5 Key Points for Recruiting Chapters

This week, DECA welcomed six associations (Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and South Carolina) to Reston, Va., to develop chapter recruitment plans.

To help guide each association’s efforts to create an individualized plan, we used a six step process:

  1. Analyzing your product
  2. Identifying prospects, target markets and special groups
  3. Creating messaging
  4. Developing an outreach strategy
  5. Formulating an engagement strategy
  6. Creating an on-boarding program to retain new chapters

Here are my five key take-aways from the three-day workshop that resulted in some innovative ideas.

  1. DECA serves more than just marketing students.
    All of the associations in attendance have aligned their membership requirements to reflect DECA’s expansive programs in finance, entrepreneurship, hospitality, management and marketing. Our advisors are teaching more than marketing, and our members are also taking classes other than marketing. We offer competitive events, among other programs, in the career clusters of business management, finance, hospitality and marketing. More students can take advantage of the benefits DECA offers. If your association hasn’t reviewed your membership eligibility criteria in a while, maybe it’s time to dust it off and take a look.
  2. DECA can be in middle schools.
    Georgia DECA has developed a curriculum for the middle levels and are exploring methods of taking DECA to middle schools. Recognizing the potential, Georgia DECA knows that they will gain membership through middle school chapters but also will bring familiarity of the program to these students earlier. It’s a win-win.
  3. Showcasing specialized areas.
    Recognizing potential legislation with personal finance, Massachusetts DECA has developed one strategy: to showcase DECA’s personal finance offerings. This creates a new group of potential advisors and students. They will be developing specialized promotional materials to showcase DECA’s Financial Literacy Promotion Plan, Virtual Business Challenge-Personal Finance, Principles of Finance event and the upcoming Principles of Personal Finance event. Sometimes, we have to step back and show how DECA can help bring the classroom to life for both teachers and students in niche markets.
  4. Show potential advisors what’s in it for them.
    We discussed inviting teachers who aren’t DECA advisors to professional development training and using DECA as a method for showing them all the resources they can get by starting a chapter. Instead of calling your session, “DECA New Advisor Training,” consider a different name such as, “Bring Your Classroom to Life,” and bill it as a professional development conference. This allows them to receive high-quality professional development while also learning about DECA. Speak in teacher terms – not in DECA terms – at first. In collaboration with Georgia DECA, Tennessee DECA and South Carolina DECA, we’ll be using this strategy with the New Advisor Academy at the 2014 DECA International Career Development Conference in Atlanta. Sometimes potential advisors just have to see for themselves, so engage them (and their students) at conferences and through competitive events.
  5. Providing assistance to new advisors is critical.
    Michigan DECA shared its mentoring network that pairs a new DECA advisor with an experienced DECA advisor and uses a series of monthly checklists to create conversation between the mentor and protégé. With all of the associations recognizing the importance of helping new advisors, we also started the development of a new advisor roadmap to help guide them through the process.

Finally, there are two key realizations: it’s going to take time and it’s going to require help. For example, Florida DECA will be engaging their key advisors, board members and association officers to push their plan forward.

Special thanks to Brycen Woodley of California DECA for sharing their strategies and methods for chapter recruitment.

If you’re interested in developing a chapter recruitment plan for your association, let’s talk.

Follow Christopher on Twitter @decachrisyoung.

Categories: Advisors, Chapter Development, DECA News, High School, Membership & Recruitment