S.P.A.M. & Greek Recruitment

jumping-spam-x1 Phired Up celebrates its 10th birthday this year. We’re pretty excited about that, and it has us reviewing the evolution of our message.

Not too long ago, S.P.A.M. was a centerpiece of our fraternity/sorority recruitment curriculum (we rarely teach it anymore).  We thought now would be a good time to share publicly, for the first time on our blog, the S.P.A.M. message. Also, keep an eye out on social media and this blog for some other fun S.P.A.M. themed cartoons, pictures, and more. Just for fun.

Here’s an explanation that can be found in slightly altered form in our books, Good Guys and I Heart Recruitment .

Have you ever had the pleasant opportunity of cracking open an ice cold can of meat?  That’s right, we’re talking about canned, spiced, efficient, delicious pork and ham cubes.

What comes to mind when we mention “S.P.A.M?”  Go ahead, make your own list of words that you think of when you hear “S.P.A.M.”  Don’t just limit yourself to the strange meat product, what about email spam?

Typically, when we ask those questions, we get responses that include the following terms and statements:
Canned mush
Gelatinous goo
Mystery meat
“Not much substance”
“Yum, I love that stuff.” (There’s always one person)
“What is it?”
“A can of nothing”
“What do those letters mean anyway?”
“Leftovers stuffed together”
“You could eat it, but you probably don’t want to”
“It’s technically food, but… gross”
“I’d rather eat a steak”
“I’d rather eat my own arm”

Most people have a very clear opinion of S.P.A.M. and, most often, it’s not a good one.  Ironically, the overwhelming majority of Americans have never even tried it.  They just “know” it’s not for them.

Now, here’s a different question.  Do you have anyone on your campus that is anti-Greek?  Duh…  We know you do.

Here’s a better question.  Do you think a few of those words listed above describing salty meat products and billions of annoying emails might be similar to the words that your anti-Greek classmates would use to describe the fraternities and sororities on your campus?

Go ahead and read the list again.

It’s not a fun analogy, but sadly it works.  Many of the fraternities you’ll encounter around the country actually are rather disgusting, annoying, canned meat, without much substance, living together in a mysterious box with strange letters on the front that nobody understands.

Now consider how those anti-Greek folks might describe your recruitment efforts:  repetitive, in your face, strange, annoying tactics to con people into joining something they don’t actually want.  Sounds a lot like email spam, don’t you think?

Now imagine what a dozen S.P.A.M. cans might resemble if we lined them up next to one another…  Yep, Fraternity/Sorority Row on your campus.  A bunch of houses lined up that all look the same, with strange letters on the outside and smelly gelatinous goo for members on the inside.  Similarly, the majority of Americans have never tried fraternity either, and their preconceived notion is that they “know” what it’s all about and they know it’s not for them.

Anyway, it’s just an analogy.  The real lesson here is in the acronym with which S.P.A.M. provides us.  That acronym describes the reasons for 95% of your organization’s recruitment problems, and consequently, organizational quality problems.  Your recruitment results could dramatically increase with improvement in these four areas:  Skills, Product knowledge, Audience understanding, and Motivation.

With these four road blocks identified, we can get our arms around the recruitment problem and begin addressing the real issues at hand.  The reasons you are not at your peak performance is not because the administration is against you, another fraternity uses dirty rush antics, the Greek Council dropped the ball during formal recruitment week, you don’t have a house, or any other excuse.  These are beyond your control.  The only reason you haven’t tripled your membership is because your members did not have the Skill, Product knowledge, Audience understanding, or Motivation necessary to succeed.  These are things within your control.

P.S. We have always been a big fan of real SPAM . We’ve cracked open "fresh" cans of that yummy stuff with lots of audiences. A couple of us have even visited the SPAM Museum (a must see). Thanks to all our supporters who have enjoyed a can or two of SPAM with us over the years.