal contact, high-quality customer service and tangible rewards. Take a look at these three tips for boosting membership in your chapter!

1. Diversify your communication methods.

Recognize the power of multiple methods of communication. After PTK Headquarters emails invitations to eligible students at Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover Campus, Beta Lambda Delta Chapter Advisor Dr. Liesl Harris follows up with mailed letters reminding students to check their email. Interesting mash-up here: While today’s college students are savvy social media users, Harris reminds us that students may not check email regularly. Email, as the older medium among newer technologies, may sometimes fall through the cracks of students’ school and work schedules, SnapChats, tweets, Instagram feeds and Facebook timelines.

Similarly, Alpha Lambda Zeta Chapter Advisor Michelle Coach stresses the importance of additional methods of invitation distribution. Her chapter keeps it very old school: hand delivery of invitations. Faculty members personally deliver invitations to eligible members at Asnuntuck Community College’s Enfield Campus. By acknowledging these high-achieving students in class, professors add value to Phi Theta Kappa membership. Following emailed invitations from Headquarters, eligible members receive personal emails from Coach and her co-advisor, as well as the chapter’s vice president of membership.

Old-school and new-school techniques collide again with social media recruitment and word-of-mouth marketing. (Although this post focuses on “the basics,” no 21st-century recruitment plan is complete without social media presence.) As digital media natives, millennials and Generation Z (those born after millennials, beginning in 1996) communicate instinctively and frequently on social media platforms. Advisors and Officers: Amplify your presence on SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Students will appreciate your willingness to meet them “where” they are. Couple your efforts with the original social media platform—word-of-mouth marketing—to boost membership.

Both Harris and Coach highlight personal contact and short presentations by current members and supportive faculty in classes as highly effective recruitment strategies. To that end, garnering the support of faculty and administrators on your campus is ideal for word-of-mouth marketing. Take it one step further: Ask members of the Admissions team at your school if you may accompany them on recruiting visits to local high schools. Wear your PTK swag, and talk to potential future members on site! (Your PTK chapter advisor can order free Membership Recruitment Cards that offer compelling statistics and highlight the benefits of membership from the PTK Store to distribute at the recruiting events.)

2. Make high-quality customer service the foundation of your recruitment efforts.

A patient, positive attitude goes a long way in solidifying rapport among members, eligible members, local chapter advisors and regional coordinators. Here at Headquarters, we strive to do the same: retain a high standard of customer service for our valued PTK constituents. Our philosophy is excellent service at every level: on the phone, via email and in person. Just as you represent Phi Theta Kappa on your campus, we at Headquarters also represent Phi Theta Kappa ambassadors who work on your behalf.

As you serve your members with timely, accurate information and offer opportunities for engagement and growth, we seek to do the same. Our ears are open to your suggestions, concerns and accomplishments. The mutually beneficial relationship we have with you—our members, advisors and regional coordinators—is invaluable. The same is true of the relationship among members, officers, advisors and potential members on your campus.

Prioritizing your members by actively listening to your constituents’ concerns and recommendations and responding to inquiries with timely and accurate information—while offering friendly and patient service—will go far in your quest to recruit members and enhance your chapter’s engagement.

3. Incentivize students who join PTK with tangible benefits.

In the short term, your chapter will receive complimentary graduation stoles if you’ve earned a REACH (Recognizing Excellence in Acceptance and Completion with Honors) Reward. Our REACH Rewards program encourages membership by rewarding chapters who achieve or exceed 15 percent for their membership acceptance rate. This is our way of encouraging membership growth and chapter engagement, as well as honoring our students on a significant milestone—graduation. Learn more about REACH Rewards here.

*We are proud to announce the return of the REACH Rewards program for the period of January 1-December 31, 2017. Enrollment and reporting is automatic for all chapters. Set a REACH goal for 2017—your chapter’s members will benefit by receiving free graduation stoles, more students experiencing PTK benefits and greater overall chapter engagement.

In the long term, reward your students with a visit to PTK Headquarters: the Center for Excellence in Jackson, Mississippi. Tour our facilities. Network with local PTK chapters. Meet our staff. Attend in-house breakout sessions on professional development, scholarships, membership recruitment and more. This trip will give your chapter an opportunity to focus on setting a Five Star Chapter Plan goal and set your sights on being an award-winning chapter (who doesn’t love trophies?) at our very special centennial celebration of annual convention in 2018. We would love to have you in Jackson and to see you again in Kansas City!

I encourage you to try these three tips—1. Diversify communication methods; 2. Prioritize high-quality customer service; and 3. Incentivize students with tangible benefits—in your recruitment efforts. If you have any tips that have worked well for your chapter, please share your experiences with us! We’re always looking for new ways to promote membership. As always, our Headquarters staff is here to serve you! “REACH” us M-F, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. CST.

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