There are three kinds of students when it comes to garnering interest in campus events, and each one requires a different strategy in order to draw them in.
These students are at every meeting and event. They’re enthusiastic about contributing and will volunteer their time and energy toward group activities and causes. In short, they’re your cheering section. In order to make the most of this committed group, make sure they’re equipped with custom promo products with your group’s logo or slogan on them. Common items like key chains and lanyards are popular sights around campus. Occasional use gifts like hand sanitizer bottles, nail files, and cell phone or tablet accessories make for easy icebreakers, especially if you take time with design and your logo really pops.
For those who are dedicated to the cause but don’t have as consistent attendance or never bring friends with them, you can increase their dedication by asking them for a favor – hand out wristbands at the next party or put up some flyers on the east end of campus. It sounds crazy, but according to the Ben Franklin Effect, asking someone to do you a favor can often increase the probability that they’ll do favors in the future and deepen the relationship.
These students don’t really feel one way or another about your group’s interest or values. Maybe they’re commuters who don’t spend much time on campus or keen students who are worried about extracurricular activities taking away from their learning.
One strategy is to make sure your public advertising material is consistent and up-to-date. By consistent, the idea is that you use a common color scheme or unique poster shape to advertise your organization’s events. Over time, your group will be known for that particular style, and you’ll pop up against competing flyers posted on community boards.
Another strategy to encourage people to make the leap is to make sure you remove flyers and posters from past events. If someone casually interested in participating keeps coming across expired marketing materials, they’ll not only question how active the group is but they’ll also miss out on future events by blowing off those uniquely-shaped posters with those familiar color schemes because they’ll assume the party’s already over. Use your same shape, color scheme, and logo on customized stickers that are permanently affixed in other parts of campus to stay on their radar.
Perhaps your group is in direct opposition with another like a competing sports team or a contrasting major. You can still encourage community-building and perhaps draw the attention of students in the other category by adopting Sun Tzu’s philosophy: “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” How about a public debate on evolution vs. creationism between the Students for Secular Humanism and the Christian Student Union? Maybe a male-dominated group can engage in a Battle of the Sexes trivia game with a female-focused organization.
If the idea of confrontation makes you uncomfortable, go the silly route – you can take a contest unrelated to the skill sets or values of the organizations involved like a pie-eating contest or have the Model UN group negotiate a treaty between the rivaling groups.
Instead of avoiding the other group entirely, the smart move is to engage with them – either in a public, competitive event or a fun light-hearted competition. Either way, the buzz created from the two organization coming together for a single goal – awareness of your respective groups – will energize the dedicated, intrigue the apathetic, and maybe even convert the opposition.
Jana Quinn is a blog writer, social media dabbler, and promotional product describer who’s been publishing her take on marketing and geekdom since 2005. Read more of her content at the Quality Logo Products blog and see how many Die Hard references you can spot.