With the 2021-22 academic year fast approaching, recruiting new members for your local DECA chapter is almost certainly at or near the top of every leadership team’s agenda. Unlike last year, most chapters have one major advantage: you’ll hopefully have the opportunity for in-person events and outreach activities. While reaching out to new members may seem like the sole goal during recruitment periods, it’s important not to forget about retaining existing members! Since last year was so hard on chapters, this year is the perfect opportunity for you to bounce back. Follow these tips to maximize your chapter's recruitment.
1. Identify your target audience
Recruitment tactics are most effective when you know exactly whom you need to reach. Properly identifying your target audience helps you specialize your marketing and ensure that your outreach activities are specifically targeted towards the people you think will join your chapter. This is much more efficient than targeting everyone in your school, as vague advertising has a much lower success rate. The first step in identifying your target audience is to look for the group of people most likely to join your chapter and/or those who could benefit the most from becoming a member. This can be anyone from students in your school’s marketing or business classes to prospective leaders in student council. Once you know who your target audience is, it’s time to move on to the next step.
2. Optimize your materials for your target audience
Identifying your target was the easy part, now it’s time to tailor all of your marketing and outreach materials to their interests. People like to see how joining a chapter of any organization is going to benefit them and it’s your job to show them exactly how. Two things to focus on in your marketing materials are conference opportunities and career preparation. One benefit about being back in person for many events this year is the chance to network and interact with other members from across the globe—which is a huge attractor for prospective members. While fun conferences and travel are a part of DECA, focusing on career development opportunities is equally important. Joining DECA helps members apply classroom learning in the real world and become experienced leaders during their high school careers and beyond.
3. Remember returning members
Getting too caught up with new members and forgetting about returning members is a real problem! No matter how exciting the idea of having tons of new members in your chapter is, it’s the returning members that make or break a chapter. Members always need a reason to come back and it boils down to you giving them a reason. Returning members are already experienced in the world of what DECA gives them but you can secure their membership by organizing fun chapter social events. From pool parties to movie nights, reinforcing the fun social aspect of being a member of your chapter is sure to keep existing members coming back for more.
Focusing on these three aspects of recruitment will be sure to help you have a full roster of excited DECA members going into this academic year!