by Matt Mattson
We have been known to poke fun at the “big recruitment event” mentality that many organizations have (see here, here, here, and here for just a handful of the examples). We even called the phenomenon of recruiting through big events “eventitis” in our books.
But then we throw a big event every summer called Summer Bash. Summer Bash ’11 (Here’s info on the ’10 event) was a big outdoor barbecue that includes yard games (bocce ball, cornhole, etc.), lots of free food, and tons of people gathering together all at once. We just held our fifth Summer Bash last week, and it was a huge success! We again had around 100 fraternity/sorority professionals from the Midwest gather together for this fun event.
Are we hypocritical? Do we critique the “big event” and then throw one every year? Well, the answers are NO and YES in that order — there are some key differences between our “big event” and typical recruitment “big events.” Here are some lessons we’d like to share that makes our big event, Summer Bash, a big success year after year.
1. For the Benefit of the Attendees. This event is not about selling Phired Up products or “recruiting clients.” We don’t talk business. We don’t host this event to drive sales. This event is purely for the benefit of those attending. We started hosting this event primarily because we knew fraternity/sorority professionals in the Indianapolis area would like a reason to get together in the summertime, and since we are all about Social Excellence, we thought we should host it. People don’t fear being “sold” at the event, or that the event is us being “fake” so that we can trick them into buying our stuff at another time. It’s just a barbecue. No ulterior motives. Just fun.
2. Personal Invites. Nearly everyone we invite we already know. We don’t do mass marketing hoping that a bunch of strangers will show up at our event and we can meet them there. We go meet people, build relationships, and then invite those people (and anyone else they want to bring) to our event. It’s big because we have a big network, not because we have awesome branding or we have a lot of sidewalk chalk. P.S. We’ve never even made t-shirts for this event!
3. Well Planned. We don’t wait until the last minute to put this thing together.
4. Not Flashy. Honestly, we make cheap hotdogs, plain burgers, baked beans in a can, and put frozen chicken directly on the grill. We use no decorations. We don’t really spend that much money making it happen (beyond buying the food). It’s at a local park. The branding and look of it is pretty simple. IT’S ABOUT THE PEOPLE not the organization.
We’re excited already for #SummerBash12 next year!